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#138309 - 05/14/06 12:15 AM Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
johnwaterford Offline
regular

Registered: 04/11/06
Posts: 7
I have completed my installation and it sounds excellent (Pioneer 1015TX, KEF HTC6001 Center & Ci160*2Qs in-walls, Velodyne DLS 3750R S/W).
The one area I am not yet happy with is the clarity of speech (center speaker) when there is a quiet scene (whispers or soft spoken words). If I turn up the volume to hear these parts, any subsequent action scene is too loud.

I used the auto set-up feature of the Pioneer, and then created a custom configuration where I varied the level and frequency equalization of the speakers, but I am not getting the clarity I want - the center channel sounds slightly "hollow" (echo?) on the quiet scenes. There are so many variables and permutatuions that I cannot be sure what helps. Also, I tried setting the DRC (Dynamic Range Control) to different settings, but still no magic.

The Pioneer has a "Dialog Enhance" mode, which "sharpens" things, but it seems to hurt the L/R surround effects, so I do not use it.

Any suggestions for how to better optimize my configuration?

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#138310 - 05/14/06 12:23 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Be sure to turn off any equalizers with the auto-setup feature. Sometimes, the auto setup features of receivers can mess up on a few things, especially frequency. Look in your manual to turn that off, and see if it is an improvement.

I know Pioneer has one of the best auto setup features on recievers in the industry, but many still think the best tried and true way to calibrate speakers is with an SPL meter and a Test DVD. However, I'm pretty sure the reciever should have gotten the individual speaker volumes set up correctly, so you shouldn't need to worry about that.

I hope that helps .
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#138311 - 05/14/06 12:35 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10412
John, maybe the "custom configuration" that you refer to has already tried this, but note that the "formant" frequencies of speech, from roughly 500-3000Hz, contribute most strongly to intelligibility. So, if you've not already done so, besides bumping up the center channel maybe 2-3dB over what the auto calibration set, also boost those mid frequencies in the center channel maybe 3-4dB.
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Enjoy the music, not the equipment.



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#138312 - 05/14/06 07:45 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
ditcin Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 77
Loc: NY, USA
As a reviewer of dvds I noticed this problem can (sometimes) be a problem inherent in the production of a master. When the sound elements are layered and mixed they can be applied out of balance to what the original producers had in mind. This does happen more than one would expect (along with a host of other mix-up) THX is suppose to over see that this doen NOT occur - hower even they are not infalable and have had their choice screw-ups as well.
When a film master is NOT the problem I have found it is in the amps which most people use. Even in high-end amp/rec. such as Denon there is only so much they can do within the design constrants of the product. I've gone though Pioneers, Denon, Onkyo, and even Proton (remember those?). I ran into this same problem, though at different levels, on each. Having a good center speaker will of course aid in a clear and better vocal presentation - not to mention having it located at the propler location. Settings such as delay, frequency cut-off, balance, fade and volume (even optional special one like "night viewing" or dialog enhancement" can help.
My search for an amp that would fix or aid in lessening this took me to a road not many tavel.
I found that seperate amp and decoders work better. When I swithed to a Sherborn amp that has 7 amps built into a single unit this problem was gone. WIth regular amps even with 120 watts a channle there is still a sharing going on as to which channel is being allowed to use, or rather is "in need" of power on demand. This sharing or designation of power consumption is what causes the center channel to be come "confounded" or over powered by the others - so when it may seem fine during quiter moments when the L,R, SR, SL are not on the center becomes lost when they are on in any combination.
An amp like the Sherborn doesn't have that problem since each channel is seperate with a pure range of power indepentent from the other.
I no longer experience a low dialog during any part of the presentation - excepet when a disc/master has been incorrently balanced.
This is an expensive upgrade- however once you hear it demoed you'll never want to go back. It is quite a different animal in terms of presentation.
I
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#138313 - 05/14/06 09:45 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13344
Loc: Iowa
Hey John, your problem is simple, you don't use Axiom speakers. just kidding

Anyway, like the others I would say to use the Auto Setup as a good starting point, but you might want to verify things with an SPL meter from Radio Shack. I would also say to NOT use any equilizer settings in the receiver. At least with Axioms, that feature makes my Axioms sound worse on my Denon.

Now, many of us have complained about your problem with the Center channels seeming to be to low. A lot can be placement of your center. However, most of us usually bump up the dB level of the Center on the receiver by 2 or more dB's. That way, you won't have to turn up the main volume as much, which in turn cranks up all the speakers.
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#138314 - 05/14/06 09:48 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
mwc Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 958
Loc: Texas(DFW)..that country to th...
"Phantom" center channel did it for me.
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*Does your train of thought have a caboose?*

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#138315 - 05/14/06 10:38 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
Saturn Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/21/02
Posts: 1041
Loc: Toronto Ontario Canuck
Phantom center also worked better for me giving me a seemless center that matches the sound of left and right channels since it is using the same speakers. It would be nice if the center channel is the same speaker configuration as our mains but would not pass WAF.
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http://www.quadloft.com/hometheater- new HT

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#138316 - 05/15/06 09:12 AM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
mwc Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 958
Loc: Texas(DFW)..that country to th...
In reply to:

seemless center that matches the sound of left and right channels since it is using the same speakers




Amen! IMO, barring off center seating positions, center speakers are overrated.
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*Does your train of thought have a caboose?*

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#138317 - 05/16/06 04:30 PM Re: Improving Speech Clarity w Quiet Scenes
BruceH Offline
devotee

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 353
Loc: Western Canada (just)
In reply to:

The one area I am not yet happy with is the clarity of speech (center speaker) when there is a quiet scene (whispers or soft spoken words). If I turn up the volume to hear these parts, any subsequent action scene is too loud.

I used the auto set-up feature of the Pioneer, and then created a custom configuration where I varied the level and frequency equalization of the speakers, but I am not getting the clarity I want - the center channel sounds slightly "hollow" (echo?) on the quiet scenes. There are so many variables and permutatuions that I cannot be sure what helps. Also, I tried setting the DRC (Dynamic Range Control) to different settings, but still no magic.




What do you have in the way of acoustical room treatments? You may be experiencing a null in the specific frequency that sounds hollow for that particular seating location. I suspect there is only so much the receiver can do and can not address very specific acoustic room problems.

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