Dark Energy Abyss v2 DIY/AIY screen
I thought I would update my experiences with the Dark Energy Abyss screen material I used to assemble a screen for my HT. I've been using a DIY BW screen for close to a decade and wanted to try something new. Instead of painting again I picked the Dark Energy Abyss fabric (with the helpful advice of MM). I was one of the first folks to get the v1 of the Abyss screen. There were some issues that lead me to return it (shipping, heat, possible installation errors, etc.) Maurice and Stephen were more than helpful in facilitating a replacement screen. I opted for a slightly higher gain version (.9-1.0, yet visibly darker than the v1 material) that I am calling Dark Abyss v2.
The new screen arrived safely and I began the install immediately. This time everything went perfectly and the screen stretched over my current screen (Wilsonart on frame) to form a tight, no wrinkle finish. This version of the DE-A is more flexible and it stretched well. I decided to go borderless with this screen and the final viewable size is roughly 122" (16/9) diagonal.
HT gear (to compare with similar gear other members may use) - Epson 5020UB with LPE lens (calibrated in dynamic mode - roughly 1,100-1,200 lumens) - Batcave dedicated room with dark walls, acoustic panels, and black velvet strategically place for reflections - 4 LED dimmable 100 watt can lights - 7.4 surround system - Sony ES Bluray & Darbee
Dark Energy Abyss v2 - Impressions
I immediately liked the v2 screen. It is visibly darker to the naked eye than the original Dark Energy Abyss. The gain is noticeably higher than the original, I would guess about .2 or so. There are absolutely no "sparklies" in the material and the contrast is at least as good as the first version, or better. My HT is not very wide, so the viewing angles from the seats are not severe. There is no dimming from the outside seats. I didn't notice any dimming until I physically walked to extreme angles to the screen, even then it isn't much (and nobody in their right mind would attempt to watch anything from the sides of the screen.) The performance with the can lights on is impressive. For the first time we can leave the lights on (full or dimmed depending on the activity) and still see the picture on the screen. This allows the HT to become more of a family room is we want to enjoy it that way. That said, we really use the HT as intended (lights off, critical movie watching) most of the time. I was a little hesitant about the ALR material from what some have said over the years. Even when I had the v1 for a time, I knew that my fears were unfounded. The v2 simply puts the fears to rest, for good. I am extremely happy with the performance in the batcave conditions. The black levels (already good from the epson) are "inky" and the contrast levels are amazing. We can watch the most darkly filmed movies and enjoy great shadow detail.
This if for the naysayers - I would recommend Dark Energy Abyss screens specifically for folks with dedicated theaters! The ALR characteristics are a nice bonus, and could definitely help folks with high ambient light conditions. I am clearly an atypical (traditionally) ALR screen user, but I am glad I took the "leap."
The photos start with lights on (all four cans) showing the raw theater, stills of Avatar with the lights on, and the last few are still of Avatar with the lights off. (sorry for the bad photos, I only have a nice P&S camera that doesn't do well in low light conditions). I can assure you the movies look extremely good in person.