My Home Theatre Setup – The Story

One of many Pride & Joys.
Like many before me I’ve endeavoured to transform my home into more than just a place to sleep. Music, Movies & Games are all transported to the next step by phenomenal sound. Sound in every room should be a building requirement in my eyes.

The Budding Audiophile

And like all sons with fathers I was unavoidably shaped by him. My Dad is probably the root of many of my peeves, plights & pleasures. Some sort of AV setup has been present in my life for as long as I can remember. Starting with the first house I lived in. Under 4 years old and I recall a projector playing Toy Story larger than my bulging little eyes. A spark for fantastic visuals was born.

Star Wars. A bit of a divider, but the track is undeniably formidable. John Williams through a KEF & B&W surround setup backed up by a Sony SA-WX900 12″ 1000W Sub. A childhood memory I’ll never forget.
That subwoofer is truly something to behold and a real rarity to the point my father bought two… One as a spare.

The Beginning

Eventually on my 21st I asked for help with my first system. My Dad sourced a cheap used Yamaha RX-v673. A perfectly capable and robust AV Receiver for me to build a system around with plenty of inputs. After all I’d grown up a gamer. I wanted to connect everything to it consoles, old & new, my Gaming PC & my laptop!

He also found me a little Tannoy SFX 5.1 setup, perfect for my childhood bedroom. A speaker at each corner of the bed with the tv and centre at the front. It was like a dream come true. I cranked up Halo and let Martin O’ Donnell ring through my room with crackling Plasma and visceral roars filling the room. Gaming was forever changed.

The Awakening

It was in this small room that I discovered I desired more. Michael Bay could shake the room with his Transformers films but something was still missing. Was it depth or clarity? Bass or quality? And so I delved into the forums and review sites like What Hi-Fi and AVForums.

Here I absorbed as much information as possible picking up industry terms and perceptions on brands. Where makes the best equipment and why? The history of Bowers & Wilkins and how they compete. Which technologies were invented by who. Fascinated, I had a hunger for Shinier Brands, Deeper Cabinets and an Emptier Wallet!

The Build

Me and my partner moved out into a beautiful flat in town. Get this.. No adjoining walls.. That’s right no neighbours to bother with booming music and earth shattering bass. Freedom at last. It was here I started my search for affordable second hand bookshelf sets and free standers.

The TV

Quickly our living room evolved! The tall ceilings demanded a larger screen. 65″ 4k HDR10 SUHD Samsung TVs certainly weren’t affordable. It took a while but we managed to find one for a reasonable price. £850, a JS8500 with a beautiful curved screen.

The Speakers

An £80 set of Mordaunt Short 301s replaced the Tannoy’s and not long after a local was getting rid of a pair of Sony Floor Standers. Not the best quality but, only £25! Who could argue? These Floor standers were added to make a 7.1 setup! The room felt filled but still lacking a little and the bass was feeling a little lop sided towards the sub.

The Bass

I found a matching SFX sub from my old tannoy set and it felt much better having the balance across the room. A few months went by before I started to feel like I was missing out certain frequencies especially low end range. I looked up the frequency response of the Subwoofers. They went down to 45hz barely low enough to be considered a Subwoofer as opposed to a normal woofer.

So I spent a long time looking for a Sub I liked and couldn’t settle. So i got a new centre to give dialogue a little more definition. A HTM62 S1 arrived from Bowers & Wilkins. A brand I’ve trusted for a long time. A world of difference so I figured I’d start finding speakers to match it.

This lead me on another search for Subwoofers. But I didn’t feel like the matching B&W Subs were up to spec. This is where I discovered, in the depths of forums, BK Electronics a British manufacturer of Subs that make designs from REL. They make some astonishing equipment for their price bracket! For around £400 you can get their 12″ sealed XXLS400 fitted with a 400W amp. A perfect fit for someone who enjoys both music & movies.

That is the subwoofer I bought and it is thrilling. However the room still felt a little empty on one side. Partly because of the asymmetric layout and partly because of the corner it was sat in. Even with it’s port-less design it still excited the walls heavily meaning sound emanated from that corner of the room.

So what did you do? I hear you ask. Well I bought another one… obviously.. Thankfully my S.O is fine with them, she loves movies! Hallelujah! Oh boy did the bass feel complete and balanced. Just need to match up the rest of the speakers. The last thing at this point is a matching timbre and we’ll be in audio heaven.

Bowers & Wilkins 6 Series

So Bowers & Wilkins must hold the answer. The centre performs so well it needs matching fronts and rears. Thankfully the pair of fronts I settled on 683 S2s appeared on eBay just down the road from me. I put in an offer early and got a steal for £650 for the pair. Ideal, and he delivered them to me that day and they were in perfect condition. Beautifully rendered and commanding.

Again the sound was truly phenomenal on a whole other level to the cheap sony cabinets I’d been sporting. The older centre started to sound a little flat and hard to hear next to their newer fronts. It became obvious I needed to match the exact series. The HTM61 S2 (you can see how that can be confused with a HTM62 S1) was hard to find and very dear and it took me a long time to find one for a good price. Another eBay deal though!

Now perfect, the front of my living room is looking stunning. Just need the rears, to which I feel the slightly smaller 684 S2s held the answer. As the release of the 7 series was fast approaching. Audio stores were starting to move on their show pieces and I managed to get a single display unit 684 from two different stores to make a matching set. Cheap that’s what I like!

The Finish

Finally my living room is complete. All the films I had loved watching as a kid with my Dad I could now enjoy. Whenever I want I can enjoy a cinema like experience from the comfort of my reclining leather sofa and armchair.

What a life.

How to Rate Games – An Alternative Approach to Rating

IGN 10/10 COD Trinity Warfare VIII

We’re all aware this will be a familiar sight in a couple of years. What if there was a different way to value games. Now what I propose is something difficult to explain and value but no doubt invaluable. Creating an experience in a game that you can remember is more important than grinding through the same mindless activity over and over.
How many fond memories do you have of your childhood games like Spyro & Crash Bandicoot? They possess unique content in their games as you play through their linear nature you are presented with clear, designed and prepared situations.

Gaming has indefinitely moved away from this type of gameplay opting for replayability and profitability via addiction. What if you could quantify the amount of memories you’ve made in a game? Good or Bad. After all what is living but making memories and if you’re playing something forgettable. Why? Why waste your time doing something you aren’t going to be able to remember.

This symptom of gaming is heavily linked to the way our brains work. Why would a brain create memories for something it has done a million times. That wasn’t really that unique or interesting. It’s inefficient. So the mind records content that is fun and stimulating. Whether it is good or bad. That’s important. Not to discount memories you consider uncomfortable.

Just because something stings at the time doesn’t mean it has to hurt every time you remember it. This can be explained simply by the popularity of games like Dark Souls or Ironman modes like in X-Com. There is something crushing yet bittersweet about watching your progress being trampled in front of you. If you reload your save and effectively remove that event from happening. You probably aren’t going to remember it either. Rendering the time and emotions you’ve invested wasted.

So why not rate a game based on how well it creates new and unique memories for you to remember fondly. Red Dead Redemption II was undoubtedly an excellent memory maker. That is why I rate it a solid 10/10 Memories. Well done Rockstar.
Now bring it out on PC.

New Position – Web Administrator

Tank services Logo

Tomorrow I start my new role at Southern Tank Services as a Website Administrator. I’ll soon be tackling the many obstacles that come with optimising a website for search engines and keeping their new site up to date with their latest products and information.
It’s an exciting opportunity for me as I’ve been previously working in a more encompassing role, at Albioncourt LTD, where I would split my time between various responsibilities. Not all of which I enjoyed as much as web design so I’ll soon be able to focus on web based projects more exclusively and further my skills in this field.