Demos and Prizes (… Lots of Prizes) Dominate Pacific Northwest Home Theater Meetup Page 2

The theater room, featuring my JVC DLA-X75R projector, Legacy Audio speakers (Focus SE towers and Marquis HD center shown), and Emotiva XPR-1 monoblocks.

The video setup consisted of my reference JVC DLA-X75R projector mated with a 120-inch Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130 screen, featuring a Carada Masquerade masking system. Front-end duties were being performed by my reference Blu-ray player, the Oppo BDP-105 along with the latest media server from Baetis Audio, the Baetis XR. This is a home theater/audiophile PC built ground up for reference-quality audio and video playback of any type of high-resolution stereo or multichannel file, including DSD. It features not only HDMI outputs but also a BNC ultra-short path SPDIF output that can be coupled with the best DACs out there for truly outstanding two-channel playback. I connected Baetis to a Berkeley Alpha One DAC for demonstrations. The Baetis XR uses JRiver's Media Center playback interface making library access and organization a breeze. All of these were fed to my JVC projector through Lumagen's latest video processor, the Radiance 2021, featuring not only Lumagen's signature "no-ring" scaling, 125-point color calibration, and 12-point parametric grayscale/gamma correction. It also features Darbee's latest video processing. Lumagen’s Jim Peterson was on hand to answer questions and gave the thumbs up to the video presentation.

The JVC DLA-X75R in action.

Oppo’s Big Surprise
But my setups weren't the only show at the event. Jason, Nathan, and Chris from Oppo Digital made it to the event from California and was kind enough to offer a preview of a product that is still in early development—a fully balanced pure Class A headphone amp/DAC/preamp.

A peek under the hood of Oppo’s work-in-progress Class A headphone amp.

The preamp uses the same ESS DAC featured in the flagship BDP-105 and features a host of digital inputs, including SPDIF and USB. It also has a Bluetooth AptX connection for wireless streaming from smartphones and tablets. The amp can feed headphones through a traditional headphone jack or a balanced output. They used a pair of hard-to-drive Audeze LCD-2 planar-magnetic headphones to demonstrate the product, which doubles as a two-channel preamp with RCA and balanced XLR inputs and outputs. It's exciting to see Oppo delve into other markets and I won’t be surprised if this product follows in the footsteps of the company’s innovative Blu-ray players.

Getting to the heart of the matter: Good food and drink.

Throughout the day my enthusiast guest went from room to room listening to demos and taking passionately about their own setups. While we have lots of great forums to interact on, there is nothing like enjoying a day of movies and music with new friends. Oppo Digital was gracious enough to sponsor the event and provided food and drinks for everyone. With the help of my wife we made sure everyone was comfortable and well fed.

Mark Seaton (center) mingles with fellow enthusiasts.

The Big Raffle
But what is an event without some great door prizes? In addition to the gift bags, there were plenty of prizes to give away. Sony was kind enough to offer some great movie posters from recent releases like White House Down, Zero Dark Thirty and Another Earth as well as T-Shirts and a collection of "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray discs that we raffled off.

Legacy Audio, AIX and DTS contributed a mix of demo material. What home theater nut doesn't love a great demo disc!! I used the Legacy sampler in the home theater room for my demos.

AVS Forum provided some great T-shirts that arrived just in the nick of time for the raffle. We also got a pair of nice RCA interconnects from SVSound to give away! Our two grand prizes were the DVDO-Air wireless HDMI transmitter and the JVC’s new GoPro-style ADIXXION XA2 1080p camcorder. The anticipation of winning this prize could be felt in the room and the lucky winner was Lisa Day.

After the raffle, Don Munsil of Spears and Munsil demonstrated the just-released second edition of the HD Benchmark Blu-ray disc, which in my opinion is the reference standard for testing and evaluating video and audio performance. Don demonstrated how to use the disc to make sure you're getting the most of your video system. He even gave away copies of the disc to attendees who correctly answered his questions.

Don Munsil shows how to get the most out of a video system using the latest edition of the HD Benchmark disc.

Overall, the event was a great success that was made even better by the support of the local home theater enthusiasts who showed up and helped throughout the day. A huge thanks goes out to Mark Seaton for helping tune the room to perfection and Doug Harrison for bringing the XPA-1L amps and Oppo BDP-105 used in the two-channel room. Another big shout goes to all of the companies that supported the event: Oppo Digital, JVC, DVDO, Sony, SVSound, Home Theater, AVS, Legacy Audio, DTS, AIX, Warner Bros., Magnolia Pictures, Lionsgate, and Bionic AV. The prizes were a huge hit with the crowd and made the event that much more fun for everyone.

As the home theater landscape continues to change and fewer dealers are available to offer quality demos, I hope this event will encourage others to host meetups so enthusiasts can see and hear the latest gear and meet new friends that are just as crazed as they are about this hobby. Thanks to everyone that made it out and I hope to see more of you soon.