new sony amp; old speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-02-2012, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I just bout a new Sony str-dh720, and hooked it up to my existing Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble-IV satellite/sub speakers, and am very disappointed in the sound quality. These speakers are probably 10 or 12 years old, but sounded great connected to my even older pre-home theater amplifier. (also a Sony, but probably ~20 years old). This amp had speaker connections for surround speakers, but no center channel, and no sub-output. (had a phono input, though...which, I see has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs ). I never used the center speaker in the csw set...in fact, I just unwrapped it from the original plastic to connect it to the new system.

The subwoofer in the set is un-powered, with only speaker inputs and outputs for the front speakers, but like I said, this sounded great with the old amp.

Hooked up to the new amp, everything sounds "tinny". Its like there isn't very much power being sent through the sub. I went through the auto-calibration procedure, and it is recognizing everything correctly--2 fronts are set to "large", the other 3 are small, and no sub-woofer. From what I can tell, this is just as it should be, and it should be sending plenty of signal to the fronts, which have to go through the sub to get there...so why does it sound so crappy? I would think that one could at least reproduce the same type of setup that I had before, but even setting the speaker pattern to 2-channel stereo, with the center and surround disabled, it still sounds tinny.
The tinny sound is more pronounced on some tracks than others. One example I played, it actually sounds like something is auto-sensing and deliberately cutting back low frequency output, because the first beat of the song comes out with a deep "boom" from the sub, and then cuts back, like someone pulled the plug.
I thought maybe there was something wrong w/ the iPod setup I was using to play it, so I dug out the CD, and played that through the cd/dvd player, and the effect is exactly the same.
played a dvd that was mastered with 5.1 surround, and that sounded tinny, as well. (up-converted picture is a cool feature, though. looked better than I thought it would).


I can return this amp and buy something else, but I'm concerned that there isn't anything actually wrong with it, and this is just "the way" of modern amplifier/receiver units, and that I'll experience the same thing with any other modern amp, and the ultimate solution is to either buy a powered sub, or a whole new speaker setup.
This speaker set was fairly well-reputed in its day, and it just seems odd that it would sound at least as good as it did connected to the old amp.

what say you, audio-gurus?

thanks for any insight.

-Chuck
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-02-2012, 06:40 PM
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You could find some test tones just to confirm that bass was being handled properly. realtraps.com used to have some for free download.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-02-2012, 07:50 PM
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I had a Sony receiver a few years ago and IIRC when it was reviewed by sound & vision it only managed to put out about 28W x 5 even though it claimed to have 110WPC. A few of the other reviews on Sony entry-level receivers give off pretty similar numbers. I always felt it was underpowered, and to get the volume to an acceptable level I could hear the pre-amp hiss from 15 feet away!

According to the rear panel on the receiver it's only rated to 240watts, which is about the same as the one I had. So most likely you aren't getting much power at all.
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post #4 of 19 Old 01-02-2012, 09:59 PM
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You don't need much power to get pretty loud. And ACD tests don't fully explain how things work with actual material.

That being said, if it's a budget receiver, it will have definite limitations. And near as I can tell, that's very much a budget receiver. What do you expect for $200? (The price I saw online.)

I still think you should run some tests to see what's happening with bass response. Even with a budget receiver, you should still get bass response.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:29 AM
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Either something in the settings is off, or the unit is defective. I have the Sony dh-810 and I have no problems powering my five supposedly power hungry Pioneer speakers and Outlaw subwoofer. Try resetting to default settings and start over.
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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What do I expect for a budget receiver? to work at least as well as the 20 year old budget receiver it replaced.

I did re-do the setup. I can't seem to make it not sound tinny.

Its not a matter of not being "loud" enough; its plenty loud. just sounds like 5 little cube speakers.
there is some sound coming from the sub; its just less than it should be. I just don't understand how so much that comes out of the fronts, that has to get there by passing through the sub, could result in so little low end.
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:00 PM
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Set all your speakers to small. The subwoofer will play more bass.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:04 PM
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Which is why I said start with running bass test tones through system. I see no obvious way to start getting at root of problem until problem is better understood.

If for example, bass stops around 100 hz, either you never had great bass to begin with, or something is setup wrong, or not working right.

So I really strongly suggest you do some troubleshooting and post back here what you find.

I have never worked with passive sub/sat system. I am assuming you send left and right speaker outputs to bass module, and it has connections to sats, and a built in x-over?

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kikkenit2 View Post

Set all your speakers to small. The subwoofer will play more bass.

He has passive setup I think.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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yeah, passive. here's a link to the manual for the speakers:
oops, can't post a link. google "cambridge soundworks ensemble IV", and the first hit will be the pdf.

I did try to set the fronts to "small" but the system won't actually allow that.


Can you explain what you mean by "passing test tones"?
the auto calibration did that...I think I can manually have a tone come out of any one of the speakers, but what will this tell me?
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post #11 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cac4 View Post

yeah, passive. here's a link to the manual for the speakers:
oops, can't post a link. google "cambridge soundworks ensemble IV", and the first hit will be the pdf.

I did try to set the fronts to "small" but the system won't actually allow that.


Can you explain what you mean by "passing test tones"?
the auto calibration did that...I think I can manually have a tone come out of any one of the speakers, but what will this tell me?

Download some sort of bass test tones if you can. A sweep from 20hz to 200hz would be nice. Realtraps.com has same tones.

Download them to laptop. Connect laptop to receiver. Adjust volume to low to start, play tones. From the tones, you should be able to assess if bass is totally getting lost at some point. The test tones can help you determine how low bass goes.

Note that bass response in rooms is VERY inconsistent. But if, for example, you play an 80 hz tone and hear nothing at all or it's way lower than 200 hz, you know something is whacked.

Maybe you can figure out what's wrong without tones, but I couldn't if I was in your situation.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #12 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok. I downloaded the test tones, which are a series of mp3 files from 10 to 290 hz. Hooked up laptop via headphone jack to rca inputs on reciever.

I played the tones. I can hear them. except the 10 and 20 hz ones; I can feel the sub vibrating, but I suspect that is just below the audible range of my ears. Going from high to low, the volume sounds the same, until I get down to 60; noticeable drop from 70 to 60, then each one is a little softer.

so what does this tell me?

with old amp, same speakers, same room, same location, soundof actual audio from movie, tv, cd, ipod= great.
with new amp, ----------------------------------------sound= tinny.
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 09:11 PM
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So it does sound like bass is working ok. I am thinking you are hearing 30hz tones just fine.

I am running out of ideas for you.

One possibility is that the old receiver had non neutral tone controls. That it was adding some bass.

I don't want to be negative, but Sony is not the best brand out there, and you bought what I think is a budget receiver. Even so, I would expect it to sound correct at lower volume levels.

I guess my only other possible advice is to return it, and get something else.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #14 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 10:30 PM
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Since 2007 I have been running the Sony 5200ES receiver in my main theater room and love it. About a year and a half ago I bought a receiver (sony dn1000) for my living room and tried to keep it on the cheep side of things. I was never fully happy with it and thought there was always something missing. I just chalked it up to the cheap dayton speakers I had bought to go with it. The other day I was able to get another 5200ES for 250.00 and now I am happy. The living room has never sounded better. That dn 1000 has always sounded thin and no matter what I did I just could not get it to sound right. The minute I played something through the 5200, all I can say is wow. I could not believe the difference, the sound was back.
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post #15 of 19 Old 01-08-2012, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post


I don't want to be negative, but Sony is not the best brand out there, and you bought what I think is a budget receiver. Even so, I would expect it to sound correct at lower volume levels.

Certainly, "budget". I'm not expecting miracles; I just expected the same as I had before, plus 5.1 support (old box had only 4), and added inputs for modern devices. (usb, hdmi).

And before I go taking it back, I want to know that this isn't a known equipment-type mis-match....that "modern amps that "know" about, and are equipped to support subwoofers, don't function well with un-powered ones".
If you guys think that this isn't the case, and that my speakers should be able to sound as good as they always did, regardless of what they're connected to, then I can replace it; just don't want to go on a wild goose chase.

One thing I wonder: is it possible that there is some sort of auto-sensing going on that is causing the amp to intentionally pull back the amount of signal its is sending? The effect I notice on some music tracks almost sounds like that. Like a simple auto level-sensing microphone that is built in to video cameras that crank the level way up when there is no sound, and then when something makes a sound, its extremely loud and distorted for a split-second until the level corrects itself. I'm sure everyone has seen home video of a school band concert like this, where its dead quiet in the auditorium as the band is about to start...first note nearly blows the speakers.
anyway, what I hear on a couple of tracks is that the first split-second sounds "full", and then it seems like someone kicked the plug out of the subwoofer. (yeah, this one doesn't actually have a plug, but thats the effect). suddenly thin.
It makes me wonder if there isn't some signal processing that is sensing resistance, and intentionally modulating the signal? maybe heavier gauge speaker wire (less resistance) would help? that wouldn't be an expensive experiment.
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post #16 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 10:26 AM
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I am also using the old Ensemble IV HT with a new receiver. I don't know what your receiver let you to configure, but I used following configuration. FL & FR set to large speaker. FC and surround set to small size speaker.Subwoofer set to "no". Crossover: Front -- full band, Center set to 80Hz, Surround-- 80Hz.

Since, I added powered sub, and I Like the punch it's delivered. But even without powered sub, on passive sub I had sustainable rich sound.
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post #17 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 06:44 PM
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I have a Cerwin Vega sub satelite system with two speakers and a passive 10 inch Cerwin Vega sub. The two speakers get loud, but it takes louder volume to get the passive sub bumping hard. Does the bass sound small, or just the satelite speakers? mine is hooked up to a kenwood receiver. If you return the receiver what about Harmon Kardon? I hear that a lot of people the sound from that brand?
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post #18 of 19 Old 05-08-2012, 06:52 PM
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I guess the non powered sub woofers need a lot more input to hit hard and the sony isn't doing it. I have a kenwood 8 inch powered sub woofer that came with the ken wood receiver a few years ago. It sounds good at low volumes. The Cerwin Vega passive sub I have to crank loud to get that same effect. it sounds okay at low volumes but I feel like it sounds much better at higher volumes.
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post #19 of 19 Old 05-11-2012, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
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ahh, well...

I figured out the problem when I was installing bigger wires.

one of the wires was not connected.

in my defense...those knob-type connectors on the amp are a new thing to me. and also: a loose/disconnected wire should produce 0 sound from one channel; that was not the case; there was sound from all speakers. there must be some kind of feedback in the circuitry of the sub that allows sound from one channel to cross over to the other.

Anyway, with all connections made properly, it sounds fine. in fact, more like the opposite problem--very boomy sound. that's ok..that can be adjusted w/ other controls.

anyway--all fixed.
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