Sacd/dvd-a users: is there any LOW bass in the surrounds or center?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by LanceJ, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I asked this on one of the equipment (speakers?) boards here, but no one responded.
    I'm asking because people on HTF and in person keep asking if they truly need full-range speakers all the way around, a potentially expensive and needless thing.
    When I play my dvd-audios using their DTS or DD tracks--or for that matter, any dvd movies--I've never had any rumbly low bass back there. The only dvd-audio I have that verges on doing this is my Steely Dan "Two Against Nature" disc: at my receiver's maxed-out but no distortion volume setting the surround's 5.25" woofer is barely visibly vibrating.
    I find it ludicrous to think the recording engineers expect m/c music adopters to run out and buy three more matching full-range speakers AND try to place them in a typical living room. Low bass is what the LFE channel is there for!!!
    So, has anybody's surround or center channel speaker done any rumbling lately?
    Thanks. You can answer here or in this other thread--this guy is asking about it too:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=115690
    LJ
     
  2. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Yes. More on this in a moment...
    First, I'm a little confused by your statement: "When I play my dvd-audios using their DTS or DD tracks--or for that matter, any dvd movies--I've never had any rumbly low bass back there." If you're only playing the DTS or DD tracks, then your receiver or pre-pro can handle the bass management in the digital realm, and I presume you've calibrated your system appropriately. However, you ask about DVD-A/SACD, which are wholly different and cannot be "bass managed" by the processor in your receiver or pre-pro because no digital connection can pass this signal. So, your question is not relevant wrt to DD or DTS tracks (unless your receiver or pre-pro has no bass management or very inflexible bass management), but is very, very important when it comes to high-resolution DVD-A/SACD signals.
    Second, my speakers are Swans Divas, and I have the small 2.1 bookshelves in the rear and the C3 center channel. Neither of these is capable of a full-range signal.
    Nonetheless, ever since I got my SACD player, I've been running all channels full-range. Why? In part, because the onboard bass management on my Sony C555ES is appropriate only for a "home theater in a box" speaker setup due to its wholly inapt 120Hz crossover point. But, even more than that, I'm running full-range because I'm convinced that the onboard bass management deteriorates the quality of the signal (sorta like a "downconversion"). So, despite the fact that my centers and rears were often/occasionally receiving full-range signals they could not reproduce (depending on the source material), it still sounded better than a signal processed through the Sony's onboard bass manager.
    So, back to your original question... though my tastes lean more towards classic jazz, bob dylan, and the like, I do have a few contemporary albums that go a bit deeper than my usual fare and which did cause annoying "rumbly" problems. This is mostly related to center channel information, which I've found to often go every bit as deep as the front left and right channels. For me, this usually takes the form of an upright bass positioned directly in the middle of the soundstage. The two Diana Krall SACDs provide good examples of this, particularly "When I Look In Your Eyes" which has a number of tunes where the bass is centered and also mixed "wide" (into the mains and the rears). This produced a very bloaty sounding bass that seemed everywhere - peaky, nodey, and completely overwhelming. Also, a few tracks on the Beck "Sea Change" SACD exhibited this problem in my system.
    But you or I don't need full-range speakers all around to solve it. All we need is a $199 (B stock) Outlaw ICBM-1. I got one last week, and it has solved all my issues. I now have my center crossed over at 80Hz and my rears at 60Hz and my front mains run full-range with the bass from the center and rear channels and LFE "recombined" into them. The improvement is far more than I ever imagined. The music is cleaner, more focused, with a gorgeous, rounded, "fast" bass that serves as a rock-solid foundation to the music (where before it sounded like a half-flat inner tube dragging behind).
    And suppose you don't have full-range main speakers to handle those two-channel high-resolution releases. You're also all set with the ICBM, as it will do analog bass management on two channel sources as well 6.1 channel sources, redirecting bass frequencies too low for your main speakers into your sub. (Remember: the processor on your receiver can NOT do this for SACD or DVD-A signals without downconverting them to low-resolution.) The ICBM-1 will also let you run two subs, either in mono or stereo, as well as allowing you to select from a "normal" 12db low-pass filter or a "special" THX-related 36db filter (depending on the type of sub you use). And if you're having problems with the whole 10-db bass boost issue relating to DD vs. DTS, and you can place the unit downstream from your DD/DTS processor, then there's a very handy pot where you can reduce LFE by -- you guessed it -- up to 10db!
     
  3. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I would definitely concur with the above post. I performed my bass management by getting a sub for the center and a sub for the rears.
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Now you guys made me go check on what I did a couple months ago[​IMG]! At the time I was messing with the x-over settings for my fronts (Boston Acoustics CR9's) and then as an extra experiment I played around with the rears "small" and "large" settings (no center yet: a matching Boston is $350 & I need a new TV first). That's where I formed my opinion about the rear's low bass condition.
    What I used to experiment with: Linkin Park "Reanimation"; Steely Dan "Two Against Nature" (in DTS); Silverline's New Age "Inside the Music" sampler (In DTS. This disc sounds excellent-great for demos.) especially the drum-drenched "Montezuma" track; and "Attack of the Clones".
    But this time I connected my big Bostons (8" woofers) to the rear channels. There were no fronts operating-this was so I could hear the surrounds better.
    Still no major cone movement, and this IS with no bass management (surrounds set to "large").
    But an unexpected result--the bass that was there with dvd-audio definitely sounded fuller and richer (I'm sure people are saying "Well, DUH!" but I honestly thought not much would change!). With movies: not much improvement, and I used "Attack of the Clones", my most bass-heavy dvd movie.
    Obviously, these results are with MY system and only four pieces of software. As they say, YOUR mileage may vary.[​IMG]
    LJ
     

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