Dialogue quiet. Can I just turn up the center speaker volume a bit? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 12-07-2012, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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On movies the dialogue is a bit drowned out by music and other noises in the movie. To fix this can I just raise the center speaker's volume by a couple of points?

Or is there a better way to do it that I should do instead?
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post #2 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 01:27 AM
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I set my center channel speaker 2-3 decibels louder than the 2 front speakers for this same reason.
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post #3 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 04:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremytodd1 View Post

On movies the dialogue is a bit drowned out by music and other noises in the movie. To fix this can I just raise the center speaker's volume by a couple of points?
Or is there a better way to do it that I should do instead?
The better way is to calibrate your system. Does your system have Audyssey (or other auto calibration)?
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post #4 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 01:19 PM
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I should have added to calibrate the speakers(I assumed). But even after calibrating my speakers with a decibel meter, I still have trouble hearing the dialogue.
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post #5 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim McC View Post

I should have added to calibrate the speakers(I assumed). But even after calibrating my speakers with a decibel meter, I still have trouble hearing the dialogue.

The lesson being that a SPL meter can't possibly measure the clarity of dialogue.

AFAIK, the standard methods for measuring the clarity of reproduced dialog involve people listening to scripted speech, and comparisons of the script to what they were able to hear.
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post #6 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I did do the whole Audyssey thing already. Even having already done that though dialogue is still hard to hear.

So should I just go turn up the center speaker then? I don't want to throw off the balance or anything too much.
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post #7 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 07:29 PM
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Well, you'll throw the balance off, technically, by however much you raise the center level. Many here do just that, though, and nothing awful will happen. Assuming your speakers are properly calibrated, which seems a reasonable assumption, you either have room reflections that are muddying the dialog or you're just reacting to the fact that non-dialog is relatively loud in many movie mixes, and if Dynamic Volume doesn't clear it up, raising the center channel level a bit is a reasonable fix to get things to work according to your preference. But if 6 dB or so of level increase isn't enough to make things intelligible, you might think about absorbing reflections . . .
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post #8 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremytodd1 View Post

On movies the dialogue is a bit drowned out by music and other noises in the movie. To fix this can I just raise the center speaker's volume by a couple of points?
Or is there a better way to do it that I should do instead?

For starters, it would be nice to know what equipment you are using and where the speakers are placed in the room. If the center speaker is located on a table, is it pulled all of the way to the front edge? Is it raised up to ear level, or at least angled upwards?

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post #9 of 20 Old 12-08-2012, 08:36 PM
 
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Having hard time under dialogue also can be effect by his room and acoustics as well.

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post #10 of 20 Old 12-09-2012, 07:59 AM
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You don't say what speakers you have; it could be a major issue.

I find that some center speakers have drivers that are too big or the center speaker is set up wrong. A center speaker should NOT be putting out any bass.

In my experience, dialog tends to get muddied up by center speakers that are set to go below 120 Hz. The center speaker should NEVER be set to go below 120 Hz IMO. Center speakers with 4-inch drivers seem to work best, as a general rule.

Also, in several cases I recommended that a person change to the Cambridge audio S50 center speaker, which is exceptionally clear for dialog. It can work wonders.

There ARE some movies that have a lousy sound mix, of course, and you just can't do much with that, except find the sound engineer and kick him in a tender spot.
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post #11 of 20 Old 12-09-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I find that some center speakers have drivers that are too big or the center speaker is set up wrong. A center speaker should NOT be putting out any bass.
In my experience, dialog tends to get muddied up by center speakers that are set to go below 120 Hz. The center speaker should NEVER be set to go below 120 Hz IMO. Center speakers with 4-inch drivers seem to work best,
You don't know anything about speaker design, do you. rolleyes.gif
There are many books on loudspeaker design. I suggest you study up on this subject.
Quote:
as a general rule.
Where did you find that? I searched but to no avail. Would you mind posting some references on it?
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post #12 of 20 Old 12-09-2012, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Also, in several cases I recommended that a person change to the Cambridge audio S50 center speaker, which is exceptionally clear for dialog. It can work wonders.

Buy a new center-solid advice as usual. rolleyes.gif

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post #13 of 20 Old 12-09-2012, 10:20 AM
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The OP is not stating the make and model of his gear, so we shall assume that the spkr is simply not doing a very good job, or room acoustics and or placement issues exist.

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post #14 of 20 Old 12-09-2012, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry it took a while for me to get back to the thread but here is my equipment:

Center: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009WBYL/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00
Left and Right: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00012F7CI/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00
Receiver (the one that came with this): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VK0IPC/ref=wms_ohs_product
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post #15 of 20 Old 12-11-2012, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremytodd1 View Post

Sorry it took a while for me to get back to the thread but here is my equipment:
Center: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009WBYL/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00
Left and Right: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00012F7CI/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00
Receiver (the one that came with this): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VK0IPC/ref=wms_ohs_product
Your center speaker is part of the problem. It has a two-way design with two (mid)woofers which has poor response in the 500 Hz to 2000 Hz which will impact dialog intelligibility. I wrote the technical drill-down here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1430693/help-dialog-in-films-unintelligible#post_22431358

You can flip it vertically or get a different speaker. Alternatively if boosting the level fixes it, go ahead and use that. The presentation will be "wrong" but shouldn't matter for watching movies on a budget smile.gif.

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post #16 of 20 Old 12-11-2012, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremytodd1 View Post

On movies the dialogue is a bit drowned out by music and other noises in the movie. To fix this can I just raise the center speaker's volume by a couple of points?
Or is there a better way to do it that I should do instead?

There are a whole host of technical issues that could be (and most assuredly are) at fault here. Just know that fixing these issues (such as the inefficiency of MTM configuation for Center speaker) is the purview of Audiophiles and perfectionists.

I am going to assume that you are neither, and that you just want clear and audible dialogue, like most of us and aren't necesarily after "perfection" (whatever that is)

You have stated that you have auto-calibrated your system. That's a good start. Have you been to the Auddessy FAQ thread in the Reciver forums here? If not, visit them. It's a sticky so I won't need to link it here. There's a TON of information in there to help you get the most out of Auddessy calibration. The one thing about that I'm going to suggest here is that if you have not done it, activate your Dynamic EQ. If you play movies at lower volume, this will help somewhat with the dialogue issues. The second part of this equation, is the Dynamic Volume. This will help even out the loud peaks and quiet parts and bring them closer in line. It does this by restricting the Dynamic Range of the program material you are playing. Audiophiles don't normally like this sort of thing, so they will usually tell you not to turn it on. I say experiment with it and if it helps you hear the dialogue, keep it on (I do. It helps. My wife and I agrue about the loudness of progamming and I have to turn it down some to compromise...Dynamic EQ and the lowest level of Dynaimc Volume helps immensely)
Also, after you have turned on Dynamic EQ, it will boost the sound level of your Surrounds to make them more audible, as a lot of surround content can be very quiet at times, so Dynamic EQ makes your surrounds blaze to life when its activated. Unfortunatly, this has the side effect of making louder sounds coming from your Surrounds such as background music etc, way too loud and it can drown out your center and in some cases, even drown out your mains. In this case, you must set the Volume Offset in the Auddessy menu and what this will do is turn down your surrounds to a more reasonable level. When I discovered and implemented this, things worked out a lot better. You can set the offset at -5db, -10db, or -15db. I have mine set for -15db. Play some music in Multi-Channel stereo with Dynamic EQ active and you'll see what I mean. Then play some music in Multi-Channel stereo setting the different offset options to see which one "evens out" your sound from each speaker the most. That's what you are going for here, so your surrounds don't overpower your main's and center.

Next, make sure your Center speaker is sitting high enough that it is close to pushing the sound at your head/ear level. This is quite important as the frequencies produced by your center's tweeter are very directional in nature. This will also help with the clarity of the dialogue somewhat.

As mentioned above by another poster, go into your Bass management menu and make the crossover for your center 120hz or higher. If your center isn't so good at producing bass frequencies (and a lot aren't. Mine sucks at it), taking away those freqs and giving them to your mains or sub will be better and help clear the dialogue a little. Experiment with different crossover frequencies to find out which one works best for you. a lot of people like 80hz as a set it and forget it referrence point, but all speakers are not created equal, so different speakers will have different crossover points where they will sound better. I set mine at 120hz and it's seems better to me now.

However I'm going to give you the bad news now. From my own experience, the two biggest culprits to interfearing with the clarity of your dialogue are the source material and how it was recorded or is being processed (in the case of Cable/Sattelite material) and room acoustics. The first culprit you can do nothing about. The second culprit you can control, but it is a long and arduous process and one that may not be viable at all depending on your living situation (significant other?). In my own case, I had a lot of trouble hearing the dialogue of movies and shows in my old apartment, but when I moved, a lot of the problems I was having went away after setting my equipment up in an acoustically superior room. (its far from perfect, but it is acoustically better than the old room)

So there you go. A few things that you can try immediately to see if you get any improvements to your sound clarity. and if all else fails, click the center volume up a few decibels. There's nothing wrong with it!
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post #17 of 20 Old 12-11-2012, 07:49 PM
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If you can spend money, then do it, and get a better center, but for now, do two things, turn the center channel volume up a little, and bring it out into the room...pull it forward into the listening area, and angle it toward the listener. Pulling it out into the listening area will most likely provide the most impact. vs. settings....providing the wife is okay with it...LOL. I'm talking about pulling it out and up on a spkr stand so that the sound is at ear level, or aiming at ear level.

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post #18 of 20 Old 12-12-2012, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

If you can spend money, then do it, and get a better center, but for now, do two things, turn the center channel volume up a little, and bring it out into the room...pull it forward into the listening area, and angle it toward the listener. Pulling it out into the listening area will most likely provide the most impact. vs. settings....providing the wife is okay with it...LOL. I'm talking about pulling it out and up on a spkr stand so that the sound is at ear level, or aiming at ear level.

I personally am thinking about rigging up another shelf on my entertainment center as the highest shelf it still too low for the center and I feel the center channel isn't performing up to snuff. If it bring it 8 or so inches higher and angle it a bit, I think it would be much better. I'm going to try and see if I can rig something up.

Bringing the center out into the middle of the room would probably work wonders, but it probably wouldn't look very good and depending on your living situation, probably wouldn't be ideal 80% of the time.

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post #19 of 20 Old 12-12-2012, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by NuSoardGraphite View Post

I personally am thinking about rigging up another shelf on my entertainment center as the highest shelf it still too low for the center and I feel the center channel isn't performing up to snuff. If it bring it 8 or so inches higher and angle it a bit, I think it would be much better. I'm going to try and see if I can rig something up.
Bringing the center out into the middle of the room would probably work wonders, but it probably wouldn't look very good and depending on your living situation, probably wouldn't be ideal 80% of the time.

I didn't mean to suggest pulling the center out to the middle of the room. Unless I missed the OP stating just where the spkr is placed, I am assuming that perhaps the spkr is inside of a bookshelf, or too low...not at ear level, or some other position issue. OP, where is it placed...pics would be nice.

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post #20 of 20 Old 12-13-2012, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremytodd1 View Post

On movies the dialogue is a bit drowned out by music and other noises in the movie. To fix this can I just raise the center speaker's volume by a couple of points?
Of course! Why not try reversible options that have no possible hazardous outcome?
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Your center speaker is part of the problem. It has a two-way design with two (mid)woofers which has poor response in the 500 Hz to 2000 Hz which will impact dialog intelligibility.....
Make that 500-3,500Hz... BUT (and this is a big "but") mostly off-axis, left-right. On-axis response is only affected to the extent that lateral reflections are of a somewhat distorted signal, but the direct sound should be as good as the speaker's capable. Let me add that all bets are off if your head is anywhere near a wall. No speaker sounds good if you listen from a bad place...
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Originally Posted by NuSoardGraphite View Post

There are a whole host of technical issues that could be (and most assuredly are) at fault here. Just know that fixing these issues (such as the inefficiency of MTM configuation for Center speaker) is the purview of Audiophiles and perfectionists.
I am going to assume that you are neither, and that you just want clear and audible dialogue, like most of us and aren't necesarily after "perfection" (whatever that is)...
While we'll differ on the specifics, this sentiment is spot-on.

And my CC is a sideways MTM, but designed to minimize lobing. It can be done - 9" driver C-C spacing, and 1.1KHz crossover frequency, both enabled by the proper tweeter. It's all in how it's engineered...

HAve fun,
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