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Why Is It With Receivers.....


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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 23 2004 - 02:40 AM

....you need to crank certain DVD soundtracks up so high in order to "get anything out of em"? I am beginning to think I need separate power amps to get the audio Im looking for, and I only live in a smallish studio apartment...

My Onkyo TX-SR600 is calibrated and tweaked, yet I cant help but feel that most of the time, the power is just not enough....is it normal, during DVD playback with Dolby Digital soundtracks, to be able to easily talk over the quieter parts if there is a guest sitting with you watching? I could cite dozens of examples, but last night was a good one....I was watching "Gone in 60 Seconds" (remake with Nic Cage; Buena Vista, Dolby Digital 5.1) with a friend who came over to do Dominos and use my toilet to shit multiple times, and I brought my TX-SR600 up to "50" on the volume display, which is where Dolby soundtracks begin to just heat up on my system, because it was early enough in the night where I wouldnt disturb anyone...STILL, at "50", the dialogue was EASILY able to be talked over by me and him, and even when there were chase sequences or when the "Sphinx" character blows up Johnny B's Benz at that bar (which features massive explosions in the surrounds), it still seemed like my friend, right next to me on the couch, was able to talk to me over all the shit going on onscreen...is this normal in home theater? Is dialogue always softer in the mix, allowing you to hear everything around you in your envoronment --- air conditioner, cars outside, talking of a guest next to you, etc?

What is the remedy for this, aside from upgrading gear to A) a more powerful receiver or B) separate power amps with BIG power output....should I just keep raising the volume on my TX-SR600 until it gets to ear-bleeding levels, and not worry about what that number on the display says? DTS soundtracks do not seem to have quite the same problem; well-made DTS mixes, like Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down or Jurassic Park, do not require the same amount of volume power as Dolby Digital DVDs. Is it normal to need to crank certain soundtracks to high levels on receivers in order to really get "immersed" in the soundtrack and overpower all voices or ambient sounds?

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   RobWil

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Posted December 23 2004 - 05:14 AM

You could try just using the test tone and cranking up the signal level to your center channel a little higher than the rest of the speakers. I think it's quite common for people to complain about the dialogue in surround sound. I'm not sure if it's because of crappy center channel speakers or what. Although it seems to me that even in theaters it's often times hard to hear the dialogue during quieter dialogue scenes, even when people aren't talking on their stinking cell phones Posted Image
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#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 23 2004 - 06:22 AM

Rob,

Thank you.....I already have my center channel cranked three decibels higher than the other channels; I had it at two decibels but found I wanted it a slight bit higher.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted December 23 2004 - 06:54 AM

I wouldn't worry about a specific number on the receiver volume level....it's all relative. Crank it up till your ears bleed then back it down a tad Posted Image As long as you're not getting distortion from your speakers you're OK.
DTS tracts do tend to be louder than DD....generally.

Mort

#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted December 23 2004 - 09:08 AM

Pat,

It’s common for DVDs to need higher volume settings than other source components – they often have their levels recorded lower than other media. It has nothing to do with needing bigger amps – you’ll still have the same situation.

You didn’t mention what kind of speakers you have, or how much power your receiver has, but if your speakers are inefficient it will require more amplifier power and higher volume levels to run them.

Bottom line:
Quote:
should I just keep raising the volume on my TX-SR600 until it gets to ear-bleeding levels, and not worry about what that number on the display says?
Yes.

However, “ear-bleeding levels” is determined by the amount of sound coming out of the system, not an arbitrary volume-level number on the receiver’s display. So ignore the numbers and turn up to wherever it’s needed to get what you want.

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#6 of 37 OFFLINE   Aaron_Mum

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Posted December 23 2004 - 09:48 AM

Ever gone into a nicely setup dedicated HT room? It is with good acoustics that you can appreciate the dynamics of a soundtrack.

When you are using your HT as a PA its going to get frustrating as the only way to overcome background noise is with volume.

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeremy_R

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Posted December 23 2004 - 04:01 PM

I have an Onkyo 601 and you do have to have the volume at 50+ to get much sound. I usually watch movies at 72 or -10 if you are using relative volume.

It's not really a big concern, it has something to do with the high current amp in the receiver. I would say it is safe to play it all the way up to the 80s. The receiver tops out at 100 but you will notice that once you hit the 70s & 80s the sound will get much louder with each increase in number.

#8 of 37 OFFLINE   eddieZEN

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Posted December 24 2004 - 04:53 AM

Pat,

Glad you raised this question, I have discovered the same issue with my recently purchased Marantz SR5400 which is rated at 90 wpc and supposedly tested to actually put out 100 wpc!

With CD listening I get amply comfortable volume around -30, but with a DTS DVD ("Blade Runner" director's cut last night) I had to crank it all the way to -10 or -5 to really hear the dialogue clearly, and that's with my center channel already boosted by 5 db.

Funny, I used to run my DVDs through a little Sony compact stereo and used to blame this phenomenon on how cheap and crappy the Sony was...! Posted Image

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 01:51 AM

"I wouldn't worry about a specific number on the receiver volume level....it's all relative. Crank it up till your ears bleed then back it down a tad As long as you're not getting distortion from your speakers you're OK.
DTS tracts do tend to be louder than DD....generally.

Mort"


Yes Mort, I know from hands on experience that DTS tracks tend to be decilbels higher and hotter than Dolby tracks...its just that recently, I have been finding I need to crank some DTS mixes pretty high as well!

So, you dont think I should even look at that number on the receiver really?

#10 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 01:55 AM

"Pat,

It’s common for DVDs to need higher volume settings than other source components – they often have their levels recorded lower than other media. It has nothing to do with needing bigger amps – you’ll still have the same situation.

You didn’t mention what kind of speakers you have, or how much power your receiver has, but if your speakers are inefficient it will require more amplifier power and higher volume levels to run them."

Thanks....but why is this....why are DVDs recorded at a lower volume; isnt it supposed to be a crystal clear DIGITAL FORMAT? Why the need for so much volume when we watch our DVDs? This never made sense to me.

As for speakers, I have Polk bookshevles for two mains, on stands, with smaller bookshelves for the surrounds, also on stands, next to my couch. The center sits above the TV on the wall unit, also a Polk, and I have a 10" Polk self powered sub on the floor just next to the right main speaker stand.

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:00 AM

"I have an Onkyo 601 and you do have to have the volume at 50+ to get much sound. I usually watch movies at 72 or -10 if you are using relative volume.

It's not really a big concern, it has something to do with the high current amp in the receiver. I would say it is safe to play it all the way up to the 80s. The receiver tops out at 100 but you will notice that once you hit the 70s & 80s the sound will get much louder with each increase in number."


Yes, I realize that the higher in the volume scale you are, like say in the "70"s, the sensitivity in our hearing makes increases much greater from that point. I just never understood why Onkyo designed the receivers like this; I just feel like at 50, I should already have a great deal of muscle powering my system, being that the damn thing only goes up to 100...on my old two channel Yamaha stereo receiver system, I couldnt get that volume knob near half way because the sound was ear bleeding....on this surround receiver, 50 seems weak for certain soundtracks and I wish Onkyo would have built these things with a bit more lower-end muscle.

So you are saying you need to go up to 72 or so on your 601, huh? Interesting....the highest I have gotten a good Dolby Digital or DTS soundtrack up to is 58....

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:04 AM

"Glad you raised this question, I have discovered the same issue with my recently purchased Marantz SR5400 which is rated at 90 wpc and supposedly tested to actually put out 100 wpc!

With CD listening I get amply comfortable volume around -30, but with a DTS DVD ("Blade Runner" director's cut last night) I had to crank it all the way to -10 or -5 to really hear the dialogue clearly, and that's with my center channel already boosted by 5 db.

Funny, I used to run my DVDs through a little Sony compact stereo and used to blame this phenomenon on how cheap and crappy the Sony was...!"


Eddie,

I am finding the SAME exact thing with my Onkyo....some DVDs have dialogue channel so horribly low I need to crank the volume even higher than Im already running, and that is with my center channel 3 dB's higher than the rest....you have yours at 5 dB higher and getting the same results....what gives?

I hate that....when you have a heavy-action film going but you need to crank the volume way up because the god damned dialogue is so quiet...a great example of this is Saving Private Ryan in DTS, where after you experience the awesome battle sequences at a certain comfortable volume, the dialogue seems downright SILENT compared to the action scenes, and you gotta raise the system WAY up to hear it.

#13 of 37 OFFLINE   eddieZEN

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:13 AM

Yeah, the funny (and maddening) thing is, I have never experienced this problem in a movie cinema...so WTF?

I mean, isn't that what we're paying out the wazoo for, to have cinema sound at home?

I wonder if it's any better with non-DTS formats...

#14 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:15 AM

I agree completely.....100 percent....I sit in front of my HT sometimes and think "what the hell did I pay for when I can easily talk over this film right now? I thought I was supposed to get cinema sound at home...."

#15 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeremy_R

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:53 AM

If you want the same sound as the cinema buy a SPL meter at radio shack and run your movie at 85 db with peaks at 105 db. That is the THX standard for movies.

If your Onkyo is calibrated I think the correct volume to achieve that is 82 on the dial or 0 if you are using the relative volume.

I find it most comfortable to listen at -20 to -10.

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 02:56 AM

Jeremy,

Wow...I have never gotten my receiver up to "85"....I wonder what it would sound like at that level....

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeremy_R

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Posted December 27 2004 - 03:04 AM

I didn't say turn the receiver to 85. I told you to get a SPL meter from radio shack and calibrate your system. You can then watch a movie and see how loud the movie is with the SPL. It is my understanding that the THX standard is for the dialog to be around 85 db with action scenes up to 105 db.

SPL meter

Some one else correct me if I'm wrong.

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 03:07 AM

Whoops....I meant "82" on the dial....

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeremy_R

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Posted December 27 2004 - 03:17 AM

It really all depends on the sensitivity of your speakers and the size of your room.

You need to at least calibrate your speakers with your receiver's test tone and make sure they all output 75 db of sound at zero on the volume (set your volume display to relative). You can find out how to do these things by looking in the Onkyo manual.

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Pat_TL

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Posted December 27 2004 - 03:19 AM

Jeremy,

I had my system set by an ex-co worker friend years ago to my ears' liking, and his suggestions, which were not based on the SPL readings you provided....the results were calibration levels of "+6" for left and right main, subwoofer, and left and right surrounds....the center is set at "+9"...STILL, with these jacked-up levels, the audio doesnt seem to get cooking on this receiver until at least "50" on the display....can you make sense of that?