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Sound levels

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by DazJWood, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. DazJWood

    DazJWood
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    Forgive me if this is a very niave question but I feel I need to ask it as I am getting more confused then ever.

    I have recently set myself up a Cinema system sporting a Denon 3802 receiver, Mission FS2-AV speaker system and a DVD player.

    I have tried to use the test tone signal to set the speakers up and must admit find this very hard to do by ear. My understanding is that these need to be set so that the speakers all sound the same volume from the listening point.

    I have read the posts about the SPL meter and this to me sounds a good device to set the levels more accurately.

    I now question the point to doing this?

    What is the point of setting these levels if when listening to different movies you need to manual change the levels?

    Most of my movies I have on DVD sound pretty good and clear, but I was watching The Fast and Furious (DTS) the other week and struggled to hear any of the speech. All the sounds were loud but the speech eminating from the centre speaker was very quiet. To resolve this I obviously turned up the volume to the centre speaker.

    I have also noticed this same similar problem on a few other movies. For instance I have noticed that the surround back speakers or surround speakers have been a quiet to the point of hardly delivering any sound and had to turn these up.

    Can someone tell me what the point of setting all the speakers up is to only have to change them when watching various movies.

    Is the setting up the speakers done because it will produce an ideal sound for the majority of movies??

    This is probably a stupid question but it has me stumped

    Thanks all in advance,

    Daz
     
  2. Jase

    Jase
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    Hi

    Once you have set the levels accurately with a sound meter you should´nt need to keep adjusting them for different movies, you just leave the settings alone.
     
  3. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Most of the time rear speakers aren't supposed to produce much sound. The subtle sounds replayed through them are to widen the soundstage. Only occasionally are loud sounds directed through the rears and for these reasons many people make the mistake of turning up the rears too much.

    The centre shouldn't need adjusting except in the fairly rare cases where the centre channel has been recorded at too low a level.
     
  4. DazJWood

    DazJWood
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    Thanks for the replies but I don't think they have satisfied my question.

    I am well aware that rear speakers aren't supposed to be loud and dominating over the fronts and centre. As for describing the sounds output through rear and surround back speakers as subtle, I don't agree with that statement either.

    While the surround speakers aren't supposed to carry the bulk of the sound and are mainly used to produce sound steering effects to create an immersed feeling, they certainly are not subtle.

    Dolby Digital and DTS have introduced full descrete channels into the AV world compared with Dolby Pro Logic's two channel matrixed outputs. These seperately recorded sounds allow a fuller surround effect to be achieved. This does not mean that the rear and surround back channels are just used to produce the sound of birds tweeting in the distance.

    Take a fast moving film with a similarly fast moving soundtrack (ie. The Haunting (DTS-ES), Fast and Furious (DTS)) and the sound output through the surround speakers are certainly not subtle and certainly not occasional either. They can be equally as loud and effective as the front and centre and rightly so as DTS and DD are designed to be.

    On the first note of once you have adjusted the sound levels you shouldn't need to touch them. Well that was how I understood it to be as well. In the example I gave on The Fast and Furious I didn't just turn the centre speaker up a little, it was a considerable amount.

    If you read other comments in these forums there have been many comments on altering the volume on individual channels for different films. Perhaps this is just a case of bad volume normalisation when the films where originally encoded!?!?
     
  5. Jase

    Jase
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    You need to balance the levels with a sound meter, doing it by ear is fairly unreliable (unless you have golden ears!). Once all levels are properly balanced and you still have problems with the centre channel, it does´nt hurt to up it a couple of dbs.

    Until you have used a sound meter you won´t know how far out your levels actually are.

    I´m sure some people do alter the various levels on films but I would imagine its more to do with personal taste. As for surround effects and the rear speakers that would be down to the film and its actual surround mix, The Fast & The Furious is fairly in your face whereas something like A Beautiful Mind is much more subtle. All films are different and are mixed differently in accordance with the subject matter.
     
  6. Ian J

    Ian J
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    It's times like this that I wonder why I bother.
     
  7. mjn

    mjn
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    The contents of the rear soundstage depends on the type film you're watching, as Ian J and Jase have already said.

    Some films, only use the rears for background music, while others, use the rears to create ambience (sp?).

    You shouldn't need to keep altering channel levels with different films. I have the Fast and the Furious, and in DTS, there is no problem with speech. In what part of the film are you referring to?
     
  8. BadAss

    BadAss
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    DazeJWood,
    I can understand your enthusiasm, I use to be the same many years ago. I lived alone then and probably had too much time on my hands. I would sit and listen to a movie, then start to adjust the balance of the left right speakers, then surrounds, back and too all through a movie id be tweeking the sound levels. The thing is unless you sit in exactly the same possition (the sweet spot) every time and can afford to take the time to adjust the levels like i did then youll probably never going to get it perfect. (not for every individual movie anyway) These days I leave the levels alone and listen to it the way it comes of the disc. If you can forget about it then youll probably relaxe and enjoy the movie more.
     
  9. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    Theorectically the sound meter should help, in reality it doesn´t, IMHO...

    At least it doesn´t work for me, I set my surrounds with DPLII, what I use most, and the surrounds are way louder then the fronts, then I vary the front to back balance for each DVD, and it varies a lot, bad mixing I would guess, particularly the concerts...

    Same with the subwoofer...

    The center I don´t have to adjust very often, just a few movies need to up it to ear dialog clearly...
     
  10. DazJWood

    DazJWood
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    Thanks guys for all your responses.

    Jase,

    I think I may try getting a sound meter. There has been a lot of talk on here about using one to more accurately tune your system. Although I still feel I may have to change the levels on a few films in my collection.

    mjn,

    I am surprised you havent noticed the difference in sound on The Fast & Furious. I had to turn up the centre channel considerably to hear the main speech. With my system previously set for all my other films the main speech (centre channel) was just drowned out by the other speakers. Maybe this is just an odd disc that has the centre channel recorded too low or maybe I have a duff disc!?

    BadAss,

    I really do wish I had loads of time on my hands to sit and experiment with different settings on my system but I don't and the last thing I want to be doing is sitting and tweaking it all the way through the movie. I just want to be able to sit back and play a DVD without altering any sound levels and to be fair I can do this on most discs. I am very satisfied with my recently bought system, just curious as to why some movies (a small minority in my DVD collection) require an altering of the channel volumes to correctly enjoy the film.

    Ian J,

    I am not sure what the point of your last post was. If you don't want to respond or all you can offer is a statement asking why you bother then maybe its not worth posting a message at all.

    These forums have been of great use to me since I discovered them about 4-5 months ago and the majority of people on here have been great in answering questions. Thanks again to all who have replied recently on my other posts about setting my equipment up.
     
  11. Jase

    Jase
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    The sound meter is handy because once the system is balanced you have a reference point to work to, as it were.

    The other thing worth considering is using the DRC (Dynamic Range Compression). If you find that you have to keep turning the volume up for speech and then back down when theres an explosion, switch this on. Most amps/receivers give you different levels of it, OFF, LOW, MID, HIGH. Basically it limits the volume difference between the quietest and loudest sounds. It only works for Dolby Digital and only on a few DTS Discs (depending on encoding).
     

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