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Center Speaker-Can't Understand dialogue

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Dan Pham, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Dan Pham

    Dan Pham Auditioning

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    I have a jbl tlx center speaker which is equivalent to the Northridge ones right now. For the life of me, whenever we watch movies, we can't understand the dialogue! We have to resort to subtitles to watch movies. I've calibrated my Home Theater with the sound meter from Radioshack, but it still doesn't help. I've cranked up the middle too, and still it sounds muddy. Not my ears either, my wife and friends can't understand either. I'm running Canton silk domed speakers for my fronts. What do you all suggest?

    Thanks,
    Danny
     
  2. Sam A

    Sam A Stunt Coordinator

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    what loudness compared to ref level do you usually watch at? cant you turn it up?

    double check delay settings and recalibrate.
     
  3. Dan Pham

    Dan Pham Auditioning

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    Yes, I cranked the center up 4 db. That makes the center speaker much louder than the others. When calibrating with the RS Soundmeter, aren't the speakers supposed to be all equal?

    I don't do anything with delay settings. I just keep it at Digital Surround Sound.
     
  4. EricSm

    EricSm Stunt Coordinator

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    I think what he meant by setting the delay, is that on almost all DD compatible receivers you can go in and set separate distances for the speakers in relation to your seated position.

    What is the center channel's height in relation to your seating position? I find that some crafty velcro, doorstops, and clever angling of the speaker down from the top of the tv really helped the clarity of the center channel.
     
  5. Sam A

    Sam A Stunt Coordinator

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    "I just keep it at Digital Surround Sound. "

    explain this statement. sounds like you are usind a DSP instead of discrete DD or DTS. that would definately cause your problem.
     
  6. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    maybe you're watching foreign films? [​IMG]
     
  7. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    He's describing the same problem that led me to realize that I didn't even need a center.....the Phantom Center is coming for you!!!!! Muah ha ha ha ha!!!!!!! [​IMG]

    Okay, seriously.....I had a similar problem....try this: Choose "no" for your center channel on your receiver or pre/pro. Toss in a movie and play one of the scenes in question in DD/DTS. What was the center channel info will be sent to the mains. If all of sudden it sounds intelligible, then it's some sort of issue with the center speaker, whether that be calibration, driver, whatever.
     
  8. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    Maybe the tweeter's busted? Can you use Avia or some kind of DVD with sound frequency tests to check on the tweeters?
     
  9. Ryan Tsang

    Ryan Tsang Second Unit

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    I would not be so quick to blame your equipment or your setup. I have separates and I use $1000 bookshelf speakers (I use one, not the pair) as the center and sometimes I have to have subtitles on. I have my center on a dedicated stand in front of my RPTV so it is not only freestanding, but it is angled to the sweet spot.

    I had a hard time with Master and Commander because of the accent. Man on Fire too, I had to resort to subtitles for several lines.

    If this is happening to every movie, and it's not justyou......well.....maybe it is the speaker[​IMG]
     
  10. Sam A

    Sam A Stunt Coordinator

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    question for alanZ or whomever, if you do go the phantom center route, does it send the signal -3db to the left and right or does it just split the signal. was wondering cause sound coming out of 2 speakers is 3 db higher than 1 speaker with the same signal.
     
  11. DarrylP

    DarrylP Extra

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    There's no easy answer unless you find a specific problem quickly.

    I've spent months and many many dollars trying to resolve this problem and this is what I did:

    Changed my pre-amp
    Changed my amp
    Changed my speakers
    Had my room acoustically treated
    Had my cabinet acoustically treated.

    In the end all of the above helped a lot but I discovered yesterday with the use of a pink noise generator that I have an 8db dip in the crucial dialogue range.

    We're now working on correcting this.

    Darryl
     
  12. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    Sam, wish I could answer that technically.....all I know is when I set my center to "no" on the Outlaw pre/pro, the mains take over and it sounds as good or better to me than it did with the center, and with no further calibration. I just calibrate the fronts to the sub and the rears, and I'm good to go. So my guess would be that there is no 3dB loss in this configuration.
     
  13. Dan Pham

    Dan Pham Auditioning

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    I checked my speaker distance last night. They were set at 4 feet. We're 10 ft. away from the center speaker so I've had to fix that. My Panasonic HE-70 turns the digital sound processing off whenever there's a dts or dolby digital signal. I'll see this weekend to see if it helps. I'll keep you all posted. What really sux is that my brother in law bought a $350 box system from Sam's and their's sound great. You can definitely understand the dialogue! Hopefully the distancing will correct our problem.

    Thanks again!
    danny
     
  14. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Wayne
    Danny,

    I doubt the distance setting is going to make a difference for this problem.

    Assuming you have the center speaker level set correctly in relation to the other speakers, clear dialog is a function of correct frequency response in the vocal range (as Darryl indicated), especially between about 300Hz-4kHz.

    Generally speaking, the key to clear and distinct dialog is the sibilants (i.e., the “s,” “c,” “z,” etc. sounds). Therefore if dialog is difficult to understand it’s because of one of two things: Either there is a lack of energy in the frequency range of the sibilants (between about 4-8kHz), or there is excess energy below 300Hz to the point that the sibilants are being overwhelmed or “drowned out.” In other words, the sound of the center can be characterized as “boomy.”

    A couple of things in your posts indicate that your problem can probably be traced to the latter:
    The key word here is “muddy.” This indicated there is too much bottom end in your center speaker. If that’s the case, cranking up the midrange is not the ticket. Try reducing the bass or increasing the treble, or a combination of both.

    When it’s right, the sibilants should be crisp, but not exaggerated or “spitty.” And the lower registers of male voices should sound warm, but not resonating.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  15. Dan Pham

    Dan Pham Auditioning

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    Wayne,

    You've nailed my problem right on the head! It is boomy and the dialogue does not sound crisp at all. I do have the sony subwoofer(the one this forum has recommended), but have not turned up any of the treble at all. In fact, I'm starting to think I haven't heard any highs in a long time with my fairly new receiver. I'll keep you posted. What you've described is exactly what's happening.

    Thanks,
    Danny
     
  16. DorianBryant

    DorianBryant Screenwriter

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    Sounds like a blown tweeter. There should not be a situation where you can't understand dialogue even in the worst rooms.
     
  17. Sam A

    Sam A Stunt Coordinator

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    I do have the sony subwoofer(the one this forum has recommended) - your sub, should NOT have anything to do with your problem. what wayne was saying was a center speaker specific problem.


    "but have not turned up any of the treble at all" ive read over and over that you should keep you r bass and treble controls flat.
     
  18. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I agree.

    This center channel problem sounds to me like a blown tweeter. And one doesn't need a test disc to check for it! Just hook up the center speaker to a left or right front main output and listen to it that way (be careful with the volume!) while playing some music or a movie you're familiar with and in the receiver's STEREO mode. If it still sounds muffled there is a 99.9% chance the tweeter is burned out.

    Until you fix the center speaker (if that's the problem), just operate your receiver in its "no center" mode. You might actually like the resulting sound better this way, since that JBL probably doesn't tonally match the Cantons.

    Good luck.........and relax.
     
  19. greg baker

    greg baker Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree it is most likely a blown tweeter, However I was experiencing the same thing with one of my JBL S26II's. The tweeter appeared to be blown. I replaced it with the one from the opposite speaker and it did not solve the problem. It turns out my crossover had gone bad. So that is a possibility, though less likely than a blown tweeter,

    Greg
     
  20. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Didn't think about the crossover, though somewhere on another forum someone recently said the same about an older speaker.

    How does a crossover go bad? An electrolytic capacitor leaking maybe?
     

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