Do I have a problem

raglandl Posts: 11
I'm pretty familiar with home audio and video hookup, but I'm by no means an expert and this is my first experience with a premium sound system. I have a couple of questions for those of you who know more than I do. Here's my system profile: front speakers - Rti55, center - CSi30, Rear - Rt20, Sub - PS350, Receiver - Sony STR-DE685.

When I play movies in Dolby Digital and DTS everything sounds excellent with perfect highs and lows and no distortion, but it seems that during times when there is just dialog or dialog during action scenes, it gets kinda hard to here them. It seems like it should be the easiest thing to hear. Even when there's nothing else going on but talking, there seems like there is a loss of presence in their voices. This could be me just being too picky or something but it does seem like it could be some minor technicallity I have overlooked. When action scenes begin to happen, though, my center channel really kicks in, but dialog is shaky. I have to constantly regulate the volume between action and dialog. Can someone assist me with advice.

I don't know if I'll be finacially able to, but can you guys give me an opinion on what the best reciever at around $450 or under for my system would be? Much thanks.
Post edited by raglandl on


  • Frank Z
    Frank Z Posts: 5,860
    edited October 2002
    Sounds like the speaker levels are not the same. Most people try to set up their systems "By Ear" which is not the most acturate means of ensuring proper (equal) SPL levels from each speaker.

    Have you used an SPL meter to calibrate your system?
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  • gidrah
    gidrah Posts: 3,048
    edited October 2002
    Try to make sure your center is tilted toward ear level at your position.

    I have a JVC RXV-9010VBK that I'm pretty happy with. Paid around $350.
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  • raglandl
    raglandl Posts: 11
    edited October 2002
    No, I haven't used an SPL meter to calibrate my speakers. I've just set them up by ear. I do have my center channel turned up more than my other speakers to compensate, should it be at the exact level as the other speakers? I'm not as familiar with calibrating the speakers, can you expand on what you've mentioned and how I can go about doing this the right way.
  • Frank Z
    Frank Z Posts: 5,860
    edited October 2002
    You can get an SPL meter from Radio Shack for around $30.

    The idea is to use the meter to set the Sound Pressure Level for each speaker so that they are all equal. Depending on your receivers capabilities you use the pink noise generator and increase or decrease each speaker level (one at a time) until they match.

    I think that you might want to pick up a copy of the Sound&Vision Magazine Home Theater Tune-up DVD and follow along! I got mine from Media Play for $20. It will explain the process and help in the video set up arena also. Polk has the Avia disk for sale in the Polk store, it is basically the same thing, in fact both disks were made by Ovation
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  • HBombToo
    HBombToo Posts: 5,256
    edited October 2002
    When I purchased my 800i's I grabbed the csi 245 and had the same problem even after SPL settup was complete. I swapped the 245 out for the 400i and have been happy ever since.

  • danger boy
    danger boy Posts: 15,722
    edited October 2002
    My solution was similar to HbombToo's. I replaced my Energy center channel with the CS400i and it seemed to improve the center channel sound some. But a SPL meter will help out. BUt with my system too.. sometimes the center channel dialog seems way to quiet to hear. then when the music or special effects kick it. it blows my ears out. when properely set up.. there should be a nice even sound stage between your fronts and your center channel. raglandl, i too have to adjust the volume on my center every now and they to hear the dialog.
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  • raglandl
    raglandl Posts: 11
    edited October 2002
    It's not only my fronts that are really kicking in during action scenes, it's also my center channel. For instance, I'm watching We Were Soldiers at a comfortable dialog level, but then when a helicopter flies by or guns begin to ring out, all my speakers inlcuding my center really begin to sing...the center is the main thing that blasts, but I still can't hear dialog that well in and out of battle scenes. So to here a soldier give orders during a battle scene I have to turn it up so my college buddies in the next room over think we're under an aerial assault. It's actually kinda true to reality, but I would just like to hear people talking better.

    Thanks for the insights guys and keep them coming if you have anything to add. Much thanks to you guys. Also, a couple of you have mentioned the 400i as a center channel, but I don't see it anywhere on the site. Where can I take a look at it and what is the price?
  • schumach
    schumach Posts: 199
    edited October 2002
    I may have missed it, but is your center speaker at ear level, or pointing at ear level?

    You also mentioned that the center kicks in during action scenes. What do you have your speakers set at, large or small? Please list fronts, center and rears.
  • Systems
    Systems Posts: 14,873
    edited October 2002
    There's another possibility--even though your movies come with fancy labels like 5.1 and DTS on them, perhaps many of the people who mix the soundtracks aren't nearly as good as HT-industry sycophants say they are.
  • raglandl
    raglandl Posts: 11
    edited October 2002
    shumach, my system profile is up at the top in my original statement. My speaker setting is on large right now and it is pointing to ear level. There seems to be little difference between switching between large and small settings though.

    Say I were to get a new receiver though what would be my best choice:

    Harmon Kardon AVR 225
    Onkyo TX-SR600
    Marantz SR4200
    Pioneer VSX-D850S

    I know all of these systems don't offer it, but I really need Component Video Switching. Which is the best to go with, or do you have any other suggestions in the same price ranges (not exceeding $500)

    Is there a place where you can get top dollar for your old recievers?
  • schumach
    schumach Posts: 199
    edited October 2002

    You should notice a difference between the large and small. I own the CS400i center and have it set to small and I notice the sound to be smoother and cleaner. Setting the speakers to small should help in the action scenes with the center speaker. It is up to you, but I think you might get better sound setting all speakers to small and letting your sub take care of the lowes. Using a SPL and setup disk will help refine the sound. You are going to get many good ideas off this forum. There is not only one right way to setup your system, you will need to try them and make your own decision.

    Your receiver choices are fine, but I would not recommend the HK 225, I think you would be better off with the HK 320 or 520. You should be able to get either of these at a good price when the 325 and 525 come out in about 1 month. Your best beat is going to be to try each receiver out with the same speakers you own. Good luck and enjoy.
  • capitan100
    capitan100 Posts: 172
    edited October 2002
    I agree. i have a cs400 and have mine set to small. It sounds a lot better when set to small compared to large. especially when playing the sacd. i also have mine bi-wired too...
    Home Theater
    Sony DA7ES 7.1 A/V Receiver
    Sony DVP-NC80V - SACD/DVD player
    CS400 - Center channel
    RT2000i - Fronts
    RT1000i - Surrounds
    a/d/s MS3/u - subwoofer
    Hitachi 62 inch HD TV

    2 Channel Room
    Niles HDL-4 Speaker Selector
    Niles HDL-6 Speaker Selector
    Sony V555ES receiver
    Sony DVP-S7700
    Polk SDA-2B
    Polk Monitor 5
    Thiel 03a
    B&W 2001 ZMF
    Signet SL-250 B/U
    a/d/s L400e
    Wharfedale Valdus 100SE
    Polk PSW 350 - subwoofer
    Pioneer Elite Big Screen
  • Dr. Spec
    Dr. Spec Posts: 3,780
    edited October 2002
    Ditto - my bi-wired CS400i has better dialogue clarity on "small", especially at high volume when other center channel sound effects are also occurring at the same time.

    A perfect example - U-571 finale when the mechanic calls the captain on the two-way from the engine room and says "stern torpedo tube ready in all respects" - on "large" I had trouble hearing what he said because that sound track has tons of bass in the center channel, and the woofers on the 400i were practically bouncing out of their baskets with other sound effects when he said that.

    On "small", the 400i speaker excursion is much less pronounced, and the sub shoulders the center channel bass load, and that particular dialogue was crystal clear.

    Also, ditto on the SPL meter and matching all speaker levels - big improvements are in store if you haven't done that yet.

    Finally, the CS400i is simply one of the best centers on the market - anyone who upgraded to it from just about anything else has been amazed with the power, room filling presence, and clarity it produces. It is essentially an RT800i in a square box - same speaker array and bass port, although I'm sure the x-over has been optimized for center channel duty.

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    Director - Technology and Customer Service
  • gtjhill
    gtjhill Posts: 1
    edited October 2002
    I own a Denon 1802 that I got open box and I am thouroughly impressed with it so far. For under 500 you aren't going to get a reciever that had component video switching. As for selling your old reciever, ebay is the way to go. People pay top dollar even for used equipment.
  • jdavy
    jdavy Posts: 380
    edited November 2002
    I agree with the members that say it is your center channel speaker. The front speakers should match. The 400 is a great or near perfect match for the 55 or 800. The other center channel is fine but better sooted for a weaker pair of front speakers.