Struggling to get great sound

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by byutarheel, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. byutarheel

    byutarheel Auditioning

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    Hello home theater buffs
    Recently I decided to upgrade my home theater system. Before I was running a simple philips all in one dvd player home theater from wallmart. It was inexpensive and a quick solve at the time. Now I have pieced together what I expected to be a decent upgrade. I say piece because I have moved recently and so I was not able to buy the parts together and they sat in their respective boxes for a while before use, timing could not have been worse. Now I am able to set up the entire system and so far I am anything but impressed. Honestly the philips wallmart special has more power then what I am running. Now the Details
    I have a Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 a/v receiver more details can be found below
    http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/AV-Receivers/Pioneer+Receivers/VSX-1020-K
    and am running Polk Audio RM510 5.1CH High Performance Surround Sound Speaker System as sen here on Newegg.com
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290174
    The volume on the receiver ranges from -60db to 12 db. and I have performed the auto calibrate function.
    when watching tv the sound is the quietest of all and I need to watch anywhere from -25DB and -35DB to match the television quiet output (meaning my son can sleep in the same room). There is nothing earth shattering that has ever come out while watching a movie through the cable box.
    Watching a blue-ray is noticeably better than watching tv but still not as powerful as the philips was. At level -15 to -20 db's
    It is possible that I am simply listening to things at levels too low but if I turn it up much past there the sound begins to distort. I also know this is the level I watch movies at at a friends house who has a denon from 15 years ago and it powers through with the umph I was hoping for.
    I know this is still beginner territory but shouldn't this system outperform the wallmart system? Why is my sound so quiet? Thanks for any help on this.
    -Chris
     
  2. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    First off, go into the speaker setup menu and double-check the settings MCACC came up with. The speaker distances and volumes are usually pretty accurate but the speaker sizes and crossover settings are usually off by quite a bit. All speakers should be set to Small and I'd re-set the crossover to 120 or even 150. Even though the Polk speakers you have show a frequency response down to 95 hz on Neweggs website I'm not buying it. They only have 2 1/2 inch drivers and that's just not big enough for a response that low. A crossover setting that's too low might be causing that distortion you're hearing.
    Also, a volume setting of -25 to -35 isn't un-reasnable for that receiver. I have 3 Pioneer Elite receivers right now and I have to set them to -10 or higher to really get some volume out of them. And this is normal for all brands. You can't compare that sort of thing between stand-alone receivers and htib's. Their volume controls work much differently. In newer receivers 0 is supposed to be reference level.
    So, make sure your speaker sizes and crossover are set correctly and then don't be affraid to crank it up, as long as you don't hear any distortion. If you still do then there's something else wrong.
     
  3. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    This may be a problem as well
    You may have to go into the cable box and set it up for "theater" and not TV. Just a thought.
    Also, in the BS player, have you set it up for the receiver?
    Basically, you need to set up the BD player to output as well(many BD player have set up for "TV" and "Home theater").
     
  4. Ed Moxley

    Ed Moxley Cinematographer

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    Also check to make sure the "Midnight" button hasn't accidently been pushed, which will lower overall volume.
    My old receiver's volume control used numbers 0-50. My Onkyo uses the - (minus is what I call them) numbers too, which screwed with my mind at first. It took me awhile to get used to the lower the number went, the louder the volume got, because I was used to the opposite with the old receiver. My tv listening volume is usually around -25, which is a fairly loud volume. Movies (BDs) are turned up to around -18 or -19, and occasionally to -15, depending on the movie (Transformers, etc.). I live in a basement apartment. One day when the folks upstairs were gone, I listened to about 45 minutes of a movie with the volume at 0, which is VERY loud! I did it to see if my receiver was going to run hot (my front three speakers are 4 ohm) or start clipping. It didn't.
    Anyway, I hope it's as simple as the midnight button being pushed. If not, and you haven't figured it out yet, I'd reset to factory settings, and start over again, from scratch. Take your time, and double check stuff as you go. When running the MCACC, make sure there's no other noise during the calibration (don't cough, sneeze, talk, or let the dog bark).
    I'm guessing by your username that you are in NC, or are you just a tarheel fan? If so, where? I'm in NC also. If we're close, I may be able to help. I've setup several systems for people, but not familiar with Pioneer receivers. I'm sure it's not too different from the others, as far as setup and operation. Good luck! :)
    EDIT:
    Oh yeah, one more thing. This may not have anything to do with the problem, but it needs to be done, if you haven't already done it.
    You have a 7.1 receiver, and using 5.1 setup of speakers. Double check in the receivers setup menus, and make sure the two "surround back" speakers are disabled or off. With a 5.1 system, you don't use them at all. Your rear speakers are connected to the surround speaker connectors, and not the surround back speakers connectors, right? Just making sure............:D
     
  5. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Many people miss this point as well...
    Once you've run set-up(using MCACC??/YPAO/Audyssey etc)...
    0 db is "considered" reference theater volume. So...
    -78(which is i think the lowest it comes up with) is essentially muted. Your "0db" in a 10x15 room is different than the same receiver/less efficient speakers in a 20x20 room.
    Once you've set it up, your +db will be anywhere from +5 to +25(the highest I've ever seen was using an Elite SC05 with Klipsch Icon speakers in a 12x18 dedicated theater. The +db on that set-up was +33)
    I've actually seen it where "0db" couldn't be achieved(It was a Sony receiver using some woefully inadequate Onkyo HTiB speakers that were probably only 80db efficient).
     
  6. byutarheel

    byutarheel Auditioning

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    Thanks to all the great responses. I have reset the cross-over frequencies to 150, making a considerable difference. after this was done I was able to crank it up much higher without the distortion I was previously hearing. I still have not had the time to really test it, which I will do tomorrow. I will let you know how that goes. Also I apperciate the thought about checking the cable box and the BD player to see what they are set as. I will do this as well.
    I am very excited to see what these changes do! Thanks again
    Ed Moxely
    Thanks for your thoughts, I will check the midnight button. Unfortunately I do not live in NC anymore, I currently reside in DC for work. however, I lived in Chapel Hill for 9 years and loved everything about the area. So Yes, I am a tarheel for life, but I really appreciate the offer of help.
     

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