Two-Channel "Balance Skewing" Issue... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 04-12-2013, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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In my two-channel rig (separate from my 5.1-channel setup), I am running an Onkyo TX-8555 stereo receiver which is powering a pair of Infinity Primus 363 tower speakers. Even with my balance knob on the receiver set to its detent center position, there is a heavy "leaning" or bias towards the left speaker; I am absolutely sure the cables are not the issue (I'm using good quality interconnects from an internet-only brand, the name of which escapes me at the moment...along the lines of Blue Jeans Cables... between the sources such as my Marantz CC4001 CD changer, TASCAM CD recorder and Numark CD mixing unit), nor are the speaker cables (Monster navajo whites) -- also curious is the fact that the previous speakers I had in this system, a pair of Polk R20 bookshelves, also exhibited this "bias-to-the-left" behavior, leading me to believe it's something inside the receiver...

Could this be my room arrangement...or does it sound more like a blown amp channel problem (which I PRAY it isn't because I really like this stereo receiver)? If I move the receiver's balance control towards the right side, it seems like it slightly balances the sound -- but I need to REALLY jack it over pretty far to that side to get some kind of reaction, which seems really odd to me...

The reason why I bring up my room arrangement is because this system is set up in an upstairs loft area, and because of room layout, my rack is in a corner opposite my recliner which is the primary listening seat...the Primus speakers flank the Bell'O rack, but they too are toed inward towards the listening chair, with the left speaker close to a wall and the right not so close to a wall...I have read that this kind of arrangement can lead to a perceived "skewing" of balance in a system, but my problem sounds pretty extreme, quite frankly, to be caused by this...

What could be causing this "bias-to-the-left-speaker" issue even when my receiver's balance knob is centered? Is it common for two-channel setups to "favor" one channel in terms of balance, as some of my old stereo setups used to? Outside of using the balance knob to steer the audio more towards the right to get more of a balanced, focused image, is there anything else that can be suggested?

Thank you for any assistance, in advance...

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post #2 of 46 Old 04-12-2013, 09:46 PM
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It can very well be the room. If your room isn't perfectly symmetrical, than can happen. I needed to install room treatments in both of my listening rooms to correct the problem.

Mike
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post #3 of 46 Old 04-12-2013, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Face2 View Post

It can very well be the room. If your room isn't perfectly symmetrical, than can happen. I needed to install room treatments in both of my listening rooms to correct the problem.

Hello, Face, and thank you for the prompt reply! I used to reside in Long Isle; what part are you in?

As for your suggestion, I'm thinking the room layout is part of the problem -- but what concerns me is the fact that when I move my balance control knob to the right, the right speaker doesn't get all that much more pronounced until almost at the extreme end of the knob...wouldn't this indicate something is wrong with the RIGHT amp channel of this receiver?

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post #4 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 06:43 AM
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I would swap the left and right speaker cables and see if the problem switches to the other side. ..If so, then you have a problem with your amp. ..If not, then perhaps you've damaged one of the speakers. ...I very much doubt the problem is due to the room.
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post #5 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 01:31 PM
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My room is the problem in my case. I have 7 amps and all pull to the right leading me to believe I'm either going deaf in the left ear or the left wall absorbs the reflection as it is not a hard surface.

I use the balance control. A little balance is not the worst thing in the world.
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post #6 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

I would swap the left and right speaker cables and see if the problem switches to the other side. ..If so, then you have a problem with your amp. ..If not, then perhaps you've damaged one of the speakers. ...I very much doubt the problem is due to the room.

Thanks Syd...

The thing is, I do not think this has ANYTHING to do with my speakers, as I purchased them brand new, in the box, during Fry's legendary "$200 per pair" sale on the Infinity Primuses just this past Memorial Day -- they have NOT been driven hard, nor were they damaged in any way when my wife were bringing them home, at least...

And, as I had stated in my original post, this same "bias-to-the-left" behavior was going on with the last set of speakers that the Infinitys replaced, Polk R20 bookshelves...

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post #7 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelkingdom View Post

My room is the problem in my case. I have 7 amps and all pull to the right leading me to believe I'm either going deaf in the left ear or the left wall absorbs the reflection as it is not a hard surface.

I use the balance control. A little balance is not the worst thing in the world.

Thank you for your input, Michael.

Are you referring to a HI-FI/two-channel setup? You drive SEVEN amps in your system?

What you describe sounds like what is going on with my particular setup -- but it's so strange, because the effect of this "balance lean" is REALLY noticeable, and it shouldn't make sense that the ROOM is causing such a dramatic sweep like this...

Regardless, the speaker that sounds "lower" is the RIGHT tower, and this is the one farthest away from a solid structure/wall -- my rack and the two tower Infinitys flanking it is in a corner, so one speaker (the LEFT) sits near the wall, while the other (the RIGHT) is away from the wall...could this POSSIBLY be skewing the perception of balance when the balance knob on the stereo receiver is in the center detent position?

If that's the case, why does it take aggressive rotating of the balance knob towards the RIGHT to get the soundstage to even SOMEWHAT come into balance? I mean, I almost have to rotate the balance knob all the way to the extreme right to get that speaker to "keep up" with what's coming out of the left....doesn't this sound more like a blown amp channel problem?

At any rate, I will take what you suggest with regard to the balance into serious consideration; if you say I can turn the knob that far over to the right just to balance the stage and it's okay to do so in my situation, I will do it...

Thanks again.

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post #8 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 05:45 PM
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Using balance is a quick fix and not a bad one in my opinion. As you get pickier about 2-channel, you will will want to solve the issue without aggressive balance control. What is happening is the sound is bouncing off your right wall back at you, whereas the sound on your left is escaping into the space and not coming back at you.

You can looking into room correction devices. Behringer deq2496 is a dac/eq/room correction device. Harman Kardon as well as other AVR companies offer room correction in their machines.

However, it is all about if it sound good to you. If you use the balance and you are fine, then be happy. If using the balance still is problematic because the center image is lean on one side and you are not content, then room correction or moving your system might be the next step.
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post #9 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, Michael, I just played around with the DIRECT mode on my Onkyo 8555, and to my ear, it did not sound any different than running the receiver's amp in plain STEREO mode, with bass, treble and balance centered. I put in a well-mastered disc, Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape, into the Marantz CD changer, and cranked the receiver's volume up to about "37" on the absolute volume scale; in DIRECT and STEREO, it sounded the same, pretty much, with the same separation characteristics...though, my ears could be fooling me...

At this point, I am going to run the system in STEREO mode, continuing to leave bass, treble and balance in the center positions -- but I wanted to clear something up with you regarding your suggestion of what is going on with this phenomenon...

The issue I'm having is with the LEFT channel speaker sounding LOUDER and more prominent than the RIGHT one -- but the left speaker is the one CLOSER to a wall; the right speaker is more "out in the open" or farthest away from its wall compared to the left one...do you still suggest that the sound is "bouncing" in the direction you dictated based on this...and do you still concede that this is causing the "off balance" issue with the system?

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post #10 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 09:33 PM
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If you want to know if the room is causing the imbalance on volume between left and right speaker there is a simple test you can do: leave everything wired exactly as it is now. Put the right speaker where the left speaker is now, and the left speaker where the right speaker is now. If the room is the culprit, the problem will persist .
If the problem changes, you will need to do some further investigation.
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post #11 of 46 Old 04-13-2013, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2obed View Post

If you want to know if the room is causing the imbalance on volume between left and right speaker there is a simple test you can do: leave everything wired exactly as it is now. Put the right speaker where the left speaker is now, and the left speaker where the right speaker is now. If the room is the culprit, the problem will persist .
If the problem changes, you will need to do some further investigation.

Thanks, obed...

Wouldn't this be the equivalent, though, of the fact that the last pair of speakers that were in this system before I replaced them with the Infinitys, Polk R20s, behaved the same way?

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post #12 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 04:19 AM
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Yes, the speakers that is not being bounced off a wall will be quieter. Imagine talking to someone in an elevator vs talking to them on the beach at the same volume. The elevator voice will be much more discernible because the sound is being reflected back at you from 4 walls.

On the back of the amp, try switching the L and R speaker terminal connections so that the L output is going to the R speaker and vice versa. Make sure the balance is in the center. This will rule out your amp. Since you've had this problem with other speakers, it is probably not the speakers.
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post #13 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 04:50 AM
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Try what Syd suggested, centre the balance control and swap the speaker outputs ( ie. connect the left speaker to the right channel and vice-versa). If the problem moves to the other side, there's an issue with the receiver or source.
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post #14 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelkingdom View Post

Yes, the speakers that is not being bounced off a wall will be quieter. Imagine talking to someone in an elevator vs talking to them on the beach at the same volume. The elevator voice will be much more discernible because the sound is being reflected back at you from 4 walls.

Okay, so that's why the RIGHT speaker -- further from a wall surface than the LEFT -- is coming across as "weaker"?

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post #15 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll do my best to switch the cables as suggested, fellas, but the thing is due to the way my system is set up in this room, it's REALLY difficult to get to the cabling behind the rack -- my components sit on a Bell'O open glass-shelved, L-shaped "audio tower" and the cabling is all running through "channels" cut into the left side back of the stand. To make matters worse, the setup is in a raw corner and is nearly impossible to climb behind to get to the rear of the components; believe me, this is the LAST time I choose a rack like this...aside from the benefits of ventilation because the gear is on open glass shelving, the pains this rack has attached to my experience has been nerve shattering...from thick layers of constant dust collecting to the patience-testing fishing of the cables and interconnects through the "wire management" side channels...

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post #16 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Okay, so that's why the RIGHT speaker -- further from a wall surface than the LEFT -- is coming across as "weaker"?

Yes. Reflection.
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post #17 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 06:40 PM
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okay... well then keep the cables where the are and switch the speakers. ..If the problem follows the speaker, it's the speaker. ..If it doesn't, it's likely the amp or (quite unlikely) a faulty speaker cable or banana plug (or whatever you use).

Again... it should be pretty easy to isolate the culprit of the problem.
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post #18 of 46 Old 04-14-2013, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Thanks, obed...

Wouldn't this be the equivalent, though, of the fact that the last pair of speakers that were in this system before I replaced them with the Infinitys, Polk R20s, behaved the same way?

It would not be the equivalent: if you change the speakers, you have changed a variable that does not help pin point the problem. If other speakers show the same problem of uneven volume between the channels, then the problem could still be the room, or the amp, or the cables, or a connection, or the source, or the interconnects, or the connection of the interconnects, or...??? So you will want to change only one variable at a time, but you also have to make sure that the variable you change can eliminate a specific potential problem area.
If you have several different sources that all exhibit the same problem in relative volume between the L & R speakers, then it is probable that the sources and interconnects are not the problem.
If you can rule out room interaction, you can work your way back from the speakers to the amp to identify the problem.
If room interaction is the source of the volume imbalance, you can start solving that specific problem. The balance control would be your easiest option, though for best sound reproduction it is not likely to be optimal solution.
As suggested by previous posts - change the L & R Speaker wires at the amp if the speakers / wiring are difficult to get at. If the sound does not change in your room, then your system is not the problem.
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post #19 of 46 Old 04-15-2013, 05:56 AM
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Far and away the most likely culprit is your amp. ..If the problem persists with ALL sources (e.g.., cd player AND cable box), then that rules out source components. And if a speaker was blown, then that speaker would sound very different from the other, not just less volume - it would sound muffled or very crackly. ..The chances of speaker cable / or banana plug being defective in a way that causes this problem seems unimaginable. A broken cable would result in NO sound from that channel, and a shorting cable would blow or shut down your amp, it wouldn't simply reduce volume. ..So again, it's probably your amp.
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post #20 of 46 Old 04-15-2013, 08:08 AM
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Use the receiver test tone and grab an spl meter and see what it has to tell you. The room is no doubt the issue, well rather the fact that one speaker is directly next to a wall and thus getting a dB boost while the other is not, making the right channel seem weak compared to the left.

Bill
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post #21 of 46 Old 04-15-2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrfattbill View Post

Use the receiver test tone and grab an spl meter and see what it has to tell you. The room is no doubt the issue, well rather the fact that one speaker is directly next to a wall and thus getting a dB boost while the other is not, making the right channel seem weak compared to the left.

Bill

That's my guess, too, and I've seen/heard it at work in three different rooms in my house with different equipment in each.
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post #22 of 46 Old 04-16-2013, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrfattbill View Post

Use the receiver test tone and grab an spl meter and see what it has to tell you. The room is no doubt the issue, well rather the fact that one speaker is directly next to a wall and thus getting a dB boost while the other is not, making the right channel seem weak compared to the left.

Bill
The SPL meter would rule out a hearing problem if the SPL meter confirms that one channel is indeed louder than the other. But how would the SPL meter confirm that the room is the issue rather than something else - unless you moved the speaker away from the wall and/or measured very close to each speaker?
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post #23 of 46 Old 04-17-2013, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2obed View Post

The SPL meter would rule out a hearing problem if the SPL meter confirms that one channel is indeed louder than the other. But how would the SPL meter confirm that the room is the issue rather than something else - unless you moved the speaker away from the wall and/or measured very close to each speaker?

He really needs to swap the cables at the back of the AMP and see what happens. The SPL meter is just an extra tool to utilize when trouble shooting since the ears can sometimes fool us.

Bill
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post #24 of 46 Old 04-18-2013, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, everyone, for all your assistance with this...

I think at this point, I am going to assume the problem lies with the corner-loaded positioning of this rig and either deal with the "bias-to-the-left" issue, or attempt to compensate by moving the balance knob all the way over to the right, unless anyone else can think of something we're possibly overlooking...

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post #25 of 46 Old 04-18-2013, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Additionally: With regard to the suggestion of using the receiver's "test tones" and running an SPL meter....

This is a STEREO, two-channel receiver and as such doesn't have a "speaker calibration" menu which spits out pink noise tones like a home theater multichannel receiver does (I know the differences between both, being also a home theater junkie and running a separate Onkyo 605 in my 5.1 system). Was there something else with regard to "test tones" from this stereo receiver receiver that was trying to be suggested that I simply missed?

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post #26 of 46 Old 04-18-2013, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Additionally: With regard to the suggestion of using the receiver's "test tones" and running an SPL meter....

This is a STEREO, two-channel receiver and as such doesn't have a "speaker calibration" menu which spits out pink noise tones like a home theater multichannel receiver does (I know the differences between both, being also a home theater junkie and running a separate Onkyo 605 in my 5.1 system). Was there something else with regard to "test tones" from this stereo receiver receiver that was trying to be suggested that I simply missed?

You can run test tones from an audio CD of test tones (there are even some available free for download at various sites -- you can use a search engine to look for them, and some include full-range tones, stepped tones at various frequencies, pink noise, white noise, etc.) or you can use a commercially available CD or DVD or BD for audio and/or video calibration. They work to test mere two channel systems too. I've used DVD Essentials and a SPL meter many times to verify that my 2-channel system is balanced.
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post #27 of 46 Old 04-18-2013, 03:50 PM
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I don't get it. ...Why are you so intent upon presuming the problem is room related. I mean, just how hard could it be to pull the darn amp out of the rack and swap the speaker cables! ..Yes, room acoustics can make a difference in how the volume is balanced between the left and right channel, but the difference that makes is apt to be very very subtle. ..It's not going to be so dramatic that you might question, as you have here, whether or not something is wrong with the amp. ..I'm pretty sure I could move one of my Paradigm S8's onto my patio, leave the other where it is, and still tell whether or not both speakers are receiving the same amount of current. ..It's like you want to believe it's anything but the most obvious and likely culprit - that your amp is broken, or one of your speakers is damaged.

If you simply cannot do this, then run a test tone and test the voltage at the ends of the speaker terminals. ...If the voltage is the same, then one of your speakers is damaged (or somewhat less likely a major problem w/ acoustics in your room). ..If the voltage is different, then your amp is broken.

To treat this like some tough-to-solve mystery doesn't make much sense. ..Solving this should take mere minutes.
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post #28 of 46 Old 04-18-2013, 03:56 PM
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My room acoustics problem is severe enough that the center image is in the middle of the middle and the speaker - which has been proven out by swapping every link in the chain. I would not believe it either and I have spent many hours wondering why my left "________" was broken.
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post #29 of 46 Old 04-19-2013, 03:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

...I am going to assume the problem lies with the corner-loaded positioning of this rig and either deal with the "bias-to-the-left" issue, or attempt to compensate by moving the balance knob all the way over to the right, unless anyone else can think of something we're possibly overlooking...

If you have to move the balance control completely to the right to correct the imbalance there's more going wrong than simply room issues.
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post #30 of 46 Old 04-19-2013, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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If you have to move the balance control completely to the right to correct the imbalance there's more going wrong than simply room issues.

That's what I'm beginning to think, as well...

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