Best receiver for Dialog? - AVS Forum
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Old 02-19-2007, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello-
I've gotten tired of not being able to understand dialog on DD and DTS sound tracks unless I crank up the volume when people are speaking (and then turning it down when stuff starts blowing up). The problem with turning the sound up is that everything else gets too loud and the experience suffers. I realize that this is often the way the sound track was created for theaters, but I hope there is something I can do to increase my enjoyment watching at home.

I have an older receiver that I'd not mind replacing (a Denon 5700). So I'm wondering if there are any receivers that do an exceptional job at localizing dialog? I've seen reviews of many receivers where they mention clear dialog, but I'd like to know which receivers do better in the real world.

I like the idea of 'one wire' (AKA "kitchen sink") solutions like the Yamaha 2700, the Sony 5200, the Pioneer 84, and so on. However, I am also intrigued by the Arcam AVR350 and AVR300. I am at this point more interested in getting the clearest dialog than the best HDMI support.

Also, I'm gearing up for a number of demos and wonder if anyone can suggest test material? Are there DVDs that have difficult dialog that one of these receivers will make clear? I can think of a number of British films where I've no idea what people are saying, but perhaps that will always be the case for those sound tracts.
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Old 02-19-2007, 12:08 PM
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It's not the receiver, it is your room acoustics and a high reverb time. Try dealing with 1st order reflections off the wallls, floor, celinigs with absorptive panels.

On the equipment side, get a lot of power in the receiver for the center chaannel, don't place the cebnter on top of a TV, and try and matctch the center exactly to the L and R speakers.

Read up on acoustics and the solution will present itself to you.

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There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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Old 02-19-2007, 12:29 PM
 
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There are a number of reasons for not clearly hearing dialogue but it probably has nothing to do with the equipment itself.

1. Room acoustics, if you have a very live room with lots of reflections this can definitely make dialogue difficult to hear. If you don't have the ability to treat the room's first reflections then a processor with some type of EQ is your only bet.

2. Speaker placement. Is the center channel in a cabinent or on a shelf? How about on top of a TV? If in a cabient, surround the speaker with foam like you would find in an uphosltery/ furniture shop and then cover that part of the cabinet with speaker cloth so the foam isn't visible. It it is on top of TV buy some isolation pads or make your own. A music store might have them as Auralex makes one called Mopads. Are your speakers angled toward the listening postion i.e. angled up/down/left/right.

3. Equipment not set up properly. May times cable/sat, DVD players are set to mix everything to stereo. Distances and levels not set correctly. Is cinema EQ on when it shouldn't be?

4. You can set dynamic range compression to limit the range of the sound but probably won't help with dialogue.

5. High noise floor in your listening area. Does the heater/ AC keep coming on? Are you need a big road? Other noises like refrigerators, dehumidifiers, etc? If you have a lot of external noises you will have to turn up the volume to hear the dialogue and "drown" out the other noises.

With 1200+ posts you are not a newbie so I doubt all these apply to you but figure I'd list them for everybody.

Bob
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Old 02-19-2007, 12:29 PM
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You can confirm this theory with some headphones.
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Old 02-19-2007, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the good info.

I don't quite see how ear phones would emulate L/C/R speakers, but it is such an easy thing to try that I'll do so immediately.

Both thebland and BobL mention having the center speaker on top of my TV as a potential problem. That is exactly where I have the sucker and it would be painfully funny if that were the trouble maker. Such a simple thing...

My TV room is also a library, and there are lots of book cases covering most of the walls except where I've got the screen. I've got rugs on the floors, so I just assume that the room acoustics were OK. However, what you've said makes sense and I'll take some time figuring out how I can improve the room acoustics before buying new equiptment.

My video equpitment is setup properly, but there is definitely no harm in double checking that as well. One thing about my receiver - it has never sounded very good with DTS sound tracks. DD has always sounded much clearer, for some reason. It is an 8-9 year old receiver and was Denon's first DTS receiver (I believe). I've just assumed that replacing it would fix many of my problems. It has plenty of power, but is limited to decoding formats that were available when it came out.

I have a small TV on the floor and above it I've a screen on the wall for my projector. As I said earlier, my center channel is on top of the TV; I'll look into building a shelf for it. Until recently I used the in-wall speakers that came with my house. They were good speakers in 1996, but that was a long time ago. I'm trying out a set of Def Tech Mythos One (Mythos 3 for the center) speakers now.

You're right dynamic compression doesn't help.
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Old 02-21-2007, 12:21 PM
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The Commitments is a really great movie for testing dialogue. Gritty urban dialect is tough to get with most amps and speakers - the Arcam AVR350 can do it, though.
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Originally Posted by Hyrax View Post

Hello-
I've gotten tired of not being able to understand dialog on DD and DTS sound tracks unless I crank up the volume when people are speaking (and then turning it down when stuff starts blowing up). The problem with turning the sound up is that everything else gets too loud and the experience suffers. I realize that this is often the way the sound track was created for theaters, but I hope there is something I can do to increase my enjoyment watching at home.

However, I am also intrigued by the Arcam AVR350 and AVR300. I am at this point more interested in getting the clearest dialog than the best HDMI support.

Also, I'm gearing up for a number of demos and wonder if anyone can suggest test material? Are there DVDs that have difficult dialog that one of these receivers will make clear? I can think of a number of British films where I've no idea what people are saying, but perhaps that will always be the case for those sound tracts.

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Old 02-21-2007, 12:29 PM
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I am thinking a better center channel would most likely fix your problem. Not sure what you are using now but a really good center makes a huge difference. $400-500 will get you something quite good, Klipsch for one are amazing for HT use, also Paradigm, Energy, Axiom..etc..

http://www.klipsch.com/products/details/rc-62.aspx
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webhammer View Post

The Commitments is a really great movie for testing dialogue. Gritty urban dialect is tough to get with most amps and speakers - the Arcam AVR350 can do it, though.

Thanks! I'll check it out. I've not seen the movie in ages, and it is an excellent excuse to see it again. I looked through my what I've already got and had decided 'The Full Monty' would be a good test for much the same reasons you recommend the Commitments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JetJockey1 View Post

I am thinking a better center channel would most likely fix your problem. Not sure what you are using now but a really good center makes a huge difference. $400-500 will get you something quite good, Klipsch for one are amazing for HT use, also Paradigm, Energy, Axiom..etc...

Thanks for the suggestion. I agree, but I also agree with the earlier suggestions that my first step should be to get a handle on room acoustics. Even a great center channel cannot overcome bad acoutsics.
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:57 PM
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You are getting the picture. Sound quality is all speaker choice and room acoustics. The receiver is the last thing to worry about.

Nick
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