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Perpetually Underwhelmed by my system. (1 Viewer)

Leftygonzo84

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Deron Dunham
Hello everyone, I want to start out by saying that I'm new here and new to audiophile forums in general. I do have a pretty good knowledge of audio and equipment but I lack expert knowledge in installation and setup. I work in the industry but on the sales side of the business and I have installer friends but I work for a Big Box retailer and I feel that some of the nuances of HT audio are not in their wheelhouse. So I decided to create a profile here and get some opinions and recommendations from people who share my passions and can give different advice and perspectives.

So let me talk about my current setup and how I got here. In 2021 I purchased a 5.1 system that was all Sonance Audio, 3 - VP66 LCRs for the fronts and center, 2 VP62 in ceiling for the rears and a Sonance Impact 12 subwoofer. These were all powered by a Denon 2700 in command series. I enjoyed this system a lot at first but after about a year I decided that it just didn't sound as good as I thought it should for the retail price of this equipment. After some research I decided my speakers were underpowered so I upgraded a to Marantz 7706 processor and a Marantz 7055 amplifier. This was a nice upgrade and did in fact make the system sound better. Problem solved, right? The answer is no, because I can never leave well enough alone.

Now for my most recent upgrades and where I'm needing advice. So here we go, when the B&W 702 S2's went on clearance I decided to pick up a pair of them as I've always appreciated them and wanted a pair for a while. They sound good currently but not great as my 7055 pushes a little more than half the power B&W recommends for the speakers. I'm wondering what amp I should be looking at for this setup, I'm not sure if I should bi-amp off the 7055 for just me fronts and get a separate smaller two channel for just the rears or if I should be looking at a better 5 channel or 7 channel amp instead. With this configuration I'm still running the VP66 LCR for a center channel but I will be ordering a B&W HTM72 S3 soon to round out my front 3 with B&W.

I have also recently added in a REL 1205 MKII as a second sub and a Project EVO carbon debut for some 2 channel listening.

I appreciate any and all feedback and can provide any further details than what I've listed if you think you can help me tune this system out and get it to a place where I just don't feel underwhelmed with the thousands of dollars I have into this setup.

Thanks,

Lefty
 

sinisanav

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First, where is the system? Dedicated HT room, living room? Multi use space? What is the size of the space, any open areas or you can close it up? Did you use any room correction ?
 

JohnRice

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How are you underwhelmed?

First, a little detail, the surround speakers with 5.1 are supposed to be on/in the wall to the sides of the viewing area, not behind and not in the ceiling. That is having a pretty serious impact on your surround effect.

Otherwise, the biggest problem is probably implementation and setup rather than equipment. Did you calibrate the system? You can throw money at it, but it probably won't fix anything until we figure out what you're unhappy with.
 

Leftygonzo84

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First, where is the system? Dedicated HT room, living room? Multi use space? What is the size of the space, any open areas or you can close it up? Did you use any room correction ?
Thanks for replying, the system is in my living room. I really want a dedicated space but no basement here or bonus room. The room is approximately 13.5’ x 20.5’ with the tv viewing distance about 12’3” from where I typically sit. It’s fairly open unfortunately, large opening to the right for dining room and left of setup is hallway to bedrooms. When setting it up I used the Marantz Audyssey setup and then tweaked it after. Mostly adjusting levels to speakers and crossovers a little bit.
 

Leftygonzo84

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How are you underwhelmed?

First, a little detail, the surround speakers with 5.1 are supposed to be on/in the wall to the sides of the viewing area, not behind and not in the ceiling. That is having a pretty serious impact on your surround effect.

Otherwise, the biggest problem is probably implementation and setup rather than equipment. Did you calibrate the system? You can throw money at it, but it probably won't fix anything until we figure out what you're unhappy with.
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I feel like it’s tough to pin point my disappointment. I realize this can be a game of inches but I’m far enough in that I don’t feel it’s as good as it should be however I agree. It’s probably implementation.

I wanted to do surrounds in the rear wall but with my room I had no choice but ceiling as an option.

System was setup using Marantz Audyssey and some slight tweaking by myself after. Calibration is my weak point when it comes to this stuff. I can talk specs all day but does me no good here.
 

JohnRice

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I'm the last person to discourage more power. My HT has a 8,000 watts total. However, I don't think lack of power is the problem.
 

John Dirk

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I'm the last person to discourage more power. My HT has a 8,000 watts total. However, I don't think lack of power is the problem.
I thought we agreed to never say that out loud, even when it applies! :cool:

Seriously though, John makes a good point. Before you can properly address an issue it needs to be objectively identified. Saying you are "underwhelmed" is a subjective statement that describes your mood but not your environment. You did a great job listing your hardware. Now give us some specifics concerning your actual observations performance-wise along with some basics regarding your room [enclosed or open, dimensions, etc.] and I'm betting we can get to the root of the problem.
 

Tony Bensley

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I thought we agreed to never say that out loud, even when it applies! :cool:

Seriously though, John makes a good point. Before you can properly address an issue it needs to be objectively identified. Saying you are "underwhelmed" is a subjective statement that describes your mood but not your environment. You did a great job listing your hardware. Now give us some specifics concerning your actual observations performance-wise along with some basics regarding your room [enclosed or open, dimensions, etc.] and I'm betting we can get to the root of the problem.
I'm no audio expert, but a picture does paint a thousand words!

Good luck! :)

CHEERS! :)
 

JohnRice

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I wanted to do surrounds in the rear wall but with my room I had no choice but ceiling as an option.
Again, in a 5.1 system the surrounds are supposed to be to the sides of the viewer(s). Not behind them. If there's any way to do that....
 

sinisanav

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Thanks for replying, the system is in my living room. I really want a dedicated space but no basement here or bonus room. The room is approximately 13.5’ x 20.5’ with the tv viewing distance about 12’3” from where I typically sit. It’s fairly open unfortunately, large opening to the right for dining room and left of setup is hallway to bedrooms. When setting it up I used the Marantz Audyssey setup and then tweaked it after. Mostly adjusting levels to speakers and crossovers a little bit.
Ok, yeah, kind of like my first HT that was in multiuse basement that was 28x34 but with irregular opening to one side going to 40 ft….
It was hard to correct as speakers were out of position.
Now, to your room. Is your viewing line along 20’ or across the room so effective 13.5’ “length” of the viewing area?
Adding back surrounds should really help, and also are your ceiling surrounds on the side of the couch or behind?
I think, drawing would help everyone when chiming in.
It will be hard to go about open spaces though.
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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I also don’t think the issue is a lack of power. Your speakers are on the high side in the efficiency department (meaning, it takes less power to get more SPL out of them). And your amplifier power is on the high side as well.

I think the issue may well be with the subwoofer. The problem is the huge size if your listening area. It takes a lot of “woofage” to pressurize something that large.

I can’t get a good read on your two subwoofers, but if one is more capable than the other – either in maximum output or extension, or both – overall system performance will be “dumbed down” to the level of the weaker sub. IOW, the system can’t go louder or lower than the weaker sub allows. If you are currently having to dial back your sub level to keep from over-driving them, that’s a tell-tale sign.

Thus, you may need to get some high-performance subs from SVS or Power Sound. Others here will likely make other suitable recommendations

That aside, improper placement of the subs could also be causing problems. It would be good to get the free Room EQ Wizard room measurement software to help know exactly what’s going on.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

Wardog555

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You can start your relocating the surrounds on speaker stands beside and slightly behind the main listening position.
(This is critical for accurate surround sound experience) and relocate the ceiling speakers if needed to be used for Dolby atmos.
Open plan rooms are often challenging and it's always best to have a enclosed room on all 4 sides.

Then use a tape measure to measure the distance of the speakers to the listening position. And set that as distance in the receiver speaker setup.

Now use a spl meter and set the master volume of the receiver to 75 or 0 whatever scale you're using. And then use the test tone and adjust the speaker levels to 75dB each individually.

And then adjust subwoofer levels to taste. If it's not enough. Turn it up.

Make sure all speakers set to small and start with a 80hz crossover.

And then enjoy accurate surround sound! 🙂
 

Leftygonzo84

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Sorry busy day today everyone, thanks for taking the time to reply. I’ll attach some photos and a drawing of the room I had a friend mock up for me real quick.
 

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Leftygonzo84

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Deron Dunham
You can start your relocating the surrounds on speaker stands beside and slightly behind the main listening position.
(This is critical for accurate surround sound experience) and relocate the ceiling speakers if needed to be used for Dolby atmos.
Open plan rooms are often challenging and it's always best to have a enclosed room on all 4 sides.

Then use a tape measure to measure the distance of the speakers to the listening position. And set that as distance in the receiver speaker setup.

Now use a spl meter and set the master volume of the receiver to 75 or 0 whatever scale you're using. And then use the test tone and adjust the speaker levels to 75dB each individually.

And then adjust subwoofer levels to taste. If it's not enough. Turn it up.

Make sure all speakers set to small and start with a 80hz crossover.

And then enjoy accurate surround sound! 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to reply. Unfortunately the rears are in about the only place I could get them for this room. Outside of using a wireless speaker kit which I’m not too keen on plus placement would get kinda funky doing that. I was able to get great deals on both my subwoofers but neither get super low. I have toyed around with setting the fronts as large and small since the 702s get as low as 28hz.
 

Leftygonzo84

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Deron Dunham
I also don’t think the issue is a lack of power. Your speakers are on the high side in the efficiency department (meaning, it takes less power to get more SPL out of them). And your amplifier power is on the high side as well.

I think the issue may well be with the subwoofer. The problem is the huge size if your listening area. It takes a lot of “woofage” to pressurize something that large.

I can’t get a good read on your two subwoofers, but if one is more capable than the other – either in maximum output or extension, or both – overall system performance will be “dumbed down” to the level of the weaker sub. IOW, the system can’t go louder or lower than the weaker sub allows. If you are currently having to dial back your sub level to keep from over-driving them, that’s a tell-tale sign.

Thus, you may need to get some high-performance subs from SVS or Power Sound. Others here will likely make other suitable recommendations

That aside, improper placement of the subs could also be causing problems. It would be good to get the free Room EQ Wizard room measurement software to help know exactly what’s going on.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
Thank you for taking the time to read and reply. I think my problem here is probably placement.
I also don’t think the issue is a lack of power. Your speakers are on the high side in the efficiency department (meaning, it takes less power to get more SPL out of them). And your amplifier power is on the high side as well.

I think the issue may well be with the subwoofer. The problem is the huge size if your listening area. It takes a lot of “woofage” to pressurize something that large.

I can’t get a good read on your two subwoofers, but if one is more capable than the other – either in maximum output or extension, or both – overall system performance will be “dumbed down” to the level of the weaker sub. IOW, the system can’t go louder or lower than the weaker sub allows. If you are currently having to dial back your sub level to keep from over-driving them, that’s a tell-tale sign.

Thus, you may need to get some high-performance subs from SVS or Power Sound. Others here will likely make other suitable recommendations

That aside, improper placement of the subs could also be causing problems. It would be good to get the free Room EQ Wizard room measurement software to help know exactly what’s going on.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I’m guessing placement is my issue. I’ve walked the room and there distinct places that the subwoofers sound better in. As far as performance of the subs I have, they seem to be pretty efficient. Both are rated to go as low as 22hz, I know I can go SVS and get down to 13hz with a few models. My Sonance subwoofer is ported at 400 watts and the REL is sealed at 500 watts. I’ve tweaked them enough to try and get a similar sound out of the two of them.
 

Leftygonzo84

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Deron Dunham
Ok, yeah, kind of like my first HT that was in multiuse basement that was 28x34 but with irregular opening to one side going to 40 ft….
It was hard to correct as speakers were out of position.
Now, to your room. Is your viewing line along 20’ or across the room so effective 13.5’ “length” of the viewing area?
Adding back surrounds should really help, and also are your ceiling surrounds on the side of the couch or behind?
I think, drawing would help everyone when chiming in.
It will be hard to go about open spaces though.
Viewing line is 13.5’ length, so it’s an awkward triangle. I attached a drawing to help simplify the information.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I was able to get great deals on both my subwoofers but neither get super low. I have toyed around with setting the fronts as large and small since the 702s get as low as 28hz.

As others suggested, I imagine better subs may be in order to better match those B&Ws for the kind of impact you're expecting.

Also, those 702s "get as low as 28hz", but can really only be expected to be +/-3db down to ~45hz (based on B&W's own specs), so probably don't go setting the crossover based on that 28hz spec. Probably 60hz would be the lowest for good crossover choice, but maybe higher would be better, particularly if you have/get better subs.

Another thing. While those 702s are rated to be 8ohm nominal, apparently, real measured impedance drops to 3-5ohm throughout substantial portions of the FR and dips down to 3ohm especially around the upper-bass region. One reliable review of your Marantz amp I saw does indicate it should handle dips to 3-4ohm fairly well although Marantz themselves do not seem to offer any rating for that 4ohm loads, so maybe the 702s are pushing the limits of the amp a little bit possibly yielding a slightly less impactful sound (particularly in the upper bass to lower midrange region) than you expected -- this may not be the top reason for what you feel underwhelming, but maybe it's one of various smaller, additive/contributing factors.



_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Hmmm... I'm not sure offhand how viable turning the setup 90 degrees is for HT, but yeah, I'd agree w/ @Wardog555 that your current setup definitely isn't ideal for best sound in general.

Generally, I'd want more space behind those 702s and maybe also slightly more separation between them as well as getting them away from the TV cabinet. Perhaps even more importantly, I'd want more space behind your listening position (or at least some good acoustic treatments), but really, more space (maybe combined w/ acoustic treatments) would probably be best since you're not only listening in stereo, but also doing surround. The rear wall reflections are likely a very significant problem.

Doesn't make much sense to spend that much on those speakers and a good amp, etc only to cripple what you possibly get out of them w/ the way arrange/set them up...

Also, somehow overlooked this earlier, but yeah, in-ceiling for the surrounds doesn't make sense either... although I suppose you might've already adjusted your expectations enough for that...

_Man_
 
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