HT newbie seeks mentoring advice

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_KM, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. John_KM

    John_KM Agent

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    Hi All,

    Being the proud owner of a new Sony TAE/TAN combo, as I am learning to 'drive' it, I've come up against one or two questions I was Kinda hopin' some of you more experienced HT geeks out there in cyber HT'erdom might be able to help me with.

    The Sony has some interesting proprietary technology, via the 'Digital Cinema Sound' whereby the acoustics (ie reverb) of various Sony dubbing/editing movie theatres can be added to the 'pure' sound of unadulterated DD, DTS etc, provided by the Auto decode format facility. Also, another chip handles '3d imaging' whereby it can create the impression of extra 'virtual' speakers etc in the rear, and even give the impression of placement differences re height etc, if the handbook can be believed.

    What are others opinions of these sort of modes? Are they truly useful, or do they fall into the 'gimmick' basket? Do they add something that's 'better' overall soundwise, or merely different, with performance tradeoffs?

    Having a bit of a purist 2 channel audiophile background, I'm a bit sceptical, but then HT is a whole different ball game, and I'd appreciate hearing of others thoughts/experiences.

    Secondly, I'm on a bit of a budget, so I'm running sans centre and sub woofer. I've set all speakers to large, and sub to off, and am getting a very satisfactory sound. However, I'm unsure of what to do with the LFE setting. I was under the impression that this was only for a dedicated sub, but was wondering as I don't presently have a sub, and have set it to off, whether the LFE would then be redirected to all the other large speakers? - all four in my case.

    In deference to my main HiFi speakers, which I'm using, I've set the LFE to it's lowest position, but have thoughts of doing some careful experimenting re increasing the level slightly to gain some of the LFE, indeed if it is routed to the main speakers when set up as I have done it. The manual makes no suggestion of this, so I was wondering if there are any Sony owners out there who might be able to comment/assist accordingly.

    Lastly, I have calibrated the speaker levels to 60Db using a radioshack SPL meter, as I find in the confines of a smallish apartment that 75db is a bit loud for domestic use.

    The dynamic range control offers off, 0.1 - 0.9, STD, and MAX. At the moment I've left it to the default of off, as I'm under the impression that the dynamic range control is most appropriate for quieter night time listening etc, and I don't want to 'knobble' the system, as it strikes me that no compression would be the 'purer' way to go.

    However, the handbook makes mention of the 'STD' setting being to give the compression that the producer intended, and silly as it may sound, I'm a bit confused by this, as I was under the impression that DVD's didn't have any compression, that being an adjustable feature of the preamp/receiver etc, and mostly for the aforementioned night time role. Am I correct in this assumption though, and importantly, at the levels I'm listening to, would I get a better sound overall by using some compression?

    As you can tell, I'm a newbie at this, and would value the opinions of those further down the HT learning curve than I..[​IMG]

    Hope there'll be some TAE/TAN owners out there, or others with Sony experience who will be able to help.

    Thanks for listening,

    Peace to All,

    John. [​IMG]
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi John. I'll take a stab at some of these..

     
  3. John_KM

    John_KM Agent

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    Hi Bob,

    Yes, it does help, and I appreciate your taking the time to write in, as I'm a bit in the dark/learning about some of the 'finer' points of HT v's 2 channel HiFi.

     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    John,

    Having used a Sony 333ES receiver for a while and thus being a bit familiar with the features you're discussing maybe I can throw in a few words.

    The LFE setting refers to the level at which the specifically encoded LFE channel will be played back in relation to the level of the other 5 channels in a 5.1 soundtrack. It is not to be confused with "subwoofer level" which only has an effect if you are using a sub (and have sub set to "yes" on your receiver setup) and have any speakers set to "small".

    So for accurate playback, LFE level should be set as specified by Dolby and DTS. The correct level for DD is 0 db, the correct level for dvd DTS is +10. There are a few DTS 5.1 audio cds, and the correct LFE level for them is 0db.

    Of course, if you aren't using a subwoofer and the specified settings do result in distortion from your mains, by all means feel free to turn LFE level lower.

    Keep in mind that not all low bass on a dd or dts disc is necessarily on the LFE channel. There are some very bass-heavy dvds with no LFE channel at all--Waterworld DTS is one. Many receivers have indicator lights on their displays that only illuminate when the LFE channel is actually active. You may be surprised and how many instances there are in which this light stays off during apparently bass-heavy scenes in dvd movies.

    I'm sorta trying to get across the idea that LFE level does not equal bass level.

    As for the dsp modes, the ones that simulate certain mixing venues are actually pretty interesting to try, I liked Cinema Studio EX-B for action movies, while other modes like "Church" or Opera House are downright bizarre. The virtual surround modes are mainly meant for people using only 2 front speakers, I always ignored them for 5.1 use.

    If you have a "V Matrix 6.1" dsp, it does a fairly convincing job of creating a "phantom" rear center channel, much as phantom front center channels can be synthesized for those not using a center channel front speaker.

    Could I also recommend that you obtain a copy of the "AVIA guide to Home Theater" disc to aid you in doing your calibrations? I've found it to be more useful than the receiver's internal test tones, and more accurate as well. It has a narrative tutorial that's very helpful for those that are new to multichannel ht audio formats vs 2 channel stereo. It's a bit hard to find in local stores but readily available from internet retailers of dvds. It also has a very useful guide and test patterns for properly adjusting your video display. Cost is around $30-40 but I think it along with the meter you already have are a very wise purchase.

    I hope I haven't made things any more confusing for you by intruding here.
     

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