Center Channel Volume

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Paul^R, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. Paul^R

    Paul^R Auditioning

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    Hello, I have a question about Center Channel Volume. I have a cheap surround system that i have had for 6 years and am ready to upgrade to a real one. One thing i noticed on my system was that if i had the volume loud enough to where i could actually make out what the actors were saying, i would have to quickly lower the volume once the action started otherwise it was too loud. And then of course i would have to raise the volume again once dialog resumed. This was extremely inconvenient and really took away from the movie watching experience. Now i always chalked this up to cheap speakers / receiver. I did all kinds of tweaks on the receiver and nothing worked. So now i'm out demoing equipment at the local electronics stores, and they all seem to be experiencing the same thing... center channel volume is way off compared to the other speakers. Is this a problem everywhere, is it a limitation of the equipment, or is it a config issue? I really don't want to go all out and spent a couple grand on a system that i expect to engulf me except for the fact that i have to sit in the ready position with the volume remote at all times to continually adjust it...

    Any input is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    Paul R
     
  2. rob-h

    rob-h Second Unit

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    If you really need to, you can kick the center up a few db's over the rest of the channels after calibrating them.
     
  3. EricSal

    EricSal Extra

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    Also, most receivers will have the option to reduce the dynamic range (the difference between the loudest and softest passages) if you want to, this might help too. But I think that a better center channel speaker will go a long way towards alleviating this.
     
  4. Victor Ferguson

    Victor Ferguson Stunt Coordinator

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    EricSal hit it on the head... Dynamic range is the main issue and is why some parts are much louder than the others. A better center always helps to make dialogue clearer and give it more presence.
     
  5. John S

    John S Producer

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    On modern DD 5.1 / DTS 5.1 and 6.1 you can pretty much just set dialog volume be raising and lowering just the center channel itself.


    Keep in mind, the idea is a pay theater like experience, where the quiet parts are loud and the loud parts blow you out of your seat. This is normal.
     
  6. Paul^R

    Paul^R Auditioning

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    I always had the Center Channel at the loudest volume possible. I was still constantly raising and lowering the volume.

    Someone mentioned that you wnat it to be like in the theater, where the sound is loud, well, in a theater you're in a huge room a good distance from all the speakers. In a Home Theater, you're in a small enclosed room only feet from the speaker. Don't get me wrong, i like the sound to be good, but i don't want it to hurt my ears either. If it gets too loud, it just doesn't sound right.

    I guess i will keep trying out different equipment to see if i can find a happy medium between the center and the L / R.

    Thanks for all of your input.
     
  7. Ben_Caoile

    Ben_Caoile Agent

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    I was thinking "Dynamic Range Compression" aka "Night Mode" aka "Night Viewing" would be the culprit in your case, but seeing as how your reciever is 6 years old, it may not even have that function.

    Is this an issue that has plagued you for 6 years? If it is then, WOW. As you mentioned when movies are supposed to be loud they're loud and when sound is subtle it is supposed to be subtle, this is reffered to as dynamics. Movies are very dynamic in that volume levels will bounce around depending on the scene.

    But if you're turning it upto where dialouge is clear but when the volume level escalates and it's hurting your ears, it seems in my humble opinion, that either a) your getting too old (don't take that the wrong way), or b) you need new equipment. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    Paul,

    If your center channel is already maxed out, you could always turn down the other channels and turn up the master volume, but I've never found it necessary to turn up the center channel more than a couple of decibels.

    I agree with the other suggestions:
    1) Calibrate your system, then bump up the center volume a bit.
    2) Use DRC/midnight mode on your receiver if possible.



    It's not that the sound has to be loud, just dynamic, like real life. An explosion should be relatively louder than dialogue, whether you're listening at reference level or a much lower level.

    Dynamic range compression, as you might guess, is a feature on many receivers that reduces the dynamic range, so that the difference between dialogue and loud effects is lessened.

    So, I think DRC is what you're looking for, although I never use it. If I'm afraid of waking/disturbing my family, I use headphones. If you're not sure whether your current receiver supports DRC, give us the model number, and maybe we can help you out.
     
  9. JohnEF

    JohnEF Stunt Coordinator

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    I had the same problem of dialogue from the center channel drowned out in action scenes. My problem was excaerbated when I used my treadmill and listening to dialogue was even a greater problem. I did three things that actually worked: (1) I upgraded my center channel (to Pinnacle Gold reference Center channel to match my Pinnacle gold reference towers); (2) raised the center by a few decibels and (3) got a quieter treadmill.

    I think the upgrade of the speaker was the most effective.

    John
     
  10. Paul^R

    Paul^R Auditioning

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    Thanks for all the info guys.

    By what you have said, it sounds like it was a combination of a cheap receiver and a cheap center. My receiver is a Kenwood that I bought as part of a receiver/speaker package in 2000. It doesn't have any of the options you all have been talking about. I gave my receiver / speakers to my sister so that I would finally be forced to upgrade and buy a real system. So the things you all have mentioned will be things that i look for.

    As far as it being too loud, I just feel that once the volume reaches a certain level, it just doesn't sound as good. I don't think i'm that old yet [​IMG]

    PR
     
  11. fritz dg

    fritz dg Auditioning

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    It could very well be your receiver's poor dynamic range when heavy passages are called upon your receiver may distort and compress and you are perceiving that as being loud or as you said does'nt sound right,

    A good dynamic receiver/amp will sound clean at low and high volume scenes,and of course could be a combination of both receiver and speakers as you said yourself jmho

    Good luck on your new search..
     

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