Seymour AV Screen Viewing Tests & Conclusion
I tried to be very thorough for my testing, but honestly, it was in vain. Everything I tried to test seemed like so minimal of a difference that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Of course, as an audioholic I must mention even the small details for the perfectionists such as myself. I used a Panasonic AE-4000U projector set at 6500K for the bulk of video testing and calibration along with CAL MAN v4, the Sencore OTC-1000 colorimeter and Minolta LS-100 light meter. Testing the color temperature of my reference material measured as 6498K, and the Seymour AV screen material measured at 6544K. That, my friends, is less than 1% off of perfect for color shift. Needless to say, I went ahead and ran through the Calman calibration process on the screen only to achieve the best possible image and was extremely impressed with the image quality and contrast. This is more of a testament of the Panasonic projector and the Calman software, but there didn’t seem to be any major issues adjusting any one of the colors vs. the others, meaning the Seymour AV screen was a very balanced white and exhibited uniform gain characteristics across the color spectrum. One other good thing to note here is the tilted fabric weave which is standard for their fixed frame screens. No moiré was present at any zoom level of the projector. Shifting back and forth between 2.40:1 and 16:9 modes also showed no moiré in the transition. The black borders were always virtually black, even if I overscanned a 100% white field onto them. It was still too dark for my meters to measure correctly. No overscan during actual use was noticeable at all.
Using the trusty old Radio Shack SPL meter and an audio test disk revealed that there wasn’t more than about 3db of change to any frequency I tested for the speakers alone, with the screen, or even with the screen, secondary black backing layer AND masking panels. Of course, the accuracy of my meter has an error of margin and is not as accurate as I wanted, but my ears heard no objections during music listening and movie watching as noted below.
How hard is it to use a screen? You just watch or listen, right? The perfectionist in me was busy basking in the glory of the giant beauty hanging on the wall. The geek in me was tickled pink with how well the calibration and sound testing went. I have already achieved virtual visual and aural nirvana according to the numbers, but the proof lies far beyond the technical.
Tron Legacy and Thor are two of my favorite recent movies for their special effects, good sound effects, and various aural and visual delights. Running both with my projector zoomed up to a full 2.40:1 aspect ratio left me in complete and utter awe! Many audioholics have known for years that better sound than the average theater is well within reach for the home theater, but then to have the screen consume the entire wall and be completely engrossed in the imagery while still enjoying the superior sound, it’s just spectacular! Sorry Cinemark, I haven’t returned to your venue since I bought this screen. It’s just so much better at home with my own actual theater! Picture so good it almost makes you giddy.
I only evaluated the 2D version since I’ve yet to step up to 3D. At any size or gain, you would need a projector that can scale its output up to three to four times its normal 2D output to maintain a properly lit image. Sure, you could step up into higher gain screens but that also elevates the 2D light output, black levels and may introduce tradeoffs such as uniformity and viewing angle. The current crop of 3D projectors seem to be plenty bright in 2D for this near-unity gain screen, but until they improve scalability I’d recommend going for plenty of lumens with this screen at this size in 3D.
Gears of War 3, FEAR 3, Halo Reach, and some good old Borderlands graced my screen in 16:9 ratio after my masking panels were hung. The colors popped, the blacks were very good, and the sound is clear and directional with no perceptible volume shift between the center speaker and the L and R speakers behind the extra layer of AT masking. However, while playing some 4 player games, I have a tendency to scoot forward from my 12 foot seating position to about 6 feet for my one quarter image size (yes, spoiled), and you can just barely detect a hint of the screen weave at that distance. It’s not really distracting because the gaming is so fast paced, but I wanted to mention it if some seats are very close.
Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, Sarah Jarosz, The Civil Wars, and Ingrid Michaelson are among some of my favorite test disc artists due to the clean vocals, soulful lyrics, and a range of very interesting instruments. For my listening sessions, I removed the masking panels just to have less layers of material between me and my audio perfection. After hours of listening, I can honestly say that I can perceive no change in quality with the screen in place as I did when it was absent. For the most critical listener, it may seem like the difference between having your speaker grill on vs. having it off, but my silver ear hasn’t graduated to the golden level yet. If two channel listening is high on your priorities and listening sensitivity, then Seymour AV also offers a retractable version of their AT screens which can be completely removed from the sound field. Note the cost is a bit higher, but may be worth it.
The Seymour AV screen has not only proved itself visually, but also audibly in the testing and usage above. Screens are made to order, so you can customize to something smaller or larger than offered on SeymourAV.com. With options like Black Backing for mid ceiling installations and magnetic masking panels, it’s impossible to beat the quality of the product. The prices start just below $1000 for smaller 16:9 screens and are a bit higher than competing midrange non-AT screens. In our particular configuration with all the bells and whistle, a larger screen can be a bit pricier and perhaps out of the budget for some. There is still an excellent value to be had here, but it’s not for the entry level price conscious customer, unless you buy the XD fabric directly from Seymour AV and build your own frame. For me, the perfectly square corners, the ease of installation, and the awesome masking panels seal the deal. The Seymour AV Center Stage screen will be a long treasured addition to my home theater.
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
- — Excellent
- — Very Good
- — Good
- — Fair
- — Poor
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Recent Forum Posts:
NVM I see that they are but each site offers different types of screens.
They have received high praise it seems from about every single person who has used one, and I like that they specifically mention that Carada masking systems can be used with their screens. It means that they aren't looking to be better, but to be different and excel in their own area where they are different and they recognize quality in another manufacturer.
Speaks volumes when companies work together to build each other up like that and something I truly appreciate seeing.
DS-21, post: 921033
Any “screen/no-screen” difference measurements?
“Acoustically transparent” is a claim that should be tested.
Using the trusty old Radio Shack SPL meter and an audio test disk revealed that there wasnt more than about 3db of change to any frequency I tested for the speakers alone, with the screen, or even with the screen, secondary black backing layer AND masking panels.* Of course, the accuracy of my meter has an error of margin and is not as accurate as I wanted, but my ears heard no objections during music listening and movie watching as noted below.
I don't think the phrase “acoustically transparent” is meant to be taken literally. It just indicates that loudspeakers can be be placed behind the screen with little appreciable impact on the loudspeakers' FR. I doubt that there is any fabric on this planet that can make that claim in the literal sense - for screens or speaker grills.
I bought the Seymour XD fabric and Fidelio black velvet for a 104" screen and built my own frame. Even with shipping to Canada, the whole thing cost me $500. Granted, I bought rough wood, planed, routed and cut it to size myself. But, if you have the equipment and some basic skills, it's a great way to save money. When I was planning my setup, I asked my A/V dealer about AT screens and he said that to order a ready-made screen from him would cost about $2500!
I am very pleased with my screen and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Seymour.
“Acoustically transparent” is a claim that should be tested.