"Submitted for your approval: A nascent videophile, stirred by the performance enhancements in his tricked out audio system, yearns for similar warm, fuzzy feelings from his lower resolution upper mid-fi home theater system. Such warm fuzziness can certainly be had...but only for a price. Next stop: The Blu-Ray zone."
Home Theater Noise Reduction Program
Denzel tries to hide his elation about the prospect of audio grade fuses coming to the SDA Shrine Theater.
So what do you do when you are getting 500% of your maximum daily requirement of audio thrills from your two channel system? Sit and listen? That would be too much like right wouldn't it? The correct answer is that you turn your attention to tweaking home theater.:D
Out of curiosity, I installed audio grade fuses in the power amps, preamp, and subwoofer of my modest home theater system. These "fuses" are actually noise reduction devices in addition to being circuit protection devices. More technical details are here. The following noise reduction measures were already in place:
1. Two additional 20A AC circuits, terminated with PS Audio Power Port Premier AC receptacles.
2. Two PS Audio Power Plant Premier (PPP) AC regenerators. The Blu-Ray player, plasma television, preamp/processor, and center channel amp are on the first PPP and 20A AC circuit. The front speaker's amp and surround speaker's amp are on the second PPP and 20A AC circuit.
3. All stock power cords were replaced by Signal Cable MagicPower cords.
4. The subwoofer has its own 20A AC circuit, which is terminated with a PS Audio Soloist Premier SE in-wall passive power conditioner.
The additional power tweaks consisted of:
1. Replacement of the stock subwoofer power line fuse with an Isoclean audio grade fuse.
2. Replacement of the stock power amp power line fuses with Isoclean audio grade fuses. I did not want to spend the money to replace the four rail fuses in the three Adcom GFA-5500 power amps because this would have required twelve fuses at $45 each ($540) and the expected improvement, if any, was small. This was based on the small improvement provided by replacing the JC 1's rail fuses. Rather than replacing the power amp rail fuses, I would get more bang for the buck applying that money toward a higher performance Blu-ray player.
3. Replacement of the stock preamp/processor power line fuses with HiFi Tuning fuses. I would have preferred Isoclean fuses, but my Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro requires a 5A fast blow fuse and a 3.15A slow blow fuse. Isoclean does not make fast blow fuses and they do not make a 3.15A slow blow fuse.
My three year old Hitachi plasma HDTV (720p) still holds its own against younger, newer, higher resolution displays. I may eventually upgrade to a 1080p display, but I have yet to see a 50 to 60 inch 1080p plasma display fed by Blu-ray sources that makes me dissatisfied with my current TV. Furthermore, my choices among current HDTV plasmas are limited because I prefer a model with a swivel stand and cable card slot. I don't like those aesthetically unappealing silver/gray cable boxes.
I will be upgrading my Blu-ray player in the near future, not because I am dissatisfied with the Sony BDP-S2000ES Blu-ray player, but rather because I want a Blu-ray player in my home office. The BDP-S2000ES is replacing the Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD player in my home office and something "more wonderful" will be replacing the BDP-S2000ES in my home theater...but that is a subject for a whole 'nother thread.
Music and Video Selections
I used the following scenes at the beginning of Star Wars Episode II for low frequency sound effects evaluation:
1. Senator Amidala's ship approaching Coruscant.
2. Senator Amidala's ship exploding on the landing platform.
For 360 degree sound field cohesiveness and detail evaluation:
1. Space battle scene at the beginning of Star Wars Episode III.
2. Battlefield scene at the beginning of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
For movie dialog clarity and natural sound:
1. The conversation between James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dryden at the beginning of Casino Royale.
2. Sarah Connor's monologue at the beginning of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
For two channel music sound staging, clarity, and bass drive, bass articulation and bass detail:
Track 1-"Funkin' For Jamaica (NY)", Tom Browne, "Love Approach" CD.
Track 5-"Dianne's Blues", George Howard, "The Very Best of George Howard" CD.
Track 3-"Take Five", Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Time Out" CD.
Subwoofer Fuse Replacement
A civilized and refined bass beast is more so with a $35 fuse installed.
I was surprised when I heard the SVS PB12 Ultra/2's performance improvement with the Soloist SE ($250) over that provided by the Power Plant Premier AC regenerator ($2,200) [addendum to this review and post #4 of this review]. You just never know what will work.
Replacing the PB12 U/2's stock fuse with an Isoclean fuse enhanced bass articulation, added more definition to rumble, and added more bass weight and tactile sensation. The subwoofer also sounded slightly louder. I first listened to movies and CD's with the other speakers off, then with the sub blended in with the other speakers.
When the sub was blended in with the other speakers, images were a little heavier and dialog was a little clearer. During the scene in Chancellor Palpatine's office, near the beginning of Star Wars Episode II, The crisp edge of Palpatine's baritone voice was enhanced and, overall, his voice was a little heavier and clearer.
On music, the bass was a little faster and more defined.
Power Amp Fuse Replacements
The three Adcom GFA-5500 power amplifiers at the bottom of my audio credenza now have fuses with arrows on them, because fuses with arrows on them help make Such Good Sound.
The first thing I immediately noticed was all the subtle sounds from the front and surround speakers that I had never noticed before. Then I noticed that the sound stage for both music and movies was a little wider and deeper by 1 foot. Center images were a little heavier and more detailed. The throaty, rumbly growl of the Terminator's motorcycle in "Terminator 2" was heavier and apparently louder. The subtle "crunch" of the Terminator's leather jacket and pants was clearer and more defined as he got off his motorcycle and walked up to the club owner to swipe the shotgun out of his hand.
Preamp/Processor Fuse Replacements
Replacing the fuses in the subwoofer and power amplifiers was an easy task which only involved accessing the ample space behind each unit. Those fuse replacements were completed in under five minutes each. Replacing the two fuses in the Sony TA-E9000ES was not fun because I had to disconnect all the inputs/outputs, pull the unit from its shelf, remove the case top, then remove a small circuit board above the rear of the power supply board. This took an hour...but it was worth it.:)
Replacing both of the preamp/processor's fuses resulted in a degree of improvement over that provided by the sub and power amp fuse changes. The sound stage grew by an additional two feet at the sides and front. There was an overall enhancement to three dimensionality and space between images within the sound stage. The enhanced detail and image weight from the front and surround speakers provided a more immersive and cohesive 360 degree listening experience.
Some background sounds that were previously confined to the plane of the TV and speakers were now projected one or two feet forward. For example, the "whooshing" sound that Senataor Amidala's ship makes as it is about to land was louder and projected 1 foot in front of, and near the top of, the right speaker. Previously, that sound was confined to the space just in front of the right speaker and was nearly lost in all the other background sounds.