Suggestions for next steps on my DIY theater audio, fixing problems


Standard Member
I'm looking for thoughts on what I should do next to improve audio quality in my home theater.

My main concerns with the system I have now are:
  • Muddy/incomprehensible dialogueIn about 30% of Movies and TV, dialogue and speech is hard to hear
    • difficult to understand/muddy
    • low-volume and drowned out by the rest of the soundtrack
    • ...or both
  • Mismatched front vs surround The quality of sound is obviously different between my front and center speakers, vs. my surround speakers. By comparison, sound from the (expensive) front speakers is a bit puffy/muddy while the (cheaper) surround channels are crisp and clear. If I had to pick one I like the surrounds better, TBH.
The Equipment & components I have now are:
  • Yamaha 5.1 receiver (RAV 522)
  • Front and Center Speakers: Bowers & Wilkins CM5 6.5" with 1" tweeter
  • Surround Speakers: Polk RC65i in-wall 6.5" with 1" tweeter
  • Subwoofer: Polk PSW10 10"
  • Source is a PS4 90% of the time (streaming video and games)
  • The attached picture shows the layout of my room. The surround speakers are in-wall in the positions labeled [1]. (the pic is from a post years ago when I was asking where to locate my surrounds)
Room Treatments I have:
  • Handmade 2"x2'x2' rockwool absorbers at the primary ceiling reflection points between the three front speakers and the listening position
    • Shown in attached picture
  • Handmade 2"x4'x2' rockwool absorbers on the back wall behind the primary listening position
  • Thick-nap rug covering most of the floor between the TV and the listening position
Things I've tried and observations:
  • The Yamaha 522 built-in calibration system did an ok job of balancing levels - but did not balance EQ.
  • I have UMIK-1 and REW and have done some calibration recordings. But TBH I don't really know how to use those calibrations to guide what to do next with my room or equipment and could use guidance.
  • The front and rear speakers sound really different, and frankly the inexpensive Polk speakers in the rear sound a lot better to my ear. When game characters are behind or to the side of me, I can tell what they are saying. When they're in front and speaking out the B&W speakers it's all mud much of the time.
Next steps:
  • Most importantly I'd like to solve the problem of the muddy/incomprehensible speech from my front & center channels in games and movies
  • There 8 feet of space behind my couch/listening position, so I'm considering installing high rear speakers in the ceiling and upgrading to a 7.1 system
  • I'm open to upgrading my equipment and/or hiring pros who can assist me with these problems
  • I'm tempted to upgrade to a newer 7.2 system with better self-calibration that can also calibrate EQ, but I'm not confident that will solve my problems, so I'd like to understand things better before spending more money.

Many thanks!


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