Need help: My Onkyo TX-SR500 sounds flat in the midrange

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JimBarrese, Sep 19, 2002.

  1. JimBarrese

    JimBarrese Stunt Coordinator

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    I just bought a Onkyo TX-SR500 to use exclusively for listening to music. It's replacing an old Sony shelf system I had (quite a good one I always felt, unfortunately it broke). In all the audio playback devices I've ever had I'm used to having more tonal controls and/or loudness/boost effects to fill out the sound. As a result no matter how I set the treble/bass on my Onkyo it sounds flat in the middle. It has good bass and highs, just the mid-range has no depth/character and sounds flat. It gives voices a very un-natural quality.

    In case you're wondering what I'm listening through, since I spent all my money on the receiver and can't yet afford to upgrade the crap speakers I have (that came with the shelf system), I mainly use my Philips 895 headphones for listening (which is a pretty decent pair of phones).

    I also have a Pioneer 509 receiver I use for DVD surround sound. When I play music through that, listening with my headphones, I get the fuller,richer,more properly balanced sound I want; but the sound doesn't have as much clarity as with the Onkyo. I'm using a Pioneer 503 DVD player to play the CDs I'm testing the sound quality with. I have it connected to both recievers so I can do a direct A/B comparison from the same source.

    I think one reason the Pioneer might sound fuller is because according to the manual it's treble boost is at 10 kHZ and the bass at 100 Hz. The Onkyo's are at 20 kHZ and 50 Hz, which seems too high and low respectively.

    So I guess I'm asking what my options are. Is there another brand reciever in the $300 range that will give me more the sound I'm looking for or more tonal control? I'd consider gettng a stereo receiver to keep it in that range, I just figured a 5 channel would allow me to upgrade to future formats (SACD/DVD-A). Would getting an equilizer let me get the sound quality I want or is the flat middle inherent in the way the Onkyo amplifies the sound? Also, how would an equilizer effect the overall quality because I'd have to hook it up via analog outs on my receiver and the back into the receiver via analog ins from the equilizer? That seems like it could effect the overall quality.

    I'm thinking of just returning the Onkyo and getting a Pioneer 411 or 511 which would be about the equivalent of the Pioneer I have for DVDs, but I'm not sure I want to sacrifice a loss of clarity for a gain in tone. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    i dont think you'll be able to find something in your price range that will give you both 5.1/HT abilities AND good 2-channel musical reproduction. my advice is to choose which is more important to you and buy something accordingly.
    if you feel music is your main concern, sell the Onkyo and get a nice integrated amp (Rotel, Marantz, H/K all come to mind). remember you can still hook up 2-channel SACD and DVD-A to something like this. look on www.audiogon.com for your best deals.
    if HT is still a major concern of yours, i'd still say sell the Onkyo and buy something from H/K's line. you'll get more power (despite what the numbers say), better decoding, and much improved sound quality. i just replaced my Onkyo 595 with a Pioneer Elite '45TX and i completely understand your quabble with its music reproduction. if music is your passion, sacrifice 5.1 abilities and get a nice integrated amp.
     
  3. JimBarrese

    JimBarrese Stunt Coordinator

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    It looks like a seperate amp is going to cost more than I can afford to spend right now. And then I still need to get an equilzer if I want to adjust the sound. This unit will be for music only so home theater isn't a concern. Is there a stereo receiver that would give me more of the sound I want.

    I guess it depends on what kind of "sound" each brand is known to have. Is Onkyo known for sounding a particular way? What about Denon, HK, Yamaha? I would think all companies would have there treble and bass adjustments occuring at the same frequencies but that obviously isn't the case. Is that what causes the difference amung the sounds of the different brands or is there another factor (circuitry, etc)?
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    If music is "flat" is is much more likely the speakers than the receiver. I feel Onkyo is decent for music, but for dedicated music listening, they would not be among my choices. Your old system was likely tuned to work well with those speakers (I've a few Sony shelf systems and they are not bad), as well as your adjustments to the tone controls.

    What are the speaker specs? (driver type, size, sealed, ported, etc...)

    Another thought, you could just be used to the sound of the old setup, while, in fact, the new receiver is more "correct", just not to your ears and what you are used to.

    IMO, the system should sound right with no tone control adjustments for music. If it doesn't and you NEED tone control adjustment, then you are starting out at the wrong point. I would HIGHLY recommend listening to Marantz or Harman Kardon receivers, not amps, in this price range, as well as auditioning some new speakers. Speakers will change the sound MUCH more than the receiver will, so you really need to start there, not with the receiver. Your choices in the $300 range are very limited, so you will probably want to look for used gear.

    Do a search on SR4000 in this forum, I picked up TWO of them for $350...one for a second system, one to give to someone else. The one in the second system I use for music only with a pair of Paradigm Mini Monitors and I am very happy with it. I have also seen Marantz SR5000s for $300, an excellent 5.1 receiver that will also give good music performance.

    An average amp with good speakers will still sound decent. A good amp with weak speakers will still sound bad.
     
  5. JimBarrese

    JimBarrese Stunt Coordinator

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    My speakers are 3-way Sony speakers, don't really know the specs on them. They look about like what would go for around $100/pair at Best Buy these days. I really don't use them that much though because I can hear much more detail and get better quality with my headphones. I know my headphones lean toward the bright side, but I can get the sound I want with them from other sources so it's the Onkyo and not the phones. I'll look into HK and Marantz though. I'll have to see if I can find somewhere I can listen to them to make sure they'll be more I want. I know Circuit City carries HK, so I'll probably look into that.

    Would Denon be any better for music? I know several places around me that carry Denon so it might be easier for me to demo.
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The 1602 is the least expensive Denon, and it is MSRP $349. I was not totally impressed with Denon for music, though I listened to a 4800 with some KEF Qs yesterday and it sounded quite nice.
     

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