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Is it my Centre????

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by rscott4563, Apr 4, 2003.

  1. rscott4563

    rscott4563
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    I have a query regarding my surround setup and the lack of definition I seem to be getting from my centre speaker with dialogue from Dolby digital soundtracks.
    My setup is:
    Denon 2800MKII DVD
    Denon 2802 AV
    Kef 2005 Sat & Sub

    I notice that with DD DVD soundtracks sometimes the dialogue can get lost in the rest of the sound and seems to be very muffled and lacking in crispness, this is more apparent on some movies than others, for example "We were soldiers" is a very bad in this regard, as is "Black hawk down" and "Minority report".

    I was wondering if this is something that can be sorted out with changing some of the setup options such as Cinema Eq or Tone Def etc...

    Or is it just that these DVD's have poorly mastered audio, or do I need to upgrade my speakers, in particular my centre??

    If it is just that my centre speaker isn't up to the job when it comes to keeping up with the rest of the system what would be a suitable replacement to give me that punchy crisp dialogue? This wouldn't be such a bad thing as I could then move my Kef to the back and have myself 6.1 audio.

    All help with setup suggestions or alternative solutions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. James45

    James45
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    you could try boosting the output of the centre speaker in the amp settings, i have my centre +1db higher than the rest.
     
  3. rscott4563

    rscott4563
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    tried that but to get it to a suitable level for dialogue I have to ramp it up to around +4ish which causes it to sound loud but still a bit muffled?? No definition if you know what I mean.
     
  4. sweetmate

    sweetmate
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    I find that these kinds of soundtracks (dynamic and complex) tend to illustrate the shortcomings of less expensive (notice I didnt call your gear cheap) equipment. I have been upgrading for quite awhile and until i got to where I am now (Denon A1SE upgraded and KEF THX Reference), I always found that when soundtracks got complex and dense, I had to strain to make out dialogue, even if the output level to the centre was correct.

    Minority Report and Black Hawk Down have beautifully recorded and mixed dialogue so I'd say this points to your speakers and amp. The problem is that if you upgraded your centre, you'd want to upgrade your other speakers and then the sub and then your amp...and so it goes,....
     
  5. activeservo

    activeservo
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    I'm not familiar with the Denon receiver but I'm sure it has a Dynamic compression option ,which will allow you to control the level of compression.You might have 3 settings small ,medium,large or something to that effect{on/off}.This will enable you to hear the dialogue without having the rest of the soundtrack i.e large explosions etc ,drowning it out.Give it ago what have you got to loose!!!!
     
  6. Brad_Porter

    Brad_Porter
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    Hi,

    First things first. Have you calibrated all your speaker levels to 75Db with a Radio Shack SPL meter? You may find that your fronts could be drowning the centre speaker; or even your rears if they are on top of you and loud.

    Is the centre directly facing you and free from obstructions? Use a small vanity mirror (carefully!) with blue tac (carefully) and stick it too the speaker. Then angle the speaker until you can see yourself in the mirror from the seating position. This will mean you have direct line-of-sound field.

    What sweetmate said is quite true also unfortunately. I have progressed up the Home Theatre ladder and my starting point some years ago was a Sony DB925 with Sony Pascal sat speakers. I had this problem then and for a few other systems thereafter as well. Most of my tweaks and improvements have been from speaker placement and better equipment.

    However, we must also mix this with the fact that Dolby Digital recordings are sometimes not properly mixed for home viewing. How many times have you been to the cinema (James Bond and LOTR1 and 2 especially) where you find the dialogue as at a lovely level but the sound effects make you jump out of your seat and your ears ring! Transpose that recording to the home theatre user and you get your problem in a nutshell - quiet dialogue mixed with loud surround effects!

    I have spoken to Dolby quite a lot on this subject alongside some experts on this and other forums. Dolby believe that, in the home, some form of Dynamic Range Compression should be used. Purists will be jumping all over me now, but that’s straight from Dolby’s mouth. As said before, DRC dramatically reduces the 'contrast' of quiet and loud and can make listening easier, less fatiguing and more balanced.

    I personally have found that over the years, upgrading my equipment negates the need for me to use any DRC. We Were Soldiers does have terrible recorded dialogue and also has terrific amounts of sound effects going around all speakers. My Denon 3802 didn't do a great job of clarifying speech and this was a nightmare film for me to watch without disturbing the balance of speakers - especially into my 40hm speakers at higher levels. However, upon purchasing a good processor, a good set of power amps and some good cables every single one of my 93 films now has intelligible dialogue. I can watch We Were Soldiers without any problems at low and high levels.

    I know that upgrading is not an option for all of us and I don’t want to sound like I am trying to come across all 'Mr know it all' as I am definitely not. I just find myself and others going through the same issues and I know, through personal experience, speaker positions and good equipment makes the difference.

    Give the changes and tweaks ago. Hope they help mate.

    Brad
     
  7. rscott4563

    rscott4563
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    Just wanted to say thanks for the information, it has proved very helpfull and after following some of the advice I feel I have now got my system working a lot better.

    Couldn't believe how easy it was to position the speaker using the mirror trick, I've now got DRC set to low with the centre slightly higher at +2 and this now seems to have sorted most of the major problems with the most problematic films eg "We Were Soldiers" as at the levels I watch most films at (between -10 and -20, don't want to annoy the neighbours!) this seems to give the best contrast between having intelligible dialogue and effective surround sound experience.

    I suppose this will have to make do for now until I can fund an upgrade. In regards to an upgrade what would make the most difference to my setup for sound quality???

    Thanks for your help
     
  8. Brad_Porter

    Brad_Porter
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    Thats a tough question to answer. The real answer, is good power, good processing and good speakers/speaker placement.

    The processor I have just purchased is my top upgrade over the past 18 months and has added a real sense of involvement from all my 5 speakers. I cant fit 6.1/7.1 in my room, but this processor sure makes it feel like its there.
     

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