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general surround sound question

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dcguy, May 10, 2004.

  1. dcguy

    dcguy
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    Hello. I recently set up a Dolby digital 5.1 surround home theater system. I am getting frustrated by how much time I have to spend tweaking my receiver (a brand new Yamaha HTR-5740) when I am watching movies vs. watching high def. television vs. regular non-high def. television.

    I have read the receiver's user manual from front to back and have spent at least a month using the system to get a feel for the difference settings. The average person probably would not notice the subtleties that concern me, but as you know, if you spend a lot of money on a top-of-the-line system you expect it to work with minimum effort and maximum consistency.

    It just seems for all these different media formats there is no one perfect setting. What is your experience? For example, it is normal that I should have to change the volume on the center channel almost 10db when watching a DVD (which I assume they are all in 5.1 or 6.1 Dolby) vs. watching 5.1 HDTV like HBO?

    My last question is, sometimes when a DVD is playing and the volume is just right, all of the sudden during an action scene or something the volume will get REALLY loud and so I constantly have to have my finger on the volume control so I don't annoy my wife or the neighbors (I live in a townhouse) with the extreme volume and sub-woofer responses. Is this normal? I mean, should I have to adjust the volume many times throughout a movie in order to keep the peace? I have tried using “night” mode on the receiver, which is supposed to subdue the volume on large action scenes yet amplify voices, but the action scenes still turn out too loud.

    I’m just looking for consistency in my home theater experience, and I think I have top of the line equipment and a knack for understand how things are “supposed” to work, but I am frustrated after a month of constant tweaking.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback and personal experiences you can provide
     
  2. LV426

    LV426
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    …it is normal that I should have to change the volume on the center channel almost 10db when watching a DVD (which I assume they are all in 5.1 or 6.1 Dolby) vs. watching 5.1 HDTV like HBO?

    I'd say not. Although as this is mainly a UK based forum, things like HDTV and HBO are things we don't experience. DVD audio formats can vary hugely - by no means are they all DD5.1 or 6.1. Many are DD2.0. And I guess the same may be true of your TV transmissions, too.

    Setting up for DVDs is relatively easy. All DVDs which have THX branding on them (examples - Indiana Jones trilogy, Terminator 2 etc) have a THX optimiser title on them. Part of this is an audio setup tester. This produces sounds of equal volume from the various channels. Get them sounding equally loud (by ear, or better still, by using a DB meter) and your 5.1 (or 6.1) setup is now correct. It should stay correct for all DVDs.

    Any differences you then encounter are down to the film's directors choices and/or choices made in the mastering process. If, say, the centre/dialog channel is atypically loud, it's because that' how the disc (or film) is mastered and you can assume (not always rightly) that this is how it is meant to sound.

    ….sometimes when a DVD is playing and the volume is just right, all of the sudden during an action scene or something the volume will get REALLY loud and so I constantly have to have my finger on the volume control so I don't annoy my wife or the neighbors (I live in a townhouse)

    The dynamic range recorded on DVDs is often huge. Again, this is wholly intentional. Designed to give the special effects an increased level of involvement. The only option, in the circumstances you describe, is to use features such as 'night mode' - but, in truth, these will always actually change the soundtrack from what the "director intended". In other words he (or she) wanted the effects to be much louder than the dialog.

    I'm fortunate enough to live in a detached house. And I don't find myself tweaking my channel levels (or volume, for that matter, once I've set a level for the particular film). In fact the only controls I routinely use on my Denon 3801 are selecting a source and setting the volume.

    Not much help, I'm afraid.
     
  3. dcguy

    dcguy
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    Thanks, I appreciate the response. I have not tweaked my "dynamic range compression" setting on the receiver. Currently, it is set to Max, but I may try Std. or Min. and see what happens.
     

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