Poor quality sound from my home cinema/stereo system

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stevie_mc

Guest
I have recently purchased a home cinema separates system, doubling as a stereo system, which comprises the following components:

Yamaha rxv440 reciever
Toshiba SD900E DVD player
Gale 3030 floorstander fronts
Gale 3050C centre
Gale 3010S rears

Since the Toshiba SD900E was designed to handle audio just as well as video I am using it as a cd player until i can afford to purchase a top end dedicated cd player.

I was expecting big things from this set up and I was extremely pleased at the relatively low cost (less than £1000) for the entire system. However it is now more than a month after it was installed and I am not happy with the sound, with particular regards to 2 things:

- The sound from the rear speakers does not seem to produce an effective sound field. The way my room is set up means that the rear speakers are almost flush with the rear wall and I'm not sure if this would affect the sound

- The sound from stereo cd's is particularly dissapointing. Vocal's do not seem clear and there is a faint hissing noise through most tracks, almost like a radio station that hasnt quite been tuned properly. I thought at first it was poor quality mp3's that i had downloaded and burned onto cd but even with good quality orginal cd's the same problems appear.

I am relatively new to the home cinema scene and would appreciate any advice on what i may be doing wrong or how to identify any problems in the system. Would buying top quality cables help or would bi-wiring the two front speakers help? I'm beginning to think that i did not choose the correct speaker/amp combination for both home cinema and stereo use and i would appreciate anyones opinions on this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this

Steven
 

Stellavision

Well-known Member
First thing I would do is calibrate the speakers if you haven't already. Get yourself a Radioshack or similar spl meter and calibrate all speakers to 75db. This will ensure you got an even 360 degree soundstage round the room. Also if the levels of the left and right speakers are quite low then you will have to turn the master up higher to compensate which can result in hissing in extreme cases.
Check all connections are secure.
Check your cables. Your system is only as good as the weakest link. You could have the best speakers in the world but they will sound pants if they are wired up with poor quality cables. I personally reccommend QED Silver Anniversary as I have had good reults using it myself and it was a What HiFi 5 Star winner.
You could Bi-wire but it's debatable how much difference this really makes, but bi-amping would for sure produce more noticable results.
Finally from me, I'd be careful what you say about burning downloaded mp3's on to cd. You may finish up with unwelcome visitors at your door with a pair of handcuffs.
 

Ian J

Banned
I would guess that you may be expecting too much from your equipment which without being rude seems to be very unbalanced in terms of budget.

People often say that a £200 stereo amp will outperfom a £750 AV amp in pure music mode as the stereo amp is fairly simple in comparison to what an AV amp is now expected to provide. Your Yamaha amp is right at the budget end of AV and is coupled with a pair of £150 floorstanders but what I find unusual is that the source for your equipment is what was a £1,000 flagship DVD player not that long ago.

If the hiss is audible at a normal seating position whilst music is being replayed there may well be a problem somewhere but if it is only audible close up during quiet pieces it is likely that there is nothing that you can do about it and my guess would be that the amplifier is the weak link

As long as your rear speakers are freestanding and not wallmounted the best advice would be to keep moving them around until you find the optimum position. Even a small positional change may improve results
 

Nimby

Member
I would just add, that in my own opinion, cables are not your highest priority at the moment.
Good cables reveal more of what you have already. That may not be what you want or even need right now.
Believe it or not even the cheapest £5 standard interconnects do actually work. Even in high end systems. I've used the bog standard, skinny black stuff in £8K+ stereo pre/power systems and still enjoyed what the system could do.
All cables are very system dependant. The second hand market is full of ads for expensive cables bought on spec or hype. Many of which have proved not to be the answer to a problem elsewhere in the system.
Unless you can actually borrow a cable on extended free trial before purchase then don't waste good money that was much better better spent upgrading elsewhere.

Better to invest your AV fund in an SPL meter first. Get your system working at it's maximum potential before shelling out more hard-earned cash on more hardware. Once you have your SPL meter you can play for hours fine tuning. Until you gain maximum satisfaction from what you have already. Without spending a penny more.

Nimby
 
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bobbypunk

Guest
I'd change the speaker cable first just because it's going to be an upgrade that would be needed for a change of amp/speakers anyway. I'd second the QED silver anniversary as the one to look at.
 
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stevie_mc

Guest
Thanks for all your advice, I'll take it all on board. When i set out to buy this system I had included a top quality cambridge cd player as part of the package but shortly before I was due to purchase it my dvd player packed in and i had to quickly readjust. My main aim was to strike a balance between a home cinema surround system and a stereo system but what i feel i now have is an excellent system for playing movies in true surround but a very poor system for playing cd's in stereo
 

JonLeach

Novice Member
if you think the CD/stereo is poor consider adding a intergrated amp to run the front stereo pair, do a search in the threads is a common topic.


Jon
 
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stevie_mc

Guest
Forgive me for being a novice about this kind of thing, it was only about 6 months ago i made the decision to upgrade my old worn out midi system. What is an integrated amp and how dos that work? Will it impact on the 5.1/6.1 performance of my system?
 
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stevie_mc

Guest
Also as an afterthought, could it be that the dvd player is just too good for the rest of the components? Picture quality is superb and although I'm currently lacking a sub (my room is too small and the power from a sub would only strangle the life out of it), the surround sound is amazing so its really just the stereo sound which is a big issue since I play cds more than i play movies. I guess I should have put more thought into it but you learn from your mistakes and I'm picking up things all the time
 

Ian J

Banned
One way round it is to buy a stereo amp to run the front two speakers which you would use for music replay and the Yamaha AV amp would be connected so that it only ran the centre and rear channels
 
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stevie_mc

Guest
What be the effect of configuring a system like that be on surround performance? If I purchased a stereo amp (which I am carefully considering) would it be possible to connect the front speakers to both amps, although I would only be using one amp at any one time depending on what i was listening to/watching?
 

Surtsey

Member
- The sound from the rear speakers does not seem to produce an effective sound field. The way my room is set up means that the rear speakers are almost flush with the rear wall and I'm not sure if this would affect the sound

- The sound from stereo cd's is particularly dissapointing. Vocal's do not seem clear and there is a faint hissing noise through most tracks, almost like a radio station that hasnt quite been tuned properly. I thought at first it was poor quality mp3's that i had downloaded and burned onto cd but even with good quality orginal cd's the same problems appear.

This may upset some people but the reproduction goals stereo and surround sound are incompatible. Stereo is designed for two-dimensional reproduction. You are listening to a trio on stage. The flute-player is standing in the centre. The left and right speakers reproduce his notes at equal volume, convincing your ears that he is standing in the centre. The cellist is on the right; the speakers reproduce his notes 75% right speaker and 25% left speaker. The vocalist, on the left is reproduced 25/75. The problem with reproduction an AV system is that both rear speakers are redundant (there are no artists playing music behind you). Centre speakers are also redundant (long conversation).

An AV system intends to reproduce a three-dimensional experience. e.g. You are watching the victim running into the woods and you can hear her screaming (front speakers). But behind you, you can hear the creature coming (rear speakers). The police are on there way. You can hear the sirens (front-left, rear-left).

Back to a stereo recording on an AV system. True reproduction would result in the rear speakers playing nothing (or perhaps the sound of the ass-hole sitting behind you on his mobile phone). The rear systems can be programmed to reproduce the sounds coming from the front speakers. The problem with this that it has moved your players: the vocalist is now standing 90 degrees to your left and the cellist is now 90 degrees to your right.

In AV sound processing such as Dolby etc speech and vocals are boosted by directing them to the centre speaker. A stereo audio recording offers no such facility, ergo you lose clarity by comparison.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
- The sound from the rear speakers does not seem to produce an effective sound field. The way my room is set up means that the rear speakers are almost flush with the rear wall and I'm not sure if this would affect the sound
The "rear" speakers in a 5.1 are actually surrounds and are meant to be on the side wall (5.1 Surround Speakers Setup | Dolby Laboratories). Since your ears are also on the sides of head, I guess that this explains why you are not getting the expected sound field from the surround speakers. You'll need to reposition them, as per the above link.

The issues with CDs and especially the hissing, are likely just a consequence of the quality of the AVR and speakers you got for the budget you had. Others have made sensible suggestions, but there's also some utter rubbish being posted about cables. Unless you have deliberately used bell wire to sabotage the system - in which case you'd hardly be asking - they are the least problematic part of your system (or of one costing 10 times as much).
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Deleted - forums designers - stop promoting ancient threads ***!
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
I sincerely hope lessons have been learnt during the time that this thread was first opened, two days before my youngest grandson was born and he's 16 now.:)
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I reported myself to the mods over this - forum needs to stop promoting these ancient threads - maybe a cut off on promoting in similars and an outright lock on thread that havnt been touched in a year or so. Waste of everyone time.
 

John7

Well-known Member
....I’m guilty as well, got caught out by a 9 year old thread t’other day!

I agree, there should be some kind of lock on old threads, viewing only.
 

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