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Center and Surround Channel issues

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 neumee



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Posted April 04 2011 - 12:33 PM

Hey everyone,

Well,I just finished setting up my surround system and am having some issues I was hoping to get resolved:) Before i go to far let me tell you a bit about my set up... The heart of my system is the <a href="http://support.jvc.c...=1&archive=true">JVC RX-702B</a> <a href="http://www.audiorevi...43_1594crx.aspx">Jensen C-7 Towers</a> <a href="http://www.polkaudio...index.php?s=t15">Polk T-15</a> Bookshelves and a <a href="http://www.crutchfie...aker-Black.html">Bose VCS-10</a> Center speaker.

I have a Motorola DVR from Charter and a PS3 both connected Via optical audio into the receiver and they both have HDMI out going to my LG 50" plasma.

Previously my setup was just the reciever and the two floor standing speakers, and honestly, it sounded great, but i needed that surround sound experience. After getting the two rears and center channel hooked up and ready to go, I tested it out... and am extremely disappointed. Let me tell you what i have noticed and done up to this point.

My first issue is with volume. To get the same loudness out of my system as i did with with just the two floor speakers, i need to nearly double my volume setting i used to keep it at. IE Watching TV my reciever volume would be about 11, now i need to turn it up to about 19-20 to hear it properly. This is more an annoyance then anything, as atm I live in an apartment building and cant turn it up to loud anyways...

The more serious issue is my dialogue is HORRIBLE in surround mode. I can barely hear what anyone is saying. As a matter of fact is was so quite that unless i was literally not standing next to it, i couldnt even tell it was on. ( I also have this exact problem with both the rear surrounds. I know they arent made to have an exhorbant amount of sound coming out of them, more for just "extra detail" but i wouldnt think i would need my ear next to them to tell if they were on or not...)  so I turn it up, and yes it becomes easier to hear, however the sound doesnt seem to be clear. From what i understand is the center channel is the single most important speaker of a set up, accounting for 50% of what you really should hear. I would say i hear 80% out of my front speakers, and 10 % from my center and 5% from each of the surrounds

To help alleviate the problem i changed the distance settings on my reciever ( Originally I had each speaker setting set to the actual distance in feet ) to reflect my floor standing speakers being 1 foot away and my center and surround channels at 10 feet away, and then lowering the ?? Db Per Channel ?? of my floors to 0 (middle of the spectrum) and my center and surround to +10 (spectrum max) These two things helped the problem, but moviestv still sound noticeably better if i use just my front two speakers.

Any ideas on this would help as i am in a few hundred dollars and it sounds worse then when i started :(:(:(

This next one I am sure is just a setting but i dont know what needs to change... If i am watching something that is in surround, my reciever, as it should, automatically switches to surround, and all speakers, well, lets call it for sure get signal going to them. Ideally what i would like is when i am watching something that is not in surround, all of my speakers still get utilized, instead of the center and 2 surrounds turning off. I can easily manually change it to " all channel stereo " it seems a bit tedious to have to switch settings on the receiver whenever i go from a HD channel to a SD channel...

Any ideas guys??? Or am i stuck having to change back and forth...

I know that room shape and speaker location play a major role in sound quality and performance, so i will be uploading pictures showing my speaker layout distances etc. I doubt, however, that it would play much more than a minor role in the issues that i am having.

Well i didn't intend on writing such a long post, so apologies up front :P Any and all help tips would be greatly appreciated!!!


#2 of 9 Frank A

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Posted April 04 2011 - 04:44 PM

Hi, and welcome. I will give it a shot, although it is very difficult analyzing these things over the internet like this. First off, when listening to movies in 5.1 surround, you normally should get almost all of the dialogue out of the center channel (therefore, you need a really good center channel, I think). Your main speakers become "affects" speakers, as are your surrounds. This means you normally only get sound affects, etc from them. So, they should normally be quiet except for sound affects (maybe background music?, etc.).

Are you getting 5.1 discrete sound from the source or are you using something similar to Dolby Prologic II or whatever it is now. Also, have you done a calibration with your speaker setup, either internally in the receiver or externally using an SPL (sound pressure level) meter (it can be bought for 40 or 50$, maybe)?

A lot of your tv shows are not in 5.1 surround even though they are in high def'n, so you will not be getting 5.1 surround but a mix to prologic (which I think, muddies the sound).

Hopefully, maybe someone else will come around and give you some better answers/suggestion.

#3 of 9 CB750



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Posted April 04 2011 - 06:23 PM

Welcome Sean

As Frank mentioned it's pretty difficult analyzing problems over the Internet but I will add my two cents;

Your inventory of speakers shows that you are using a Bose center channel and two large floor standing Jensens for your L & R.  In a 5.1 system it is important that all of your speakers in your front stage be timbre matched and that means the center speaker should either be the same speaker as the L & R or a speaker made by the same company with matching or compatible drivers.  This is important because those three speakers really work together smoothly to deliver the majority of the audio signal.  I suspect that these trio of speakers are totally mismatched timbre wise to each other with the Bose being the source of your problem.  I wonder who suggested to go with Bose for your center channel?  Your first step should be to find a center channel that better matches up with your Jensens.

I also suggest that you run your receiver auto speaker calibration system.  Since you don't have a sub set your Jensens to large.   I also find some movies that are not in 5.1 surround and use some form of pro logic can result a poor dialog from the center channel.  When I encounter this I find that switching to different pro logic format sometimes helps.

#4 of 9 neumee



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Posted April 05 2011 - 02:43 PM

Thanks a ton for the replies!

I had no idea about the importance of the three front speakers matching, Lesson learned ;) Expensive lesson, but trust i wont make it again ;) One thing i cant really figure out is the auto calibration on my reciever, i have no idea were it is or how to use it, the only thing in the manual i can find is something about smart setup, but it doesnt seem to work. The only settings that i have changed at all on my receiver is the distance and digital eq settings as well as the gain on the speakers. I have managed to make the problem livable, and sounding at least as good as it did with 2 channels by lowering the gain on my towers and pushing the gain on the center surrounds up to + 10.

#5 of 9 neumee



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Posted April 05 2011 - 03:51 PM

Hopefully i am not the biggest audio noob ever... my reciever is a 7.1 i have a 5 channel set up atm i have the obvious speakers connected properly for sure... front left front right, and center.    Turning on my playstation, i just happened to glance at the speaker indicator, and was surprised by what i saw, I have the rear surround speakers connected to my receiver in the back surround speaker spot, however on the light indicator the "RS" and "LS" (wich i am assuming is Right surround and left surround, respectively...) in the middle of the diagram reflecting that its the side surround speakers is what is illuminated, not the "LSB RSB" lights that i would expect to see. Do i have my rear speakers plugged in to the spot that would be used if i had a 7.1 setup???

#6 of 9 CB750



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Posted April 05 2011 - 05:22 PM


I am not familiar with the auto speaker calibration system that JVC uses.  Normally systems like Audyssey and others come with a small microphone with about 25 feet of wire that connects with a 3.5mm jack into the front of your receiver.  Once you make that connection the receiver goes into an auto set up mode and tells you what to do.  You place the microphone in the area of your prime seating (a camera tripod helps).  The program will detect if the speakers are properly connected and it will measure the distances of each speaker from the microphone and adjust the volume of each speaker to that location.

The surround speakers in a 5.1 system should be connected to the speaker connections on your receiver that are labeled surround not rear.

Sorry you got burned on that Bose center channel but the person who sold you it should have asked what other speakers made up your front stage, and advised you about the timbre matching.  Sometimes you can get away with mismatched brands but usually you can't.   From what I know about the current line up of Bose HT speakers I would say they will only match up with other Bose products.  Bose tends to make speakers  that only are compatible with other Bose speakers.  Any chance you might be able to return it?  On the other hand finding a center channel match to your Jensens might also present a challenge.

#7 of 9 neumee



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Posted April 05 2011 - 05:58 PM

Yea, i figured finding something to match the jensens will be near impossible :(

Just so i am certain on what you mean with

"The surround speakers in a 5.1 system should be connected to the speaker connections on your receiver that are labeled surround not rear."

My JVC has speaker terminals saying:

Front Speakers, Center Speaker, Surround Speakers, Surround back speakers

I should have my Surround speakers plugged into" surround speakers" on the reciever, not "Surround Back Speakers" ?

If that is the case, merely for knowledge, Why would a 5 speaker setup on a 7.1 receiver want to utilize the "middle surround speakers" instead of the rear speakers like one would imagine? Is the added layer in a 7.1 system the back channels? ( sorry if its a dumb question, I LOVE audiovisual performance and equipment, but until recently have never had the money to toy around with like i am now :(

#8 of 9 Al.Anderson



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Posted April 05 2011 - 11:11 PM

 Is the added layer in a 7.1 system the back channels?

Yes, the added channels are the rear speakers.  The surrounds on a 5.1 system are meant to be placed on the sides.  It's a common misconception.

#9 of 9 Jason Charlton

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Posted April 06 2011 - 02:30 AM

Originally Posted by neumee 

Why would a 5 speaker setup on a 7.1 receiver want to utilize the "middle surround speakers" instead of the rear speakers like one would imagine? Is the added layer in a 7.1 system the back channels?

Some great information on surround speaker layouts can be found here: Dolby Guide for speaker placement.

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