Volume problems, please help

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matt Barbato, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Matt Barbato

    Matt Barbato Auditioning

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    I am running a Sony STR-DE835 receiver, JBL ND310 speakers for the front channel, a JBL N-Center speaker for the center channel, JBL N24 speakers for the rear channel, and a JBL 10" 150w sub. I am using regular Monster speaker wire to connect all of the speakers.

    My problem is this:

    When I watch DVDs, I constantly have the adjust the volume on the receiver to be able to hear certain things. I have to turn the volume up higher to hear the quieter parts of the movie. If I leave it at this volume, whenever a louder part comes on, it is way too loud. I can't seem to find a volume level where I can hear everything clearly. I have played with all of the settings on the receiver, but nothing seems to help.

    Does this problem sound familiar to anyone? I would really appreciate some feedback on this.

    Thanks much.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    There's nothing wrong with your setup. Movies have a wide dynamic range by design, and that often creates the problem you're experiencing when you move to a home environment.

    Look on your receiver for a setting called "dynamic range compression". It might also be called "night time listening" or something similar. Activating that setting should "smooth out" the volume extremes in any Dolby Digital soundtrack.

    M.
     
  3. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hi matt -
    welcome to htf. [​IMG]
    one thing that may help is to ensure that all your speakers are calibrated.
    what you're trying to do is ensure that the same volume is coming out of all your speakers. to do this, it helps to purchase a radio-shack spl (sound pressure level) meter and a calibration dvd.
    here's a really good thread on that subject:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=53296
    if you don't feel like buying the additional gear yet, you can still use the receivers test-tones and do a "best-guess" by ear.
     
  4. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    That rec. should have some sort of compression, midnight mode, etc.

    That should do it. DVD's dynamic range is such that it is possible for engineers to blow us out of our seats...

    Also, are you calibrated? SPL meter-style?

    If not, your center may not be 'hot' enough. Or overall balance is off enough to make the sound unmanageable.

    - CM
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Matt,

    Just like the others have suggested- proper calibration of speaker levels might help you overcome the problem. Often, dialog is primarily in the center channel-- and if that speaker would be too low in volme- dialog might be hard to hear.

    You need to get two very important tools for creating a quality HT:

    A test DVD (like AVIA or VIDEO ESSENTIALS)

    and a RADIO SHACK SOUND PRESSURE METER.

    With the test patters provided on a good calibration disc and a Sound Pressure meter- you can set all 6 channels in your system to identical levels- just like they were in the facility where the film was mixed. This will insure that the dialog is at the level that the engineer instended, when compared to all the other effects.

    In other words, this might help get the center channel on the same volume level with the other speakers, and may increase dialog clarity as a result.

    And secondly- if this calibration doesn't help- you might consider auditioning a better center channel speaker. Budget center speakers are often choked and sound muffled- making dialog hard to understand unless really really loud.

    Third, after you have your speakers calibrated and think your Center is clear enough- it might just be an issue of you personally disliking dynamic range.

    There is quite a lot of variable between the loudest and quietest sounds on a DVD soundtrack. Because the format is digital- it has a low noise floor, allowing better dynamic range- which filmmakers exploit. Avg dialog levels are 30 db lower than the maximum allowable signal- meaning that effect sounds are able to get many times louder than the dialog level.

    You can try a compression setting on your receiver (called Dynamic Range Compression, DRC, or MIDNIGHT MODE)- which will keep the loud parts from being quite so loud.

    Or you could consider going back to a compressed audio source, like VHS for example- where the dynamics are squashed.

    But first, I would try a calibration of your system- you might find that with proper levels that everything is okay.

    -Vince
     
  6. Matt Barbato

    Matt Barbato Auditioning

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    Thanks a lot for your help. I think I will try AVIA and an SPL meter and take it from there. :)
     

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