DPL II: how to set speaker levels?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Steve_AS, Nov 9, 2003.

  1. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    I have an H/K AVR520 powering a 5.1 speaker system. THe receiver allows separate speaker level calibration for a dozen different listening modes, including DPLII(music). I can achieve level consistency between, say, Dolby Digital 5.,1 and DVD-Audio 5.1, using the Chesky Ultimate Surround test tones for each. But I do most of my 'stereo' listening using DPL II (Music). I'm wonder how folks calibrate levels for that mode. to make them comparable to other 'surround' formats.
     
  2. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Hey Steve!

    Good question...wish I had an answer! My new NAD 762 is my first box with PLII (s well a DTS Neo, and several NAD specific modes).

    I have to say that, I recently took some advice from Roger Dressler of Dolby Labs, and used the internal tones to calibrate my NAD. Other than the fact that the sub tone seems way to low (resulting in bass thats at least 7 dB too high), the main channels seem subjectively to be nicely balanced.

    After doing the mains with the internal tones, I re-calibrated the sub with Avia (comparing it to the center channel), and am pretty happy with the results with internal DD, DTS, PLII, and everything else.

    Since I can store different levels in one of 5 presets, I did run the Chesky disc DVD-A tones, and saved those for when I play DVD-A or SACD from the 5.1 inputs.

    I do note that the NAD does seem to have some overall level anomalies, in that stuff sent through the 5.1 in, or when using stereo bypass, is louder than stuff decoded internally (be they analog or digital). Which means its next to impossible to have the relative levels the same when switching from Stereo Bypass to PL II with the same source.

    BGL
     
  3. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    Brian,

    Howdy.

    Yeah, I wondered if the receiver test tones would be my best hope -- I thought of doing that first for DLPII, then calibrating the receiver's internal DD and analog-in surround levels to *those* settings, using a SPL meter and a test disc. I'm keep the player's levels set to 'fixed' for now, in order to avoid complete insanity. As far as sub levels go, there's also the question of crossovers...IIRC you use the ICBM, so that's probably not an issue, but for me it measn I have to make sure that all the receiver formats use the same Xover setting as the 100Hz one used by the DV-45a for its analog outs.

    It occured to me after I posted that I also have in my collection an old 'Dolby Surround' test disc -- pre DPLII, so it outputs just a front left, front right, center, and rear test tone. I'll have to think about this.

    The whole endeavor came about, as you might have guessed,
    as a result of compulsive A/B switching of playback formats and receiver inputs. We all know how much small level differences can make a subjective difference...
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  5. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    Yep, that's the same disc I have...I'm about to give it a try.
     
  6. Roger Dressler

    Roger Dressler Stunt Coordinator

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    >>I have the old Delos Surround Spectacular CD...wonder how that would compare to the internal tones on the NAD?
     
  7. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Roger,

    IIRC, there is both a CD and a DVD (I have both, but they are not handy at the moment).

    I may have the titles wrong, but the CD I have was co-engineered by David Ranada (its a 2 disc set). The DVD has both DD and PL test tones, as well as a bunch of Dolby Digital trailers, and a 640 bit version of the 1812 Overture.

    Perhaps that DVD was called DVD spectacular, or something similar? After I backed away from the thread, it did occur to me that the PL tones would produce a mono signal.

    In any event, I am sticking with the internal tones for now, since I have a 6.1 set-up, and need a means to tweak the center back.

    BGL
     
  8. Roger Dressler

    Roger Dressler Stunt Coordinator

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    BGL, I stand corrected. There was a later CD/DVD set from Delos after the Delos DVD Spectacular DVD--I guess everything is Spectacular from Delos, and I remember David Ranada did hook up with them. He has since made various other test discs, too.
     
  9. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    Hello again. More questions about DPL II:

    I recently had opportunity to compare my rear speakers
    (NHT Superones, matched to front and center speakers)
    set up for surround music (i.e., quasi-ITU recommendation: all satellites on stands at ear level, arranged in a circle, rears at 110 degrees off center) versus for 'home theater' (i.e., Dolby recommendation - rears approximately 90 degrees off center, to the side of the listener, 2 feet or so above ear level). I found, perhaps not surprisingly, DVD-A and SACD surround sounded better in the first setup, while DPL II sounded better in the second -- there was considerably more sense of 'space' and surround activity for DPL in the second setup. This is frustrating, since one doesn't want to have to move one's rear speakers for hi-rez multichannel, versus DPL II playback. Was DPL II *meant* to be used in home theater speaker config, and if so, is there a dimension/panorama adjustment that will make it function better in ITU configuration? Or does DPL II anticipate 'ITU' setup? Or is the only solution to have two sets of rear speakers, one for HT/DPL II and the other for hi-rez MC?
     
  10. V JACKSON

    V JACKSON Agent

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    I would say that DPLII was designed to be used in whatever current speaker configuration you have as long as its a 5.1 configuration. When I first got my Denon 4802 with DPLII music/cinema mode, I was listening to music almost exclusively in DPLII music mode.
    I recently just added two new amplifiers to my system each bridged to mono, one for each main speaker which are NHT 2.5i's.
    For some reason, especially after making this addition, I now like my music in plain old vanilla stereo again,unless its an SACD or DVD that was mixed for multi-channel audio..
    It could be the difference in amplifier tonal quality being that the Denon still amply powers my center channel and rears, but I've done several back and forth test between DPLII and stereo, and stereo simply sounds more like what I think the actual recording was mixed for in the first place. I know this got off your original question, but I would suggest you really "Listen" to a good two channel recording and see if you still like DPLII the same way...........
    But I wouldn't suggest two different speaker systems just for listening to DPLII..................
     
  11. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Steve,

    I don't have anything to add WRT whether or PLII is designed for any specific speaker layout (there is an article in a resent S&V talking about speaker layouts for PLIIx, but I guess thats a different kettle of fish). Hopefully Roger Dressler is still looking in and can clarify.

    In any event, I have found that I prefer my rears (L/R) to be on stands with the tweeters at about ear height, slightly behind me and to the sides. I can't do a true ITU layout, and thus the rears are quite a bit closer to me than the fronts, but I find that for music, I don't like having the surrounds coming at me from the sides, thus my preference for my current layout.

    And when screening films, while I would accept that my arrangement is not optimum in terms of ambience, its is forgivable, since the fact that I am focusing on the film distracts me from the fact that the rear sounds are more easily localized.

    I also have a rear center, sitting on a window sill behind the couch. That works great to add a bit more envelopment from the rear, and its really cool when there is a discrete fly over from center/back, like at the very beginning of SW-AOTC.

    BGL
     
  12. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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  13. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  14. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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  15. Roger Dressler

    Roger Dressler Stunt Coordinator

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    The various decoder modes are not tweaked in any particular way to address high or low speaker positions, nor direct sides (90-deg) vs ITU 110-deg locations. These aspects have more to do with integration of the sound in the room, and control of the listening area.

    a) Dolby recommends higher positions for surround speakers (2-3 ft above seated ear level, and parallel to the walls) so as to get the drivers off axis of the ears. This increases the sweet spot and promotes a bit of lateral room reflection, which aids spatial quality and integration with the front speakers. Since there are no visual cues, and since height detection is less acute than lateral detection, listeners are quite forgiving of sounds coming from higher angles, and remain willing to suspend disbelief for movies and music. Of course you may prefer them located in particular ways, so feel free to tweak away.

    b) For a 5.1 system, we speak highly of the 110-deg locations for the surrounds. It is a great way to maximize both spatial quality and rearward effect without a front/back discontinuity. However, we find that other locations within the 110- to 90-deg location window are quite acceptable.

    c) In a 7.1 system using PLIIx, we suggest moving the Ls/Rs speakers a bit more forward within the 110- to 90-deg window, since there is now another pair or back speakers in place.
     
  16. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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    Thank you , Mr. Dressler. I take this to mean that, for DPL II music listening in 5.1, the higher surrounds are recommended (though not 'required'), along with placement within the 90-110 sector.
     
  17. Roger Dressler

    Roger Dressler Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, Steve. The higher locations are perfectly consistent with the goal of creating a sense of space with heigth and width, not having all the sound on a flat plane.

    It is worth noting that the ITU spec is aimed primarily at defining a well controlled listening environment for critical/repeatable evaluation of multichannel sound--typically codecs. It was not created as the ultimate guide to setting up a listening room. Dolby endorses the spec as it is well defined and an excellent starting point for both production and home listening room applications, with dollops of common sense applied as necessary for specific applications.
     
  18. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    For music listening, no matter what you set your speaker levels too, whether using a pro-logic, DD, DTS or whatever test CD/DVD, I think you will still wind up tweaking the front-to-rear levels manually.

    There are so many variables involved: source material, placement of speakers, hearing ability, etc. Folks who love a fully immersed soundfield will want higher surround levels; folks who are more used to stereo will want lower surround levels.
     

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