Somewhere in Heaven, Ray Dolby is Smiling Down on Us

REL 3D, How Theatre was Always SUPPOSED to Be. Full Range, Every Channel.


The below text is a transcription of the video.

Hey there, John Hunter with REL here. Hey, let’s just jump into some natural examples of combinations that would be used to make an HT 3D combination. For those of you who are not familiar with the nomenclature, HT refers to our HT series and 3D refers to a technique we’ve been using for, gosh, 20 plus years. We developed it back in the late nineties sort of with some help from Dolby. And the purpose of this is really very simple. What we’re trying to do is return home theater back to the professional levels that Dolby advocates for. What they really want out of a home theater is to have full range going to every channel. So I want to say that again, your left rear surround should be able to do dead flat 20 hertz at an average level of 105 dba that is extremely loud and extremely low. We said, okay, 20 hertz, you start getting into multi thousand dollars subwoofers to pull that off. What if we get close? What if we could add on and we did a bunch of experiments. We came up with something called 3D cause there was a minimum of three RELs needed to do it. Hence the three. And the effect when you get it right is to actually immerse you in the sound field that you’re seeing visually on screen. It’s utterly addictive. So let’s just talk about some really like everyday normal things, speakers that you see out there in real stores every day and explain how that would work. So let’s say that you’ve got a five, I’m just going to deal with five one, you can just expand these out if you’re doing seven, two, right on up to 11 plus atmos.

So let’s talk about this. Bowers and Wilkins, of course is a very well-known brand, so I’ll use them as an example. They have a speaker called the 702. The model 7 0 2 sells over, right on 5,000, might be 5,500 these days. It’s a very nice sounding, very well produced two channel stereo pair, floor standing speaker about that tall and using that as your main speakers in your system. And they’re matching 700 series center channel. The most natural way to do that would be if you’re starting off with this as being just a theater, it would be natural enough for you to pair that with, for example, our HT 1205 MKII. Great piece. Isn’t going to break the bank. I’d personally advocate for stereo pair them because no room is symmetrical acoustically. It’s really important to understand that I’ve measured rooms or as far off as 11 12 dB louder on the right than the left or vice versa, and crossover points having to be wildly different. So the purpose is not to overwhelm you with more and more bass by having a pair of them. It’s to get your room working the way the room should. You may wind up with the left channel set up seven, eight DB louder than the right. It may be crossed over 6, 8, 10 hertz lower than the one on the right is. So these are the kinds of things. By having stereo pairs right off the bat, you can smooth things out. So now you’ve got your 702 s, you’ve got one or a pair of HT 1205 MKII’s, system is sounding really good. Alright? And then you listen to the first bit of dialogue that comes out of whatever you’re watching on Netflix or Blu-ray and the center channel sounds like Daffy Duck is speaking. Everything sounds really quacky and you’re like, oh my God, what just happened? What is going on here? What’s going on is it’s not full range. And because everything else in the front is, you really notice the absence. And this is where you turn to our traditional products, the traditional RELs that use a speak on connection and high level connection, meaning they actually hook up to the outputs, the speaker outputs of your main power amplifier or your receiver. We’re not drawing any power from it. We’re deriving the signal. We’re pre-conditioning our powered subwoofer to sound exactly like the rest of your system does. You have separate gain, meaning volume control, you have separate crossover for that. You dial that in and all of a sudden the entire front stage comes alive. We just got through doing this gosh, just a week ago down in southern California. Really, really good high-end dealer down there. Had a beautiful series of theaters, three theaters in a row. We were working the smallest, the biggest one is massive. And we went in and built what’s affectionately called a six pack, three stacked HT 1510s, the biggest one that we make in the HT range currently. And we built that up. Sounded incredible. The center channel couldn’t begin to keep up with what the left right mains was, there was just this incredible sound, super dynamic, really deep, full rich. And then there was the tiny sounding center channel and all we dropped in was one of our medium sort of T/9xs, not crazy expensive, dialed it in perfectly. Not only was their bass, but all of a sudden dialogue intelligibility on screen just popped when we got it exactly right, just exactly the right amount of crossover and gain. All of a sudden, all the speech happening on screen got very intelligible. And the weirdest thing was because six packs elevate the sound stage, they bring it up to the full height of the screen. All of a sudden the dialogue locked to the lips. Cause in general, when you’re watching anything that’s got spoken word in it, the face is sort of centered. The head centers up pretty much dead of screen. And so everything was locking visually in height back up to it. You took out the T/9x, we just undid the speak on and everything in dialogue. First it did a little muddier and it dropped physically, it dropped its alignment to down below the bottom of the screen. So these are some ways that it’s really incredibly important to be able to take advantage of this interrelational nature. We’ve got HTS that from 10 feet away look identical to T/xs, look really similar to the Serie S’s, which is you know, are second to the top line. And it allows you to have these systems that commingle beautifully. You get all of these things, you can save money where it makes sense to save money, apply a little bit more where you have to and just create an incredible environment. Same thing would be true with, for example, the Kef. They make an incredible speaker called the R11, exactly the same drill. Get yourself the matching center channel. Go home, listen to the whole thing. You know, on those. I’d be torn halfway between a pair of 1205s and perhaps a single HT 1510, which is our big guy with 15 inch driver and a thousand watt amp. And you do, you drop it onto the R11s go. Wow, that’s a pretty insane combination and something’s missing. Is there something wrong with the Kef Center channel?

Absolutely not, absolutely not. But it needs to be full range. And when it’s not, it doesn’t sound seamless. You don’t have this huge beautiful fill left to right up and down and you get everything locked on screen. And in that case, I’d probably use either a T/7x or T/9x. Again, same thing, high level connection. Bring up the gain, bring up the crossover to exactly the right amount. If you go too far, things are going to start sounding really chubby and deep. If you don’t get quite enough gain, for example, it just won’t explode up onto the screen. It’ll stay locked down below the surface of the screen. But you get your gains and your crossovers just right and everything comes to life on the screen. It’s such a cool way to do things. We haven’t talked about the rear channel. You can be either HT or T/x back there, right?

And the reason I say either or, if you have speakers that are somewhat more bandwidth limited in the back, surrounds often or smaller for example, probably guide you towards having a one of our traditional high level enabled RELs because it allows you to connect up to the rear channel amplifiers and then compensate for that lack of bass extension by bringing the crossover up higher and perhaps gain a little bit lower because the speakers are small, they’re probably going to be not quite so efficient and you can just bring up all of the fill. That center channel gets a lot of the obvious attention when we do these demonstrations. And it’s not until you turn off the rear and the entire front, two-thirds of the stage collapses, you’re only left with that and all of a sudden you lose the entire rear third that you were inside of a moment before.

That’s when you start going holy smokes. That thing’s doing an incredible job. And so that’s the idea. And we designed these systems visually to be interrelated. When you place a T/x side by side with one of our new HTs, literally from 15 feet away in anything other than bright light, I can’t tell the difference. They’re so similar. Their proportions are similar. The treatments are similar. You’ve got a high gloss finish across the entire top on both of them. And the same sort of gun metal gray feet that are very subtle, small logos that don’t jump out at you. So in any kind of normal lighting you’d be going, I can’t even tell which to switch. And so that was part of the intent of these new HTs is that you could have your cake and eat it too and not have to be explaining to people. Well, I know that looks completely different than that, but really they’re from the same company. So that gives you some idea of how to bring these things together and really get the utmost out of the way that the HTs and the T/xs now really relate to each other.

August 14, 2023 - Posted in: Sound Insights