Looking to do to upgrade my audio system... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-30-2012, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a Sony BDP-S350 blu-ray player thats about four years old now, and I think it's about time to upgrade. I have my sights set on a new 2012 model Panasonic DMP-BDT 500 blu-ray player with two HDMI outputs, one for audio and the other for connecting to a 3D TV, built-in wi-fi, and 7.1 analog audio outputs. I would expect better audio quality from the Panasonic than my old Sony BD player. Later, if and when I decide to go 3D route, all I will need to get is a 3D TV.

However, I have a weakness in my HT audio setup. It's the center channel. Dialogue isn't always clear as I would like it to be especially when voices are low, while the rest of the speakers are loud and clear. I have run my AVR's audio calibration setup program many times at multiple locations but to no avail. My center is an entry level one that I bought in 2006, an Energy C-C100. I bought matching C-300 towers which I really like. I though it might be time to up grade the center. Vanns has the RC-LCR speaker which can be used as a center. The price is unbelievably low. They sure aren't going to be around long at those prices. I don't care that they won't be timbre matched to my C-300s and surrounds. I know the RC-LCRs are in another league, and if so they ought to deliver that clear and distinct dialogue that I long for.

So my dilemma is which to upgrade first, the audio at the source, i.e. a new blu-ray player, or at the end of the audio chain, i.e. the center channel speaker? I don't have enough cash right now to get both.

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Hawk View Post

I have a Sony BDP-S350 blu-ray player thats about four years old now, and I think it's about time to upgrade. I have my sights set on a new 2012 model Panasonic DMP-BDT 500 blu-ray player with two HDMI outputs, one for audio and the other for connecting to a 3D TV, built-in wi-fi, and 7.1 analog audio outputs. I would expect better audio quality from the Panasonic than my old Sony BD player. Later, if and when I decide to go 3D route, all I will need to get is a 3D TV.
However, I have a weakness in my HT audio setup. It's the center channel. Dialogue isn't always clear as I would like it to be especially when voices are low, while the rest of the speakers are loud and clear. I have run my AVR's audio calibration setup program many times at multiple locations but to no avail. My center is an entry level one that I bought in 2006, an Energy C-C100. I bought matching C-300 towers which I really like. I though it might be time to up grade the center. Vanns has the RC-LCR speaker which can be used as a center. The price is unbelievably low. They sure aren't going to be around long at those prices. I don't care that they won't be timbre matched to my C-300s and surrounds. I know the RC-LCRs are in another league, and if so they ought to deliver that clear and distinct dialogue that I long for.
So my dilemma is which to upgrade first, the audio at the source, i.e. a new blu-ray player, or at the end of the audio chain, i.e. the center channel speaker? I don't have enough cash right now to get both.
Any suggestions?

Why can't you adjust the sound level of your existing center channel to get good dialog?
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Why can't you adjust the sound level of your existing center channel to get good dialog?
I have tried that. I found that I had to increase the center at least +3.0 db before I could hear any audible difference. The problem with that is, whenever the action gets going, the center channel gets overwhelmingly loud if there's special sound effects. That still leaves me having to sit there and adjust the center channel gain and/or the master volume control during the action scenes. I also tried adjusting dynamic range control settings on my AVR which are supposed to increase the softer sounds while decreasing the louder parts. That didn't work well at all either like taking away half the sound. So I figured perhaps the C-C100 center suffers from comb filtering. The RC-LCR speakers have two midrange speakers off axis wrt the woofers and tweeters. Perhaps that's why they are designed that way for better dialogue and wider dispersion.

The other route to go is get the Panasonic DMP-BDT 500 which has a dialogue enhancer. Perhaps that would work better than riding the master volume control or center channel gain on my AVR. I know I need a better BD player. My present one is horribly slow compared to my neighbor's newer BD player. Also mine doesn't decode DTS-HD MA which is found on just about every blu-ray disk I buy or rent these days.

I just want to start upgrading my audio system which is basically entry level. I just don't know what to do first that would give me the best bang for my buck.

Edit PS: Arnold, do you think getting an RC-LCR for the center won't do much better than my old C-C100? Thanks, S H
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Hawk View Post

Dialogue isn't always clear as I would like it to be especially when voices are low, while the rest of the speakers are loud and clear. I have run my AVR's audio calibration setup program many times at multiple locations but to no avail.

This is most likely an acoustic issue. If the speaker volume levels are properly matched, and dialog is still hard to hear, the cause is usually untamed early reflections. Do you have any acoustic treatment? In particular, absorbers at the side-wall (and ceiling) reflection points can make a huge improvement in clarity.

--Ethan

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post #5 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Hawk View Post

I have tried that. I found that I had to increase the center at least +3.0 db before I could hear any audible difference.

+/- 3 dB is not a big jump In the world of audio adjustments, . Remember +/- 10 dB is twice as loud, and that is not an overwhelming amount.
Quote:
The problem with that is, whenever the action gets going, the center channel gets overwhelmingly loud if there's special sound effects.

That's a movie mastering issue. A common complaint.
Quote:
That still leaves me having to sit there and adjust the center channel gain and/or the master volume control during the action scenes. I also tried adjusting dynamic range control settings on my AVR which are supposed to increase the softer sounds while decreasing the louder parts. That didn't work well at all either like taking away half the sound.

Sounds like you over did it.

Is it possible to try other adjustements. IOW do what you did but somewhat less of it.
Quote:
So I figured perhaps the C-C100 center suffers from comb filtering.

It is not exceptionally bad in that regard. Looks like it should work well given the right setup.
Quote:
The RC-LCR speakers have two midrange speakers off axis wrt the woofers and tweeters. Perhaps that's why they are designed that way for better dialogue and wider dispersion.

The mild offset with not have strong effects.
Quote:
The other route to go is get the Panasonic DMP-BDT 500 which has a dialogue enhancer.

You already have one of those.
Quote:
Perhaps that would work better than riding the master volume control or center channel gain on my AVR.

Maybe more care and patience with the existing dynamic range would do just as much for you.
Quote:
I know I need a better BD player. My present one is horribly slow compared to my neighbor's newer BD player. Also mine doesn't decode DTS-HD MA which is found on just about every blu-ray disk I buy or rent these days.

Finally, an unambigiously valid set of issues.

Quote:
I just want to start upgrading my audio system which is basically entry level. I just don't know what to do first that would give me the best bang for my buck.
Edit PS: Arnold, do you think getting an RC-LCR for the center won't do much better than my old C-C100? Thanks, S H

I see a good subwoofer as your first speaker upgrade.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

This is most likely an acoustic issue. If the speaker volume levels are properly matched, and dialog is still hard to hear, the cause is usually untamed early reflections. Do you have any acoustic treatment? In particular, absorbers at the side-wall (and ceiling) reflection points can make a huge improvement in clarity.
--Ethan
I don't have any kind of acoustic treatment in the living room. Other than the ceiling, and just maybe the back wall, there isn't any other place to install those. The right side is open to the kitchen and dinning room. Thus there is no immediate right side wall. The left side and wall is largely taken up by the entrance foyer, and a large window which does have thick curtains. My wife throws a fit every time I put new HT stuff in our lving room anyway. I know she won't go along with having absorbers put in the kitchen and dining room or anywhere else. Sure, if I had a dedicated HT room, then it would be different. IOW, the HT room is basically one huge 30' x 20' x 15' room shared by the livingroom, dining room and kitchen. It was never intended to be a home theater that's for sure.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

+/- 3 dB is not a big jump In the world of audio adjustments, . Remember +/- 10 dB is twice as loud, and that is not an overwhelming amount.
That's a movie mastering issue. A common complaint.
Sounds like you over did it.
Is it possible to try other adjustements. IOW do what you did but somewhat less of it.
It is not exceptionally bad in that regard. Looks like it should work well given the right setup.
The mild offset with not have strong effects.
You already have one of those.
Maybe more care and patience with the existing dynamic range would do just as much for you.
Finally, an unambigiously valid set of issues.
I see a good subwoofer as your first speaker upgrade.

Thanks for your suggestions and support. The dynamic range settings on my AVR are limited to auto/minimum, standard, and wide. I leave it on wide all the time. Ok then, for some movies that have scenes with awfully low dialog like in 3:10 to Yuma, I'll try it out with the dynamic range set most of the time on standard. Then turn it back up to wide for the wells fargo stage coach robbery scene and the action at the end of the movie. I have 3 subwoofers. The room is 30' L x 20' W x 15' H. The HT area actually shares half that space, 20 x 15, while the other half is the dining room and kitchen, 10 x 15 each. I have two PA 120s which I added first and then recently added one DIY sub with a 12" peerless driver in a 3.3 cu. ft. ported box. I am very happy with the bass, no complaints there. As I told Ethan, the right side is entirely open to the dining room and kitchen. There is no wall dividing any of the rooms. That's why I was thinking that a bigger, better center like the RC-LCR would do better in a larger room than the C-C100 does. The C-C100 is below the TV. Perhaps I should try putting it above the TV. That would put it about 6 ft above the floor. The C-C100 is big and heavy. I can't set it on the TV. I'd have to make a shelf for it to sit on first. That;s a lot of work taking a
55 in LCD TV off the wall mount, install shelving, and put it back on the wall. It'd be a big waste of time if the center above the TV sounds worse than when it was below the TV.
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-02-2012, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I pulled the trigger today and ordered the Panasonic DMP-BDT500 for $265. I couldn't resist that low price for Panasonic's best 3D BD player for 2012.
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