Speakers at high volume - HARSH!

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Joe Blech, Jun 4, 2004.

  1. Joe Blech

    Joe Blech Stunt Coordinator

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    OK,
    There has been a lot of posts relating to this that I have seen, but I just wanted to get some additonal and more specific opinions. I am currently watching movies on a Mits WS-55413 and am using a Denon 3802 to power some less than optimal speakers. Cerwin Vega center (6 or 7 years old, I think I originally paid about $170) and two Technics 12" 3 way floorstanding speakers and a REALLY overworked Costco sub that goes, yes, folks, ALL THE WAY DOWN to 42Hz! With no problem. Please note excessive sarcasm.

    When scenes in movies start getting loud, I am a total remote in hand volume changer. Mostly for my GF's sake ("Turn it down!"). However, when I am at the local theater or in a demo room at the local HT store, I can play LOUD and my reaction is "That sounds good!" However, at my house, my reaction is "Ouch! My ears! Harsh!" My speakers are not distorting, they just sound strained.
    I am planning in the next couple weeks to upgrade to B&W's 700 line with 704 's in the front and the 700 series center, and an SVS PB2+.

    OK, here's my quesiton. Will my new setup allow me to play at louder levels (-20 to -10) with less ear bleeding? I know this may be an obvious question, but I would love to feel confident that my money invested will allow me to have a system that I can CRANK and say "Wow!" rather than covering my ears. Thanks, guys.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Different people react different ways to different speakers. Your reaction is similar to the reaction of many people who do not like Klipsch speakers. While I cannot predict what your ears will hear, I would say there's a VERY good chance you'll be able to go very loud with the B&W's paried with a Denon and not be bothered by the highs at all. B&W's are not known for being harsh at all and Denon is usually considered a fairly warm receiver. Sounds like you're going to have a great setup here in a few weeks. Good luck with it.
     
  3. Mike SJ

    Mike SJ Supporting Actor

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    ...
     
  4. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Joe,

    "My speakers are not distorting, they just sound strained."

    I can sympathize with what you're saying but that strained harsh sound is probably the speakers distorting. The other thing which is much less likely is that the system (because of the speakers/room) has a somewhat agressive sound that you notice more at high levels. If the tone changes for the worse when you turn it up, it's definitely the speakers. I couldn't say how much better the B&W speakers will be at that, but if you're happy with the way they sound at a shop, they shouldn't be much worse in your room. Don't worry about it until you've got that new system set up and running for a while.
     
  5. Joe Blech

    Joe Blech Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, I shouldn't have said they aren't distorting. I'm sure they are are. I am so excited to get some decent low frequency reinforcement! I have had that KLH sub for so long and have never heard an SVS. I can't wait! My room is about 2000 cubic feet (12 X 20 X 8) and I think the PB2+ will be sufficient. Also, being a little different question, will I notice a significant improvement if I upgrade to a Rotel receiver (maybe a 1055 or a 1065) or if I were to upgrade to a pre/pro amp combo?
     
  6. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    If you're dealer is cool he/she might let you bring your denon into the shop and compare vs. the rotel. Lot's of people think rotel and b&w are the perfect match, but it may not be worth the expense to upgrade.

    Another quick question about the harshness. You're got a medium-sized room . . . how are the acoustics? Do you have carpet or hard floor? Lots of furniture and/or wall coverings? If you've got lots of hard surfaces your sound may not be as harsh if you can absorb some of the sound waves. Good luck with everything.
     
  7. BRADH

    BRADH Auditioning

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    Joe,

    Do you notice it on music as well or just movies? If its just on movies you can try using THX for movies or something like that if your Denon doesnt have THX it may help.
    Brad
     
  8. William*E

    William*E Extra

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    IMHO, you need to look for clarity, NOT loudness. Just because it's loud it doesn't mean it sounds good. Clarity is what you need to aim for.
     
  9. Joe Blech

    Joe Blech Stunt Coordinator

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    Interesting points! Thanks for your responses! I will try and improve the acoustics of the room a little. The only thing in the room is the TV and some leather couches and the entire floor is tile. I will try an area rug and see if that makes a difference!
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    In my case, I would offer that in many cases, its the sound of the recording, more so than the gear (assuming its not crap gear to start with) that determines how loud I can crank any given material. (For background, I run B&W Series 1 600's (604, 601, CC6) via a NAD 762.

    If the recording is in any way harsh or bright in the highs, my ears start complaining at a lower volume than they would be if it were a smoother recording.

    And having speakers that have a bright treble such as Klipsch, will make that effect more prominent at lower volumes.

    I have some recordings that I can push to absurd levels and they just make me want to push it even louder. A good example would be the SACD of Aerosmith Toys in the Attic. Its not a bright recording to start with, the SACD version is really smooth sounding, and thus the volume knob heads straight for 11!

    Another anecdote I will offer is this. I recently added a decent turntable to my rig. A very good LP I own is Dire Straits "Love Over Gold". Playing the vinyl, I can crank it, and it just asks for more. A very, very clean, smooth recording. Makes you wonder why people buy CD's[​IMG]

    As a comparison, I bought the most recent remaster on CD. This is a damn good CD in its own right, and compared back to back with my mint LP at moderate volumes, the CD sounds to be a bit crisper (and obviously free of any snap, crackle and pop!).

    But once the volume knob starts heading north, I find that I reach a point with the CD where the highs just start to seem a bit harsh. But the LP? No way...smooth to the point where I fear for my speakers and my ears.

    Many movie soundtracks are known to be a bit bright (thats what THX post-processing is all about), but if you observe the problem with ALL content, then I guess its safe to say its a gear problem.

    BGL
     

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