SMX Screens from Florida is well known in professional circles and in online video enthusiast forums, for good reason. SMX is best known for their acoustically transparent, woven screen materials. While many video enthusiasts dismiss acoustically transparent screens as being visually inferior to non-transparent screens, many installations, and in fact all commercial movie theaters, requires the use of transparent screens.
Most acoustically transparent screens begin life as normal screens that are then perforated. Some viewers initially complained of visible holes and moiré problems.
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Acoustically transparent screens have greatly improved over recent years, with smaller perforations and, more recently, woven acoustically transparent screens have hit the consumer market. The trade-off is holes for a woven pattern. Depending on your set-up, one may work better for you than the other. Each has its pros and cons. Before buying any front-projection screen, I recommend obtaining a sample of the screen material and trying it out to see if it meets your needs and expectations.
The SMX CineWeaveHD is a tight weave designed to work with today's high-resolution digital projectors. The material is available in gray or white. The white material has a gain of 1.16 and is the highest-gain woven acoustically transparent screen material I have found on the market. The material also allows placement of the screen much closer to the speakers than with a traditional perforated screen and has minimal light bleed-through. This material allows for 1080p projectors to fully realize their resolution potential, without color shifting or excessive light loss.
SMX offers flat and curved fixed screens, as well as masking systems. The screen frames are made of substantial pieces of insulation-filled aluminum. The insulation greatly reduces the possibility of the frame resonating. The material itself is installed into grooves on the backside of the frame, with a ***spline*** system. Build quality is excellent and the supplied instructions are easy to follow.
The build quality for the screen is noteworthy. Solid is an understatement.
Test after test, the sonic effect of this SMX screen is inaudible. Basically, it's audibly transparent.
There is a slight herringbone pattern visible in my set-up with bright solid images, such as white tablecloths. (Note: in my system, this was much less noticeable than perforations and none of my guests commented on it.)
I would have liked to see this screen offered in a retractable version.
Assembly and/or installation of this SMX screen takes more time to assemble than a snap or grommet system.
Although shunned by some video purists, acoustically transparent screens are much better today than they were just a few years ago. Placing speakers behind the screen allows one to solidly anchor the audio in the same location as the video, creating an enhanced sense of realism. This speaker placement also saves room, which can be critical when designing smaller theater rooms. Further, those of you who have acoustically treated your rooms may have had conversations about how the installers could not treat the front wall due to the projection screen and the problems that would result from this. With an acoustically transparent screen, you can now treat the front wall surface.
Once you make the decision to go with an acoustically transparent screen, your system (room included) will likely narrow your options. If your viewing distance is ten feet or less, you will probably be able to see the holes in a perforated screen, whereas you may not be able to see the pattern in a woven screen. Other factors to consider are gain and size. SMX offers two woven materials to accommodate different needs and can build their screens in a wide range of sizes that will accommodate nearly any room. If you are in the market for a front-projection screen, it is worth your time to take a close look at SMX Screens' offering.