How to get big sound for my movie?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Norris, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm setting up my home theater, and am having trouble coming up with the sound I want. Some background data:

    Room is 15' wide
    Room is 9' high
    Viewing distance is 16', with the back area of the couch open into the kitchen (that adds another 15' behind the couch)

    Receiver Harman Kardon AVR430
    Main speakers Engergy C-9
    Center Engergy C-C3
    Rear Energy C-3
    Sub is SVS 20-39 PC Plus
    In Focus SP4805
    110" drop down screen

    I set the front speakers to "large", with "sub" in the HK configuration menu. Of course, center and rears are small. My problem is an underwhelming sound. When watching an action movie, such as Spiderman 2, or Chronicles of Riddick, the explosions don't overpower me like I expected. And this with the volume at -10 dB or louder. Certainly I must be doing something wrong, because I expected the SVS 20-39 PC Plus to shake and rattle the windows, but that's not the case at all. Granted, I don't have the Avia calibration DVD (is that a must?), nor do I have a sound pressure level meter (is that a must too?). Is it worth it to pay some AV technician to come a calibrate my system (about $300 I believe) or is this something I should do myself? The picture is gorgeous but the sound ain't.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Buy the Avia disk...it's not rocket science to do it yourself and you'll be able to do it again should you move things around.

    That's a lot of cubic feet to fill. Where is the sub located in relation to the rest of the gear? Have you tried moving it to different locations? Have you tried changing the phase?

    With all that area (and you have to include the kitchen) even after getting things configured you may find that you'll need two subs.

    Good luck

    Mort
     
  3. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    Mort,
    I talked to the SVS people, and they recommended just 1 sub for now, but MAYBE I'll need 2. We'll see. Right now I have the sub at the front left corner, next to the front left main speaker. I think I'll move it to the left rear corner (to the left of the couch) and see what happens. I didn't fiddle with the phase knob too much, since the manual of the sub indicates that it's mainly for people who have 2 subs. I'll mess with that too and see. So you really think I should get the Avia disc eh?

    thanks,
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    At the very least, you need the SPL meter. You can do a quick calibration of levels with that and the tones from your receiver. That is a very big room, but a PC+ should give you decent performance in it. My room is 19x20 with high vaulted ceilings and open to the kitchen as well, and a single PB-10 gives me adequate (not spectacular, but plenty) rumble.

    Your mains should NOT be set to large, they should be set to small, since their -3dB point is 31Hz, and they roll off completely at 26hz (according to their specs). I would set the mains to a x-over of something like 60Hz and the rest to 80Hz or 100Hz. Half of the bottom octave that is being sent to the mains is literally being "lost" since your speakers cannot reproduce it. Setting them to small will send that bass to your sub where it can be put to use.

    Is the SVS in a corner?
     
  5. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    John,
    I did the test tone with the receiver's onscreen instructions. The Harman's remote has a built-in microphone to detect the test signals from each speaker, but I suppose that's not as accurate as a real spl meter. The sub is at the front left corner next to the front left main. I'm planning on moving it to the left rear corner. That's an interesting suggest you made, to set the fronts as "small". I'm open to trying out everything.

    Thanks,
     
  6. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    Is there a compelling reason you haven't set all speakers to 'small'? The sub might also best be located to either side of the screen (duhh!), assuming that's as far away from the kitchen opening as possible. Cheers.

    DS.
     
  7. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave,

    There's really no compelling reason for my front speakers not being set to "small". I just followed the manual of the receiver, if the speakers are full range, then set them to "large". I'll try all 5 set set as "small" and see if that makes a difference. Also, I always hear that sub is best placed in a corner. The front 2 corners are occupied by the mains speakers, only 2 corners left, in the rear.

    Thanks,
     
  8. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    Norris,



    This I don't get. The dimension of your 110" screen makes it 96" inches wide, or 8', and the width of your room is stated as 15'. Is there something else that prevents you from placing the mains to either side of it, in addition to the sub? What am I missing? Cheers.

    DS.
     
  9. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    Upon further reflection, I don't believe I've thought this fully through. Assuming symmetrical placement of the 8' wide screen, that leaves 3.5' on either side. I'm not aware of the width of the C9s, but I assume surely no greater than 12". I'm also unaware of the circumferance of the 20-39, but if it exceeds 2', then your only recourse in placing the sub across the front, may be to pull the mains slightly forward. Make sense? Cheers.

    DS.
     
  10. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    I just took some measurements. The screen is 9' across. That leaves 3' each on the sides. The C9s are 8" in width, placed 6" away from the wall, so that used up 14", meaning there are 22" between the main speaker and the edge of the screen. Diameter of the sub is 17". Therefore, when I placed the sub next to the main speaker, there are 5" of space between the screen and the sub. Nothing cosmetically wrong with that arrangement. In fact, that's how I've had it for the last 2 weeks. I'm gonna set all the speakers as "small", with the sub placed as described. If no sound improvement is heard, I'll move the sub to the rear corner. The sub cable just arrived today. Thanks to bluejeans!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    That sounds like a pretty reasonable arrangement to me. You ought to get plenty of rumbling out of that. Best of luck, Norris. Cheers.

    DS.
     
  12. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    John or anybody else:

    You said that if the front speakers are set as "large", most of the lower frequency would be lost, since those speakers can't reproduce it. True. However, there's an option with this receiver, where I can designate the fronts as "large" AND still feed LFE to the sub. Basically there are 3 options:

    [1] fronts as small, no sub
    [2] fronts as large, with sub
    [3] fronts as small, with sub

    I had been running [2], last night I changed to [3] and did feel a noticeable improvement while watching Independence Day. But I also moved the sub from front-left location to rear-left. So the improvement could be the result of both changes.

    Question 1: if the fronts are "small" with the crossover at 60 Hz, then if I listen to a music CD, would I lose the lower frequency?

    Question 2: Does it matter what the rears and center speakers crossover settings are?

    Thanks!
     
  13. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    That is a big room for a single SVS. While it will still give you great bass, it will probably not have the impact you want.

    I had a 20-39CS and it was not enough in my little room. Now I have dual 16-46CS+s in a 12' x 13' x 8' room. The bass is increadible. Yet when watching bass heavy movies at reference level they are still pushed near their max.

    You may want to try some bass shakers to give you a more tactile feel.
     
  14. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    It's all relative. I've got a single 25-31PC in a 20x30x10 room and I have deemed it to be adequate. His room is 2/3 as big and he's got more sub than I. Besides, I think the whole room size thing gets fairly blown out of proportion. One day I put the SVS on the back porch and got decent output in my backyard.

    I think a good calibration is what's needed here. I use the $30-$40 Radio Shack meter and the THX Optimode test tones on my Toy Story 2 DVD. I've found that the surround tracks on these tones are about 2dB hot, so I compensate down 2dB and that gives me the same results as when I borrowed a copy of Avia.

    My point is calibration is very inexpensive with respect to the piles of cash you've already put into this HT, Norris. You wouldn't spend 50 large on a Corvette and then skimp with 87 octane would you? And after a basic calibration, I'd be tempted to go ahead and plot frequency response to see if an equalizer might be a worthy addition too.
     
  15. Norris

    Norris Stunt Coordinator

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    Calibration tools:

    I can get the Radio Shack SPL meter today. I'll need to read up on how to use it though.[​IMG] The HK receiver's remote does the test tone too, but I'm not sure how adequate that remote is for calibration purpose.

    Thanks,
     

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