1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Muffled dialogue

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by darrens, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    I bought myself a rather spiffy audio system but am somewhat troubled by the fact that the dialogue is often difficult to hear. I've got a Pioneer AX3, Mordaunt Short 500 THX and have set it all up as per normal.

    I normally watch films on Sky+ using the digital audio out.

    So, the problem I have is that I often find the dialogue a little bit hard to follow. It isn't garbled or muddled all the time but I would hardly call it clear. The centre speaker is directly below the TV and on the same plane as the two fronts.

    I'm not sure if that is simply because the Sky+ box doesn't produce clear audio or if there's something I'm missing with my set up. It's probably slightly clearer when it's digital soundtrack but it still isn't crystal clear. I actually had to give up watching "8 mile" because I literally couldn't hear a word anybody was saying with the heavy accents and my less than clear audio.

    Now, I'm just wondering if this is something that is just a fact of life (and I need a better source) or if my amp/speakers aren't a good combination or if there could be something wrong with my set up.
     
  2. Londondecca

    Londondecca
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Messages:
    2,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +96
    I would get a SPL meter to ensure the volume is evenly matched across all the speakers.

    Have you checked the speaker is working correctly ie damaged drivers
     
  3. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Thanks for the reply.

    I don't have an SPL meter but I have checked all the speakers with the test tones that come with the amp set up and they all seem to be working properly and the volume is evenly matched. Perhaps I should turn up the centre.
     
  4. andyAV

    andyAV
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    How does the system sound with the DVD player ? If that sounds okay it's probably sky. They do seem to really compress the sound to death sometimes. It's possible they are squashing the dynamic range too much and loosing some of the quieter stuff in the process.

    If you put your ear close to the front speakers you'll probably hear a faint sibilant hiss or twitter on Sky+ that won't be around on a DVD or the best Sky+ stuff (like movies 1-3 typically with the DD recordings). Suggests the sound quality is poor enough to upset the prologic processing. I've noticed this on the Pio D2011 and on a Rotel 1068.

    I've found forcing the amp to do PCM stereo can often really help in situations like the ones you're describing - sometimes the centre image is stronger and the sound clearer.

    Andy
     
  5. Richard46

    Richard46
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2000
    Messages:
    1,796
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    London E7 UK
    Ratings:
    +120
    I use Freeview not Sky but have exactlly the same result as Darrens; esp. noticable on US Movies. In fact gave up and I listen to all TV through stereo! Just use five channels for DVD's which are fine.

    Richard
     
  6. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Andy,Richard thanks for the replies. I'll do a bit of playing around trying a good DVD and then trying different processing for the Sky+ stuff. I'll report back my findings.
     
  7. karkus30

    karkus30
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Messages:
    13,991
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,261
    FWIW I experience the same problem with DVD's, I have tried some of the worst offenders through all sorts of systems and in the end it seems to be the fault of the dialogue on the DVD itself. If Sky gives a worse signal then its no wonder your struggling.

    Im currently using a Denon AVC10SE, 3 matched NEAT petite fronts, pair of Energy rears and an SVS sub connected to a Berhinger FBD. Everything is set up using sine wave test tones and SPL meter.............and guess what??

    still has poor dialogue on most DVDs :rolleyes: Maybe Im just too picky, as I have a really good HiFi, but it does make me wonder if I should really have spent so much money on a system which is reproducing poor software......................pays your money, takes your choice and it looks impressive and sound effects are brilliant, but the dialogue is still poor.
     
  8. Jeff

    Jeff
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,489
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Ratings:
    +256
    It's most likely an acoustics issue, I can't think of any of the hundreds of DVDs I own were the dialogue is poor.
     
  9. karkus30

    karkus30
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Messages:
    13,991
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,261
    Virtually all mine have poor dialogue, its easy to compare if I stick on something like Roger Waters live DVD, the difference is incredible.

    I first noticed it on Jurrassic Park, so I purchased the DTS edition, dialogue is still pretty poor, but the bass parts are a lot better (dinosaur footsteps).

    In terms of an acoustic issue, I shall soon be able to check as Im moving my system into a custom designed room, which is sized to the 'magic' formula (I would love to get my HIFi in there).
     
  10. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
    Distinguished Member AVForums Sponsor

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2002
    Messages:
    23,769
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    The Borders
    Ratings:
    +2,465
    Darrens

    Try overriding the MCACC calibrated setting for the centre channel - I've often found the combination of SKY/AX3 or 5 results in difficult to follow dialogue - you often have to 'lift' the centre out of the mix.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  11. Londondecca

    Londondecca
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Messages:
    2,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +96
    What is the magic formula, is it anything like the Euclid 'golden ratio'
     
  12. karkus30

    karkus30
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Messages:
    13,991
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,261
    same beasty I think, cant remember the ratios, but by a quirk of fate my new HC room happens to be exactly right. Having spent so long in awkward , all square rooms with acres of bare walls, the almost echo-less sound of the new room is a revelation.
     
  13. tom_nieto

    tom_nieto
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2003
    Messages:
    418
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Brighton
    Ratings:
    +1
    Turn up the centre. Even if everything is set up impeccably, it could still sound poor to your ears. Basically, do whatever you think sounds best, just have a fiddle and see what happens!
     
  14. booktrunk

    booktrunk
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    602
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Ratings:
    +3
    You could also try to put dynamic range compression on... So there is less fluctuation between the high and the lows.

    I really think you should invest in a sound meter an analogue one is under £30 and it's such a quick and easy way of testing your setup.
     
  15. Richard46

    Richard46
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2000
    Messages:
    1,796
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    London E7 UK
    Ratings:
    +120
    It is not clear to me how compressing the dynamic range could stop something sounding muffled. Perhaps I am missing something; :) I often do. Common sense would seem to suggest that the sound will be more muffled; perhaps you could explain why it will make dialogue clearer.
    I have never thought of using a sound meter to help solve problems like this; how do these work? what do they tell you about problems like muffled dialogue. Any info gratefully received; thanks

    Richard
     
  16. booktrunk

    booktrunk
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    602
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Ratings:
    +3
    If you compress the range, then there is less difference between the highs and the lows, this way you can turn it up slightly to a level where the dialogue is comfortable and the rest shouldn't blow you away :)

    Sound Meter, check all the different speakers using the test tone, it might be the centre is set to low and it's a lot easier to tell using a meter then just using your ear. Sometimes it's other speakers are to high drowning it out. I once thought I had a problem with the fronts but it turned out the rears were set to high, and that was messing up what I assumed was a front speaker problem.

    Also if it's really dialogue / centre that you seem to be having problems with could you swap it out with one of the other speakers as an experiment to see if it could be the speaker itself that is the problem.

    EDIT: I tend to set all the speaker levels correctly and then turn the centre up +1 notch, don't know why but that's what I do and it seems to work a treat for me.
     
  17. Richard46

    Richard46
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2000
    Messages:
    1,796
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    London E7 UK
    Ratings:
    +120
    Thanks for quick reply booktrunk. I have tried setting the centre speaker vol high/very high compared with main and rears and it makes things worse.
    I will try compression and see what that does; I know I have my processor set to full range.

    Richard
     
  18. booktrunk

    booktrunk
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    602
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Ratings:
    +3
    What speakers have you got by the way?
     
  19. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Okay, I actually do have dynamic range compression on and it does help. Basically when you have a film that has loud bits (e.g. explosions) and quiet bits (e.g. just dialogue) it makes the quiet bits louder and the loud bits quieter. So, you don't have to continually turn it up to hear the dialogue and then turn it down to avoid the house shaking to bits.

    I have turned up the center (+3db) from where the MCACC calibration set it and that has definitely helped. I still need to play about with the different decoding options (currently on THX) but I did try with plain stereo and direct options and I can't say they helped enormously.
     
  20. booktrunk

    booktrunk
    Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    602
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Leicestershire
    Ratings:
    +3
    With regard to sound meter, and people asking why do I need one, well it's amazing how often when you sit in the position where you are actually going to be watching tv/whatever and use it that speakers are not all at the same level. Just becaue the amp says they are at the same it isn't necessarily true :)

    If you sit off centre from the front the chances are the one furthest away from you will be quieter etc... By default most systems i've played with I find the rears in a 6/7.1 system are to high.

    It's things like this that I found the sound meter useful for ironing out. Also the sub. I've now got a BFD with my sub and it's way higher that I would have expect to put it in the system menu on my processor but hey it works :)
     
  21. Londondecca

    Londondecca
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Messages:
    2,080
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Ratings:
    +96
    I wonder if there is not something more fundamentally wrong here. Are all the speakers working correctly, do all the drivers move cleanly without any noise. I would also try and substitute the amplifier and DVD player to ensure they are working correctly.
     
  22. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    Londondecca, everything seem to work "fine" in terms of the speaker drivers moving cleanly. Although I'm no expert in home cinema I'm quite a hi-fi buff so reckon I would be able to notice if there was a problem (I've got several test cds which all gave no problem and helped me with speaker positioning and so on).

    I haven't tried substituting the amp/dvd player because I don't have another one (and it took me a day to connect it all up in the first place) but I am going to have a play with using different sources (sky vs dvd) and all different decoding options.

    Certainly boosting the center channel +3 has helped but unsure if that has actually solved the problem.
     
  23. cameronl

    cameronl
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    1,146
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Ratings:
    +11
    hi there, I used to have the same problem with my old system

    Yamaha 630 & Kef 2005.1 speakers.

    The only way I could fix it was by replacing both the center speaker and the amp. If you turn up the center you will loose the front and surround effects which kinda defeats the purpose of surround sound.

    imho once you notice something like this it means you have out grown your current system and you need an upgrade :)

    I now have the Quad L center and a Halo C2/A52 and have no problems.

    CaM
     
  24. darrens

    darrens
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    97
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Ratings:
    +0
    I've been running it "direct" for a week, i.e. only using the fronts and I have to say that I haven't noticed any issues with the dialogue. I just switched it back to normal processing and there does seem to be a real tonal difference which may mean that my centre tweeter has an issue or that I just need to boost the treble on my centre.

    More playing about this weekend.
     

Share This Page

Loading...