I think I screwed up....

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by AndrewI, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. AndrewI

    AndrewI Auditioning

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    I think I placed the speakers incorrectly in my living room. I placed the C speaker ontop of my TV (the only thing I think I did right). The FR and FL I mounted on my wall about 7 1/2 feet off the ground and 8ft apart. The same for my surround sound speakers (BR and BL). That's what I think I did wrong. Did I mount them too high and too far apart? I feel like I'm hearing most of the sound from the Center channel and little from the other 4 speakers. Even though I positioned the wall mounted speakers facing down towards the audiance, I think the speakers should have been placed at ear level instead. I can't seem to hear a lot of the surround sound (BR and BL)? Do most systems allow you to adjust output so you can rais the volume of the surround speakers (BR and BL) without touching the volume of other speakers? Is my goof a major goof or can it be fixed or made better without moving the speakers and just adjusting some settings?

    Thanks in advance for all your help!!!!
     
  2. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    Andrew,

    here - in the Primer/FAQ

    IMO the tweeters should be at ear level when sitting down, and the horzontal axis of the front 3 should be on the same plane as much as possible
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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  4. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Dolby says the fronts should be located with tweeters at ear level and surrounds should be 3 ft. above the ears of the listeners. Bu this does not speak to your otehr questions:



    I would lower the mounting of the front speakers so they are on either side of the display at ear level (while seated). Then calibrate. Calibration is not a step that should be skipped even with proper speaker placement (and vice versa).
     
  5. AndrewI

    AndrewI Auditioning

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    Thanks Jeff! I was able to find the speaker level calibration section and adjust the volume settings for the individual speakers. I think I placed my Front L & R speakers too high and wide on the wall. I don't think I'm getting a true sound (or the sound I should be getting) out of my system despite the calibration. Normally, would you say the Center speaker is at the same volume level as the FR and FL speakers? Or is it slightly higher, lower, or just whatever sounds good to me?
     
  6. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Just a reminder that most of your sound is usually supposed to come out of your center channel. In a lot of movies, the use of the surrounds and L/R is more subtle. Buy or borrow an SPL meter and balance the sound in all your speakers with the test tones of pink noise (static). You can do it by ear also, though I tried that first and was amazed at how far off I was when I later adjusted it with the SPL meter. I was very happy with the later results. Lastly, don't be afraid to keep playing with it. It's a hobby after all! [​IMG] It is better to use movies or music you are familiar with when testing out your adjustments so that you have a reference point.
     
  7. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Did you calibrate them "by ear" or did you use an SPL meter? All speakers should be calibrated to the same volume using an SPL meter, however personal taste may see you raising your center a little higher. Without an SPL meter, you cannot really judge the volume of a speaker, especially with the speakers so far apart and not in the same vertical plane. In addition to the fact that the ear is not a very precise judge of volume, major accoustical tricks may be affecting your ear's perception of loudness when the sound is coming from three different vertical and horizontal directions. Most who have used the "by ear" method and have subsequently used an SPL meter have been surprised by how off the "by ear" method is. I would physically lower my main speakers to ear level and recalibrate using an SPL meter, it should improve the sound dramatically.
     
  8. AndrewI

    AndrewI Auditioning

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    I calibrated it by ear. I don't have an SPL meter. Not sure where to buy it (Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack?).

    I think I still want to play with this by ear. I know the system has predetermined settings based on the size of the room (S,M,L). I set it to Large and was concerned with the fact that I realy wasn't able to hear much out of my surround speakers (the Back Left and Right). I thought that might be because I positioned them too high on the walls and that's why I decided to raise their volume. At the same time I thought I wasn't hearing much out of my FR and FL and since their volume was already raised to the max I decided to lower the volume on my Center channel so I can hear more out of my sides.

    Maybe I'm playing with this thing too much. I just need to figure it out. I need to understand how the sound should sound... what I should be hearing, and how I should be hearing it. Based on what Charlie said I should be getting most of my volume from my center channel (which I am- that's not a problem). My concern is how I'm hearing sounds come out of my FR, FL and Surround R&L speakers. Should I only realy be hearing things out of my surround R & L speakers when something extreme happens (like bullets flying and planes flying bye) and the same goest for my FR&FL speakers etc....

    I just need to play with this system more and understand it better.
     
  9. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Radio Shack has the analog meters for $40 or $50 I think. It made a big difference to me. I didn't realize it, but I had overemphasized the surrounds based on doing it by ear. My surrounds are 7 feet off the floor, center is 5' and LR are at ear level, like 3.5'. I thought I needed to pump up the surrounds and my ear confirmed it. But then when I watched Matrix, Heat and Top Gun, movies I have seen a lot, they didn't sound right. The loudness of the surrounds blocked out the musical score in the Matrix "lobby scene" and the planes and bullets whizzing by sounded much different when the sound moved from front to back. I could hear the sound discretely from the speakers rather than feeling "enveloped". When I adjusted it with the SPL meter, the sound movement from front to back was much more seamless or fluid (I am not an audiophile so excuse me if I have my adjectives in layman's terms.) Also, the background music was mixed in at the correct level, imo. It worked for me.
     
  10. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    1) Surrounds should only be active when effects are playing. They are usually dormant during quiet or dialogue heavy scenes, unless they are playing "atmospherics" such as rain or traffic. The mains are more active, but they are usually for music or l-r, r-l pans.

    2) The SPL meter is available at Radio Shack, about $40. It is essential for getting your system to sound correct; as stated above playing "by ear" does not cut it. In order to achieve proper speaker balance, the speakers have to be set so all 5 play the same volume at the same master volume setting. This is best accomplished with an SPL meter (which basically measures volume) and a set of disk or receiver generated test tones. See the Primer for more info.

    3) Are you sure the "small, medium and large" settigs are for room size? Usually a "small" or "large" setting on a receiver pertains to speaker size, which with your system should be set to "small" as it is on 90% of the systems out there.
     
  11. AndrewI

    AndrewI Auditioning

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    Hey Charlie, I think that's my problem now. When I was playing with the speakers last night (and if I think about it now) I think I overemphasized the surrounds doing it by ear. It sounded like I needed to pump up my surrounds, but now that I think about it, I think that was wrong. It just made everything sound louder, but not right (if that makes sense).

    Jeff, to answer your question, the S,M, & L settings are for room size. I remember seeing room dimensions (x# of feet by x# of feet) in the manual for each setting. By default my setting was on medium. I'll doublecheck tonight to make sure.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think my biggest setback was setting up my FR and FL speakers too high and wide (about 7.5 - 8feet high and 8-9feet apart). I should have placed them at ear level next to the TV. Unfortunately the wires are behind the wall now (I recently redid my living room) and not at all easy to rearange the speakers without extending & seeing wires on the wall. I'm not sure how big of a negative effect this is having, but I think it's causing some problem.
     

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