How should my sub sound and more questions.

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Lance.G, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Lance.G

    Lance.G Extra

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    Hi. I'm brand new to the home theater scene and I have a couple of questions. First, I'll tell ya what I have. I received the RCA RT2390 as a Christmas gift. It comes with a "powered" sub, but the power comes from the receiver, not its own built in amp.

    So, ok. The bass sounds fine, but I'm not getting those loud explosions that I think I should be getting. When I get down by the sub during a bassy part, I can see it moving really fast, but I just can’t hear it very well. Should I put it somewhere else? It's just by the entertainment center now close to the wall, but right next to it is a huge entryway into the kitchen.

    Also, I was wondering about toslink cable. I'm looking to buy one on eBay and I don’t have a ton of money to spend, so would one for about 5 bucks work just fine? I live out in the middle of nowhere so I can’t just go to an audio/video store and pick one up.

    Ok, one more question. It seems to have 75w to the surround channels, 100w to the center and 100w to the sub. Could I later upgrade to better speakers but still keep the receiver?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Dick Knisely

    Dick Knisely Second Unit

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    The sound of a sub is detemined by lots of things but first is probably its driver size, then amp power and placement in the room. Subs have to move a lot of air to make an impression so driver size can be an issue. And a decent size driver will take some power to make it move enough to move lots of air. But no matter what happens to that point the frequencies a sub should be handling (say 20hz to 80hz or so) are exceptionally susceptible to interactions with the room, walls, floors, and ceilings especially but to some extent even furniture can have an impact.

    So, you're not happy with the sub but replacing may not be "in the cards" at this point. What to do? Well, first thing would be to try an audio calibration to see if the whole system is balanced. Next play with the sub's placement in the room. There's little science here, trial and error is good as it gets but the rule of thumb is that the more walls and intersections of walls that are near the sub the more apparent output you'll here. Apparent is a key word, tho' because you may also get a result that sounds loud but terrible. A "boomy" sub is getting reinforcement at the upper end of its range and no longer smoothly matches up with the other speakers and that's not good.

    Once you've gotten the most out of what you've got the decision becomes whether that's good enough. Even if you decide to replace it waiting won't hurt, use the time to study up on what's out there and what would better suit your desires.

    As for the cable. An optical cable at $5 isn't uncommon from vendors online and will probably be fine. Many would opt for someting a tad better and more expensive, but there's no need to go to the other extreme either -- all kinds of good choices for the $15-20 range (~6' cable) from online places that sell cables at reasonable prices. Examples:

    www.bluejeanscable.com
    www.partsexpress.com
    www.hififorless.com
    www.cablesforless.com

    Last question -- sure. Unless you're working with a large room that power will be adequate for many (but not all) choices of speakers.

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  3. Lance.G

    Lance.G Extra

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    Thanks for the info. I bought an Acoustic Research optical cable. Is that any good? It was a good price and shipping was low.

    I'll try moving the sub arround this weekend and see how it works. Thanks for the tips.
     
  4. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    You should be able to. One key to this may be if your receiver has an LFE (sub) output -- this should look like an RCA connection. You'll most likely want a powered sub in the future and this is how you'd connect it.
     
  5. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Seth is correct about the cable. Digital either works or it doesn't, especially with the error correction in DD/DTS. If it works, great. If it doesn't you'll get harsh static or no sound.

    I agree about the sub out on the receiver, that would be the best connection for a (future) powered sub. Some powered subs do allow line in (i.e speaker wire) connections, but this is not the optimal setup and there are many subs that do not offer this.
     
  6. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Lance,

    Your expectations might be too high. I can’t find any meaningful specs on your system (except that it’s a “500 watt” system – don’t count on it), but the pictures I do see show that the speakers, including the sub, are really small. A little sub might do okay in a small room, like a bedroom, but usually not in a big living room. You’ll get the most “oomph” from your sub by putting it in a corner, as far away from that opening to the kitchen (and any other openings) as you can.

    Re the budget Toslink cable, I bought a cheapie on eBay a few years ago and it was totally worthless. They’re supposed to have a little “catch” to keep them in place when you insert them into the slot on the component; this one didn’t. It would just fall out with the slightest tug. Hopefully the one you got is better than that.

    As far as upgrading your speakers, if the stock speaker cables have a plug-inn connector on them, you won’t be able to easily change to different speakers. It’ll require cutting the plug off and splicing it to some regular speaker wire. The new speakers will also have to be the same ohm rating as the old ones

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  7. Lance.G

    Lance.G Extra

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    The receiver has the regular spring connectors for the speaker wire. It does have a sub output if I want to add a powered one later. The sub is 8in. The speakers are all 8ohm.

    Given that, I have a follow-up question. Someday I'd like to add better speakers, but that will be down the road. Until then, would going from the 24guage wire that came with the speakers to a 16guage make a big difference with these? I'm going to wire in through the ceiling this weekend but I don’t want to do it only to find out that I should have used thicker wire and would have heard a huge difference.

    Ok, another question. This one is kind of redundant but here it is. I have an svideo cable going from my dvr to my tv. It's cheap and thin. I just bought a thicker one made by RCA and it has gold plated connectors. I'll hook it up this weekend, but I just wanted to know if I'll really see that big of a difference. What does the gold plating to do make it better?
     
  8. Dick Knisely

    Dick Knisely Second Unit

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    It may make an improvement and it may not. Again, you'd almost certainly be able to measure an improvement in the signal--will what you see be better is a big maybe. Still there's a reasonable chance that it will make an improvement and I'd invest a few bucks to upgrade. The gold connectors are there mainly for corrosion resistance. As the connectors age they may oxidize and that can eventually lead to a poorer signal and/or intermittant connections. Gold plate will resist the corrosion and keep that from happening.
     
  9. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    If it came with 24 ga wire, there’s not much chance the speaker terminals will accept 14 ga. wire. Check before you buy.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  10. Joel DuBay

    Joel DuBay Auditioning

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    Lance.G,

    Do you have any acoustic treatment at all? If not, you might want to research that for a bit as well. Remember, if sound modes are terminating into corners (and they are) and if you have no simple bass trapping, you may want to look at that as well as consider the other excellent advice present in this thread.


    Good luck to you,
     
  11. Steve BL

    Steve BL Auditioning

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    Check the manual, you may have setting like mine that allow you to increase the speaker/sub volume as well as pre-set sub levels. My remote has a sub level button so I can change it at any time.

    Also I may be completely wrong but your sub performance may be limited by the tiny wiring.
    I'm currently running and RCA RT2620 but lucky for me I had an 80W powered sub from my last HT.

    My RCA system also came with tiny 24 AWG wiring, however I did not use it. I changed all my wiring and used gold "flat pin" connectors from Radioshack on the receiver end. They work great and fit perfect BUT I did have to zip tie the wires to the back of the rack because the weight of the extra large wires wanted to pull the pins out. Once they are zip ties and the weight supported they are perfect.

    For the Sub, and front channels I used 12awg wire, and 16 AWG for the rear surrounds. I was told to use the flat pin connectors because they provide a larger contact point then round pins (makes sense I guess).

    Just play with the sub and place it in different parts of the room.
    What I did was put the passive sub that came with the RCA HT under my couch with the port facing towards the open room and the sub firing up at the bottom of the couch. Not only do you hear the bass you feel it (wannabe bass shaker). The powered sub is in the front right corner of the room. Seems to work and sound good, and may be something you can try. I've also put the sub directly behind my seating area and that worked good as well

    As for up grading the speakers.
    The kit came with 4 ohm front channels and sub. The rear channels are 8 ohm. I tossed the front speakers and I'm running 8ohm towers and center up front, The 4ohm RCA passive sub, and the RCA surrounds that came in the kit in the back for now. All wired using the bigger better wire and connectors. I will be upgrading these rear surrounds as well in the next little while.

    My advice is change the wiring to at least 16Awg and save up and buy a powered sub. 10-12”
    Your receiver has an RCA low level sub output so it's very easy to hook up.
    Even though I’m running two cheap crappy subs, I hooked up my friends Energy 8” powered sub and it worked awesome, far better then my current sub set up.
     

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