Need center speaker set up help

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Torgny Nilsson, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    I have read a lot of people say that dialogue is supposed to come primarily from your center speaker and not from your left and right front speakers.

    I have a 5.1 system. And I used Avia and a sound meter to set my speakers at the same level. While dialogue seemed to be properly oriented to the picture, it seemed to just generally come from the front soundstage. I never got the feeling that it was primarily coming from my center speaker.

    I recently changed my system so my audio signal skips the surround sound processor in my receiver and instead goes through an external surround sound processor (which I assume is better than the one in my receiver). I then again used Avia and my sound meter to set my speakers at the same level.

    While I have not noticed any change in full surround sound scenes (such as the dance scenes in Moulin Rouge or the battle scenes in Master & Commander), I have noticed that is dialogue intensive scenes, the dialogue now seems to come primarily from the center speaker. I specifically notice that I have a center speaker now, instead of just noticing that I have a good front soundstage in general.

    Can anyone tell me what what I have explained if my prior set up was correct or if this new set up is correct? Should dialogue literally come primarily from the center speaker? Or should you not be able to tell that it is actually coming from your center speaker as opposed to your other front speakers?

    It may be that I had it set up all wrong before, and now that it is correctly set up, I just have to let my ears get used to the new sound. But if my new set up is wrong, I want to correct that before I have guests over to watch a movie.

    Anyone have any thoughts? As I said, both set ups seem to orient the sound correctly vis-a-vis the picture. And both seem fine when in very active full surround sound scenes.
     
  2. John S

    John S Producer

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    Two channel surround sources / connections / surround modes will sort of produce this as the center is just a sum of the two stereo channels.

    In a 5.1 source / surround mode / connection, this channel is descreet, generally it will not contain much if any left / right material in my experiences.
     
  3. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    John,

    Thanks for the input, but I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you saying that I have my 5.1 system set up properly now that the center channel--alone as far as I can tell--presents the dialogue and that I had it set up wrong before when I could not tell which speaker the dialogue was coming from?
     
  4. John S

    John S Producer

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    Not sure, just saying with real 5.1 the channel is descreet, there shouldn't be hardly any if any at all duplicated material in the left or rigth speakers, unless it is panning one direction or another is all. So I can imaging why it would be different with the new / different decoder as you are now using.

    I suppose a very low end 5.1 might not have good channel separation in general and produce this effect? I just have not run across this before. being curious, I have of course just arbitrarily listened up close to each speaker, and always seem to find the center to be way different on content from either left or right when the source / mode / connection is 5.1 or 6.1.....
     
  5. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    The receiver I was running the signal through before was not really cheap, about $800. And I have no idea why it is so different now. Only thing I can guess is that the receiver was for some reason not properly decoding the signal.

    But it sounds like I have it set up the right way now. Thanks for your advice.
     
  6. AlbertD

    AlbertD Stunt Coordinator

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    Dialog should come from the center channel speaker as long as the actors that are speaking the dialog are on the screen. If an actor was on the screen looking at you, would you expect his/her dialog to come out of the right or left speaker off the screen? That would be weird. Now, if there are actors talking or events taking place to the right or left of the main scene on the TV, you would expect to hear it located from that source. For example...an off screen left actor could begin speaking. You would hear the voice coming from the left speaker. As they moved onto the screen the dialog should seamlessly move with them from left to center and remain there as long as they are in scene and speaking. They might then wander off screen right, continuing to speak, in which case you should hear the dialog stay with them and move seamlessly off screen right to the right main speaker. Make sense? The dialog of on screen actors should come from and should always have come from the center, therby nailing the dialog to the TV and their bodies.
     
  7. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    I agree, the dialog should look like it is coming from the source on the screen, not a particular speaker. I had troubles with my set up at first, but it was a little different than yours.(2 Center Speakers)
    Through my experimenting I found that I could move the sound in toward the center by turning up the center channel, or mover the sound back into the screen by lowering the center channel. Even though you have calibrated your set up, your ears are the final test. Set it so it sounds right to you.
    Dave
     
  8. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    Oh-yea, I forgot to mention,
    Make sure that your speakers are the same tone also. My system has a center equalizer that I used to match it with my right & left speakers.
    Dave
     
  9. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Second Unit

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    Thanks for all the advice.

    My speakers are matched and I don't have any problem with them.

    And the dialogue in my old setup never sounded like it was coming from somewhere off-screen. It was always matched to what was on-screen. It's just that I was never before able to tell that it was coming primarily from the center speaker.

    From what everyone is saying, it seems I had it set up wrong before and now have it right for the first time. I don't want to make any changes to suit my personal taste until I have given this setup a chance. Plus, the more I watch movies with this new system, the better it sounds to me anyway.

    drobbins: I am curious, however, why you have two center speakers? What is the benefit to that? Two subs I can understand, but two of any other speaker seems only problematic.
     
  10. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    I had troubles hearing any dialog with my original center. It had dual 3 1/2" speakers. During the frequency sweep, it started dropping out around 140Hz was very noticeable around 120Hz and totally gone at 90 - 100. Then the sub took over. I upgraded to a larger center with dual 5" speakers which cured the frequency issue, but all the sound came from below the screen, not from the action on screen. I would hear something and find myself looking for it at the speaker not the screen. I guess there is not enough distance between the speakers and my seats to overcome this. I have a very small theater, 12' x 14'. By adding my original center above the screen wired in parallel with the other below, it brought the perception of the sound back to the movie action. I originally did have issues with the sound. It came across as a little rattly ( I think that is combing.) I moved the top center back about 1/2 inch and tilted it up some facing the seating some. I guess I lucked out, It sounds great now and all the sounds do come from their source on the screen.[​IMG]
     

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