Epson and KEF Create Triple-UST Gaming Simulator at Audio Advice Live 2023

At Audio Advice Live 2023, the regional AV show held last week in Raleigh, North Carolina, I encountered a unique application for UST (ultra short throw) projectors I had never seen before. As a gamer who enjoys racing and flight simulators, this immersive gaming simulator rig resonated with me as much as the massive 9.4.4 or 9.4.6 Atmos home theater systems also found at the show.

I've demoed many home theaters, and I am into sim racing, but this concept was entirely new to me.

By connecting a PC with three HDMI outputs to three Epson UST projectors arranged in a horseshoe shape, an immersive gaming simulator system is created. It places you directly in the cockpit of a plane or behind the wheel of a race car, delivering an experience nearing the immersiveness of virtual reality. For such a setup to function properly, you need projectors with an incredibly short throw, especially given that the room was approximately 12 by 16 feet, so there's no room for traditional projection or even regular short throws to work. But with USTs, the projector sits right in front of the screen, not behind it.

Epson's LS800 UST projectors provided the imagery. Boasting an industry-leading 0.16:1 throw ratio, they sit almost flush against the screen. Epson's UST is also different in that it uses a 3-LCD imaging technology, not DLP like almost all other USTs and offers high brightness plus low input lag, both of great benefit to gamers!

The way it came together allows space for two side-by-side seats.

The simulator was undoubtedly popular, the line extended out the door with both adults and children eager to try it. Children were so engrossed that parents had to coax them to finish their sessions, given the long queue of awaiting participants. This scene was a departure from the typical atmosphere I've observed at audio shows. It showcased families delighting in a groundbreaking yet achievable experience.

I spoke with Adam Hauser from KEF about this concept.

Mark: "Let's discuss the foundational aspects of this room. How did you get involved with this room? Is it due to an interest in games?"

Adam: "I built my home theater kind of starting in 2019. And my theater at home actually has a 160-inch diagonal main screen with two 120-inch diagonal screens on the sides. So that's kind of a multi-sim, multi-screen gaming, kind of simulator modes, things like that.

"Then I built this as more of a freestanding unit to show off at Audio Advice Live. So we took our three partners, we have Stewart Film Screen, we have Epson, which provided the UST projectors, and of course KEF provided the audio. And this gives you a fully immersive, 180-degree-plus, three 10-foot diagonal screen gaming system that matches the immersive audio we get in gaming these days."

Mark: "So, was this room setup your idea? This is a rather small room. Do you know the dimensions?"

Adam: "Yeah, I did all this. With the Epson LS800s, they're able to do 1080p, 120Hz gaming. They actually have an input specifically for gaming. And then the Stewart FilmScreens are the UST type, so ultra-short throw ambient light rejecting screens, which allows us to put three screens so close to each other and they're not getting tons of overwash from one projector to the other.

"It's amazing. We've been blown away by it. I do know the room size, because they told me it was 13 feet wide, and it's not. It's only 12 feet wide. It's about 12 feet wide and 16 feet long."

Mark: "Can you describe the audio setup?"

Adam: "We're using a pair of KEF LS50 Wireless 2s. We've got them up here on the left and right beside the main projector. We've got a pair of the KC62 subwoofers. The neat thing about gaming, whether it be console, Xbox, PlayStation, or PC, audio for gaming has always been amazingly immersive. And if you have a good system, you can really show off what it can do. And so here we're just doing a stereo, so a 2.2 configuration.

"Gaming can be stereo, could be headphones, could be surround sound, could be full Dolby Atmos."

Mark: "The structure seems portable."

Adam: "Yes, it consists of three steel frames with aluminum plastic panels. The screens mount on two steel bars. The most time-consuming part was building the screen."

Mark: "And the system runs on a PC?"

Adam: "Yeah, with a lowly little 3060 Ti running the whole thing. And so we don't even have a ridiculous graphics card. We're using a pretty run-of-the-mill graphics card. It's still a great graphics card from NVIDIA.

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