Things to look for in an audition

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Merrell, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Michael Merrell

    Michael Merrell Stunt Coordinator

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    I just ordered an Outlaw 950 for evaluation. I am currently using a Sony STR-DA5ES and a Parasound HCA-855A 85Wx5 amplifier, driving a set of Swan Divas (4.1/C3/2.1) and an SVS PCi 16-46 in my 5.1 system. I am looking for suggestions on how to effectively compare the two.
    For instance, what are some scenes on various DVDs to compare? What should I be listening for?

    This sounds a little silly. If I can't tell something is better unless I'm specifically isolating out certain details, what's the point? Well, I also want to avoid the slight doubt that goes along with a decision when I do feel that one is better than the other, but can't put my finger on the reason.

    (search function is down, I'll check back later)

    Thanks,

    --Mike
     
  2. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    I wouldn't start with DVD's to help define any differences although you will likely encounter some. I know you're looking more for specific passages to serve as test material but I feel it may be more difficult to begin this way.

    Rather I would first listen to 2 channel and multi channel music. This will help you to better define any differences for yourself. Is the soundstaging wider, deeper, etc.? Are individual instruments easier to place? Is channel separation improved? Is there improvement in any of the treble/bass/midrange? Is low-level clarity improved...the high end extended? And so on...
    Any noticeable improvements using these sources will likely make their presence known with DVD.

    How are you allocating power with your current setup? I have the 855A paired with the H/K 510 but the power level similarities and the comparative differential effects on the sound are more subtle with this setup. I would expect it's pairing with the 5ES to be even more so.
     
  3. Michael Merrell

    Michael Merrell Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess I should have stated that this is a dedicated home theater setup, which is why my focus is on DVDs. You're statement regarding 2 channel performance makes a lot of sense, but I've heard it commented that the 950 is better at home theater than it is at 2 channel music, so evaluating one base of the other might not be accurate in this case.

    In any event, I guess I'm wondering if there are scenes on certain DVDs that provide examples of good sound imaging, both for sound effects and ambient sound as well as soundtrack (which could be evaluated as you outlined).

    I'm not sure I know what you mean by "allocating power". I think I get clearer sound via the amp than I do from the receiver. I haven't done any real comparison, but when I sent the amp in for service, last week, the switch to the receiver did seem different.

    In any event, I hope to compare the 5ES against the 5ES + 855A against the 950 + 855A in about a week's time. I'll adjust my equipment based on the outcome.

    Thanks for your help,

    --Mike
    (Montgomery County native)
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Michael,

    Since you're most concerned with dvd sound, it might make sense to use as a demo some scene on a disc that you are already most familiar with on your current setup, preferably one with a variety of sounds at different frequencies and also one that "showcases" different sounds from different speakers.

    I recently switched from a Sony VS333ES receiver to a Pioneer VSX45TX. I had played LOTR extended edition many times on the Sony just prior to getting the Pioneer, so it was the first disc I put in for comparison. The scene with Gandalf driving the cart into Hobbiton has lots of higher frequency birdsounds in the surrounds, the Fireworks show has lots of bass and surround effects.

    Other favorites I use have been the chapter in Titanic where they first go to full speed and there's lot's of pounding bass in the engine room scenes (chapter's titled "Ode to Titanic")

    The openning battle scene in Gladiator is also quite good and is DTS-ES discrete.

    Das Boot has many scenes with very localized surround activity during the first deep dive--creaking and dripping noises from all over the place.

    In short, I always use something I'm used to hearing on the old setup when evaluating an upgrade--if I hear stuff I didn't hear before, or if it sounds more defined or smoother, whatever, then I know I've made a good decision.
     
  5. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    Sorry...didn't mean to be unclear. I meant what is driving which speakers? All 855A? Some 5ES? Or is the 5ES purely pre/pro?

    In any event, I envy you. Either piece will serve up quality preamping. I'd be interested to hear your comparisons on the two different setups.
     

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