Dialogue Problems

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MikeDierbeck, Apr 22, 2002.

  1. MikeDierbeck

    MikeDierbeck Agent

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    I have used Avia to do the calibrations, but the dialogue in my movies sounds really weak. There's no deepness or clarity to it. I have my crossover frequency at 80Hz on all of the speakers. I don't really know how to do the warble or phase tests, but they sound pretty good to me. However, when I put in movies, everything sounds loud, but the dialogue is really lacking.

    Here are some of my speaker details:

    JBL MRV310 Tower Speaker

    Frequency Response (-6 dB): (42Hz - 20Khz)

    Sensitivity 92dB

    JBL TLX PS10 Subwoofer

    100 watts

    Crossover Frequency: 50hz - 150Hz

    Frequency Response: 30Hz

    JBL S-CENTER

    Frequency Response (-3dB) 80Hz - 20kHz

    Right now I have all of the crossovers at 80Hz.

    I have everythign calibrated to 85dB.

    I have the subwoofer crossover on the sub itself all the way to 150Hz, while having the receiver sub at 80Hz. I have the volume on it about halfway, and the volume on the receiver for the sub at -10, which gave it an exact 85dB like the rest of the speakers.

    Any reasons why I don't have that good, clear sound?

    Mike
     
  2. Phil_O

    Phil_O Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe your center channel mode is set to wide which sends a relatively small signal to your center speaker. Some receivers have this feature, I don't know if yours does.
     
  3. Harold_C

    Harold_C Stunt Coordinator

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    What playback volume are you using?

    I find that any volume setting more than 10 dB below Dolby reference level will make the dialog sound thin and weak -- actually not so much thin and weak as just plain hard to hear.

    On my system, a volume control setting of -20 dB is required for the full Dolby reference level (85 dB on the Avia test tones -- 75 dB on the receiver's test tones). I usually play movies at -26 to - 30 dB and the dialog is fine.

    The problem, of course, is that this results in very high volume levels during the loud action sequences. I'm OK with that...in fact, I rather like it!

    However, if you play movies more than 10 dB below Dolby reference levels in order to keep the loud scenes from rattling the rafters, then you are going to have dialog intelligibility problems. You can solve this by using the Dolby dynamic range compression feature. This will allow you to goose the overall volume to get the dialog back up where it belongs while limiting the volume of the loud action scenes. It's a great feature.

    On most receivers, the setting with the most compression will reduce the loudest scenes by up to 10 or 15 dB while leaving the dialog unchanged. The middle setting will reduce the loudest scenes by 5 dB. This would allow you to raise the overall volume by 10 or 5 dB respectively, without the loud scenes getting any louder than your current volume setting. That extra 5 or 10 dB of volume will make the dialog much punchier.

    One other thing to consider: I have found that, because the center channel is usually closer to you, getting the delay to the center channel speaker set properly can make a difference in the quality of the dialog. If the delay is not properly set, the dialog can sound like it's coming from a little tiny center channel speaker rather than blending with the front soundstage.

    Also, getting the sub levels too high has an adverse effect on dialog, because it tends to mask some of the midbass harmonic content from the main speakers. Dolby recommends that if you use the Radio Shack meter to set your subwoofer levels with pink noise (like on the Avia disc), that you then reduce the sub level from that point by about 4 dB in order to compensate for some weighting inaccuracies in the meter. So you might try turning the sub level down a couple DB and see what it does to the dialog. It's kind of a weird thing, but having a little less subwoofer output can make the system sound like it has more midbass output and less "tinny" midrange -- in much the same way that a "boomy" speaker will often sound tinny and thin in the miderange compared to a smoother, more accurate speaker.
     
  4. Ken Custodio

    Ken Custodio Second Unit

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    Is the problem that you can't hear the dialogue very well, or that you don't like the sound quality/tone of the dialogue?

    I used to have a JBL center, mains and sub. And I was always unhappy with the the dialog, I had to turn up the center when they were talking and as soon as the first explosion happened I was racing for the remote to turn the volume down. I had used Avia and a SPL meter to calibrate my system but I still had problems. When I upgraded to Paradigm speakers I didn't have those problems anymore.

    You also might try playing with the D.Comp settings on your receiver if it is a Volume level issue.

    Ken
     
  5. MikeDierbeck

    MikeDierbeck Agent

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    Thanks for the reply. I hear the dialogue very well. It is not a VOLUME issue, rather it is QUALITY issue. Could my crossovers be causing this problem? I have them all set at 80Hz, but I can change them to whatever I want.

    The dialogue sounded very much like everyone had a cold. Instead of the dialogue sounding CLEAR and FULL, it sounded rather bland. I can hear the dialogue perfectly, but it just doesn't sound right. Maybe I am too used to the local cinema, but I would think that with the high quality set up that I am using that dialogue would sound great. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but I really don't think it has ever sounded this bad, until I used the AVIA to calibrate it. That's why I think I'm not using all of the functions correctly that I should.

    I still don't quite know what to do with the warble tests, the phase tests, and the low frequency tests, and i have read Guy's excellent post (great post, Guy, but I guess I'm not too savvy on my sound knowledge) but I still don't get it. Any info would be appreciated.

    Mike
     
  6. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    I have no problems, during any of the chaotic Blockbuster DVD scenes hearing the dialog with my JBL S-Center @ or -10 dB below REF Level. Quality is like 'they're in my living room' quality!! [​IMG]
    Of course, my entire setup is 100% timbre-matched - four JBL S26 (anchoring the Front & Surrounds) / JBL S-Center.
    Video Essentials:
    · HT Speakers = 75 dB (± 1/8 dB)
    · SVS = 77 dB (lowest swing 75 dB / highest swing 79 dB)
    o Yamaha RX-v995
    DD & dts - Left Front: 16** (*Vol. Control Knob)
    >> For DPL = "16"
    Center: - 7**
    DD & dts - Right Front: 16** (*Vol. Control Knob)
    >> For DPL = "16"
    · Left SUR/Rear: + 2** (for DPL - same)
    · Right SUR/Rear: + 2** (for DPL - same)
    · Balance: 0
    · Bass: 0
    · Treble: 0
    · SWFT = -13 (range: 0 to –20)
    · DD LFE = -5 (range: 0 to –10)
    · DTS LFE = +5 (range: -10 to +10)
    · Digital Delay: 0
    Mains: Small
    Center: Small
    Surrounds: Small
    Bass Management: SW
    =====================
    *Yamaha uses dB Scale increments with their Volume Control Knob
    -16 dB = 12 o'clock position
    -12 dB = 1 o'clock position
    =====================
    o SVS 25-31PCi Power Sub Settings:
    · Connection: Line IN (from the Yamaha's Sub-Out)
    · Level: ½ power (12 o’clock position)
    · Crossover = Disabled (the RX-V995 is already providing the crossover @ 90 Hz)
    Phil
     
  7. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    Mike
    Where is your center speaker placed?

    Is the speaker aimed at you, or pointing above or below you?

    What is the off-axis response of the speaker?

    Things to think about...

    Mike
     
  8. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Directly on top of my Toshiba 50H81 HDTV, with a couple of those little 3/4" rubber bumper thingy's on the back side to tilt it slightly forward towards my couch - about 9' away.
     

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