Vp 150 and Vp180 question

Posted by: gianquittia

Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/07/10 07:48 PM

I have the VP150 with two M60s, ep500, and 4 qs8. I have run the MCACC with front align, symmetry, and all around settings. I also had a professional calibrate my speakers with some software and SPL meter. With all ways, the professional way sounded simply stunning for sound effects and music. I have one problem with all MCACC methods and professional method. I can hear the VP150 dialogue amazing sometimes, then other times I am wondering what the "F" did he/she just say. Some places I have problems hearing dialogue that I have noticed so far are all Lord of the Rings extended DVDs in DTS. When there isn't much sound effects/music going on I can usually make the dialogue out well, but when the craziness begins I sometimes can't understand dialogue. During the storm scene in Master and Commander I have problems. I have noticed in spots with limited sound effects also in a lot of movies. All speakers were adjusted for sound level using an SPL meter. So it isn't because the other speakers are drowing the center out. I hear dialogue, just don't understand what they are saying. I then run through every MCACC setting I have set up, and it changes a bit, but not crystal clear like I would like. Does anyone else have this problem? I am going to trade in the VP150 for the VP180 in hopes that the new speaker can fix the problem, but it would make me feel better if others are experiencing similar issues with the 150. Other than that these speakers are amazing.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/07/10 07:49 PM

I suspect that it's much more of a problem with how the movies are mastered.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/07/10 08:16 PM

Many people bump the center channel level up a couple of dB above the level of the rest of their speakers for just this reason. Usually, movies are mixed pretty well, but some TV shows are now mixing dialog lower and letting actors talk "under their breathe" for a feeling of "realism". Of course, reality shows have uneven audio sometimes due to their somewhat unpredictable miking needs. Some audio engineer are caught up in the "make everything louder than everything else" style of mixing, leaving vocals and narration lower in the mix.

Try raising the center 2dB at your receiver, and it'll likely help voices rise a bit above the din.

Of course, initial accounts are that the VP180 wouldn't be a mistake, either! \:\)
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/07/10 09:50 PM

Anthony, on occasion the mains are in fact drowning out the center channel dialog, but it isn't because the calibration is incorrect. Some center channel dialog in movies is mixed too low and when a lot is going on in the other channels, the dialog can't be heard clearly over it. The center channel can be bumped up 3-4dB in those situations, but then they're too loud in other situations if they're not turned back down.
Posted by: gianquittia

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/07/10 10:11 PM

Thank you for all the replies. I'll try bumping the center up a few decibels.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 02:45 PM

Speaker placement can be a very big issue. Do you have any pictures? Do you have any flexibility about how the center channel is positioned?
Posted by: alan

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 02:48 PM

Hi,

Yes, I frequently bump up the center by 3 dB or more if the program has murky dialog intellibility.

Try +4 dB and I think you'll hear every word.

Regards,
Alan
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 03:25 PM

I wish AVR's and RF remotes had an easy way to do this, but for Pioneer and 1100 remote, you have to pause the movie, make about 6 button presses to enter MCACC home menu, then go about 3 menus more deeper, make the changes, then about 10 more button presses to exit MCACC and reset the remote to where you need it, then press play. After doing this a few times, a little soft dialog doesn't seem so bad.
Posted by: gianquittia

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 05:08 PM

 Originally Posted By: CatBrat
I wish AVR's and RF remotes had an easy way to do this, but for Pioneer and 1100 remote, you have to pause the movie, make about 6 button presses to enter MCACC home menu, then go about 3 menus more deeper, make the changes, then about 10 more button presses to exit MCACC and reset the remote to where you need it, then press play. After doing this a few times, a little soft dialog doesn't seem so bad.


Hey Catbrat,
You can copy your MCACC setting to a different MCACC # and up the decibels on that one, so then you just have to switch your MCACC number without going into any menus.
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 05:28 PM

Yeah, your right. I used to use them for something else I don't use anymore, so, yeah, good idea. Thanks.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 07:28 PM

Denon allows this with their remotes, the main center button acceses their speaker levels and it is just a matter of a few clicks and you are done.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 07:29 PM

Heck, it's a few clicks with my H/K, miraculously. Of course, with the Harmony remote, each click takes about 500 years, but there we are.
Posted by: bdpf

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 09:57 PM

Yes, I know what you mean, I have the same problem. Some movies, everything is OK but some others, when it's just dialog, I can barely hear it and then some effects come and the hole house rumbles. At first, I only had the M80s so I thought that it was because I had no center channel, then I bought the VP150 and nothing really improved. So far, what I used to do was to turn Dynamic Volume ON and that way the volume of the dialog is raised. The down side of that is that now the volume of the effects is lowered.
As other suggested, I tried increasing the volume of the center but I find myself having to increasing by +6/7/8 dB. Is that normal. Also Do you guys change the level every time when the movie is poorly mixed and then change it back? I find this a bit annoying.
I seat about 7/8ft from the speakers and after running Audyssey, the channel levels are set as FL -5dB, FR -5.5dB, Center -8dB.
Why is the center set by Audyssey much lower than the mains? Shouldn't it be actually set the same or higher since it cannot produce the same SPLs? In some movies, I find that I have to set the center sometimes up to 0db,
Another question is do these values seem correct or should they be closer to 0dB? What is for example the -5.5dB referenced to?
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/08/10 10:42 PM

At least after I reprogrammed my RF remote, it only takes a couple of button presses now. I set them at 1/2 db increments from MCACC # 1 through 6, but I'm going to redo it a 1 db increments instead.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/09/10 03:24 PM

 Originally Posted By: bdpf

I seat about 7/8ft from the speakers and after running Audyssey, the channel levels are set as FL -5dB, FR -5.5dB, Center -8dB.
Why is the center set by Audyssey much lower than the mains? Shouldn't it be actually set the same or higher since it cannot produce the same SPLs? In some movies, I find that I have to set the center sometimes up to 0db,
Another question is do these values seem correct or should they be closer to 0dB? What is for example the -5.5dB referenced to?


Bdpf, there are no "correct" values. Those levels are simply adjustments, not actual volume levels. Those adjustments are made by Audyssey so that you DO get the same SPL at the main listening position. So the -8dB centre level setting would indicate that your centre speaker is actually ~3dB louder than your mains.

If you're not sure about the settings then your best bet is to double check them with an SPL meter. Or, you can disable Audyssey altogether and just use the SPL meter and make the adjustments manually. Either way, after you've level matched your speakers, simply adjust the centre speaker up or down to your own liking. If/when you come across material with poorly mixed centre channel content you may need to adjust again, no real way around that unfortunately \:\(
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/09/10 03:35 PM

 Originally Posted By: bdpf
Yes, I know what you mean, I have the same problem. Some movies, everything is OK but some others, when it's just dialog, I can barely hear it and then some effects come and the hole house rumbles. At first, I only had the M80s so I thought that it was because I had no center channel, then I bought the VP150 and nothing really improved. So far, what I used to do was to turn Dynamic Volume ON and that way the volume of the dialog is raised. The down side of that is that now the volume of the effects is lowered.
As other suggested, I tried increasing the volume of the center but I find myself having to increasing by +6/7/8 dB. Is that normal. Also Do you guys change the level every time when the movie is poorly mixed and then change it back? I find this a bit annoying.
I seat about 7/8ft from the speakers and after running Audyssey, the channel levels are set as FL -5dB, FR -5.5dB, Center -8dB.
Why is the center set by Audyssey much lower than the mains? Shouldn't it be actually set the same or higher since it cannot produce the same SPLs? In some movies, I find that I have to set the center sometimes up to 0db,
Another question is do these values seem correct or should they be closer to 0dB? What is for example the -5.5dB referenced to?


My prediction is Audyssey raped your system. You should double check those numbers with an SPL metre for an accurate calibration of your system. If you are too lazy to do that, disable auddyssey, and re-calibrate everything by ear, try boosting all the numbers relative to each other to start or start each speaker at 0 and go from there. I suspect the readings are off.
Posted by: bdpf

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/09/10 10:34 PM

Thanks Dr. It's not that I'm lazy, I just don't have a SPL meter yet. I thought from what I read that Audyssey would be doing a good job. I'll buy one and double check. As for disabling Audyssey all together, doesn't Audyssey adjusts to proper EQ as well on top of channel leveling? I think it might do a better job at EQing than I would.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/09/10 10:43 PM

Yes, Bruno; Audyssey does room EQ which you can't do at all by yourself, and as for the calibration aspect, it's unlikely that someone manually calibrating with the aid of an SPL meter would get results as accurate as the auto-calibration, considering the added element of human error.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/09/10 10:52 PM

Preferably I would recommend an SPL meter for calibrating your speakers. As for Audyssey EQ I would recommend you turning it off initially to eliminate as many variables as possible as to what could contribute to dialogue problems. If you decide to re-calibrate with an SPL meter try some listening with both auddyssey turned on and off and see which setting you like better.

Another thing to check is to make sure all drivers are working properly on your VP150.
Posted by: bdpf

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/10/10 10:07 AM

Thanks John and Dr. It's interesting to see how you guys have different approaches. I will definitely buy a SPL meter at least just to double check Audyssey's settings.
I there a way, without spending tons of money on equipment, to measure the frequency response in my room. I remember seeing in some thread people being able to create a graph of their frequency response for their sub. I would like to do something similar for my fronts.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/10/10 11:01 AM

 Originally Posted By: bdpf
Thanks John and Dr. It's interesting to see how you guys have different approaches. I will definitely buy a SPL meter at least just to double check Audyssey's settings.
I there a way, without spending tons of money on equipment, to measure the frequency response in my room. I remember seeing in some thread people being able to create a graph of their frequency response for their sub. I would like to do something similar for my fronts.



Here is a quote from Jim Salk that I like very much. He runs Salk Signature sound. I take more of tradationalist approach that falls more in line with manufacturers that produce quality speakers.

 Originally Posted By: salk

OK...here are a few randomly related thoughts.

Imagine this scenario...

We work very hard to turn out an absolutely gorgeous pair of speakers. The owner, wanting to get the best performance possible out of them, rushes out and purchases a Radio Shack SPL meter. He locates a table of calibration corrections on the internet and carefully makes measurements, applies the corrections and plots a graph. It looks terrible. He thought the speakers sounded great when they arrived, but the measurements indicate something is terribly amiss. He contacts us in panic. His speakers are certainly defective and he has the graphs to prove it.

"How do they sound?", I ask? "They sound fine," he responds.

If he had just avoided that Radio Shack purchase, he could blissfully enjoy his speakers. The problem isn't with his speakers. The problem is with his measurements. But at least on a temporary basis, it ruins his listening experience.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence and one we have had to deal with far more often than we would like.

Here's another...

A person uses a speaker measuring system to measure his speakers. The bass response is terrible! It falls off early and there are ugly peaks and valleys in the response. There must be something dramatically wrong.

So I ask how the measurement was done. He indicates it was done at the listening position. He goes on to say that no matter where in the room he takes the measurements, the graphs vary somewhat, but not that much. There is clearly a problem.

I explain to him that he was measuring the room. Unless you take near field measurements at the driver, there is no way to obtain accurate measurements below about 200Hz. If the measurement times are long enough to measure the bass response from the listening position, you are also measuring the room.

Room measurement tools like REW (and even a Radio Shack SPL meter) can be very useful in terms of optimizing your room. But they will not provide an accurate indication of the performance of a speaker. For that you need a quality speaker measurement system and a well-calibrated measurement microphone. And you also need a good bit of time to learn proper techniques for using these tools.

Too often, these tools do more harm than good. Improper measurement technique and a failure to understand how these tools work can cause you to needlessly lose confidence in your audio equipment.

As long as I am on a roll, I might mention reservations I have with all the new room EQ functions in receivers these days. I can't tell you how many times I have asked customers to turn off the EQ function and just use the speakers as they are. In almost every case, they reported a dramatic improvement in performance.

This would not seem to make sense. Here we have a magic electronic gadget that can correct for any flaw in the speakers/room and do it at the listening position. But all too often, it simply doesn't work.

On quite a few occasions, I have used DEQX (a very powerful and capable system) to apply a simple correction to a single loudspeaker. In other words, I was not using it as a crossover, just using it to measure and correct for anomalies in the speaker performance. In almost every case, the speaker performed far better without the corrections.

IMO, the only thing an automated receiver EQ system should be used for is to deal with room modes. It should not touch the signal above, say, 100Hz. The only thing it can do at higher frequencies is screw things up. I am very confident that the speakers we produce have absolutely no need for correction. There simply isn't anything to correct.

Any issue that does require correction is room-related. Changing speaker performance in order to deal with poor room acoustics is, plain and simple, a very bad idea.

The right technology, applied correctly, can be extremely beneficial in achieving great system performance. But sometimes technology can be a curse. It seems like every major receiver manufacturer today is offering an auto-EQ function. This may be great marketing, but in many cases, it is a terrible use of technology. Others may disagree with this advice, but if you have a function such as this on your receiver, please turn it off. In most cases, you will be a lot happier.

End of diatribe.

- Jim


Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/10/10 11:56 AM

Great stuff, Dr. House. Thanks for posting it. Jim Salk is a cool guy; I met him at the Oregon Coast GTG last fall.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/10/10 01:12 PM

Agreed. It's great to hear speaker makers' opinions -- especially when they're articulate. \:\)
Posted by: fredk

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/10/10 06:20 PM

 Quote:
IMO, the only thing an automated receiver EQ system should be used for is to deal with room modes. It should not touch the signal above, say, 100Hz. The only thing it can do at higher frequencies is screw things up.

And that about says it all. Higer in the spectrum, you use absorbtion and diffusion (IF you choose to do anything at all) to deal with any sereous anomalies.

I am a fan of REW, but only use its output to equalize the lower bass frequencies.
Posted by: bdpf

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/13/10 12:39 AM

I haven't bought a SPL meter yet but have listened to some music with the EQ On and OFF and have to say that for now, I prefer with the EQ ON. This might be due to the fact that my room is very bad for acoustic. 20 x 11 ft, hardwood floors (I still need to buy a rug) and plain walls with no curtains. So even if in general it's not a good idea to modify the speakers performance to compensate for a bad room, in my case, it seems to help... Or I am might already be used to the sound, I don't know...
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/13/10 08:17 AM

I have a similarly sized room 17 x 11.5 with curtains and a rug and I still prefer EQ on.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/13/10 09:22 AM

 Originally Posted By: bdpf
I haven't bought a SPL meter yet but have listened to some music with the EQ On and OFF and have to say that for now, I prefer with the EQ ON. This might be due to the fact that my room is very bad for acoustic. 20 x 11 ft, hardwood floors (I still need to buy a rug) and plain walls with no curtains. So even if in general it's not a good idea to modify the speakers performance to compensate for a bad room, in my case, it seems to help... Or I am might already be used to the sound, I don't know...


Will the auto EQ effect sound quality? Yes it will. Ultimately it is up to the end user and what he/she prefers. There is no right or wrong answer despite strong opinions on both sides of the argument. If you like what Audyssey did leave it on.
Posted by: casey01

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/13/10 01:42 PM

As "Dr. House" states, in the end, your ears will be the arbiter of what sounds good to you and what doesn't. It is interesting to note that in reading the comments from Jim Salk, it would seem that the folks at Axiom aren't the only ones that aren't too thrilled about the use of these Auto EQ functions built in to modern day AVRs and Pre-Pros.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Vp 150 and Vp180 question - 06/13/10 02:02 PM

 Originally Posted By: casey01
As "Dr. House" states, in the end, your ears will be the arbiter of what sounds good to you and what doesn't. It is interesting to note that in reading the comments from Jim Salk, it would seem that the folks at Axiom aren't the only ones that aren't too thrilled about the use of these Auto EQ functions built in to modern day AVRs and Pre-Pros.


Yes casey01. Alan has made similar comments in the past that mirror those opinions posted by Mr. Salk regarding Auto EQ. From a customer service/troubleshooting standpoint alone I can understand why speaker manufacturers would be hesitant to recommend using such features.