Center speaker distracting

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DanFish, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. DanFish

    DanFish Auditioning

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    Hello all,
    I just put together an intro home theater system, and I find that the dialog coming from the center speaker is distracting. It sounds like the dialog is coming from *above* the picture instead of from the actor's mouths. I actually prefer the sound when I configure my amp to send the center channel sound to the left and right speakers. It sounds more natural.
    Setup: Pioneer VSX-D710S, Cambridge SoundWorks Tower II left/right, Cambridge SoundWorks CenterStage, no surrounds, no sub. 27" TV, with center speaker directly on top, left/right speakers are 5' apart, viewing distance is 8'. All speakers set to Large.
    However, I also noticed that the musical parts (without dialog) sound better with the center speaker on. The soundstage seems fuller, perhaps more spacious. The sensation is hard to describe. This benefit is not enough to outweigh the dialog problem.
    Maybe this is because I cannot tell the Pioneer that I have just two speakers? I can set and but not . Perhaps they figured that nobody would buy a 5.1 channel amp and have only two speakers. [​IMG]
    Did anybody else have this problem with their center speaker?
    Can anybody suggest a change to my configuration which could fix it?
    Do some people use two center speakers, one below the TV and one above, to minimize this problem? (This is not the solution for me, I was just curious on this point.)
    Based on its current performance, I am planning on returning the center speaker, and keeping the money. Surround speakers would be nice, but the room is quite small and they would be hard to place.
    Thanks,
    Dan
     
  2. DanFish

    DanFish Auditioning

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    Clarification: I made the mistake of putting angle brackets in my post. The middle paragraph should read:
    Maybe this is because I cannot tell the Pioneer that I have just two speakers? I can set (left, center, right, no surround, no sub) and (left, no center, right, surround, no sub) but not (left, no center, right, no surround, no sub). Perhaps they figured that nobody would buy a 5.1 channel amp and have only two speakers. [​IMG]
    Sorry for the confusion.
    Thanks,
    Dan
     
  3. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    Tilt the speaker down so that the drivers are pointing to your head's level when you are seated in the listening position. They must be currently aimed above your head.
     
  4. SVS-Ron

    SVS-Ron Screenwriter

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    Have you calibrated your system with a sound meter and test disk?

    If not I'd say that's the root of your problem. Aiming the speaker should help the rest.

    You may be set much higher on the center speaker than you realize. You can NOT set these levels by ear. Get a $40 sound meter at Radio Shack, it'll be the best money you ever spent on HT.

    Also, your receiver might have a setting that tames some of the high frequecies of the front speakers. This can REALLY help center channel sound. Not sure if the Pioneer you have offers this.

    PS, all speakers should NOT be set to large, this also may be hurting the balance of your system. Set the center to small, rears none, and the mains to large. Get a sub when you can afford one too, it'll help LOTS in overall system performance. I'd spring for rear speakers first though.
     
  5. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Ron has given great advice, follow it.

    Then you should play around with the delay setting for the center speaker. The setting for this parameter can make the dialog too prominent or too weak.

    BruceD
     
  6. Jim_Stu

    Jim_Stu Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan,

    First try all of the previous advise!!!

    Then --

    If your receiver has a 'line level' (RCA jack) for the

    center channel, you can remove the speaker and run the

    'line level out' through a 'Y' cord to the TV audio input

    jacks. This will replace the center speaker with the TV

    speakers. My WEGA is so tall, the center speaker was 30

    inches above the actor's mouths. I got lucky, because my

    receiver also has an equalizer function for the center

    channel.

    JRS
     
  7. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Jim,

    I'm not sure that using the TV speakers is "good" advice.

    TV speakers won't be able to adequately deal with the dynamics of DVD sound and certainly won't be a good timbral match for his left and right speakers.

    The key isn't how high above the actor's mouths, but keeping it within 2 feet vertically of the horizontal plane between the right and left speaker's tweeters/midrange drivers.

    Adjusting the down angle of the center speaker, it's calibrated volume and it's time delay will make the sound appear to be coming from the actor's mouths.

    BruceD
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i also would not recommend using the tv's speakers for the center channel. there's no way they'll "hold up".
    aiming is probably the best advice. if you point the tweeters (which are highly directional) right at your head, then you shouldn't notice the above-the-head phenomenon (sp?) that you're experiencing.
    you could also try positioning the speaker below the tv. it sounds like a bizarre suggestion but it can't hurt to try it.
     
  9. Jim_Stu

    Jim_Stu Stunt Coordinator

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    BruceD,

    You are exactly right! (I thought I said to try everything

    else first). However, in my case the center speaker ends up

    31 inches above the main tweeter line. Therefore, I am working

    with the TV speakers because they are in-line with the main tweeters.

    My receiver has a built equalizer for the center channel, and with a bit

    more tweak I think it will be better than before. I'll be working on it tommorrow.

    I'll post a follow-up when I'm finished tweaking. I may

    have to take a chain-saw to my wife's new furniture.

    JRS
     
  10. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Jim,

    I still think you can get you center channel speaker to work up there if you adjust the time delay on the center channel speaker to somewhere between 2 and 4ms (or 2-4 feet) depending on how your receiver adjusts for delay.

    Use some rubber door stops that are "ramped" or sloped under your center speaker to lift the back edge of the center speaker up, thereby angleing the front of the center speaker down.

    BruceD
     
  11. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Jim,

    I don't think anyone has a Center Channel higher up than I

    do.. I am running a 61" that stands almost as tall as I am.

    It comes up to my neck easily. And on top of that I run my

    center. That's far above the sound plane of my Main L/R's.

    I used a laser pointer square with the face of the cabinent

    on the center channel (and my Mains as well) to shoot the

    sound plane right to the sweet spot and from there I adjusted

    the Main L/R and Center so that all 3 intersected at the

    main seating position.

    My mains are toed up about 15 degrees and tilted in about

    30 degrees and the center is tilted down at least 30. And

    the sound is perfect IMHO. I don't experiance an out of synch

    lip to speech effect at all.
     
  12. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    Now for completely different advice...
    I had a same problem with the sound seeming 'above' the actors on screen. Aiming the speaker down helped but not completely. I then tried the speaker below the screen. This worked perfectly for me. Everything seems anchored now.
    I think that this might have to do with the conditioning that we've all had. What I mean by that is that the speakers on most tv's have always been below the screen. We've all watched tv with this setup until the home theater center channel came in being. We're all used to this. This might be part of the problem that you are having, you may be 'conditioned' [​IMG]
    You should try all of the things mentioned above first. If they don't work then experiment with the speaker below the screen and see if that works. This should also help with the alignment of the tweeters.
    I also highly recommend using a real center channel. TV speakers just don't do the job correctly.
     
  13. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    Jim, thats good advice, I did exactly the same thing, I built a 2 ft. tall stand that positioned my center just about where the TV speakers would be, angled perfectly at the sweet spot, this put my center about 1 ft. below the plane of my mains, Perfect!!
    But..I have a dedicated HT room, and the SO or wife may not like this idea at all.
    If I hadn't made a HT room, I too would've liked the Chainsaw solution[​IMG]
     
  14. AaronT

    AaronT Extra

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    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jim_Stu

    Jim_Stu Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan & All,

    Ok, I got the new Yam shoe-horned into the 'arm-wah'. Now

    I really don't have room for a center speaker. So I tried

    my plan to use the WEGA's speakers for the center.

    Here is what a did:

    1) Hooked the WEGA's L&R line level inputs together with

    a 'Y' cable, and attached the cable to the receiver's

    'center channel line out'.

    2) Delayed the 'center channel' by 1 millisecond.

    3) Set mains to 'small' and center to 'large'.

    4) Set LFE to 'sub only' (PB10).

    5) Used the Yam's center channel equalizer to closly match

    the N38 mains with the pink noise. I'll probably tweak it

    a little more with more tones next week.

    6) When I reduced the dynamic range by one notch, the

    direction and clarity of the actor's speech, improved some more.

    Final answer: I like the sound. The WEGA's speakers sound better than

    the old Pro-LS20. However, in fairness to RCA,

    I must say my new receiver cost 2X more than the old one.

    JRS
     

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