Elite Screens: ezFrame AcousticPro 1080 Fixed Frame Projector Screen Review
1/17/2009 - Art Feierman
ezFrame Fixed Frame AcousticPro Projector Screen Overview
Back last February ('08) we reviewed Elite's Home2 Series Fixed Screen with Acoustic white surface. We gave that screen a Special Interest Award, rather than our normal Hot Product Award. This was due to certain limitations of the screen, that limited the number of potential users. That particular weakness was the lack of a dark backing resulting in too much light passing through the acoustic screen material, and, when a light surfaced wall is behind the screen, light reflected back through the screen, washing out the image. The screen did work well enough, however when the wall behind the screen is extremely dark. With white or off white walls, that screen's image was effectively ruined.
For those limitations, Elite has been on my case, for many months, to review their newer acoustic screen surface. This new surface is called AcousticPro and it comes with a black mesh backing, which solves the problem mentioned above. It is definitely suitable for use with a light colored wall/surface behind the scrreen, as well, of course, as working well with a dark surface behind the screen.
For this review Elite provided this fixed frame screen in an 84 inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio version. The Elite part number for this size is: R84WH1-A. Realizing that 84 inch diagonal is a smaller size than most would buy (but very convenient for reviewing), below I list not only the info on the test screen size, but MSRP for several larger screen sizes as well. Elite offers this screen in huge sizes if needed, even 150 inch and larger. You'll get the idea. Dealers generally sell Elite screens with good discounts.
The frame itself is a nicely beveled light absorbing black finish, about 2.5 inches thick. There are thicker screen frames, but this amount of border is enough to look good.
Overall, this Elite screen performed very well. Timing is such, that my main theater (which had off-white walls - unfortunately, until last week), was finally painted to a dark rust color. I had the opportunity to work with this Elite Screen with both light and dark wall color. It did a nice job, in both cases.
As I have mentioned in previous screen reviews, we are not really setup to measure and provide hard objective numbers (gain, acoustic properties, viewing cone, etc. This review is therefore subjective on these topics.
To observe the acoustic properties, this screen was placed in my theater, below my Stewart Firehawk G3. Since I do not have a center speaker that would place behind the screen surface, I simply slid my two large front speakers a little closer together, and propped the screen frame up against the outer sides of each, allowing all the sound from the speakers to pass through the Elite screen surface. Putting a friend to work, I had him bring the top of the screen forward and down, moving it out of the way of the speakers, to see what differences/losses I could detect, with the screen in front of the speakers.
The photo below, of the setup was taken before the speakers were moved closer together:
Please note, I'm an old "audiophile" with a pair of what were, pretty state of the art conventional speakers from the early '70s (IMFs), and I still take my audio seriously. I watched/listened to several Blu-ray based concerts with this screen.
On the other hand, I'm definitely "an old guy" relative to the ability to hear high frequencies. As such I can't comment on the amount of loss of extremely high frequencies as I doubt I can still hear above 13K or 14K (in the good old days, I could easily hear 19K). Those of you younger than I may well detect more loss of highs than I can. That said, Elite claims only a very modest loss of high frequencies - 2db at 20K, which if dead on, I would consider excellent.
The image immediately below of James bond (Casino Royale), projected onto the Elite screen with a calibrated Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector. Looks good here, looked even better "live".
Elite Fixed AcousticPro Screen Highlights
- Black mesh backing allows screen to perform well, even mounted in front of a white or near white surfaced wall
- Very limited loss of sound quality (high frequencies)
- Texture is more coarse than some other acoustic screen surfaces
- Elite Screens MSRP (list) prices seem to be well below the low street selling prices of other name brands like Da-lite and Draper. A quick comparison finds that Da-lite acoustic screens, for example, can sell for up to 50% more than the Elite with AcousticPro surface
- Very slight color shift toward yellow, (very correctable)
Elite AcousticPro Screen Specifications
84 inch diagonal: $806
92 inch diagonal: $866
100 inch diagonal: $939
106 inch diagonal: $987
110 inch diagonal: $1099 (available in March or April)
120 inch diagonal: $1168 (larger sizes are available as well)
Technology: Woven white surface acoustic material, 0.3mm perforations, square (but off-angle) pattern, black mesh backing
Accoustic Properties: Maximum loss of 2db @ @20Khz
Warranty: 2 years parts and labor
Unlike many other manufacturers, the Elite's long side frame pieces come in two pieces each, instead of single pieces. This allows the entire screen to be packed into a much smaller box, one that avoids the high extra shipping costs normally associated with fixed frame screens, due to their size requiring significant "oversized" box shipping charges.
Assembling the ezFrame AcousticPro fixed wall screen
It sure eems simple enough. I, however, am not one who looks forward to doing such things, so, of course, I convinced Elite to deliver the screen, along with someone who would assemble it in my presence. This works because Elite Screens is located less than an hour from my location.
Basically it took about 15 minutes for the screen to be assembled. Dave Rodgers from Elite did all the work, while I watched. First step after unboxing the components (a nice small box), was to connect the pieces of the frame. Remember, Elite instead of using single long pieces for the frame, breaks the long sections down into two pieces.
After the frame was assembled, the frame was placed face down on my floor. The screen surface, and the black acoustic cloth were laid on top, and fastened into place by several dozen little white clips. The large number of clips is to insure even tension so that the screen surface remains perfectly flat.
It really was that simple. If I had done it, I would have run out of patience and probably tried to get everything to stay in place, using a minimum of clips, and then wondered why the screen ended up with waves in it. Dave does good work, the screen is very flat and taut.
Bottom line: Putting the screen together should not be a challenge for those willing to try.
Elite AcousticPro fixed screen Image Properties
As mentioned in the overview, I did notice a slight shift towards a yellow/gold with the screen, and you can see the difference (though exaggerated) between it and the very neutral Stewart Firehawk G3, in the photo of the two screens with no image on them,back near the top of this page. When viewing normal material, however, it really is far more difficult to spot any color shift compared to my Firehawk G3.
Immediately below, is a photo of James Bond, from Casino Royale. You can see the narrow top part of the image is on the Firehawk, the lower part, on the Elite. Pretty hard to spot the color shift. You'll also notice some other differences, varying brightness, and contrast in the image. That however is due to the Firehawk being a high contrast gray surface, compared to a basic white surface.
Another good "split image" shot is this one of some football "signage" from an HDTV source. It's obvious that the two surfaces are very close:
The screen lived up to its claimed wide viewing angle. There was no hotspotting, and brightness appears uniform even from wider viewing angles than anyone would want normally want to sit at.
I was concerned about the texture of the screen surface, compared to the almost totally smooth and uniform Firehawk, or for that matter, my Carada Brilliant White and my Elite HC gray. Despite that, I didn't notice the texture during normal viewing. I'm sure it's enough to be detectable when looking for it, but I do believe this surface will satisfy all but the most critical. There are finer micro-perf screens out there, for those who may be concerned with this Elite surface. Note, the patterning of the material is finer, and a different "improved" pattern for this new surface, which Elite says is designed especially to work with 1080 projectors.
Here's one more split screen image with the Firehawk on top and this Elite AcousticPro screen on the bottom. This is the very dark train scene from Casino Royale:
As noted above, my hearing isn't what it was 30 years ago when managing high end audio stores. With that as a given, I spent hours listening to music videos, CD's and movies using this Elite ezFrame screen. At the most, I could only notice a very slight loss of sparkle on the high end, when having someone move the screen quickly into the path of the sound. I really enjoyed some superb performances with the screen in place, including the Moody Blues in concert (Blu-ray), and music videos on MTV's Palladia HD channel, as well as other music videos.
For typical movie watching (action oriented, talking, etc.), certainly this screen seems more than transparent enough. Any loss of overall gain (volume) is negligible, almost certainly no more than 2db, and probably a lot less than that.
The only question, one I can't answer without test equipment, is how much loss there actually is on the extreme high end (15K to 20K hertz) where I can no longer hear, but many of you younger folks can. For those not "tuned" into audio, we are talking extreme high frequencies - upper harmonics of vocal and musical instruments. This frequency range probably accounts for well less than 1% of audio content but does contribute to the sound quality for those with good hearing. According to Elite, they only lose 2db at the very top, and that seems to be a very reasonable (slight amount). In fact many (very good) speakers roll off the high end more than that.
NEXT: Summary of Elite Screens AcousticPro Fixed Wall Projector Screen