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Am I Unimpressed with Home Theater or does mine just suck?


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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 19 2003 - 09:54 PM

KINDA LONG!

alright here's whats there right now.

27 inch Toshiba tv that was made in 1992.
Samsung DVD V-1000 dvd/vcr player
Yamaha HTR-5640 Reciever
Athena Audition Series including:

AS-F2's for fronts
AS-B2's for rears
AS-C1 for center

i must of asked atleast 50 questions on this forum about problems with my home theater, what speakers to get, how do i get dolby digital to work, blah blah blah blah endless! i still have the following problems, my speakers always have a faint sssssssssssssss to them, and the louder i turn it up the louder the ssssssssssssssssssssssss gets, which as you might imagine really makes wind in movies sound bad.

I've had this Home Theater since July, for Christmas im getting an SVS PB2 Plus subwoofer and about march or april im getting a better Yamaha reciever, about $1,000 one, then in july new speakers, taking my fronts and using them as rears and putting more expensive speakers in the front along with a new center and i'll take my old center and use it as a rear. Im leaning towards Rockets but July is along time from now so we'll see. i have a huge room, about 40x25, but there's somewhat of a box in the room, a square on its own pretty much, its 15x15, my fronts and center are 8ft away from me, my rears are 4ft away from my sweetspot, i just moved into this huge room so in my 15x15 theres a king size bed to the right where my right front speaker is just about touching, and i got a couch and a table, when you get up and walk around the couch and around the table your basically out of that portion and thats where the bigger room is but has a computer, pool table, bench press and a bunch of other stuff that makes it look like a storage room.

my problem is, either my home theater just isnt very good, or surround sound just doesnt do it for me. the only problems i have with my speakers is the ssssssssss which is there even when a movie isnt in. alright so i told my reciever my rears are large, my fronts are large, my center is large, i got the LFE set to come out of the mains, i measured it so it knows exactly how far away from the speakers i am, 4 feet is about as far as i can get them away from me. With the wire and space conditions and all, when i get the bed out of there the speakers wont be any farther back but will be wider out, about 14 feet away from each other. Judging by my ear and the testtone on the reciever is all my speakers are the same volume. Thats about it, i've been a drewling fan for sub noises ever since i saw the first matrix in the theater, so thats one part i die for with my theater, they go loud enough with movies, thats one thing i like, my AS-F2's dont seem to go as far as i want them to with music, or atleast with that reciever which is 75x6. I like how stuff comes from the back speakers and that i can hear it. i like how the left and right speaker sound great when someone's over there, that sounds perfect.

my problem is i just aint impressed with surround sound, well im not sure, i mean maybe its because i need better speakers or better reciever but stuff does go from the rear speakers to the front, but 90% of the time its boring and it just doesnt sound right, i dont get that feeling like im in the middle it, Except for one movie! Saving private ryan now that movie is crazy awesome. What im saying is, if someone dropped a basketball and it bounced into the screen into the background and it went from the fronts to the rears i'd hear it plenny fine but it just doesnt sound convincing enough, for me to actually feel like it bounced from the front all the way to the back. The only other movie where going from the fronts to the rears sounded glorious and like it was really happening was in the first matrix when he shot the bullets and he did the slow motion lean backwards dodge. Now i havent gotten into the sssssssssssssssss noise yet, i know my $500 kenwood reciever and KLH speakers in my living room dont do it cause i listened to them and they didnt make a peep. I watch movies in Dolby Digital and DTS if they have it, so my problem isnt not having that. Im just wondering if it gets better with better speakers or a reciever or something or if this is it and surround sound just isn't great.

Another thing i notice, is in Movie Theaters, i dont know if its because my movie theater has a cheap sound system or what not but it doesnt sound all that great to me even though they got surround and huge subwoofers and what not which makes me just ignore the sound and watch the movie just as if i was with a normal tv. I love the idea of surround sound really capturing you and making you feel like your in the rain and that so much stuff is happening all over the place, like in the movie twister right, there's a part where 2 tornados spin the truck and of course the twirl noise is comming from every speaker and its not very enjoyable to listen to because of my sssss problem but, i know its twirling wind is going from speaker to speaker to speaker but it doesnt sound good or like it's going around the room, it does and it doesnt, it goes around the room but it doesnt have that realism! im just not gettin it and i want to. Perhaps better speakers to do the job, reciever? amp? equalizer? bigger tv? (im puttin a 65" widescreen in there once we sell our condo), maybe change some settings on the reciever?

basically the title of this thread sums up my questions, no need to answer the ssssssssssssss question, you can if you want.....but i was gonna really get into fixing that in a week or 2, my room is over a 3 door garage so maybe something that has to do with the garage is creating the ssssssss? to me there's so many simple yet crazy explanations it's hard to believe it could actually be the cause, interference and such.

im gonna make a list of the only movies i really thought sounded good on Dolby Digital. (despite the ssssssss)

The Matrix
Saving Private Ryan
Finding Nemo
(well actually, all those CGI movies, they all sound great to me, there's some noises in real live movies that i dont enjoy, that or they dont come through well)

thats about all i can think of.

im hoping to get some answers that'll make me feel like i didnt get interested in something that slacks.
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#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted November 20 2003 - 12:09 AM

Allen,

The 'hiss', as it is often called, shouldn't be there, period. In my HT, I have no audible clue wether or not the system is on or off. Perhaps if I would listen "on" (my ear to) a speaker would there be a discernible difference, but I have yet to noticed it.

First thing to think of is: how are the positions of your bass and treble dials? Especially if the treble is too high, you may hear a hiss. Make sure that they are both in the 'mid' position to start with and only turn them a little bit to compensate for room anomalies (seldom necessary).

If your system had separate end-amps, it would have been possible that the pre-in's signals were too small (the decoder/receiver volume set too low) and the amps to 'loud', but in your case that isn't a possible cause.

If at normal sound levels (i.e. not clearly too loud a setting) you still hear a hiss during silent periods, while the frequency settings (bass and treble) are normal, there must be something wrong with your system. Is it possible to lend another receiver from a friend or (preferably) your dealer?

From your description this is all I can think of now.

Cees

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted November 20 2003 - 12:13 AM

Yes, this is an enormously long post by you. I have the following comments as to areas that you should seriously consider exploring.

I'm a bit puzzled by the hiss statement. For starters I don't know how far away you're sitting when you hear this or how far you crank the volume up with no source selected. To hear a certain amount is not unusual. Assuming this is not a hum, then the loudness of the hiss will depend on two primary factors: the cumulative S/N of your playback chain up to the speakers as well as how efficient your speakers are. There's a few things you can do here. Disconnect all inputs into your receiver and determine if the hiss levels change. Since you've got your Kenwood, I'd move that in place of the Yamaha. What we want to do is to try and determine if your receiver is the culprit. From your description though, this hiss must be quite loud. However, like I said, you want to simplify your system to try and get to the root of the problem. So make sure you disconnect the Samsung, the TV...we just want the speakers and the receiver. If you suspect that the Yamaha is the culprit here, if it's still under warranty, get it fixed, no? Otherwise add one item back at a time and wait for the problem to become audible.

You sound like you're calibrating by ear. Get yourself the Radio Shack SPL meter and some means of mounting it in your listening position like an inexpensive tripod. Do your level checks that way.

Your room is large of that there's no doubt. There's also no doubt that your speakers probably aren't set up in good positions. You may need to be more flexible in the way you arrange and locate your furniture to address this. Please consider the following link: http://www.hometheat....hreadid=129639 which deals with several papers by Floyd Toole regarding speaker positioning and related matters. The various PDF's ought to be printed out for later examination and you may even like them so much, you might want to archive them somewhere.

I've nothing against the Rockets however I do believe that in order that this be money not wasted, that you most certainly need to work on how you and the room and the speakers interact. Spend some time here and it'll make whatever you have and whatever you buy a worthwhile expenditure.

Given that you've got serious limitations with calibration and speaker placement, it's no wonder you're not impressed with HT. Try to see if you can make a more balanced arangement of your speakers. In other words if one is 4 feet from a side wall, then so should the other. Further, you should arrange them so that your fronts are at a height that places the tweeters at around ear level when listening as well as toed in slightly. The center, which I presume is on top of the TV, can be tilted downwards slightly by using something like those angle door stops. Play around with it.

#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted November 20 2003 - 01:09 AM

Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate. I also agree that you should swap out the receiver to find the source of the hiss. Also, did I mention you should calibrate? Posted Image

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted November 20 2003 - 02:01 AM

One other thing: Temper your expectations.

Not all movies have sound designs that are intended to give you an "immersive" experience. Some older movies are in simple stereo or even (gasp!) mono. And most sound mixes keep the focus on the dialogue, which is almost always in front.

Also, I suspect you've never read the HTF Beginner's Primer and FAQ, which would have told you about proper calibration. I recommend it. There's a link in my signature.

M.
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#6 of 40 OFFLINE   ChrisLazarko

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Posted November 20 2003 - 03:43 AM

Actually I have had this same problem you're experiencing with one of my friends HT systems. Apparently the reciever., the 5640 caused the problem. So he went to BestBuy and got another one, he ended up getting the 5650. He came back with it and had the same problem again. I was confused on what it was and I had tried everything I knew.

I took the reciever and tried it on my system and the hiss noise was still there, it was more like a buzzing hiss noise though I would say. Then I decided to call Yamaha tech support and they said that some of there recievers had this problem and just to send it back. By this point he was fed up, he just wanted it to work at this point. So I decided we would stop at the local audio store. We stopped there and the guy hooked it up, he heard the hiss as well saying he had sent back 1 reciever that had the same problem. We said we have had this with two recievers and at this point just wanted it fixed. He said to just return the reciever and get another one.

My friend went back to Bestbuy and told the guy he just wanted his money back because he didn't want to have the possibility of the problem again. We went back to the local audio store and the guy gave him a deal on an Onkyo 501 and a HK AVR-125. I told him the AVR-125 was a nice piece but since the 501 was on sale and cheaper I we both decided it would be better for him.

He came home with hte 501 and everything worked perfectly he fine and he loves his setup now....

I would return that reciever if you can because it looks like that might be your problem, if you can still return it.

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 20 2003 - 06:48 AM

alright lets see here

Cees alons my bass and treble go from -10 to +10 i got my bass on +10 (sounds kinda boomy but eh) i got my treble at 0, i used to hae it at +2 but i watched the matrix reloaded and the zing noise of the swords was to high screeched so i turned it to down to -4, then eventually settled at 0.

In about a week im gonna get that bed out of there and center my tv and everything in the middle of the room.

I always thought it was the reciever to, cause i remember unplugging them and plugging everything back in as best i could and it was still there, and i dont have anything in the room that would cause that, im pretty sure, and its comming from ALL the speakers evenly. If you say sssssssssssssss just not very loud, kind of silent thats exactly what the noise sounds like if i watch a movie at a normal volume it doesnt matter i only hear it if i notice but those times when i want to get it going it just drives me insane.

This may sound stupid but i'd find it best not to bring my reciever from downstairs up here for these reasons Posted Image

1. If i take the reciever off the tv downstairs all the cords will shoot back and fall behind the tv then i got to take the vcr the cable bxo the dvd player off just to move the tv and get the wires at which point i have to hold onto all the wires as somebody else moves the tv back then i have to stand on a chair and lean over and put them in while somebody holds them in place so i dont push them off the tv whiel putting the cords in.

2. my speakers will turn off on a dime, there perfect right now but one time all i did was move my rear speaker alittle bit cause it was to far off and my reciever said "check SP wires" and shut off, so of course i unplugged it plugged it back in at the speaker and the reciever, then i did that with all of them, then i gave up for like 3 days then i came back, cut 2 inches off the wire, took the rubber of and put it in again and it worked, samething happened with my center speaker once, i noticed it was upside down cause of the label and im like (wow, im an idiot) so i turned it over and it worked like once then eventually when i turned the volume alittle higher it turned off and said check sp wires, also happened with my fronts, i narrowed down the problem this time cause i put it on stereo and they still shut off, like 2 weeks after i got my system i remember unplugging all the wires and putting them in better because i have to squeeze o so tightly between my right speaker and my tv to get back there, and then hooking a wire up is even harder cause i cant see, the red and black things you put the speaker wires into are just close enough together to piss someone off who can barely see the reciever much less guess where the hole is where the wire is supposed to go through.

3. Im pretty sure its the reciever cause the Kenwood doesnt do it with my speakers downstairs, my brothers pioneer doesnt do it in his room and my other brother who was in this room before didnt have the problem, so its not the room conditions.

Is it humanly possible its my tv? its old, not very well shielded or..not at all, whichever cause when i play games sometimes a blotch we'll come up on the screen (good old center speaker) but they always slowly fade away within a couple of minutes.

Im going to go get that SPL meter tomorrow and am trying to get this bed out of here as soon as possible.

I want to get this working and i want to learn about home theater and be smarter so i can answer other peoples questions.

I do have a speaker placement question, about my Fronts being by my tv, how close is to close? how far is to far? where should i put them?

Also should my rears be lined up with them?


Looks like i might get a new reciever sooner then i thought!
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#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Kevin Stewart

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Posted November 20 2003 - 02:24 PM

Am I Unimpressed with Home Theater or does mine just suck?



Your's just sucks. Posted Image



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#9 of 40 OFFLINE   ChrisLazarko

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Posted November 20 2003 - 03:02 PM

I didn't get that...

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted November 21 2003 - 04:46 AM

Quote:
my bass and treble go from -10 to +10 i got my bass on +10 (sounds kinda boomy but eh) i got my treble at 0, i used to have it at +2 but
Although the bass setting certainly isn't the first thing to think of when dealing with hiss, I would recommend that you set both to null (= mid-position) when starting to calibrate (and judge) your system. Any part of the frequency spectrum that's too much amplified can cause problems with your over-all experience. And is a bad start for fine-tuning your system.

Cees

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Jack Shappa

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Posted November 21 2003 - 04:53 AM

Besides all the good advice on your speaker set-up, a 27" TV isn't going to capture the movie feel either.

- Jack

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted November 21 2003 - 05:52 AM

This may sound stupid but i'd find it best not to bring my reciever from downstairs up here for these reasons

Well not meaning to be impolite, but yes, it's stupid and also a bit lazy considering that you've taken the time to post and right now have a system that you're not only dissatisfied with but are considering pouring more money into.

1) no pain no gain. Try using some masking tape to hold them down temporarily

2) sloppy connections with stray wires causing shorts. If you're not going to terminate the wires in either spades, bananas, or pins, then tin the wires with some solder.

3) i think you're probably right but swapping the receiver would likely turn that probably into certainly. If your receiver is under warranty, why aren't you considering getting it repaired?


Dolby's website also has information regarding speaker placement. If you want to get an idea of how it should look, take yourself over to a higher end audio store and take a look at how they've set things up.

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 21 2003 - 06:32 PM

alrighty lets see here

Kevin, any suggestions?

Cees, i'll let you know when i get the meter.

Jack, yea i know the sound overwhelmes the size of the picture, bummer.

Chu, alright i cant take/remove that reciever because its not mine and my family/brothers know i dont know anything about the reciever and they went through alot of trouble hooking the stuff up when we got it and dont want me to take it out. (they dont know alot about the subject either so dont ask) and they just have 2 channel systems for music and stuff so they cant tell me anything about 5.1.
I dont know what you mean by bananas and spades and pins but i assure you i put all the wires in as neat as humanly possible (the second time). Also, Chu i planned on returning my speakers before 30 days was up, but couldnt (lets leave it at that), i was gonna take the money save up more and get high end speakers and a better reciever. I dont want the reciever repaired cause im getting a new one soon and im exchanging it and my rear speakers for something else from best buy, maybe a bunch of movies or something. Another reason is, Chris said his friend had a problem with the same model, and i remember somebody else awhile back saying the samething about the model.

I have a question, i was watching a movie and it gave me a sound choice, dolby surround or dolby digital...........which one?
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#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted November 21 2003 - 10:57 PM

Allen,

Dolby Surround is also known as Pro Logic. It is a way of encoding more information (more channels) in a stereo signal. Also, it is able to get a bit more information from a classic stereo signal.

But Dolby Digital (DD) is really 5.1 encoding into seperate channels (not always 5+1 channels filled, but most of the time it is). It has to be decoded by a 5.1 decoder, either separate or inside a receiver.

Please, please, read our primer to get much more information about it!

I do hope that you have been listening to DD material with all components (especially your receiver) set to DD (or 5.1 or AC3: common other names for the same). If not, please make sure you set it right!


Cees

#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 22 2003 - 12:40 AM

could the hiss be from the type of wires im using going from my speakers to my reciever, i mean the quality of the wire not how good its hooked in?
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#16 of 40 OFFLINE   JawhnM

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Posted November 22 2003 - 01:01 AM

1. Read the Primer!!!!!!
2. Set ALL levels to MID position.
3. Get an SPL meter.
4. Calibrate so ALL speakers are the same volume (DON'T bump up the rears).
5. If the Receiver is at fault for the "hiss", GET IT FIXED OR REPLACED. Your never going to be happy with faulty equipment.
6. If you like the SURROUND SOUND in SOME movies on your system, and not others, then your system is not the MAIN problem WITH THAT. The surround sound is mixed differently, for each movie. Sometimes the surrounds are used infrequently and ONLY for ambiant (background) sounds.

A couple of additional questions:

1. What kind of AUDIO cable are you using between your DVD and Receiver (Coax, Optical, RCA)?
2. Are your speakers on the floor or on stands or a shelf?
3. Is the room carpeted or does it have hard floors? How about the walls (curtains, drapes, bookcases)?
4. Is the "hiss" coming from ALL the speakers? How about in STEREO mode (just the front speakers playing)?
5. Is DD or DTS being displayed on your receiver when playing a DVD? Is it set to AUTO detect the sound source?
6. Is your DVD player set to DEFAULT to DIGITAL?
7. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! Do you have any DSP mode selected (Hall, Stadium, Enhanced, etc.)?

Your in Chicago, so there should be PLENTY of HIGH END audio shops (NOT BB, CC or other CHAIN stores). Go to a few and check out their setups for some ideas on speaker placement. This will also allow you to hear what a good, and well calibrated system sounds like. If your not going to buy from these stores (and at your current price range, your probably not) then DON'T waste their time by asking the staff a lot of beginer questions and for demo's (UNLESS THEY VOLUNTEER).
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My Home Theater

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 22 2003 - 10:50 AM

Optical (the hissing was there before i got the optical and used RCA cables).

My fronts are on the floor my rears are on stands my center is on top of the tv,

the room is carpeted but its a hard type of carpet called berber.

Umm theres tables and shelves but not in the 15x15 square part of the room there's nothing but a table a couch and a bed on the right, there's a window behind alittle to the right of my tv when i move my bed im gonna center the tv directly infront of the window and that will be the last time i use that window.

Yep, comes from all speakers in all modes even stereo, another thing is the hiss only comes out of all the tweeters not the subs.

I watch movies on DTS whenever it has it but other then that when i watch a movie my Reciever takes away the DSP mode and says DOLBY DIGITAL and my input is set to DVD AUTO.

I have dolby digital and dts decoder turned on on my dvd player.

well i always put it to PLII: Movie before the movie starts cause if its on something else like 6ch stereo or jazz club or any of the other DSP modes it wont say dolby digital until i click the button that says DD which gives me PLII: Movie, PLII: Music, pro logic, Neo 6: Cinema, Neo 6: Music and Enhanced. I put it on PLII: Movie before i start the movie cause...well i dont know pro logic has something to do with dolby so i put it on before i start the movie.
After Dolby Digital turns on i cant pick any other modes on DD except Dolby Digital and enhanced, i can click on something else like entertainment or jazz club or rock concert or music hall etc which makes the dolby digital logo go away.

I havent been to any high end stores except tweeter but i didnt like any of there speakers they seemed overpriced for there quality if you ask me. I want to go to a high end store but i dont want to walk around for 2 hours asking questions then say i may buy something from here in a year or 2 then have him go "damn, everytime i open my heart"
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#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 22 2003 - 11:29 AM

is it safe for me to use my 5-8 year old sharp speaker thats about 15" tall with a 8" sub and a 4" midrange as a rear center speaker? (it's not a center speakers its just a big bookshelf speaker), my reciever is 75x6 and the rated power on the speaker is 120 watts and the peak power is 240 watts (according to the sticker on the back) is it safe for me to hook this thing up im guessing it was anywhere from $100 to $200 a pair back in like 1997 or whenever we got it. Will it be able to keep up with my other speakers or is it a bad idea?
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#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted November 22 2003 - 12:10 PM

Allen,

No problem there. Your speakers cannot possibly cause the hiss. Nor the speaker wires.

Cees

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Allen Marshall

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Posted November 22 2003 - 07:13 PM

alright well, i hooked it up that was a mistake in a half, now i got put the volume loud enough for me to understand people talking without the reciever turning off, i cut the wires to make neater strands, i put them in as tight as i could i pretty much unplugged everything since doing my best on the rear center wasnt working. Im gonna try again sometime today, it's pretty pathetic i have a giant bed right next to my home theater, i have video games and movies all over the ground, one of my rear speakers is sitting on some sort of nightstand that was put in the room for storage (everything in the room except my square is filled with boxes and bags). I've got my other speaker sitting a on a stool chair that came with an electric piano we got awhile back. My rear center is sitting on the pool table with the wire hanging in the hair because i ran out of slack. Even when i do move everything around that speaker is still gonna be on the pool table....i find that funny. My mom proposed (im 17) that instead of getting the PB2+ for christmas i get a new reciever instead thus taking away the hissing noise but im so obsessed with subs its a hard decision.
I work on Film, Animation & Sound Design in downtown Chicago.