How can I improve sound?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Karim Nogas, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

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    I heard a pair of $16,000 B&W loudspeakers along with a $3,000 B&W center channel over the weekend and that has thoroughly ruined the enjoyment of my speakers.
    Currently:
    Receiver: Denon AVR-2800
    Mains: Mirage OM-10
    Center: Mirage OM-C2
    Surround: Mirage OM-R2
    Sub: Mirage PS-10
    The sound of the B&W was so clean. Mine sound loud and noisy by comparison, especially with dialogue.
    I was thinking of upgrading the receiver to the Denon AVR-5800. This gives more power per channel (170 compared to 90) but that's probably not the problem. I don't know anything about separates, but I'm not looking for accurate music reproduction, just movies.
    Should I upgrade the mains for now and leave the rest in place? But will mains alone make a difference? I don't want to go cheap on this but obviously $19k for 3 speakers is not in the future either...
    [​IMG]
     
  2. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    Jack- That is the funniest reply I've ever seen...
     
  3. Miles_W

    Miles_W Second Unit

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    Jack do you still look at the pictures though [​IMG]
    ------------------
    Miles
    ************************
    DarkSide Member since(93)
     
  4. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    Lol Jack, that was splendid!
     
  5. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    Now, back to work:
    Perhaps you should try first with a bigger sub. Let me try to explain why. Your speakers are good, putting more power in to them can help, specially when the sound is loud, because the amplifier will never clip. But you can also improve by shoosing a larger sub, because what consumes power is bass...
    Did I made myself clear? (Im a bit on the hurry here! [​IMG] )
     
  6. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Manuel,
    I always knew the sub would have to go as it was less expensive than the surrounds.
    I guess it is time for Velodyne or SVS...
     
  7. Mike Wang

    Mike Wang Auditioning

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    I bet the big-money system was set up carefully in a specially designed room. You can spend as much as you want on audio components, but if the room isn't set up to control resonances, echos, etc., you'll just be wasting your money. There are some good DIY designs for room treatment which aren't expensive and can provide much better bang-for-the-buck than spending 10K on a pair of speakers. Room treatments are one of the few effective tweaks which both objectivists and subjectivists will agree on, and even a few absorption panels here and there can really make a dramatic difference.
     
  8. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Karim,
    I think Mike W. may have given you the best advise you could possibly get: acoustical treatment for your listening room.
    It could well be that you have never heard what your Mirage speakers truly sound like. Or at least, you have not experimented with maximizing their capabilities. For $200., or so, of materials sourced at your local home building supply warehouse and fabric/craft store, you could finally jump off the spiral of "its got to be my equipment, my cables, my ----- (fill in the blank)".
    Proper wall treatments at the first mirror/reflection point, bass traps (at least in the front two corners) and some mid-wall and rear wall diffusion treatment could well be your ultimate upgrade.
    But, hey, it's your bankcard. Personally, I would love to sell off my mid-road gear and upgrade till the cows come home. But ....it aint gonna happen in the real world of my budget.
    Anyway, I'll toss out my recent experiences which led me to my about-face position which I am recommending you could try, i.e. keep your current gear (hold off any equipment upgrades) and upgrade your listening room.
    Fast forward ...... have to move my home office (3rd newborn child takes over 4th, and last bedroom) into the basement. Basement built: 12'9W, 21'3"L,7'1"H. These are final dimmensions after carpet, double 1/2 drywall, and 2 weeks of me doing baseboards, painting, and "finalizing" the room.
    Next, haul down gear from the living room area where it had resided for almost 2 years. Living room was far from ideal location with archway next to left main, hardwood floors, bay window with lots of glass, listening position against rear wall, open end of room flanking right main...etc.... But, I had to live with it. And, you know, I got used to it, and it did not sound "bad" to my ears. Point being I got used to it. Many, many hours were spent enjoying that system setup.
    Gear is set in place in the new basement HT room along width wall:
    Yamaha DSP-A1, Paradigm Monitor 7 mains, CC 350 center, ADP 350 surrounds, Def Tech PF15 sub, Dan W. modded Pioneer DV414 CDP, Panasonic RV80 DVD player (modded by me a little a la Dan W.).
    Cabling is Analysis Plus Oval 12/9 shotgun bi-wire for mains, single Oval 9 for center, and Ixos 6300 braided pair for surrounds. Two Asylum cords for the Vans Evers 83 and RV80, one AP313 cord for the DV414.
    Two 12 AWG dedicated circuits I had installed (Pass&Seymour 5262AW outlets) power the gear and the Toshiba TP43HP RPTV. Two Acoustic Zen Silver Photon cables are used for digital coax out to DSP-A1. As far as an equipment list goes, this is mid-fi all the way. Nothing special here compared to quite a few forum members.
    Here is the kick.
    The first week of listening was horrid. Bloated bass, zero imaging, totally unfocused HF response. I was freaking. Over 7k spent for a room of boom, helter-skelter highs, and flabby midrange (actually, no midrange- just like my living room setup!). It was painful to say the least. ( BTW, my office is squeezed in there too, albeit "paperless", now ;^), with a desk and fax and a 2.4Ghz Sony cordless phone ).
    After a month of researching every acoustical treatment company in existence, I found a much quicker way to go broke !!!!! Ouch. Spend $1600-2800 on room treatments? Hell, I could match, and even better, the acoustical results with DIY treatments for a little over $200. No brainer.
    I followed the advice and direction of Jon Risch at www.audioasylum.com for his bass traps and wall treatment. The search function there is invaluable, as is Jon's geocities site given at AA. I also bought a studio pack of Auralex wedgies and diffusors (mars music) for $99 (a blowout sale, BTW) and filled the 9 diffusors with minimal expanding foam (per Jon Risch) and supplemented his bass traps for the front two corners by extending the diffusors up from his bass traps to the ceiling/tri-corner. Rear corner and mid -wall diffusor ceiling placement was also used. Experimenting with placement and positioning is a must do here, keep in mind. Patience is a must.
    Simply put, I am totally astounded at the effect the DIY treatment had upon my basement listening room. I finally have realized the performance which my equipment can deliver. The dynamics, the midrange accuracy, and detail for both 2 channel and 5 channel are threefold !! More than once I heard myself think "didn't realize how much information is actually encoded on these DVD's". I will forego all the superlatives and audiophile prose. All thoughts of equipment upgrades are shelved. At this point I will just save up for an HD monitor.
    I should note that my basement HT room is not impacted by any WAF factor. This is a dedicated room and not subject to "debate" by my tolerant wife. YMMV.
    BOK
    [Edited last by Brian OK on October 03, 2001 at 09:34 PM]
     
  9. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    Brian,
    Where could I find that site? I looked over at AA, but I couldn't find a URL.
    Thanks,
    Max
     
  10. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the advice guys. [​IMG]
    I've been playing around with settings and positioning and found that I really don't like a lot of bass except for explosions, etc. I prefer having a full dynamic range in soundtracks and as clear as possible dialogue.
    I didn't think about acoustical treatments so I'll take a look at what is possible in that department.
    Thanks again...
     
  11. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    I have found, at least for me, that my system can sound totally different on two different days of listening, without touching a setting.
    Sometimes it's my mood - where I may think my equipment is inferior, so it doesn't sound good. I may just be in a bad mood or whatever. Other days it can sound sweet, and I am totally happy with it.
    Another thing that effects the way it sounds is my car stereo. If I drive home and have it cranked for a little bit, it totally effects the way my home theater sounds. Sometimes, I have to turn the HT up louder to get a pleasing sound. I think this is what they call fatigue, as my ears are fatigued from listening to the car system, so now they are not as sensitive in my HT system.
    Also, I can go and listen to someone else's setup, and feel the exact same way like Karem did. But I bet if you went and sat down and listened to the mega-bucks system for a while, you would get used to that sound as well. Then you would hear a mid-fi system again and say - wow - that sounds really good for the money.
    My point in all this? Like everyone says, our psychological and mental state, can totally effect how something sounds as much as the equipment itself. I think we get bored with our current system. It has lost its newness, and that new sound that we like. We get accustomed to the sound, and we start picking at every little detail. I think if we even had the perfect system (which doesn't exist) we would still find something to rag on. It is our nature, for we are obsessed with this, and want something new and challenging! At least I know I am!
    My .02.
    Bryan
    P.S. I agree with the room treatments idea - they effect the sound far more than any little tweak will. Little tweaks should be done after you get the major problems worked out, at lease IMHO. To put it numerically, would you rather do something that gave you 2% better sound or 32% better sound? Buying new equipment may give you DIFFERENT sound, but not necessarily BETTER sound.
     
  12. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Max,
    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. On the road the last couple of days.
    Jon Risch's DIY site is www.geocities.com/jonrisch//a1.htm
    The site is in two parts. The link is to part 2 -- bass traps. You can get to wall panel DIY, part 1, by going to his main page.
    Also, the Auralex studio kit with diffusors is at www.marsmusic.com A search under Auralex will bring up the $99. studio pack (mfg# 3051695).
    Good Luck,
    BOK
     
  13. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

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    Bryan,
    You are so right about your mood having an impact. I've since tweaked and played the same demo material I heard at the store and in my eyes and ears, the differences in video and audio isn't all that definable.
    But on that day, I was convinced their's was *much* better.
    It probably had something with the dedicated room and the Runco DLP... [​IMG]
     

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