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Hearing dialog more clearly!!!


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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   JasonG

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Posted July 26 2003 - 06:35 AM

Hi all I have a Yamaha system with 5 small satellites. I am having a problem with hearing the dialog sometimes. When I turn up the sound to hear the quite dialog it gets way to loud in other scenes. Is there any way to correct this? Suggestions please? Jasong

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted July 26 2003 - 06:45 AM

A couple things. First, DD and DTS tracks have LOTS of dynamic range, meaning that the swings in volume are quite significant, from the loud to the soft scenes. Indeed, often for intelligable dialog levels, the loud, explosive action scenes ARE quite loud. Second, do you have your system calibrated? This is first and most important, to get all the levels matched, so that your front to back, and center to everything else is all the same volume and as it is supposed to be. Third, you might try engaging the midnight mode, or night mode, or whatever your reciever might call it. This mode for DD is a dynamic range compressor, that basically ups the volume of the quiet scenes, and lowers the volume of the loud scenes, for say, listening quietly at night without bothering other people in your house. You might find this useful, because if you listen to movies quietly, you'll lose the dialog to get the LOUD scenes at a quiet level, or you're stuck adjusting the volume constantly. This basically does that for you. Fourth, if you've calibrated with a radio shack SPL meter and Avia or VE (bought cheap, and WELL worth it, or borrowed from someone), and it's still difficult to hear, you may have poor speakers, or the like, and you might just want to up the center channel volume a little bit. That might also help.

#3 of 14 OFFLINE   Terry Montlick

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Posted July 26 2003 - 08:42 AM

Hi Jason, Chris' suggestions are all excellent. Poor dialog intelligibility is also a classic symptom of too much room reverberation. Your average, untreated sheetrocked wall is simply too "live" for accurate movie soundtrack reproduction. Night listening mode will work, but you will be sacrificing 27 to 30 dB of dynamic range. If you are still having problems after proper calibration, acoustical treatment is the recommended cure. Regards, Terry
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#4 of 14 OFFLINE   JasonG

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Posted July 26 2003 - 12:16 PM

Thanks for all your replies. Is it possible that the center speaker (a small satellite) is just not good enough. Should I just get a better center speaker. If so can I get one from any make? Or does it have to be a Yamaha again. If it has to be a Yamaha can it be any Yamaha speaker? JasonG

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Terry Montlick

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Posted July 26 2003 - 04:58 PM

Hi Jason, If your center channel speaker is identical to your front left and right satellites, then it should be just fine. Matching all the front speakers is highly recommended so that "panned" sound maintains the same timbre as it moves across the front sound stage. Besides, the center dialog channel is the most forgiving of the three, because the human voice requires less frequency range than the soundtrack music typically played from the left and right front speakers. Regards, Terry
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#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming

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Posted July 27 2003 - 08:30 PM

Whilst non-optimal, I'd go with cranking up the centre-channel by 1 or 2 dB. Simple, and free, fix to your problem.

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#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted July 28 2003 - 08:02 AM

[quote] If your center channel speaker is identical to your front left and right satellites, then it should be just fine. Matching all the front speakers is highly recommended so that "panned" sound maintains the same timbre as it moves across the front sound stage. Besides, the center dialog channel is the most forgiving of the three, because the human voice requires less frequency range than the soundtrack music typically played from the left and right front speakers [quote]Just a bit additional to Terry’s post, regardless of whether the center channel is the most forgiving, it is the most important. You can expect that about 60% of the sound to come through this channel and for sure that sound is the most important, as it weighted towards dialogue.

Dolby recommends that all five speakers be identical. However, in some rooms five small satellites often do not reproduce speech as clearly as desirable.

First try calibrating your speakers. If the dialogue is still difficult to understand, you might try boosting your center channel a few db (agreeing with Chris &^Yee-Ming)

If you are still having this problem you might consider a different center channel. Should you try this approach, you should try to match a new center with a model that sounds the same (is timbre matched) as your satellites.
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#8 of 14 OFFLINE   Glenn Overholt

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Posted July 28 2003 - 10:57 AM

I'd like to add that if you boost your center and it sounds a little better, but not enough, you could lower the other channels, and that should help. However, and this is a big one - not all DVD's are recorded the same. Some have a center channel that you will hear well enough without changing anything, so do try out a few more DVD's before your start fiddling with the volumes. Glenn

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Drew Eckhardt

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Posted July 28 2003 - 12:37 PM

Place the speaker more optimally (atop a television, in an entertainment unit, or close to a wall doesn't qualify. On a stand beneath and infront of the display is good). Or upgrade to higher quality speakers.

#10 of 14 OFFLINE   matt r w

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Posted August 02 2003 - 12:06 PM

i've got the klipsch synergy series and i'm having the same problem. a lot of the dialogue is really soft, so i turn it up, and then BAM! i'm blown out of the room, so i turn it down, then i turn it up, then down, then up, etc. etc. it's pretty obnoxious. i've tried playing with the settings, but i just can't get it right. what would i need to do with the room to enhance the acoustics? are there any other options? edit: oh yeah, i've got a sony v555es receiver. the problem recently arose when i took the receiver in for repair. when i got it back, the problem came up. i know the settings were reset, but, as stated, no amount of fiddling can get this right any more.

#11 of 14 OFFLINE   Terry Montlick

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Posted August 02 2003 - 04:25 PM

Hi Matt,

[quote] what would i need to do with the room to enhance the acoustics? are there any other options?
edit: oh yeah, i've got a sony v555es receiver. the problem recently arose when i took the receiver in for repair. when i got it back, the problem came up.
[quote]

Room acoustics are just as important as your speakers in determining sound quality; perhaps even more so. Expensive speakers put in a room with low quality acoustics can sound worse than inexpensive speakers placed in a high quality room.

There are some good options for acoustical treatment. Lots of DIY'ers make their own sound absorbing panels to reduce room "liveness." While sometimes not pretty, they are very effective acoustically. Or you can use professionally made/installed treatments starting at $1K-$2K. It's generally recommended that 20% of the total cost of a home theater be put into room acoustics. Depending on your investment, this may be in line with the cost of your system.

A possible theory about why this problem appeared after you took your receiver in for repair is that it happened to be in "night" listening mode before. You can try this setting and it will definitely fix the volume-riding problem, but at the expense of your system's dynamic range.

Another option short of proper acoustical treatment is to sit closer to the front speakers. This gives you a higher degree of "direct" sound, reducing the relative intensity of room effects. But it doesn't improve reverberation time, so it's really only a partial fix.

Regards,
Terry
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#12 of 14 OFFLINE   scott>sau

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Posted August 02 2003 - 04:45 PM

Jason, try experimenting with this night mode Terry mentioned. Some call it DR, (dynamic range), Sony calls it dynamic range control (DRC). I makes sounds clearer even at lower listening levels. It is found in audio 2 setup wherever your decoder is DVD player, receiver, or pre-pro. DR is normally set to off. If you do notice better dialog clarity use it. Note when you use DR, set initial setup to "PCM".

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   JerryCulp

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Posted August 03 2003 - 02:20 AM

One thing I have come across in trials as a newbie learning HT is that if the sub is cranked up, it tends to muddy the vocals. You dont realize it because of the lower freqs the sub puts out.

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Terry Montlick

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Posted August 03 2003 - 06:04 AM

HEY KIDS! TRY THIS AT HOME It's sad but true that your room can only hurt your home theater sound, not help it. I was just testing out the basic acoustics of a new lab area, and was reminded of the following simple procedure. Here's a great general gauge for the quality of your HT acoustics. It assumes your system is reasonably well adjusted, and that you have a good pair of headphones and speakers - anything higher quality than cheap computer AV speakers will work. For headphone, I generally use my trusty Sony MDR 7506's, the industry standard for professional sound mixing, and only 99 bucks. They sound just as good as my expensive old Sennheisers. Put on a DVD with a good combination of dialog, music, and effects. I tried this recently with "Lord of the Rings", but just about any movie will do. Find a chapter of the DVD with a similarly good mixture of the above elements. First watch that chapter using your speakers. Now turn off your speakers and plug in your headphones. Repeat the same chapter while listening through the headphones, at about the same volume level. Was the dialog easier to understand with the headphones? Was the music cleaner and more accurate? Were the effects crisper? Was the sound simply more direct and immediate, without the feeling that anything was in its way? If yes, than that's how much your room acoustics are degrading your movie listening experience. It is how much better your room would sound with excellent acoustics. If no, congratulations! You're one of the lucky few who's got a top-notch HT room. Regards, Terry
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