Help required understanding a few speaker things

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Speakers' started by mwelbourne, Feb 20, 2018.

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  1. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Hello All

    I'm hoping someone can help me figure out some things to do with speakers. The problem I have is that I'm trying to replace some old speakers and my first two attempts have left me sadly not liking the results.

    I don't think my set up is that mind blowing but I suspect with was just luck that everything came together and sounded great. I've got a Denon AV amp and some Definitive surround speakers and sub all from 2000 plus some Technics SB-X100 speakers from a hifi I got in 1984 as my front B speakers. Put this on 5 channel stereo with A & B speakers on and the whole thing was amazing, (even better in my old house that had a concrete floor).

    A tweeter has gone on one of the Technics and I've not managed to find a replacement and plus they are over 30 years old so I thought it might be time for something new. I had taken the broken speaker to an speaker place and decided to use them to buy some speakers in kit form. The kit I ended up buying was nowhere near powerful in the bass and was too much in the higher ranges, so I've now got a pre-made pair that are just tweeter and bass unit. I can probably find out the components if required.

    The problem this time is that although the bass is much meatier is like it's the wrong kind of bass. It does bass notes really loud with almost like an an additional boom, and isn't very punchy on the actual bass drum beats. I suppose a bit like the sub woofer is not that accurate it seems these bass components have not got that deep, accurate thud/punch to the beat. Plus the tweeter when added in with the surround speakers is then too bright and some whooshing noises and some vocals are quite unpleasant at volume. This can be reduced by not having the A speakers on.

    So, what are my options here to move forward? I can try and find some more SB X100s. I was keen to have something new though. The SB X100s were on wall brackets, the new speakers are too big and are just on furniture. Will this affect the sound? Does having the speaker cabinets vented make the bass less punchy? Have I simply got the wrong components?

    Maybe it's a bit of an ask to try and get another pair of speakers that compliment to surround speakers so well during music?

    Do I have to keep bringing different speakers home and hearing them in the room? The ones I have now sounded great back at the shop.

    I was hoping the shop would take a listen to or analyse the Technics speakers and put something together that mimicked them. Maybe this is not possible. In that case, how do I know what bass component to go for that will give me that accurate thud to bass beats? I went too small/weak first of all, then it seems I went too big and the sound got too bassy and not accurate enough. Does this mean I got for something in the middle? I could do with understanding what different qualities of speakers give what sort of results. Until then I feel I'm stuck.
     
  2. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    There's a lot that confuses me about this thread so please understand that I may have overlooked the odd point or misunderstood something...

    I can't imagine what this setup sounds like. You may have grown fond of a very distinctive sound which will be difficult to replicate, should you wish to - and it seems that you do. My suggestion would be to simplify things first. And I strongly suggest you make no further purchases until you understand what's going on here.

    What is the name of the kit speaker and where did you purchase it from? Or did you put together components chosen by yourself?

    So you've purchased another pair to replace the kit speakers? What are the make and model of the speakers you most recently purchased. Incidentally, these speakers (which sounds like each cabinet houses two drivers) is likely to consist of a bass/mid driver plus a tweeter in each cabinet. This is a very popular combination and isn't necessarily worse than a three-way design. In fact, at the budget end, two-way speakers are usually superior, IMO.

    Is this setup used for TV, music or both? If listening to music, listen in stereo only. If listening to TV, listen in either stereo or 5.1 channel audio.

    When trying to sort out this mess (no offence intended), switch the sub off - it's possibly confusing things.

    Vented cabinets usually give a stronger bass (i.e. more bass output) and, with some exceptions, a slightly softer upper bass, IME. True bass accuracy (i.e. time domain accuracy) tends to come from closed box speakers but bass output will usually be less than vented speakers of similar size. Looks to me like your Technics speakers were front vented. Can't comment on the speakers' components as I don't know what they are.

    Size is an issue. Small rooms suit smaller speakers, large rooms suit larger speakers although there are no golden rules and a good few exceptions to the rule. Personally, as a rough guide, speakers with a 5" driver in each cabinet (plus tweeter of course) suits rooms up to about 15 sqm, 6 to 7" driver suits rooms of 15 to 25 sqm, 8" driver suits rooms up to 40 sqm. This a massive simplification and depends on many other factors (room shape/furnishings, music types, listening distances, listening volume) but it's a start.

    Ideally, yes. Some sellers operate a 30 day return policy, others may allow home demonstrations, some allow you to exchange speakers if you're unhappy with the original purchase. Check before buying. It's best to narrow down your options, by in-store demonstrations, to two or three pairs prior to purchase though.

    On a side issue... the Technics SB-X100 appear to have foam rubber surrounds on the bass drive units. These speakers could be 35 years old. IME, foam rubber driver surrounds do not survive intact for this long. Maybe Technics knew things other manufacturer's didn't but I suspect not. Have you examined the SB-X100 bass driver surrounds for holes, signs of splitting or turning to dust? For this reason alone, I'd also be looking for new speakers although driver surround replacement kits are available:

    Technics SB-X100 Speaker Surround Re-Foam Repair Kit
     
  3. Hixs

    Hixs
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    Focal might be worth looking at. Good upper end bass, which is tight but nothing much lower down to cause boom.

    Sticking with the bookshelf theme you have:

    Focal 705 (out of production)
    Focal 706 (upgraded 705)
    Focal 806 (out of production)
    Focal Aria 906

    From a quick search the 706 retail for 599 which surprises me a little. The 906 are 799/pair. Can be had for 699 occasionally though. Both are front ported for easier placement, though both like some room away from the walls.
     
  4. lindsayt

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    There's a pait of Technics SB-X500 speakers on UK ebay for £400 at the moment, which I think are optimistically priced. If they come down to £200 ONO, offer £150 and that would be a reasonable deal.

    Keep your eyes open for Technics SB-X speakers. Something will come along at the right price sooner or later.

    Primary requirement for good bass quality and quantity is a good quality, sufficiently large bass driver (or drivers). As already mentioned, sealed boxes generally avoid the horrible bass bloom that so many ported designs suffer from.
     
  5. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Hi. Thanks for the replies. Apologies my post was a bit of a ramble.

    I agree that it seems strange listening to music on the 5 channel setting. When I moved house in May 2000 my Techincs hifi from 1984 went wrong. I opted for the surround amp and speakers as the replacement with the Techincs speakers added in as the front B speakers for music. I think it was pure good luck that using the 5 channel stereo option made it better - sitting on the settee it was like having headphones on and it just sounded amazing. I've never heard music sound as good anywhere else. It was all super clear even when cranked up with a deep, accurate bass thud from the Technics, some bass note richness from the surround sub and lots of clear detailed treble from the six L & R speakers and lovey voices with help from the centre speaker. I had spent ages tweaking each angle of each speaker and setting delays etc.

    When I moved house it inevitably didn't sound as good (different shape room, floor boards with void below) but a nice bonus surprise to getting cavity wall insulation was that it cleaned the sound back up no end.

    The kit I purchased was basically this Mercury monitor:
    MERCURY Monitor
    which has Treble Scanspeak D2905/9700.00 Bass-mid Scanspeak 15w8530 k00 with the addition of a Visaton G50 FFL mid range.

    Initially there was a problem with the crossover because the specs for the Vistaton mid rnage were wrong, and when that had been solved then they sounded OK but didn't give out anywhere near the bass oomph of the Technics they were replacing.

    I have since been given what looks like a pair of these:
    SM108 Near Field HOME STUDIO MONITOR
    which has the same Scanspeak treble, no mid range and a Volt BM228.8 bass-mid.
    These have far more bass but as the lindsayt calls it, I now have bass bloom and once given a bit of volume it all sounds muddy and unpleasant.

    The room is 16ft by 13ft but this will be altered within a year or so to be 16ft by 23ft. Currently, the set up does sound better lying on the floor or outside of the room than sitting in the middle of it.

    dogfonos - you are quite right about the foam surrounds on the Technics are starting to perish.

    I think another thing about the Techincs is that if you listen to them on their own they don't perform brilliantly in the upper ranges, which is where the Definitive surround speakers really helped. The Technics do seem to have almost like a super tweeter which seemed to compliment the surround speakers. The Scanspeak treble unit now seems to add too much of the same as the surround speakers and having A and B front speakers all on is now unpleasant, just like the Volt mid-bass seems to add in too much of the same as the sub.

    Maybe I was just lucky that my previous set up all worked together so well, and to hope to replicate it is maybe unreasonable??

    Another thing I'm thinking about is that I will be having some work done on the house to make two rooms into one making the living room much bigger. Also, the Denon amp and speakers are nearly 18 years old and the amp starts up a bit funny these days and recently went to a spate of cutting out so maybe everything is due for an upgrade. The Dobly Atmos stuff looks interesting. So, maybe I should get the room altered, see if I upgrade the surround stuff and then see how things sound.

    I still think these new speakers are not going to give me that crisp, deep thud to the bass that I'm after though.

    Hixs, I've had a look at the Focal Aria 906, they are here for £414
    Focal Aria 906 Speakers - Brown (Pair) price - Enligo.com
    However, I imagine I wouldn't be able to return them if they didn't sound right.
     
  6. Romster1

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    if you're experiencing bass boom then try toeing the speakers in a bit and if the speakers have ports at the back try to dampen them a bit with some sponge bungs. you mentioned that you previously had a concrete floor so if your new floor is wood then try putting the speakers on stands preferably spiked ones and use some spike cups t protect your floor and improve the isolation. Moving them away fro a wall can also reduce bass boom
     
  7. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    Wow! These kit speakers are serious stuff indeed. I mean serious. Unless I'm way off, they should easily outperform the Technics in terms of outright audio quality (even before the surrounds had started to deteriorate) and also outperform any replacements suggested in previous posts (caveat: Haven't listened to any of these speakers so I can't be certain and price doesn't always reflect audio quality).

    I've built a decent passive kit speaker before, based on Focal drive units - back in the day when Focal sold units to the DIY market - so I understand the quality available and it doesn't get much better than Scanspeak/Volt combinations these days, IME (I use Volt bass units in my 3-way actives). And Wilmslow Audio know a thing or two about crossovers.

    I'm tempted to say that my rough guide to sizing speakers for rooms (post#2) would suggest a speaker with a 6 or 7" bass or mid/bass unit for your 19 sqm room so the kit speakers you used were either too small (the Mercury) or too large (the SM108). However, I don't think it's that simple in this instance. The problem here is that it's almost impossible to predict what modern speaker pair will suit the way you listen to music because your setup is so unconventional. Nothing wrong with that but it makes it very tricky to suggest possible alternative speakers knowing that there are existing speakers in play at the same time.

    Unfortunately, this also means that you'll be very, very fortunate to be able to select an appropriate pair of speakers based on a conventional, in-store demo. Yes, speakers may sound great in a shop demo but god knows how they'll sound within your unconventional setup. I'm loath to suggest you wean yourself off such an unconventional setup that you really like (or have really liked) and convert to a standard stereo system - maybe with sub if desired. After all, it seems that you liked a demo in a store once and I'm guessing that was conventional stereo? So there's a chance you may like a stereo setup?

    Other than that, go with lindsayt's suggestion of hunting down a pair of pre-owned Technics SB-X speakers. At least you know the sound you'll be getting - but beware of old foam rubber drive unit surrounds.

    By the way, what's this about the Visaton midrange drive unit added to the Mercury monitor!? Don't understand what's going on? That monitor really wouldn't benefit from the addition of a midrange driver.
     
  8. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Yes, they are nice speakers - so I was surprised/baffled when they didn't sound great in my set up. I had no idea how everything sounded so good before just by chance before, this has certainly been a learning experience.

    I originally went to Wilmslow to get a replacement tweeter but they couldn't source anything that small, so then that turned into getting some new speakers and the brief was to try and match the Technics as far as poss. I'm guessing that isn't a realistic task now.

    The addition of the Visaton midrange was Wilmslow's suggestion. Because I had been used to midrange for the last 30 years then maybe I would prefer to stick with them.

    Thanks for everyone's help. Other then buy some old Technics then this thread has confirmed the suspicion that to replicate what I used to have is probably not going to work. The magic cannot be recreated. Oh well. I shall spend some time listening to music in stereo, hopefully I will find some affection for the new speakers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  9. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    In that case I would view any replacement speakers you buy to be temporary and so not spend much or to buy second hand so you can sell them on if needed without much of a loss.

    I think the most likely cause of the bass problems you've experienced is that you've had two pairs of better speakers that have output to a lower minimum frequency than your originals. As such they could excite room resonances (modes) that weren't an issue before. Speaker positioning and listening position can influence this, although if it is the lowest frequency room mode not by much (unless you're prepared to sit right in the centre of the room!)

    If you play a frequency sweep from e.g. YouTube you'll be able to identify the frequencies which give the problem which will give us a bit more info. If you could describe your listening layout or even better post a diagram this may help too.

    If room modes are the issue then products like an antimode or minDSP are one way to address them.
     
  10. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    I'm sure everyone would be horrified at the speaker placement. The TV etc has to be in a corner with the surround fronts either side of the TV, the surround rears just behind the settee, but then the music speakers are in opposite corners of the room. I don't know why but the sound used to work with the Technics on some wall brackets with the right one angled towards the middle of the room and the left one angled towards the settee. The new speakers are too big for the wall brackets so I've just set them down where possible. I'm sure this really isn't helping matters.

    However, at the moment I have a Technics speaker connected on the left and a new one on the right and switching the balance between left and right then the old speaker still has a more accurate thud and in that respect seems to out perform the new speaker.

    As the size of the bass unit increases does that mean you lose accuracy and it gets more sub woofery, or should the new speaker have a meaner, deeper, more powerful but still accurate thud? This is what I can't get my head around because I was expecting it to yet it doesn't, it's more of a boom and seems to not to be a deep.
     
  11. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    Where do you sit when listening to music?

    Can you play a frequency sweep as I suggested above both with the Technics speaker and one of your new speakers, and note what the lowest frequency you can hear with each is please? And note what frequency the problematic sounds are at?

    Speakers which don't go to such low frequencies are not 'more accurate' since they are omitting part of the sound spectrum. If however speakers that go lower excite room modes that give a boomy sound this isn't accurate either.
     
  12. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Right, the frequency sweep was very interesting. The amp doesn't have a left/right control and you can't silence a speaker within the levels set up, so it meant unplugging one at a time. I've mainly been listening from 20Hz to about 400Hz or so.

    The new speaker on the right goes really loud and quiet a few times, and does some really obvious switching between left and right ears. Plug the new speaker in the left and again it goes loud and quiet but in different places. The old Technics does seem to be slightly louder at the 20Hz and it generally more consistent going up with the occasional louder and quieter bit. The new speakers have much bigger changes between loud and quiet, with some of the loud bits really filling the whole room and some of the quiet bits are really quiet.

    I'm not sure what to make of this then? I was trying to write down loud and quiet bits and swaps between left and right for all 3 speakers (4th speaker/other old Technics is still at Wilmslow) but it's tricky and I'm not sure if the data is useful at all.

    So, I'm assuming this is all down to the acoustics of the room and speaker position. What would I do now?
     
  13. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    I'm a bit confused why what you wrote there. You want to play the frequency sweep with only sound coming out from a single speaker at any one time, and with each speaker being compared being in exactly the same location. So have speaker A in the test position, not other speakers connected, and play a sweep. Then move this speaker and put a second one in the same location and repeat. Is that what you did? Also, if you're hearing sound at 20 Hz you're either playing very loud or potentially hearing distortion at a higher frequency than this.
     
  14. Ultrasonic

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    Perhaps I should explain my last post slightly...

    I you place the same speaker at different positions in a room and play a frequency sweep you will get different results, as the location will affect what room modes are excited. If you want to see which plays lower than the other you therefore need to compare in the same location. If one is more sensitive than the other is will sound louder across the board and you'd want to try to adjust the volume to be roughly as the first one.
     
  15. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Ah right. No I wasn't using a test spot. I was just playing each speaker where it is at the minute. I'll do it again tonight.

    Down at 20Hz the new speaker noise is mainly air moving - I felt the draft. A deep hum starts to come in at around 22 - 23Hz. There does seem to be a deep hum from the old speaker at 20Hz. I'll have a proper listen again later.

    The design of the crossover wouldn't prevent low sounds would it? I assume a crossover decides which frequencies go to which component, or does it also limit really low or high stuff as a protection?
     
  16. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    It's debatable whether a clean 20Hz signal is actually audible. Your newer speaker is barely audible at 20Hz and that's how it should be, IMO. Like Ultrasonic, I think you're hearing speaker distortion with the Technics - and it's not that unusual at these very low frequencies, especially when pushed hard. It's not good for most speakers to play very low bass at high levels so check that cone movements aren't excessive (and that depends on the speaker model) when you do this testing.

    Rarely. I seem to remember a passive KEF design from decades ago that may have used a filter to limit low frequencies fed to the bass (or bass/mid) driver.
     
  17. Ultrasonic

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    Ideally test an old speaker in its original location and then swap a new speaker into the same spot to test. You also want to be listening at your normal listening position, in case you weren't.

    For info. I know from microphone measurements that my speakers do end up giving some output at 20 Hz due the room giving some effective 'gain'. It is not audible though, as the ear is very insensitive at this frequency (hence my comment about you needing to play sound very loud to hear this - at which point I'd be worrying about damaging your speakers).
     
  18. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    I've redone the frequency sweep. I would say that both seem to do a bit of something down at 20Hz. I've been using a Youtube vid that starts there and goes up. The old Technics does make more air movement noise from the vent, but both seem to have a vague sound and certainly by about 22 or 23 you can here the tone rising.

    The new speakers have much more noticeable loud and quiet bits - it's quite difficult to remember the sound and at what frequencies there are differences. Unless I had a way of holding at a certain frequency and switching immediately between the two speakers then I don't think I'm capable of a comparison. But if we are establishing that the new speakers go as low as the old ones then I would say that they do.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that the problem is the harmonics of the room combined with the new speakers. I suppose I'm best to wait until the room gets altered and see how they will sound then. Other than filling in the void under the with concrete is there a way to improve the harmonics of the room and floor? Maybe some sort of sound proofing layer under the carpet that might be used in flats or something? Does having spike stands on the speaker mean you don't have to worry about the floor. Would having them on wall brackets like I used to be the same or better/worse than spikes? Because the new speakers are too big for the existing wall brackets they are now down at the same height as the surround speakers. Maybe having them up higher helped reduce any increases and cancellations that I might be getting at the minute.

    The antimode stuff looks interesting. I assume you feed the speaker output from the amp into that then on to the speakers. I suppose the sub could benefit from something like that too.

    It was mentioned earlier in the thread that my listening set up was unconventional. The Denon amp comes with connections for two sets of front speakers and has the 5 channel stereo setting so I had always assumed it had been designed to let you listen to music in this way.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  19. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    Could you post a link to the video? I'll give it a listen on my system if you do to check it's not a problem with the track.

    In terms of knowing what frequencies things happen does the video not display the frequency? Some certainly do. There are ways you can play individual frequency tones (e.g. Room EQ Wizard) but it's probably not worth it to be honest. Ignoring whatever is going on around 20 Hz, do you hear the new speaker at a lower frequency than the old one?

    Generally speaking, bass traps and/or a for a DSP to address room modes. I use a miniDSP 2x4 HD but there are other options. What it is the void you're talking about?

    The opposite if anything. Spikes couple the speakers to the floor. If anyone want to isolate speakers from a floor they want something like Sorbothane hemispheres.

    Better if sound transmission to the floor is an issue, but generally speaking wall mounting is sub-optimal as it prevents the speak placement being adjusted (generally resulting in them being too close to the back wall.

    What position are the speakers in? If they're on the floor and right up against a wall this won't be helping.

    Antimodes work with a line level signal and so go before any amplifier. I therefore don't think you could use one in your current setup actually so sorry for the confusion. You could use a miniDSP provided it can go between your source and your amp.

    I'm struggling with what is meant by '5 channel stereo' to be honest.
     
  20. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    I think this is probably an important factor with regards to audio quality so we need to fully understand the way mwelbourne is listening to the system.

    My question to mwelbourne: Typically, when you listen to music through the Denon AV receiver in your usual way, how many speakers can you hear the sound coming from?
     
  21. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Hi there. The 5 channel stereo plays the music through the front and rear speakers and sends something (everything?) to the centre speaker, and the sub joins in. The amp also allows you to have both A & B front speakers on at once so you get 3 left, 3 right, the centre and the sub all playing the music. The option is right next to the stereo button on the remote.

    The sound sweep I was using is:


    Both speakers start becoming audible around the same time. There doesn't seem to be much in it.

    The void I'm talking about is the one below the floorboards.

    It's a mystery where that bass drum thud goes. If anything I would expect the new speakers to do it with more power.
     
  22. Ultrasonic

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    I've checked out the video and there's no obvious audible distortion in the recorded 20 Hz signal, so I think whatever you are hearing around this point is distortion being generated within your system somewhere.

    Are you possibly comparing the speakers being connected to different sets of outputs which are being sent different signals by the AV amp? Like full range signals intended for front left and right main speakers vs more limited signal intended for rear speakers? Note that AV amps are not intended to simultaneously run two sets of front speakers.
     
  23. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    I was swapping the speakers on the same wire.

    Would distortion sound like it was going up in pitch and then blend in seamlessly to the actual audible sound? Right down at 20 Hz most of the noise is from air movement but with 2 or 3 Hz the note starts to become audible.

    I'm surprised the amp is not intended for 2 front sets of speakers. If this was so I would imagine the speakers button to swap between A and B rather than cycle round A, B and A+B. (Plus it's been OK for 17 years) .

    I think I'm going to have to persuade one of the people from the shop to do a home visit if I can. Thanks for everyone's help. :)
     
  24. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    How far away from the speaker are you when running these tests? Not sure what you meant by 2 or 3 Hz there?

    What model is the amplifier? You have described it as both an AV amp and a 5 channel amp. Such amps are intended to drive three front speakers (left, right and centre) and two rear speakers (left and right). That was what I was referring to above.
     
  25. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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  26. mwelbourne

    mwelbourne
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    Actually, that might not be the exact right one (I'm away from home for a couple of weeks). My remote hasn't got an LCD display. And it's black rather than silver
     
  27. Ultrasonic

    Ultrasonic
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    Looking at the link I see the pre-outs are for left, centre, right and sub only, so it does indeed appear to have two sets of outputs for left and right 'front', although how they were expected to be used I have no idea!
     
  28. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    OK, so you usually listen to music, recorded as stereo, over seven speakers plus the sub.

    I wish you luck in getting the sound you're after but with a setup this complicated there could be all manner of unpredictable interactions/cancellations not to mention audio setting options within the AV receiver. Therefore, in the words of Duncan Bannatyne, I'm oot!
     

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