Not happy with my sound setup, what could it be?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Thijs, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. Thijs

    Thijs Extra

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    Ok, let me first tell you all what stuff i got.

    two front speakers from Tannoy (mercury MX3)
    one Tannoy MXC center speaker

    two rear speakers from Tannoy (mercury M1) and i was told these are quite a bit older than my fronts, maybe it's because of these two, i don't know yet.


    a Mordaunt Short 308 Subwoofer


    And last but not least

    Marantz SR4200 AV surround receiver

    I only watch dvd movies and play videogames(Xbox360,PS2)
    over my Projector, the only thing i'm still kinda missing is....REAL cinema sound, kinda hard to explain. But i feel when i play games or watch movies that it's not sounding real enough, for example..when i go over to my brother's room who has also an Xbox360,projector and a Logitech z680 surround set, IMO it all sounds much better , i simply like it alot more than my setup. So i don't know...i might consider start saving money for a surround set too, but that would be a waste , i mean...i wouldn't be using my awesome receiver much anymore...i think it's weird that i can't get just as good sound in my room as my brother with such a setup as mine. I think it's either my speakers, that aren't good enough or something or it's the subwoofer that is sitting in the wrong place , i could use some help with this.
     
  2. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Hmm, hard to say exactly, but some more questions to narrow things down:

    1) what is your room like, acoustically?
    2) what exactly or roughly do you think is different in the other system, or in a cinema? Does it seem you are missing bass? too much bloated bass? Fatiguing?
     
  3. Thijs

    Thijs Extra

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    My room acoustically i think is good, i don't know man. What defines that? It's hard to tell for me, if you mean for example...how does music sound when i play a cd in my cd player over the speakers? Hmmm,....not too impressive, that's why i mostly listen to my music over the pc or my Iriver MP3 player.

    I've made a picture in Photoshop, it's my room from top view with the meassurements and everything (in inches,i hope i got that correct) only problem is..i need to have at least 15 posts on the forum first before i can post the link to the picture.

    What i kinda miss in the sound? Hmmmm...well say for example i play Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox360 here and then i play it at my bro's place...the sound is just much more 'full' ,more realer and the whole 'surround' effect is much more there than at my room. With more 'full' i mean, that i think the
    subwoofer of my brother's surround set seems to do it's job better than my Mordaunt Short sub.
     
  4. MikeHU

    MikeHU Stunt Coordinator

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    Have you calibrated your system? If not, it makes a huge difference. I was fooling with mine, turning up the various surround channels. Eventually, I was loosing bass response. I recalibrated, and the bass returns! Anyway, placement of you speakers is a big deal, and so is properly calibrating with the use of an SPL meter. Just using the auto set-up in my Denon makes a huge difference. That is were I would start.
     
  5. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    You might want to experiment with speaker placement. Many people put their speakers too close to the side and back walls.
     
  6. DavidSGT

    DavidSGT Stunt Coordinator

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    Hiya Thijs,

    Nice speaks you got there, this is kind of a stupid question to ask but how are you connecting your source to the amp? I hope its coaxial digital or optical.
    I am running a MX5(slightly bigger bro of your mx3 with same ctr) with Pioneer 811 and Rotel 985 Power amp and it works fine for movies(thats all I use it for), I used to have the Marantz 4200 before the 811, and I find it a tad underpowered powering Jbls previously, I even added an active sub then but there still was something missing so it could be that(There is no auto calibaration in the 4200,I know). Maybe you can crank up your amps internal sub level all the way and see/hear the difference if any.

    Hope this helps...

    Regards.
    DavidSGT
     
  7. Thijs

    Thijs Extra

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    MikeHU, like David said...i don't think there's an auto-setup so i'd have to do it myself, with calibrating you mean i should check out how the speaker distance is set in the Marantz settings? And the CH level, LFE att? I did that, and i think it's set correctly, i've checked from what distance my speakers are away from me and it's correct.

    Chris, my front speakers are not too close to the side or backwalls at all, they've always been a few inches away from them.

    David...you mean the source being the Xbox360 and PS2?
    Both go to the Marantz receiver via an optical cable so i can have DolbyDigital or DTS etc.

    And the amp's internal sub level, i dont know really what you mean, are you talking about the subwoofer's volume on the amp or not at all? [​IMG]
     
  8. MikeHU

    MikeHU Stunt Coordinator

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    Below is the info from the SVS website. Follow it and you will be pleasantly surprised. As an example, I kept turning the volume up on my center channel, and then my surrounds, and rear surrounds (7.1 setup). The more I would do this, the more bass I would lose. Finally went back and re-calibrated properly, and all the bass was restored. Gives you a much more "balanced" sound. I've read plenty of posts on "bass cancellation" and other anomalies. I lack the technical expertise to explain it properly, but I can tell you first hand that it works
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    8) How do I use a sound level meter to calibrate?

    The essential Radio Shack (TM) Sound Pressure Level Meter.

    Proper calibration of your surround sound system, including your SVS subwoofer, is not only easy, it's downright critical! On the left is a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter; using one is akin to checking your car tires with an air pressure gauge. If you don't have one (the SPL meter that is), by all means stop reading this now and get one! Heck, click here and you can buy one direct from SVS at a low price of $44 without shipping costs (if ordered with your subwoofer). We prefer this model to the digital display SPL meter due to the analog version's ease in getting spot-on adjustments (though either can work well).

    Why is calibration of the levels of your surround system so important? Well, think of it this way...in the old days you could just adjust the "Balance" knob on your stereo and get that center image (of the singer, or various instruments) "just right". Try to imagine doing that with 6 channels of a digital surround sound system for a minute! Get any of those channels out of balance by a few decibels (dBs... something all but certain without a meter) and the complex realism of the soundstage DVDs and the new high resolution music formats are capable of goes right out the window.

    Start by playing your receiver's internal test tones so you have something to measure with your SPL meter. Or better yet, a calibration disk, like Ovation Software's "Avia" available from SVS. A test disk’s calibration tones ensure your entire signal path, from the DVD player to your speakers, is set correctly.

    Make sure your receiver/processor master volume is set at "00 dB" or other easy to remember level, it will become your "reference level", one very close to that intended for home theaters by Dolby Labs. And finally, set your subwoofer amp’s volume control. Note here, if you have a "PC-type" subwoofer put the volume/gain knob to no more than 1/4th to 1/3rd of the way up. If it's a separate pro-type amp (like the Samson amps we sell) for a CS-type subwoofer, run the gain FULL UP (it's a different sort of amp design after all and expects to be set up this way). It’s a good idea to check the subwoofer level control of your receiver before you begin the test tones. Keep the receiver's subwoofer output control to about 25% up or lower than "0 dB" (or say -6dB given a typical receiver channel limits of –12 dB to +12 dB) . This will allow your amp to work with the cleanest signal possible from your receiver, while still leaving plenty of downward adjustment you can use from your viewing position (using the remote). As the tones start, alternating, speaker to speaker (watching your sound meter now) set each speaker’s volume to 75 dB or 85dB (depending on your tone source), using the receiver’s channel controls. Not all test disks or receivers are the same when it comes to calibration tones however, if using a test DVD like Video Essentials should allow you to calibrate reference level at 75dB. Ovation's "Avia" DVD is recorded at a higher level to improve signal to noise ratios during calibration, so you need to measure instead to 85dB for all channels if you use it and not Video Essentials (discussion below, regarding a "boost" to your LFE still applies but you simply add the bump you want above and beyond 85dB, vice 75dB).

    What to set the sub to? You might find that a higher level, relative to your main speakers is preferable. In other words, set to a bit higher than 75dB, or 85dB, depending on your calibration tone source. Tastes vary and so do movie soundtracks, but your SV Subwoofer is capable of tremendous levels of low distortion, low frequency bass. Take advantage of this, especially if you like action movies with lots of ".1" channel low frequency effects (LFE). Keep in mind too that the human ear is relatively insensitive to low frequencies. This, coupled with the fact most folks don’t watch movies at Dolby Digital reference level (loud!), means tweaking the bass up a few dBs usually yields a better movie sound experience.

    Many of us with SV Subwoofers run a +2 to +6dB setting on the LFE or ".1" channel, but much depends on your room's acoustics whether you have one or more subs, and your typical listening level. With a setting like this, the VE test tone will peak about 81-83dB for the subwoofer portion of the calibration run. Because the Radio Shack sound meter is relatively insensitive at very low frequencies you'll actually be set several dBs higher than what's read. Important Note: Use a "boost" like this only if you are watching at relatively modest levels. If you ever hear your sub bottom out (where the driver reaches its physical limits) you are set too high, at least for that movie and at that volume setting. Naturally customers with dual subs will enjoy far more "headroom" with regards to what is "too high".

    As you continue to calibrate you’ll briefly need to rotate the sound meter level dial to the 80dB setting to get a good reading on the subwoofer if you go beyond the level of your main speakers as we recommend. Don’t forget that most modern surround sound receivers allow completely different subwoofer level settings, depending on the listening mode you are in. With "DVD" as your "source" use the above calibration routine. You may well find that "CD" (music) calls for a lower bass setting for the best balance in your home theater (try setting this by ear with music you are familiar with). The above is a guide, experiment!

    Now if you got this far, and consider yourself an advanced user, you might want to delve a little deeper into the use of the SPL meter to flatten out response peaks in your room (using an external equalizer like we offer) or maybe just using one of the popular test disks out there to check and see just how well your subwoofer is performing. If so, you'll want to use a handy "compensation chart" to adjust the readings of your SPL meter. Its sensitivity down low is NOT uniform, but it's easy to make up for this slight flaw in this great too. This chart is ONLY good for the Radio Shack SPL meter pictured above. If your subwoofer seems to be measuring poorly with low frequencies, this chart is CRITICAL to making sure you know what's what.




    [​IMG]
     
  9. Thijs

    Thijs Extra

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    Wow, thanks alot man, i'll definitely be using that but i don't have a SPL meter yet (i think it's called a DB meter here in Holland [​IMG]) But i'll talk to my dad cause i recall him having one or he used to have one.

    I also forgot to tell something about my surround speakers..

    I've never been really happy with my surround really...for example i was watching a movie and the two surround speakers were attached to my left and right sidewalls and not incredibly far away from me, but i would hardly hear them.
    Even when i turned up it's volume in the receiver/amp
    i would always hear the front and center speakers much clearer...so it's almost as if the surround speakers don't belong in my setup. Right now my surround speakers are behind me when i play games or watch movies...they are very very close to me and that way i can hear some of the 'suround' but if i'd place them back to the walls, i'd hardly hear them...and i think that's not how it's supposed to be.
     
  10. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Thijs:

    I've never heard your Tannoys myself, but based on reviews of other Tannoys, their speakers usually have a rather "laid back" or soft sound compared to certain other brands.

    Logitech speakers, which I *have* heard, are quite bright (lots of treble) and their subwoofers are made to sound punchy and loud. And, many computer speaker systems with 5.1 decoders include sound enhancement software (digital signal processors or DSP) that can be activated to make the sound more lively, since many game soundtracks and MP3 music files are not of the highest quality.

    So basically, I think we are comparing a VW Golf GTI (the Logitechs) to a BMW 5 Series sedan (your system). [​IMG]

    Also: if you can barely hear your surround speakers no matter how loud you turn up THEIR level on the receiver, something is wrong. Either the receiver or the speakers aren't operating correctly. To make sure of this, use the receiver's test tone - not a game or a movie soundtrack - to check their level. Because not every movie or game has lots of information in the rear channels.
     
  11. DavidSGT

    DavidSGT Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Thijs,

    'And the amp's internal sub level, i dont know really what you mean, are you talking about the subwoofer's volume on the amp'
    Yup, that's what I am talking about the one where you can up the sound during the test tone cycle. If I remember correctly it goes up to +5.

    About your rear surr., there is not many info that comes out of your surr. and if you are watching a drama/dialogue type of movie then the surr are virtually redundant. There are some action orientated movies that have more rear action like say the Star wars 123 or LOTR trilogies, maybe you can try that out and see/hear

    Regards.
    DavidSGT
     
  12. Thijs

    Thijs Extra

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    Thanks alot all...I've been to a audio store today, and they can lend me a SPL(DB) meter, i'm gonna try it all out very soon.
     

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