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Dialogue clarity problems (esp. low volumes)

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by Goof, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Goof

    Goof
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    Don't know if this is the best place but here it is :D Dialogue clarity is a problem I've always seemed to have had, right back at the start with my first digitheatre but I still find I'm troubled by it even though I now have a separates system, which is as follows:

    Receiver: Yamaha AX630SE
    Satellites: Tannoy FX5.1
    Centre: Tannoy MX 100
    Sub: KEF PSW2000 but mostly N/A because I don't think the neighbours would be too happy :(
    Source: HCPC with Philips Sonic Edge 5.1 and Theatertek 1.5

    Now, as you'll note above, I live in a flat and don't really feel I should subject the neighbours to loud volumes (I sure wouldn't like it!) so I don't pump it up unfortunately. That said, it's still reasonably loud but I find when I turn it to a volume where dialogue's acceptable, the second anything 'actiony' happens I'm reachy for the remote to turn it back down. Watched Terminator 3 last night and I was having to flick it up and down every 2 minutes which was no use :thumbsdow
    It seems like when there's a gruff, leading man type speaking it's too bassy, indestinct...and I should note this is without the sub (I hardly ever use it).

    The settings I had - satellites all set as "small" on the receiver, centre set as "large", dynamic range as max, centre level +5dB.

    Is it worth trying the centre set as "small" like the rest? Any other suggestions or do I just need to accept that with dialogue at a normal level, gunshots are going to be 3 times louder (seems pretty logical actually :suicide: ).
     
  2. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    It happens to lots of people and is one of the reasons I like my Marantz receiver which is excellent for vocal clarity combined withy my 77C1 centre.

    I'd suggest setting the centre to small and turning on HTEQ (or CinemaEQ or whatever Yamaha calls it) along with DRC. Remember that DRC generally only works for DD soundtracks so watching in DTS won't help!

    It may also be worth considering some room treatment, have a look in the Acoustics power buys but some absorptive material along the wall behind your centre and front speakers should help a bit. :)
     
  3. Goof

    Goof
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    Hi john,

    Thanks for the info - don't have a dedicated room so can't really get any absorbative materials (now that you mention it, it's a reasonably big room with 12ft ceiling so that may account for the poor accoustics).

    Didn't know that about DRC and DD - I was watching T3 in DTS so that may also explain.

    Not sure what the cinemaEQ is though - is that the DSP? (that just seems to give various 'theatre' effects, though now you mention it maybe another mode would help).
     
  4. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    On Denon processors it's called CinemaEQ, on my Marantz it's called HTEQ. All it does is tame the highest frequencies which may help in controlling the range of sound being produced. I've no idea if Yamaha implement something like that so hopefully someone else may be able to help. :)

    (Calling Dfour, calling Dfour... ;) )
     
  5. Goof

    Goof
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    Ah, I'll sit back and wait then :D
     
  6. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    It's also worth making sure that you've properly calibrated your channel levels with an SPL meter. :)
     
  7. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    I'd wager that's exactly where the problem lies, alot of people sometimes have rears far too loud and this in itself can swamp the centre channel, where delicate sounds can easily be lost...
     
  8. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Agreed Matt, everyone should have an SPL meter as the difference it makes is easily worth hundreds of pounds worth of electronics upgrading.

    Without one I usually find:
    Rears and sub too loud.
    Centre too quiet.

    All of which make things very exciting but dialogue a pain in the arse to discern properly. :)
     
  9. dvdchild

    dvdchild
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    i'm suffering exactly the same problem with my setup and i wonder if i need to setup using a SPL instead of using the Denon Microphone auto setup.

    DVDCHILD
     
  10. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Have to admit that I've never used any of the auto-setup routines so don't know how accurate they are. As a rough guide based on my own experiences you could try these changes and see how it sounds (bear in mind that I'm completely guessing at this based on my own experience!):

    Turn centre up by 2dB.
    Turn rears down by 2dB.
    Turn sub down by 3dB.

    Obviously you can go back from that without too much trouble and also consider the location of things - is your centre speaker pointed directly at you or is it going over your head or at your knees? Could you try toeing in your speakers a bit or conversely pointing them out a bit? There's lots of things to try. :)
     
  11. Goof

    Goof
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    Thanks for the replies - I'll try adjusting the levels, though I think the rear levels drowning out dialogue isn't always the case. Using T3 as an example again, there are a couple of scenes at the start where there's no ambient noise, just dialogue, and I was still struggling to make it out at lower volumes.

    John, what's this 'toeing in your speakers'? I read it somewhere else - I imagine it's something not very technical like shifting the direction but am dumbfounded none the less :D
     
  12. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    It's just pointing them in towards you a bit rather than straight out into the room parallel to the walls. :)
     
  13. Goof

    Goof
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    Ah, mine are already pointed towards me more or less at head (sitting) level.
     
  14. dvdchild

    dvdchild
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    i've bit the bullet and ordered a Radio shack SPL meter and give that try to calibrate. Hopefully this will help quite a lot

    DVDCHILD
     
  15. Dolus

    Dolus
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    The likely culprit regarding the difference between getting the voices right but then action scenes too loud and when the action scenes are right the vocals are indistinct is called dynamic range.

    By definition dynamic range is the difference in level between the quietest bits and the loudest bits. Having it set at max means you have the greatest difference possible. I do not know what other settings you have for dynamic range but try reducing it to the lowest/smallest then set all your channel levels to the same volume then turn the centre channel up a few notches at a time until it sounds right.

    Setting your speakers to small is only really necessary when you are using the subwoofer and all the low bass gets sent to it. On some amps/ receivers if you select no subwoofer and set the centre/ surround speakers to small then the bass is sent to the left/right speakers which is fine if they are large enough to handle low bass.
     
  16. cliveuk

    cliveuk
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    does your yamaha have the Night mode??
    my RX-V1500 has Night music and Night cinema which reduces the dynamic range of film soundtracks and makes dialog easier to hear at low volumes
     
  17. Goof

    Goof
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    Dolus, yes, that would prehaps eliminate (or reduce) the need to up/down the volume every couple of minutes but would still likely leave dialogue issues.

    Clike - yes, it does, hadn't though about that, thanks!
     
  18. cliveuk

    cliveuk
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    if its the same as mine once you have turned it on you can then choose from 3 different levels
     

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