Hitting the Sweet Spot

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Photography by Phillip Ennis Photography

Bill Alexander, owner of Eagle Eye Audio Video of Centerport, NY, has a fairly simple philosophy when it comes to equipment selection: “If this were my home theater, what would I do? The goal here was to spec in great equipment, but not the esoteric stuff where you’re paying a lot more money for an extra two percent of performance.”

For high-performance speakers that didn’t break the bank, Alexander turned to Tannoy, a British speaker manufacturer known for its trademarked Dual Concentric driver design (the high-frequency drivers are nested within low-frequency drivers, rather than stacked or aligned horizontally). This, Alexander says, makes for an extremely phase-coherent sound source: “They’re spectacular for dialogue, and really image better than anything else I’ve ever heard,” he says.

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Three Tannoy Definition DC12i loudspeakers serve as left, center, and right channels beneath the screen. Above and to the right and left of the screen, two of the company’s iw6 TDC in-wall speakers serve as the front presence channels—a feature unique to Yamaha receivers and surround-sound processors, including this room’s RX-V3900 7.1-Channel Network Home Theater Receiver.
As to the need for these speakers, Alexander says, “When someone does a theater like this, there’s a lot of absorption in the room—arguably almost too much. So in a lot of cases you end up with a dry sounding room and you don’t really get the theater experience. But Yamaha has [dozens] of algorithms—based on measurements they’ve taken of professional performance spaces—that really make a space sound convincingly larger. So I wanted to advantage of that capability.”

Doing so came with a cost, though: Because the RX-V3900 only provides seven channels of amplification—and two of those channels were being used to power the presence speakers— Alexander lost the ability to provide discrete surround back channels for the room. But he didn’t want to merely go the 5.1-channel route because the surround speakers would have been perpendicular to the main listening positions, which isn’t ideal.

So Alexander came up with an inventive solution for the quartet of Tannoy iw62 TDC in-wall speakers at the side and back of the room: “I took the left side surround and the left rear surround and made them both play left surround information, but put them out of phase with one another. Likewise for the right surrounds. So each pair made an [improvised] dipole radiator, and the effect was absolutely spectacular. Putting the rear surrounds out of phase with their side counterpart really made this schmear of ambient sound just the opposite of a direct radiator, and in that way made for great surround ambiance.”

—Dennis Burger/Home Entertainment

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