Denon AVR-2310 Official Owners Thread, Part Two.
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21-07-2010, 1:50 PM
Gave 0, Got 2
Originally Posted by
So any tips on improving stereo?
well actually, yes! I haven't been on this site for a while, so sorry for the late response. Now, i'm just a beginner and a far cry away from being an expert on this subject, but here are the notes I wrote for my own benefit to get the most out of my speaker system (specifically stereo speakers and music listening).
If you spot anything that seems way off mark, then please feel free to correct me. But I founf that these tips gathered from all over the place, and some I deduced on my own, really helped me.
Howto setup stereo speakers.
There are many web resources detailing stereo speaker setup, but many of them suffer from esoteric methods. There is however, a simpler way, that any wannabee HiFi enthusiast can employ.
You may have a 7.2 Theatre setup with front height speakers that cost a small fortune and trust to Audyssey to do the leg-work, but it's always best to start with the basics. You either have left and right stereo floor speakers or a 2.1 system with smaller bookshelf/satellites and a subwoofer in your setup.
The most important factor for good sound is the initial stereo image from the front speakers.
Stereo Image or Soundstage
The goal is to obtain good stereo imaging. The ideal is that the distance between the speakers is roughly 85% the distance from either speaker to you. You can do this without a tape measure, but measuring helps in determining the rough distance.
Define your listening position.
Position the left/right speakers far enough apart so that they are roughly at the 85% mark. It doesn't need to be exact.
Play some music which you know has good stereo seperation (different sounds come from different speakers), turn up the volume reasonably high but not so it's uncomfortable and sit down in the listening position, and close your eyes...
You should be able to hear certain sounds that come distinctly from the left or right speaker, but this will depend heavily on the music you listen to. Listen--focus--on eash speaker in turn, as this helps to determine if certain sounds are really only coming from that speaker. Remember to keep eyes closed as it really helps! There should also be vocals or percussion that come from a position in between the 2 speakers. This is the goal of stereo imaging. If you sway your head from side to side, you should be able to hear that the centre vocals sound to come from further to the left or further to the right depending on which way you move. This is a lot easier to determine with eyes closed.
If you can hear all this then you have good distance between the speakers.
What happens if the setup is wrong?
If the speakers are too close to each other, then _all_ sounds will seem to come from a position in-between the 2 speakers, i.e. it will be hard to tell if a sound is coming from the left or right, and it will all sound centered. Another effect is that the "soundstage" will seem to be focused in a tight arc where the speakers are positioned, and you will not feel as if you are surrounded by sound: you will feel as if you are "outside" the soundstage. When the speakers are positioned far enough apart to get true stereo imaging, you will feel as if the sound is also coming from the sides as well as the front, i.e. you will feel more as if you are "surrounded by sound".
If the speakers are too far away from each other, then you will not get any center sound at all and _all_ sounds will seem to come from either the left or the right speaker, but not from inbetween the speakers.
The Effect of Toe-In
Toe-ing In stereo speakers can alter the stereo image to compensate for speaker distances. If you speakers are too close together due to physical constraints of positioning them, such as having them on a TV bench that is only so wide, then you can skip toe-in (twisting the speakers so that they face you) and instead have them pointing straingt out perpendicular to the back wall). Skipping toe-in in this case will expand the soundstage.
Alternatively, if you have the speakers set further apart so you lose the center stage, you can toe-in the speakers to "draw the stereo image back to the center".
Toe- In can be used in other circumstances and is sometimes a hard recommendation from a speaker manufacturer, but I will not go into that subject here as I have limited experience.
Ideally, your speakers should not be against a back wall. Pull them out at least several inches. The closer to the back wall, the more bass heavy they will be, the more resonance you will hear etc. It's not good.
Don't seat yourself so that there is a wall right behind your back. Sound reflections off this wall will muddy the sound. If there is no other choice, then hang a mat on the wall behind your head.
Speaker height can be important. Too low, and you will only get good sound when sat down. As soon as you stand up, you will lose the soundstage. It's best to have the speakers somewhere between sat down and stood up positions. If you buy speakers stands from the same manufacturer as your speakers, then the height will be at the ideal. EDIT: well maybe. Best to determine if you want to hear good music when stood up in a room or if you will always be sat down.
Right, so stereo image is sorted, but what about the subwoofer?
There is a simple yet effective trick to correctly positioning a subwoofer. Put the sub in the position you will mainly listen to music, play a bass heavy soundtrack and move about the room, specifically, stopping in certain positions to listen to the bass effect where you could consider placing the subwoofer. In some positions, you will hear a good, focused/tight bass sound. In other positions you will hear no bass at all. In some positions, like the corners of the room, you may hear thunderous bass. Wherever the bass sounds the most dynamic, least thunderous, and "cleanest" or tightest is the position you should ideally place your subwoofer.
Place the sub in that position then re-listen to the track. If you hear a dull thumping then the sub could be too close to the wall. Pull it out several more inches. When incorrectly placed, bass sounds can sound to reverberate or make dull thumping sounds. The ideal is that bass should sound tight and focused and have a good depth to it instead of a flat thump. It is a difficult thing to explain in words, but when you hear the difference for yourself, you will understand.
The key to speaker placement, whatever your setup, is experimentation. The more you place and re-place your speakers or sub, and re-listen to them, the better idea you will get of whether the stereo image is correct, expansive enough *for your tastes*, whether there is a bass that is dynamic, and tight enough *for your tastes* etc.
Even if you have a 7.1 setup, it is most important to get the position of the 2 fronts and the sub right before proceeding. Only when you are happy with the stereo image should you run Audyssey setup, as Audyssey will not fix bad initial positioning. It will compensate for reflections and maybe standing waves, but will not create a great soundstage or stereo image from badly positioned speakers.
One caveat to stereo imaging: Although the above mentioned is ideal for a specific listening position, you may want to fill a room with sound, no matter the position. If you place 2 speakers at complete opposite ends of a room in the ceiling pointing down, you can acheive this goal, but you will lose true stereo imaging. The advantage however is that you feel more immersed in the music no matter where you are in the room. Unfortunately, this ONLY works for stereo music: If your HiFi setup doubles as your TV speakers/Home Theatre setup for movies, or if you listen to multi-channel music, then this setup is unuseable.
As a said, i may not be right with some of this and would appreciate feedback, but this really helped me to make my system sound better than just plonking all the speakers randomly. The more you re-position and re-test, the more you get an understanding of the differences. It's not something you can really teach with words, I think you've got to experience it yourself to understand.
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