Advice - Improve dialogue on center channel

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by TerezaSrbova, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. TerezaSrbova

    TerezaSrbova
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    Yamaha RX-A1040 with Monitor Audio Silver RX6 for L/R/C channels. Kimber Kable 4VS. No sub, rears or surround connected.

    - Feeds are from SkyHD / Apple TV4 - Amazon, Netflix, iPlayer.
    - Speakers are set as large and center channel has +5db. Distance is set around 2mtrs.
    - Normal listening volume ranges from -46db to -30db depending on source.

    Dialogue is rarely clear unless volume is increased, then the effects and music are too loud.

    Debating on adding pair of FX speakers and/or RSW12 sub. But this is going to be costly.

    Toying with ditching the center altogether and going with Yamaha YSP5600 soundbar or similar.

    Any advice appreciated.
     
  2. Rambles

    Rambles
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    That's odd. Maybe just make the centre channel even more louder than the left and right speakers. I see that you have it at +5 already, but you could try lowering the levels of the other two speakers, so that if you increase the global volume to make dialogue clear, you don't then make the other audio too loud.

    It might also be speaker placement issue, do you want to post a picture of the set-up and see if there is something obvious that might help?

    Are there any settings on the AVR to improve dialogue clarity?

    Lastly, rather than ditch it all for a soundbar, you could just get rid of the centre and run it in stereo mode. The speech will then come from the front left and right speakers, but the stereo impaging will make it sound like it is coming from the middle (aka phantom centre).
     
  3. TerezaSrbova

    TerezaSrbova
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    Thanks for advice.

    Will lower the volume on L/R speakers, see if any improvement.

    L/R Speakers are about 15cm from rear wall, toe'd slightly, and about 2.5 mtrs from side walls. Centre is about 20cm from rear wall at chest height when sitting, on a solid AV table with 12mm balsa struts under the speaker to raise of table slightly.

    Have tried running it in stereo, but soundstage doesn't sound as nice (full).

    Will have another play.
     
  4. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Balsa struts sound like wood? You may be getting vibrations from the table. An anti vibration pad might help, as well as ensuring that there is no obstacles or flat surfaces between the speaker and your ears. If it is on a table, it would be best to have the centre speaker very forward, so slightly hanging over the edge of the table, so that the sound does not reflect.

    Something like this may help:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monitor-Speaker-Acoustic-Isolation-Isolator/dp/B01193YLR4
     
  5. Steve356

    Steve356
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    A few questions:

    Had you calibrated the channels using a sound meter?

    Have you set up your sources and/or receiver for your configuration of 3.0?

    You say you have set the distances at at around 2 m -- is this the correct distances between your speakers and the MLP?

    Finally, 3.0 is an unusual combination imho, so it is likely to be beneficial to add some surround speakers and a sub so you can run 5.1 from your sources and in your receiver.
     
  6. gibbsy

    gibbsy
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    I totally agree with Rambles, it sounds very much like a position and especially isolation issue. You'd be far better off using good old Blu Tac than balsa wood as the wood is just transmitting sound possibly emphasising bass and clouding dialogue. Investing in surrounds and a sub and then running the speakers as small will, besides giving a far more immersive and enjoyable soundfield, give cleaner dialogue.
     
  7. kcsun

    kcsun
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    I agree with Rambles - move the centre to the very front of the table. You can also split a couple of squash balls to use as isolators.
    I have spent a fortune over the years trying to improve dialogue. I have also spoken with some very high up people in the industry and they lay a lot of the blame on the actors mumbling, not speaking into the microphones and bad editing of the soundtrack.

    As a trial, play either the original Italian Job or Dr No. I will bet that you can hear every word clearly

    kc
     
  8. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Room - if you have hard floor, ceiling and wall coverings that can be a big issue. Some detail on the room would be good.

    Layout - you don't mention how far apart the LR are from each other - they must be pretty close to each other if you are only 2m from each speaker.

    5.1 Speaker Setup Guide

    LR - you don't say if dialogue clarity is improved when you go to Phantom Centre mode.

    Centre - agree with others that Blu Tack or similar under the cabinet with the front edge of the cabinet at the front edge of the table is the way to go (if you retain the Centre!)

    AVR - which Mode do you have it in?

    Joe
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  9. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965
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    It's going to be a combination of room, set up and as Joe mentions even which mode you have the AVR in.

    I remember there was a fuss in the press about a TV series caled SS-GB where viewers complained of mumbling actors and overbearing background music. I'd only just got my room set up when this came out, yet I didn't suffer these problems myself, so I believe that there are ways around this problem: Proper location of all LCR speakers as above, some room treatments (even if only a rug and other soft furnishings as it all helps), using the AVR calibration function and if possible checking it afterwards with REW to fine tune delays and levels/crossovers. Do not assume that the settings arrived at by the AVR are the optimum ones for your room.

    You're already one step ahead of a lot of people with this problem who don't even have the matching centre speaker, so methodically going through the above and previous poster's comments should help improve the situation.
     
  10. Khazul

    Khazul
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    I have my center set on acoustic foam wedges (auralex or similar - only visible as a small riser from the front, so not ugly but may not be visually acceptable if you have white speakers). I also moved the speaker right to the front of the AV cabinet and even over hanging a tiny bit to avoid direct audio bounce of the cabinet. Before I moved it and put it on foam then dialog was quite 'woody' sounding and a bit indistinct.

    The other thing I did was to place a couple of 1Kg shot-bag scuba diving weights on the cabinet behind the speaker (so I cant see them) and that helped to damp the cabinet a bit as well. If you want to get a bit more extreme with the AV cabinet, then stapling/tacking heavy rubber acoustic damping sheet on the inside top of it can help (outside better, but that tends to be ugly). How useful that is depends on the construction of the cabinet however - may be more trouble than it is worth.

    Once you have sorted the center speaker out, run measurement again.

    The final thing I tend to do is open up the resulting EQ curve for the center speaker and if there are any narrow peaks below about 500Hz, I will tend to reduce them and flatten them quite a bit as that helps clarity as well - these will be the frequencies that make dialog sound a bit boxy and will also aggravate resonance in a typical AV cabinet.

    It can also be worth trying slight variations of mic positioning during measurement - particularly distance from back of sofa especially if it is a leather sofa as that can impact the resulting EQ curves a lot. The ideal IMHO is for the resulting EQ curves to broadly correct the room response, but not introduce their own sound coloring due to narrow boosts in the correction curve.
    Our ears are quite sensitive to that, not to mention it more be more likely to aggravate resonance (which I find to auto measurement doesn't really seem to pick up on).
    Narrow cuts are OK as they will not introduce sound colouring, but can leave you feeling something is missing (or just sounds a bit flat/lifeless) from the resulting sound particularly with music depending on what frequencies they are at.
    Nice smooth correction curves will tend to sound a lot better than quite spikey curves even if the spikey curve may be technically a more correct correction at the measurement position(s).
     
  11. TerezaSrbova

    TerezaSrbova
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    Wow, thanks to everyone for all the feedback and advice. Which I will go through in detail and make adjustments. To answer a couple of questions though...

    - Yes I used the YPAO mic to set up and then adjusted the distances manually slightly as it sounded better.
    - Yes the Yamaha automatically recognises connected speakers and sets speaker configuration accordingly.
    - Yamaha is set to Dolby Surround.
    - L/R speakers approx' 2.5mtr apart
    - Huge leather sofa's x2. Wooden floor but rugs. Recognise that acoustically the room is far from ideal.
    - Replaced balsa with acoustic foam as suggested.
    - Phantom Centre sounds horrible - hollow, no real depth or warmth and very dependant on seating position.
    - No I haven't run the speakers as "small" - not sure I understand sufficently the difference.

    Surrounds and sub are what I'm debating at the moment and that's why I'm debating, cause matching kit is not cheap.

    I listened to Yamaha YSP5600 soundbar in big electronics store and was really impressed, despite the listening environment being far, far from ideal. Hence, I'm considering going soundbar route instead of surround & sub. Although my existing kit is good though and should out deliver. Will play around some more and feedback.
    Thanks again.
     
  12. Khazul

    Khazul
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    Large vs Small are just bass management terms - don't get hung up about physical size of speakers. Large means its a full range speaker, so the AVR will give the full range audio. Small means it is actively bass managed, so AVR just gives it the range of frequencies over the selected crossover point. (Small 80Hz means the speaker gets 80Hz upwards and sub gets the rest).

    Normally you set all you speakers to small at the higher of 80Hz or if the measurement set them as small, then whatever frequency they ended up with. So if they ended up at 100Hz, then probably leave it at that (unless you know its a tiny speaker that and the manual for it says higher). If it ended up at 60Hz, maybe change it to 80Hz. I find that movie sound seems to be best when fronts, center and all surrounds are set to 80Hz if possible - even if you have huge floor standing fronts that can act as sub in their own right.

    That soundbar is actually quite decent as far as soundbars go, but its best in very minimal rooms with a nice flat ceiling and uncluttered walls I think so it get the freedom to bounce the sound around.

    What are your video sources? Unless you are using a very old video source that needs the old dolby surround upmix - don't use it. Just use straight mode instead with 5.1 HDMI sources (TV apps, set to boxes, blue ray player etc).

    I pretty much use 'straight' for everything as it automatically sorts out the best fit of original audio channels to available speaker channels, so its fine for 5.1 from a set top box/arc from TV etc and also ok for stereo music to just front speakers and sub.

    For stereo music sources I also use pure direct mode to bypass as much AVR processing as possible because it suits my front speakers better for music (and is the reason I have floor standers instead of stand mounts). If I want music on all speakers, then I use party mode or the 7/9ch upmix mode.

    I sometimes use the DPS modes like standard / spectacle / sci-fi / adventure etc if a movie and I feel the sound needs a little more ambiance to it, but mostly just use straight mode. I never use the 'surround decoder' modes at all (probably only useful with an ancient DVD player that only has analog outs).
     
  13. Rambles

    Rambles
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    OP doesn't have a sub, so setting speakers to small is moot in this case.
     
  14. TerezaSrbova

    TerezaSrbova
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    Thank

    - Thanks, will take advice on running on "straight" mode.
    - L/R speakers are auto set as "large" by AVR as can only change is sub-woofer is introduced. Can change centre speaker to "small", but to be honest, I'm struggling to hear any difference.

    Thanks
     
  15. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    No Centre - should not sound the way you describe. Is that with TV/Movie sound?

    How does the system sound with Music Playback in Direct ‘Stereo’ Mode?

    Joe
     
  16. martimu

    martimu
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    Might want to check the phase on your centre speaker too. May have positive and negative wired up the wrong way round. Very rarely this can actually be the cable in the speaker itself. Flick the wires round and listen to hear if it sounds louder/clearer
     

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