Denon AVR-X1600H lacking bass or Onkyo TX-SR494 has too much?

kriskate

Novice Member
Hi guys,

New to the hi-fi world, new to this forum, and having an issue (most probably my lack of understanding how the home audio industry defines sound).
My movies-games / music listening ratio is around 40% / 60% of the time.

As I wanted to upgrade my tv speakers (movies/games) and Skullcandy bluetooth speaker (music) I have been doing research for the past month or so, and finally decided to go with an Atmos-capable, entry level AVR (I like buzzwords but mostly I wanted to check how sound coming from above feels like) so I've bought an Onkyo TX-SR494, but since returned it in favour of Denon AVR-X1600H's more vast features, such as the better room correction, internet features (DLNA and internet radio mostly), eArc to name a few, with only a minor price increase. I've been looking at this and ofc reviews and threads for similar AVRs for 5 days before switching with Denon.

My speakers are just a pair of floorstanding Monitor Audio Bronze 5 which allegedly sound great for their value, and I figured are more than enough for my 20-something sqm living room. I would later like to upgrade to 5.0.2, and I really don't want a subwoofer, as it would render my "expensive" speakers low frequency response range reach useless (also don't want to hog even more space or disturb the neighbours below my apartment too much).

While watching movies with the Onkyo, I could feel the bass literally in my chest but with the Denon, even after playing around with Audyssey's dynamic eq and turning basically all the knobs, the bass sounds almost the same as "pure/direct mode".
Stereo music-wise, there is still a lack of bass (compared with Onkyo) but the sound fills the room a bit better, if that makes sense.

1. Could it be that Onkyo are over-amplifying the bass?
To be honest, Onkyo's "direct mode" also lacked in this area, so I pretty much didn't use direct in the 2 weeks of owning it, be it for music/ games or movies. I've only used direct for a bit of classical music, as it felt "right".
Also, the Onkyo sounded much clearer in virtual Surround modes, but I've taken that as a fact because Onkyo state that "Atmos Height Virtualizer" works with any number of speakers on their AVRs.

One thing I did notice with the Denon is that the speaker's frequency response lower limit, when set as Large (ofc) is 60hz (in the manual eq), although the speakers are rated at some 34hz.
In my settings switching frenzy I once got the option of 40hz (in manual EQ), but cannot remember the exact combination of audyssey/ speakers settings.
A weird thing I did notice is that setting the Subwoofer setting to "yes" as if having one, and having "LFE+main" on, the bass somewhat noticeably improved.
After scrambling the settings a bit more, I could not hear a difference with these 2 settings being set in to any option, and the sound feels as before messing around, bass-lacking.
While playing around with the settings, I was watching Atmos and DTX trailers, backward-seeking when changing any setting.

2. Could this be a bug in Denon's frequency response handling programming?
Meaning that they don't actually send the full frequency range to the speakers when set as "Large" with "Subwoofer: No"?


Anyway, long story short, Onkyo filled the room with sound, even in "stereo mode", while Denon, no matter what combination of settings I do, sounds much more "strangled" if that makes sens, at least while watching movies/ gaming.
Thus, my most important question for you guys is:

3. Is this behaviour normal? Should I not worry of a defective unit because the bass doesn't sound as "fulfilling" as on the Onkyo and just go with it?
As i said, I really like the connectivity features on the Denon, but I'm starting to think that owning a subwoofer is must with Denon, and don't really want that.
 

Dolus

Active Member
While watching movies with the Onkyo, I could feel the bass literally in my chest but with the Denon, even after playing around with Audyssey's dynamic eq and turning basically all the knobs, the bass sounds almost the same as "pure/direct mode".

Whoops I just noticed that you do not have a subwoofer so makes my reply a bit pointless.

I am convinced that on Denon and Marantz receivers Audyssey sets the bass too low.

I had an Onkyo receiver that before running Audyssey asked me to set the sub gain control so the output was 75dB. This resulted in the sub level trim not being altered from its default of '0'.

The Denon asks the same thing to set the sub to 75dB but the trim levels are set to -3 or so. Though I have set it to 75dB Audyssey is seeing it as 78dB hence a trim of -3. The result is that the bass sounds lacking compared to the Onkyo receiver. The answer is after running Audyssey is to increase the sub trim by 3dB or more and see how it sounds. Warning it is easy to increase it by too much and get fat bloated bass.
 
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kriskate

Novice Member
The Denon asks the same thing to set the sub to 75dB but the trim levels are set to -3 or so. Though I have set it to 75dB Audyssey is seeing it as 78dB hence a trim of -3
Yeah, their software adjusted to "lower" even my stereo speakers, at -6db -R and - 6.5db -L, so I'd guess it does the same for subwoofers. Maybe they do it as a layer of protection for the built-in channel amps. But it's not like the user will not adjust the volume to higher if the calibration made the offset too low for the user's listening pleasure.
I've even played with this, as you have an interval of -12 to +12 db (same as Onkyo) for each channel, but it doesn't fix the missing bass.

The thing for me is that I have had the same issue even before running Audyssey, or having everything related to it set as off after the initial calibration. I guess I'll just have to spend a few more hours of messing around with the settings, having a dynamic EQ set by Audyssey as I've just placed my speakers further from the wall (±30cm), as previously they were at about 15cm from the wall.
 

goingoingong

Distinguished Member
Yeah, their software adjusted to "lower" even my stereo speakers, at -6db -R and - 6.5db -L, so I'd guess it does the same for subwoofers. Maybe they do it as a layer of protection for the built-in channel amps. But it's not like the user will not adjust the volume to higher if the calibration made the offset too low for the user's listening pleasure.
I've even played with this, as you have an interval of -12 to +12 db (same as Onkyo) for each channel, but it doesn't fix the missing bass.
It lowers the levels so that at 0db setting of the volume the output is reference 75db.
The thing for me is that I have had the same issue even before running Audyssey, or having everything related to it set as off after the initial calibration. I guess I'll just have to spend a few more hours of messing around with the settings, having a dynamic EQ set by Audyssey as I've just placed my speakers further from the wall (±30cm), as previously they were at about 15cm from the wall.
Well that is perhaps one reason of the lack in bass, you're not getting as much wall reinforcement of the bass as before.
 

kriskate

Novice Member
It lowers the levels so that at 0db setting of the volume the output is reference 75db.
Thank you for adding to my knowledge base :beer:


Well that is perhaps one reason of the lack in bass, you're not getting as much wall reinforcement of the bass as before.
The above tests were before the 30cm, I didn't get to play around with the new position yet.

But with the Onkyo I had the speakers in the same exact position, with the the bass-reflex holes on the back muffled with the sponges they came with, and the speakers sounded "full" all around.

I'll play around with the new position and pretty much all the settings yet again and report back hopefully useful info.
 

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