Advice on improving AVR300 centre channel performance

darron027

Active Member
Hi again all.
Ive posted a couple of threads at an earlier date re. adding another peice of Arcam gear etc (I want to forget about this in the short term as answers here will help me decide).

Sorry if the below is a little long winded......

Im a very happy owner of all the gear listed below. After a recent AV install at my fathers ive got the bug again and now its time for me to further improve/add on to my current setup (which Im sure as always is gonna cost).

After long deliberation on the area of my equipment I wish to improve, Ive decided to target centre channel performance.

A little background stats as to the main uses of all eqipment on a weekly basis:
70% Watching Sky and listening in surround mode
20% Watching DVD and listening in D/D / DTS
10% Listening to CD / FM radio (Direct mode o the AVR)

Thus at this point, its most important to me to improve on the sound (centre channel in particular) from Sky and DVD. Im more than happy with the sound of FM radio and CD from DV79 via direct mode of the AVR300 when listening to my biamped (using chan 6+7) monitor floor standers.

Its the centre channel (via monitor 'silver' centre speaker) that I am dissapointed with the most and want to improve on (all other speakers are working very well). Via both Sky and DVD this channel seams to often lack audio clarity and sound level. This has always been the case, since my original system installation over a year ago; I know what your thinking......why hasnt he done something about this already and has lived with it for so long, the simple answer is that I became a dad for the first time and so much was put on hold.

The digital interconnects from Sky (QED optical) and DVD (Black Rodeum coax) are both good quality, thus I think and hope that these two areas are covered.

Ive had the speaker housed within a purpose built AV cabinet (built by my dad). My first port of call to try and improve the C channel has been to simply relocate the speaker to the top of the cabinet and one or two other places. This has shown zero improvement.

Later today Im going to rewire and replug the speaker cable to the centre speaker (cant do it immediately as my wire cutters are at my dads and will be collecting later), however I am positive that it was done correctly in the first place. I'll be amazed if this has any improvement. However any advise on biwiring and suitable banana plugs will be greatly appreciated.
Ive currently got both '+' wires pushed and clamped into one banana plug and both '-' wires into another banana blug at the AVR side. These then split into four separte plugs at the speaker side. Ive already double checked that all wires are in the correct plugs.

Speaker cable being used is QED silver anniversary biwire (using this same spec cable to F/L & F/R also). The main difference here is that Im biamping F/L & F/R but biwiring the Centre.

Regarding the volume levels of the AVR300, Ive got the centre channel turned up to max already.

If I assume that the check and rewire of the speaker cable has no benefit later today. What should I look at next to improve/test the C channel? Whether that be more tests or more new equipment.

Many Thanks.
 

Mickle

Active Member
I must admit i'd interested in any responses as I feel my centre channel doesn't quite match up the the other speakers in my setup and I have the AVR 250. The sound was a little improved when the centre speaker was placed on my Partington Minim AV so i've been looking along the lines of further isolsating the centre speaker. God knows how though.:confused:
 

darron027

Active Member
Checked and rewired speaker cable for centre channel.
As thought no noticable improvement to speech in particular.

Looks like its not just me then Mickel.

Thus my thought (which obviously may be wrong as I often am....) is that additinal or upgrade of equipment 'may' be required. However as always its pound notes against improvement equation and Im sure guessing that its gonna poss cost many pounds.

Poss ideas on how I could improve with additional / upgrade equipment:

1. Add an Arcam diva 3 channel power amp (as want products to match). Would definately want to demo this at home if poss before a purchase (as i estimate approx £500 + more cables).

2. Upgrade to the gold spec monitor C speaker (again as want to exactly match to all other speakers I have). Moreover again would want to demo first (not sure of cost put Im guessing quite expensive)

3. Upgrade AVR, but to be honest really not wanting to do this as firstly would cost alot and secondly dont think there would be a noticable improvement on C channel.

Any more ideas or advice guys?
 

darron027

Active Member
Think I'll have to rule out upgrading C channel speaker from current Silver to Gold monitor audio, as ohms rating is different. All silvers are 6ohms and gold is 8ohms. Ive the AVR set to 4ohms at moment because all silvers are 6 and arcam manual states I should not go above speaker ohms. Thus im assuming if i looked into upgrading to the gold, the ohms outputted from AVR would mismatch the speakers????
 

trailer

Well-known Member
Is it a volume level issue?

If you have the centre set to maximum level and you find the front left and right are drowning the centre out still then lower the levels of the fronts so you have more headroom.

What processing do you have for Sky normal broadcasts?

As an aside I find the Sky radio channels better quality than FM. That's probably a personal preference though.
 
D

Dr. Gass

Guest
If all your speakers are Monitors, they should have roughly the same efficiency. But if they are different models, however, the center channel may be more difficult to drive than your left/right speakers.

With 100 watts per channel, the AVR 300 should be able to play loudly through the center speaker. I wonder whether there is a set-up issue involved (for example, setting the DVD player to bitstream or PCM, the settings on the input trims, or speaker size selection). Also, the mode button can make a difference, e.g., Dolby 5.1, Neo 6: Cinema, Stereo, etc.

If I were you I'd conduct some tests to see what the culprit is. For example, if you swap the center channel and left channel speaker connections, is the left channel suddenly quieter? If you connect your center speaker to a different channel (6 or 7) is it still too quiet? Do the test tones sound equally loud?

You could also try bi-amping the center channel, if channels 6 and 7 aren't being used for surround. I don't think, however, the problem is a lack of power. 100 watts will drive most speakers.
 

trailer

Well-known Member
You could also try bi-amping the center channel, if channels 6 and 7 aren't being used for surround. I don't think, however, the problem is a lack of power. 100 watts will drive most speakers.

If you do this you'll get the surround or the front left and right coming out of the centre. Not the centre channel as such so I can't really see the point?
 

darron027

Active Member
Hi guys, many thanks for the replies.
After messing with a number of things today I'd say that its the quality/clarity (and not the loudness of the C channel) of dialogue when listening to 5.1DD material that Ive pinpointed as the number one area of sound I want to improve on. When watching non 5.1 material which is on most sky channels the dialogue is much better.

When performing a test tone. The C Channel is definately the 'loudest'. Thus dont think its a volume issue.

So to recap - DD5.1 from DVD and Sky - dialogue/speech clarity not great.

I'll try out the further suggestions an checks and report back.
Thanks
 

trailer

Well-known Member
Just as a quick off the wall suggestion, try swapping the phase on the centre channel. ie reversing the + and -
 

darron027

Active Member
Hi trailer, just given that off the wall suggestion a quick go and I actually think theres some improvement??? How could this help??
Wish to try further and listen to many more things check that Im not decieving myself.
 

trailer

Well-known Member
That's a good question.

Well, there's always the chance that the speaker itself is wired up incorrectly internally or it may be just the way it sounds to you. For instance, some people can tell a difference if both front L and R speakers are wired up out of phase and some can't tell a difference at all.
 

darron027

Active Member
Hi trailer, think ive jumped the gun a bit. Im now not sure of improvement, put it this way its definately equal and no worse than having speakers correctly wired. Its difficult to swop over the cables and listen and then swop back and listen (if you know what I mean).

any suggestion as to a cross over frequency of the MA silvers? for further ref i have all speakers set to large.

Im gonna have to give up tonight and further investigations tomorrow, as the missus and kid require my services.

Many thanks all.
 

raymci

Standard Member
Have you checked that Compression isn't turned on, as this will 'flatten' out a Dolby-Digital signal for night-time listening?

(Using the remote: Setup, right to MainScreen2, down to "Cmprs:" and set it to "Off")
 

lpm

Active Member
darron027,

In an average room and with a matching speaker set, you should rarely have to set more than a few db difference between centre and mains for a balanced sound field. Have you used an SPL meter to set the speakers up at a uniform level? Also, are the speakers set small, large or some mixture? Try small all around and crossover about 80hz if you haven’t done so and see how it sounds. Finally, another option is to try it without the centre for a bit (centre off in the options, not just disconnect) and see how it sounds with a phantom centre. If things improve with any of the above, that can help pinpoint where the problem is.

With speakers out of phase, the sound stage can be diffuse and imprecise. I read somewhere recently where it was estimated that perhaps as much as 10% of speakers are wired incorrectly internally. Perhaps some of the professional salesmen or installers on the forum could advise if this is so or merely rumour.

Finally, advice from Arcam on earlier threads indicates that you can drive 8ohm speakers on the 4ohm setting so try that as well but make sure the AVR is switched off before you change this setting.
 

darron027

Active Member
Hi and goodmorning guys. Thought Id have a little play before shooting out to work (I work for myself, thus later today I'll be back for more playing....). While I cant make any noise, thought I bore you all with all my current settings etc as may well help.

Just checked compression and its definately turned off. Cant turn the volume up etc and listen until later today as dont want to wake the baby up, or I'll get it in the neck from the missus:devil:

SPEAKERS:
F L/R: Silver RS6
C: Silver RSLCR
R L/R: Silver RSFX
All the above have a nominal Impedance of 6 ohms (Ive currently got the AVR300 speaker impedance set at 4 ohms)
Sub- Rel Stampede (Will go to work on this after sorting C Channel)

My current AVR Settings which may help:

GENERAL SETTINGS:
Max Vol: 100
Max On Vol: 60
Delay Units: Metric
OSD: Full Pg
Vid Stat: RGG
HQ Vid: YUV

SPEAKER SIZES:
All currently set to LARGE
Using 5.1 set up, this Back L/R: None
5.1 Rears: Sur L/R

SUBWOOFER SETTINGS:
(my plan is to intergrate the sub better into the system after sorting the dialogue from centre channel)
Stereo Mode: Large
Cross-Over: 80Hz
Sub Stereo: 0dB
DTS LFE Gain: 0dB Normal
DVD-A Sub Level: 0db Normal

DELAY SETTINGS:
Front L (andR) 2.5m
Centre 2.3M
Surr R (andL) 1.3M
Sub 3.6M

LEVEL SETTINGS:
Front L: +03dB
Centre: +10dB
Front R: +03dB
Surr R: -08dB
Surr L: -08dB
Sub: 00dB

EX SETTINGS:
Surr. EX: Auto PLXIIx Movie
Use channels 6+7 for Biamp

ADV1. Speaker Eq.
All are set to 0dB
Auto tone bypass: Yes

ADV2. VID Settings:
All set to none (as not using AVR300 for vid)

ADV3. Digital Settings:
Coax: Just DVD
Optical: SAT and PVR

ADV4. ZONE 2:
Not using zone 2 function

ADV5. Analogue Settings:
All Set to 2V

SKY HD BOX AUDIO:
Audio Otput: Stereo
Volume: 100%
optical output set to: DD
Optical delay: 0ms

DV79 Audio:
Audio: Bitstream/6Ch
Down-Sampl: Max 96K
Compression: Off
Pro Logic II: Off

DV79 Speaker Settings:
Im assuming that all below dont matter as usingthe AVR. But I'll list just in case.
Front L/R: Large
C: not present
Surround L/R: not present
Sub: not present
Stereo+Sub NA
Crossover: 80Hz

DV79 delays:
Front: 2.4
C: NA
Surrond: NA
Post proc delay
NTSC 0ms
PAL 0ms

DV79 trims:
All 0dB or NA

Many thanks to all of you for your help & advice. Will keep reporting back as Im sure that there are others out there whom will benefit also.
Cheers:thumbsup:
 

darron027

Active Member
Not sure if this is gonna work; thought Id try and also attatch couple of pics of my setup. Note the hole in the centre top half of cabinet used to house centre speaker until yesterday. Decided like it better and also a little better sound on top of cabinet (may have to move back if missus doesnt like it there....)
 

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darron027

Active Member
Hi trailer.
Yes agree about moving the DVD palyer. Been like that since since I got the gear about 18months ago. The original Arcam dealer said this would be fine to do.
The centre portion of the cabinet is going to be adjusted/revamped within the next couple of weeks.
Now that Ive moved the C speaker Ive got more space to make cabinet alterations. The central cabinet door will be removed and the current C speaker shelf within cabinet will be removed. These will be replaced with probably a 3 tear shelf set up ie. enough space for 3 peices of equipment; DV79 / AVR300 / one other unit (not sure what though as want it all to match and look cool :cool:)

Had another quick play with attempting to improve C channel dialogue performance. Basically have set all speakers to SMALL. Believe that this has improved dialogue from C channel as its reduced other backgroud effects from the front 3 channels in particular.

Any further thoughts. Not on my cabinet though as theres a cunning plan to make Arcam stacking better.

Cheers.
 

raymci

Standard Member
I'd be tempted to configure the DVD player's speaker settings to the correct values (enabled, distance, etc) as well, just incase there is any down-mixing going on... there shouldn't be given that you're using the digital interconnect from it to the AVR300, but it won't do any harm. :)

Ray
 

craigd

Active Member
Just checked compression and its definately turned off. Cant turn the volume up etc and listen until later today as dont want to wake the baby up, or I'll get it in the neck from the missus:devil:

SPEAKER SIZES:
All currently set to LARGE
Using 5.1 set up, this Back L/R: None
5.1 Rears: Sur L/R

I would highly recommend setting your centre to small. If you set all speakers to small integration with the SUB will be easier to perform and results should be better. Keep the fronts Large for Stereo though.

LEVEL SETTINGS:
Front L: +03dB
Centre: +10dB
Front R: +03dB
Surr R: -08dB
Surr L: -08dB
Sub: 00dB

These settings seem strange - you should calibrate with an SPL meter. Looking at your photographs the centre channel is set far too high. A difference of 10dB = double the volume - your centre is 3.5 times louder than your surrounds (assuming equidistance and sensitivity - not an unreasonable assumption with your set up...mine is virtually the same). My settings are as below and my speakers are in roughly the same positions as yours:

Front L: +00dB
Centre: -01dB
Front R: +00dB
Surr R: +01dB
Surr L: +01dB
Sub: 00dB

These have been calibrated to the correct levels with an SPL meter.

DV79 Speaker Settings:
Im assuming that all below dont matter as usingthe AVR. But I'll list just in case.
Front L/R: Large
C: not present
Surround L/R: not present
Sub: not present
Stereo+Sub NA
Crossover: 80Hz

If you are outputting through digital out on DVD player you are correct - it has no effect.

Also - try isolating the centre from the cabinet - some people use halved squash balls. Have you considered that your centre may be faulty - have you tried playing it in isolation to everything else?
 

lpm

Active Member
darron027,

As I said earlier and craigd repeats above, the balance settings appear quite wrong. Try putting all settings back to zero for a bit. With your speakers for surround now set to small (yes, stereo can and probably should have fronts as large), try living with that for a bit for the different sources and see how it goes. My settings (using an SPL meter) are very similar to craigd's; all within a total 2db range. What surround modes have you been using for processing 2 and multichannel sources?:)
 

raymci

Standard Member
Another quick thought... you have your front speakers bi-amped, so you would have removed the bridging plate between high/low speaker connectors...

...is the bridging plate still correctly in place on the Centre speaker though i.e. are you sure your single run of Silver speaker wire is actually driving both high/low inputs?
 

darron027

Active Member
Hi all,
wish to say in advance many thanks for your time to offer advice on this. Will briefly answer your questions etc:

All speakers now to to small. (large for stereo). Some benefit, but would still like to improve.

Agree my level settings are all over the place. However is not my problem at moment. If for example i dissable ALL speakers except for centre, im still not happy with dialogue clarity. Yes will spl calibrate when sorted my c channel.

centre channel speaker is working fine. have just replaced with a MA gold centre (that ive just got on home demo), used different speaker cable also (just in case). Yes the gold is overall better sounding that the silver (which youd expect at the premium price), BUT still Im not happy with dialogue clarity (only when is 5.1DD/DTS from DVD or SKYHD box):suicide:

Good idea about isolation C channel from the top of my cabinet. Will try later as Ive got to find suitable product or sqash balls etc as advised.

When watching non DD sources from sky, I use Neo or Prologic. These sound fine and dialogue is much more audiable.

My investigations continue...........
 

craigd

Active Member
You are probably not listening to it loud enough - I have my AVR350 on around 70dB when watching films then the dialogue is nice and clear! If you listen at lower volumes you may actually benefit from turning the compression on.
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
Craig has a good point there. Movie soundtracks have a fairly large dynamic range and need to be listened to at fairly high volume levels in order to reproduce both the dialogue and effects the way the director intended. I tend to watch movies with my AVR350 set at about 70-75 which is still not close to reference level but loud enough to make sure sure that speech is clear and intelligible and when something that is supposed to be bloody loud in the film it is bloody loud.

As craig has already pointed out, if you have a desire to listen at low volume levels whilst still retaining dialogue clarity the dynamic range compression option might give you the desired effect.
 

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