5.1 speaker balance dilemma

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by shankar, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi all, [​IMG]
    In some threads describing how to use AVIA to balance the speaker levels, it has been mentioned that the reciever volume should be kept at 00 dBs before starting the balancing process.
    I own a pioneer VSx D608. When I keep the volume reading at 0, the mains are at 4, center is at 5, surrounds are at 3 and the subwoofer (AR s112PS) is at -10 (the lowest you can go).
    When I then check for subwwofer balance with other speakers, the subwoofer is too powerful. I have to crank the subwoofer amplifier way down to make it register 75dB on the RS SPL meter.
    This is where I'm confused. I have also read that it is best to let the subwoofers amp do the major work of base amplification instead of the reciever. I can't do that with the reciever set at 00.
    So, I now have thereciever at -30 and have adjusted all the levels inclusing the sub so that they all register at 75dB. The subs amplification knob is turned 60% of the way.
    Is this set up wrong?
     
  2. Harry Lincoln

    Harry Lincoln Stunt Coordinator

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    The method I use is to start with the left main, set the channel to 0db and use the master volume to adjust the signal to 75db/85db (whichever you are using), take note of where the master volume is set too - this is your reference level. Leave the master vol in this position and use the channel adjustments to set the other speakers to the same level as the left front. (you can start with any speaker, I start with the left main because thats where my calibration disc sends the first test tone). If the sub is too loud and you cant lower the receiver's sub level any more, just turn down the volume knob on the subwoofer to get to the desired level.

    Harry.
     
  3. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    shankar - Using volume reading at 0, the mains are at 4, center is at 5, surrounds are at 3 and the subwoofer (AR s112PS) is at -10 (the lowest you can go) Is Correct!! Turning the subwoofer amplifier way down to make it register 75dB* on the RS SPL meter is A-OK if it sounds right.
    Volume Control # 0 = REFERENCE Level
    At this point, whatever volume SPL you choose to watch your DVD's will be based from 0 (REF Level). So if your normal watching/listening DVD level = -15 on your Volume control, you now can say that you normally watch your DVD @ -15 dB below REF Level. (That's easier than trying to calculate from -30)
    NOTE: *Some will calibrate their Subwoofer @ 79 dB (or 4 dB hot) to add a little more subsonic impact - a personal choice based on what you hear and feel as long the LFE/sub bass is not bloated or boomy.
    Phil
     
  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I don't know specifically about your receiver, but if I put mine at 0dB, I'd be in a world of hurt. The numbers on your main volume control are irrelevant to a certain degree. The setting of the volume will vary with your receiver, speakers, and room. What Harry is telling you is correct. As for the sub setting, it will vary also. If you are using a pro amp its ideal to have it set wide open then adjust the setting at the receiver, but if you can't, you can't.

    I am confused about one thing. You set your volume at 0, then you were getting 71dB out of the mains. But when you set it to -30dB, you were still able to use the individual speaker adjustments to get it to reference? What were your final settings then?
     
  5. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Keith - unless I'm wrong about the Pioneer VSX-D608, this AV Receiver allows you to dial the Volume until the Digital Read-out = 0

    Then using your HT Speaker Individual Level Controls, you 'raise or lower' the volume of each channel until it = 75 dB.

    Hence, from what shankar originally wrote

    Volume Control (digital readout) = 0

    Mains Level = +4

    Center Level = +5

    Surrounds Level = +3

    Subwoofer Level = -10

    Subwoofer AMP Level = way down = 75 dB

    He doesn't have to listen/watch @ 0, but it makes more sense to REF Calibrate @ 0 and as I said above, "easier than trying to calculate from -30." his SPL Level below REF.

    In my case my Yamaha RX-V995 does not have a digital readout, so I have to visually 'Mark' my Volume Knob location based on the silk-screen numbers on the bezel behind the Volume knob. So my documented REF Level is;

    Left Front: "DOT" between 16 & 12 (*Vol. Control Knob)

    Center: - 8

    Right Front: "DOT" between 16 and 12 (*Vol. Control Knob)

    Left Rear: +1

    Right Rear: +1

    Balance: near 0 (slightly left)

    Bass: 0 (bypassed)

    Treble: 0 (bypassed)

    SW: - 20 (subwoofer)

    DD LFE: - 4

    DTS LFE: + 6

    Digital Delay: 0

    Phil
     
  6. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Does the individual speaker control have that much variance? I know with my RX-V1 I do not. From what he's saying then he set it the master control at -30 and I'm assuming the main channels were set to +34? Or is there some way to set his volume to a certain level, then tell the receiver to call that 0?

    My concern here is that there is a misconception by many people that there is a standard volume position for all receivers for reference, and this just isn't true. Some people say 0dB, but on an RX-V1 0dB is full volume with -100dB being minimum. I've seen a Harmon Kardon where the master varies from -70dB to +30db. Others just have arbitrary numbers or markings. I've also seen some people claim you should never go past 10 o'clock, but with mine and other Yamahas this makes absolutely no sense.

    Perhaps on Shankar's there is something that you can go off, but it sounds to me like 0dB wasn't working for him at all since he had such trouble with the sub.
     
  7. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Keith - you have the same system that I'm working from with my Yamaha.

    Like I said, some AV Receiver's (like Shankar's and not mine or your Yamaha), right out the box new, has the option to move their Volume Control Knob up until the Digital Readout = 0 on their Panel Display. At this point you would not 'touch, move, change' the Volume Control Knob again.

    Once you do that, then...

    1) You play your internal test signal or Video Essentials DVD - watch the RS SPL Meter

    2) If the Left channel SPL is too loud, use the Left channel trim control to lower the volume until the SPL = 75 dB without touching the Volume Control Knob again.

    ..... 2a) My Yamaha doesn't have any that option, we just turn up the Volume until the Left CH = 75 dB

    .......... 2aa) Then if the R & L Front is uneven, I use the Balance Control to equalize both R & L = 75 dB

    3) Complete the remaining HT Speaker Levels using each of the respective Speaker Level controls - again not touching the Volume Control.

     
  8. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I see what you're getting at, and it sounds like a good system. But why wouldn't they give the same level of adjustments for the sub as they do for the other speakers?
     
  9. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the good discussion. My confusion is: since I got a powered subwoofer should I not let the sub use its dedicated amplification instead of taxing the poor pioneer? Does this make sense?

    Keeping the pioneer at its max amplification (readout at 0). Is there any other advantage/disadvantage other than knowing that I'm watching 15dB below reference?

    Thanks.
     
  10. Harry Lincoln

    Harry Lincoln Stunt Coordinator

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    Lets say we set the receiver to 00db, and then to reach a volume of 75db we had to boost the channel adjustments to around 20db, wouldn't this be the same type of thing as running your receivers sub out at maximum and then using the subs volume control to set the level (see below)- which we know is wrong? This could introduce clipping/ distortion into the signal - right?? So it makes sense to me to have the channel settings as close to 0db as possible.

    I do not have any experience with Pioneer receivers though(I have a Yammy), so maybe read through the manual and see if it recommends using the 00db starting point, if not I would use the method I stated.

    Personally I don't set my system to a particular volume setting, I just adjust it to my taste depending on the movie im watching.

    ----------

    Thanks for the good discussion. My confusion is: since I got a powered subwoofer should I not let the sub use its dedicated amplification instead of taxing the poor pioneer? Does this make sense?

    ----------

    > Regardless of what you set the subwoofer level to on your receiver, you are NOT taxing the receiver at all, it is only sending an unamplified signal to the subwoofer, the subwoofer does all the amplification itself.

    However, it is best to use the lowest possible setting on the receiver and use a higher setting on the subwoofer volume control than to run a high rec. setting and low sub volume setting. If the receivers setting is too high it culd cause the sub to clip/distort.

    Harry.
     
  11. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Harry's dead on. One thing you are doing those is messing with the signal a bit. Go over to the Hardware Archives and check out Vince Maskeeper's various threads on amps. They're mostly dedicated to pro-amps, but they talk about sub amps a bit. He explains all that stuff about volume levels and such. It has something to do with the volume on many subs and pro amps being a limiter, at full volume you use the signal directly, if you turn it down your are reducing the signal. However on some amps and receivers, your volume control is a gain control that increases the signal being passed to the amp.
     
  12. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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    Harry,

    When my reciever says 0 dB, that's the MAXIMUM level. With this setting I have to turn DOWN the individual channel levels. They can be modified between -10dB to +10dB (a range of 20dB). The only question I have is, is it best to allow the sub to do the dog work of boosting the base or let the reciever do it. I remember seeing Vince's postings on this matter (both starting with a 0dB reference and letting the sub do the work) which led to my confusion.

    Vince Maskeeper, your thoughts??
     
  13. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    What I've always said is:
    If possible run the amplifier unit all the way open and use the sub control in the receiver to adjust the sub level. HOWEVER, if you cannot calibrate with the amp level all the way up, go ahead and turn it down to where you need it to be to calibrate. The improvement of proper calibration is GIANT comapred to the small effect running the amp wide gives you. Calibration is the most important element.
    If you check out the hardware archives, you'll find a 2 year old thread where I mentioned this many times:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=26718
    Understand that you keep referring to "allow the sub to do the dog work"- which means you mgiht be confused on how this works. Either way, the sub will do the work- it is the product with the amplifier, the receiver will just pass it a signal to amplify.
    The reason why often running amps WIDE OPEN works better is because the majority of amps cannot boost the level of signal coming into the amp. These knobs serve only to reduce the signal coming in (so, wide open on many amps would mean the signal is passing from the receiver to the amp without being reduced).
    It's not an issue of making the sub work harder vs. making the receiver work harder- this is a non-issue. The receiver is doing no work- simply passing signal to be amplified. Again, if you can get calibrated with the amp on full- go for it. If you can't, then reduce the gain on the amp.
    So, there you go.
    -V
    PS: The position of the master volume knob is not an issue. Put the volume knob wherever it needs to calibrate. This can be 00, this might be -5, this might be 32-- it doesn't matter. Just calibrate and remember where the knob was at the time.
     
  14. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Harry Lincoln

    Harry Lincoln Stunt Coordinator

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    -----------

    The sub will get the same input in the second case if I change the sub level from -10 to say -7 in the reciever. In this case, am I making the reciever's amp do more work?

    -----------

    Once again, the receiver cannot amplify the subwoofer signal, it can only output a preamp(unamplified) signal to the subwoofer's amp. The sub setting on the receiver changes the level of this preamp signal, but it is not making the receiver do any extra work.

    -----------

    Either way, the sub will do the work- it is the product with the amplifier, the receiver will just pass it a signal to amplify.

    ----------

    Harry.
     
  16. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Shank,
    Your posts are still a bit confusing-- but I'll try my best to explain:
    Again- there is no "amp" in the receiver for the sub channel. It is a very very low voltage output- and that singnal is boosted by the amp in the sub.
    As you pointed out, you can use a combination of receiver sub level and amplifer knob to vary the output you get out of the sub.
    But you have to understand that both the sub level in the receiver and the knob on the sub are doing the exact same thing: they are slightly adjusting that low voltage line level signal being sent to the amplifier in the sub.
    If you back off the receiver output, you reduce the level of this signal coming out of the receiver and thus the level getting to the amp in the sub-- but understand this is not an AMPLIFIED signal coming from the receiver- rather it is a very low level line signal.
    To put it bluntly: Driving the sub output all the way open vs. drive it all the way down would provide no real difference in "how hard the receiver" worked or it's electrical consumption.
    On the other hand: The knob on the sub works very much the same way. It regualtes how much signal is sent to the actual AMPLIFIER stage of the unit. If you back off the knob on the sub, you reduce the level of incoming signal that gets sent to the amplifier stage-- but this is still not an AMPLIFIED signal coming from the receiver- rather it is a very low level line signal. It is not actually an amplified signal until it is passed to the amp stage in the sub, and is then sent directly to the speaker driver.
    BY either adjusting the knob on the sub or the sub level in the receiver, all you're doing is slightly attenuating a very very low level signal which tells the amplifier how loud to output sound. You are not altering an amplified signal, so in terms of all the way open vs. all the way down there is essentially no difference in "how hard" you're driving the source.
    I guess an analogy would be a gas pedal in a car:
    How much difference in energy is it for you to push your gas lightly vs. pushing it hard? Not much difference because the car is doing the work. You are simply giving a low level input which tells the car how fast to go-- you are not physically "pushing" the car. The line of the receiver is very much the same.
    Make sense?
    -Vince
     
  17. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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    I got it finally (I think). Thanks for the patience...
    The line level out for the sub channel gets "modified" up or down when I change the sub level setting or adjust the ref volume setting. It does not involve "amplification". Does it change the wave characteristics however?
    Is this terminology because it is very low voltage? How's this different from the modifications of the signals that drive the mains or the surrounds?? When we increase the volume in the reciever, does it not send more voltage to the speaker to move the woofer and tweeter more? Is that not amplification of the input voltage to the speaker? Doesn't all amplification involve modifying the voltage (increase or decrease the amplitude of the waveform and thus the energy associated with it).?
    Dumb Question #1: When we crank up the volume control on the reciever, does that engage the amplifier portion of the reciever?
    D.Q #2 In A CD player or DVD player that puts out line level audio out through a COAX, it's always at ONE level. I don't have the freedom to modify the output waveform? The amplifier portion of the AV reciever modifies the signal to make it sound louder or softer as we turn the volume control. Does it not?
    Maybe I need to brush up on my Physics and electronics fundamentals.. [​IMG]
     
  18. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I typed a 1500 word reply to this post, which was lost somehow when IE crashed.

    Will hopefully muster the energy to do it again later.

    -V
     
  19. shankar

    shankar Stunt Coordinator

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    Vince,

    Any luck in retrieving the lost post??
     

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