Yesterday I attended an installer training event sponsored by ACE Marketing group, which represents a number of brands including LG, Ultralink, Triad, Xantech, Sherwood and others. One of the most interesting demos was of the new Seymour Screen’s Enlightor 4K acoustically transparent projection screen.
Seymour, headed up by Chris Seymour (yes, the director of a screen company is named see more), is a collaboration between him and UK’s Screen Excellence. Together they’ve launched a handful of acoustically transparent screens for the home theater market (they also offer commercial products).
For some time, acoustic screens have had a low reputation among home theater enthusiasts and installers. Perforated screens feature many tiny holes to let the sound though, but they also let light pass through the other direction. The hole pattern can also create a moiré effect when it gets tangled up in the pixel pattern of the digital projector.
There are ways around these problems, but often they mean very expensive screens, so many times people just go with flanking the screen with in-walls or tower speakers or installing the speakers in cabinets under the screen. The problem is that the sound is supposed to be coming from the screen, where the action is, not from under or around the screen.
In addition, placing speakers on either side of the screen can limit your screen size. If you don’t need to put speakers outside the screen, you can use a bigger screen.
That’s what was going through Chris Seymour’s mind as he was looking at the screen market for his own home theater, which eventually led him to help bring something new to the US.
At the dealer training, Seymour brought along an Enlightor 4K screen. Unlike some other acoustic screen materials, the Enlightor 4K is a very finely woven material, not perforated—but the weave is so fine you there’s barely any texture and no visible holes. You have to get your nose right on top of it to see the texture, so a viewer watching a movie wouldn’t notice it at all.
The demo screen measured 124 inches (diagonally) and had a gain of .98. It’s ISF certified and has no minimum seating distance. On this day, because LG representatives were also present for product demos, the projector used as an LG 1080p projector that sells for about $3,000.
The projector was not calibrated, and I’m pretty sure it was shown in it’s out-of-the-box mode. Everyone in the room remarked at how good the image looked. There fine weave pattern on the screen produced no artifacts and didn’t seem to contribute to any light loss either. Even in a partially lit room, the screen was able to produce a very bright image evenly across the screen. The black velvet covering the fixed frame did an excellent job of absorbing any overscan as well.
On the audio side, Seymour says the Enlightor 4K truly is acoustically transparent—the screen produces no frequency roll-off and doesn’t require re-equalization. I can’t really comment on that because the demo didn’t have speakers (we were in a hotel conference room).
Seymour said the 124-inch screen with the black velvet frame costs about $3,500, making it competitive with other screen makers. This material is currently being used in some ISF training classes.