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Essential tweaks

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Colin Parker, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Colin Parker

    Colin Parker
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    I've just bought a whole new system, and being someone who is never satisfied, from constant tweaking I have noticed a few little configuration changes that have made a huge difference. These are based on the Denon 3805 with a Sony HQ100, rel q200 and B&W 700's, but apply to other systems too.

    Set the speakers to Small. This will mean the amp doesn't bother sending anything below the crossover frequency to the other speakers. The sub will be way better at handling bass and it's amazing how much cleaner the top end sounds on your main speakers without the low end frequency's muddying the signal.

    Play with crossover frequency. My fronts go down to 40hz, but the system overall sounds better if I set the crossover to 60hz instead.

    Set the Room EQ to Front. Being a bit of a purist I originally set mine to Off. But trust the auto-setup. I wouldn't want to start setting frequency levels manually without some sort of machine, but setting to Front makes an amazing difference. Normal had too much treble on the centre. But just EQing the front makes music sound closer without being artificial.

    Move your speakers as wide apart as possible. The offical Dolby recommendation is 30 degrees. Not each side of your TV. Proper stereo seperation envelopes you in sound and makes you less concious of the direction it's coming from.

    When setting the individual speaker volume I found it's best to turn the volume down so you can just here the white noise on the test tone.

    Point your speaker so the tweeters are aiming at your ears.

    Your sub may give out more bass when it's in the corner, but I think of that as second hand, revereberated echo bass. Put it nearer the middle of the room and turn it up to compensate. It sounds much cleaner.

    Physically measure the distance from your speakers to set exact the delay time. I've set my sub on full power to prevent anyone cranking up the volume during a party and blowing out the windows. Because of this, autosetup detects the distance is too close so the bass beats are slightly too fast. Set the distance right and turn the output volume down. My speakers are about +12 with my sub -12.

    Beg/steal/borrow a configuration DVD for your TV. Default settings especially for contrast are sooooo far off. If you haven't got something like Digital Video Essentials, set the brightness so blacks are one up from the darkest grey, and contrast so a full screen of white looks white instead of the orangey ditortion you get when you look directly at the sun.

    Don't be tempted to watch 4:3 pictures stretched to widescreen or smart, just so it fills your TV. The distortion is not worth the extra few inches.

    I realise most people on here know more about home cinema than I do. But people new to it might never discover these changes, or have to wait to discover them by accident like I did.

    Anyone got anything else to add?

    Col
     
  2. Jase

    Jase
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    +12db boost on the channel levels isn't good. If ALL of your speakers are at +12db then you've got a problem. The volume level isn't high enough for the test tone to produce 75db so it's boosted all levels to try and reach it. You're better off to raise the overall volume to 0db (Reference Level) when balancing the speaker levels and have lower channel level settings. You should be getting quite different readings for the surrounds and surround backs compared to the fronts. If you have DVE and an SPL Meter you can check this easily.

    The Denon will also let you set Delay Times down to 0.01M (1cm) which makes for VERY accurate sound placement/steering. When you access the Speaker Distance/Delay Time option in the Setup Menu change the Default Step to 0.01 instead of 0.10. ;)
     
  3. Colin Parker

    Colin Parker
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    Isn't the +12 for the speakers just a relative setting because the subs internal amp is on full power? So when it sends the white noise test tone at whatever decibels, the amp adds more on top of that. So to compensate it will send more to the speakers and less to sub.

    That's the way I assumed it works. If I'm wrong let me know. I just set it like that so it's easy to go back to the correct values if anyone starts fiddling with the back of the sub. Volume and crossover are set to max because I can use the amp to throttle it.
     
  4. Jase

    Jase
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    The idea of channel level settings is to get them all balanced to the same level (75db when the volume level is set to 0db e.g Reference Level). If you don't set the overall volume higher when initially balancing them the amp will max out all channels in an attempt to reach the required 75db. It can only go to +12db per channel and that might only equate to 70db or something if your main volume is set too low. Whilst all will be showing +12db, in real world terms they'll all be unbalanced in relation to each other.

    The sub volume could be set to MAX but I'd personally set it about halfway and then use the AV amp to fine tune the level setting. Crossover set to MAX is spot on if all speakers are set to small, all bass to the sub. :)

    The thing about setting to Reference Level is that once it's done the amp will maintain the same speaker levels relative to each other when you move the main volume up and down. eg. 0db will register 75db output with a test tone from DVE, -10db will be 65db and so on. You must balance to these levels to get accurate output etc.
     

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