Long post - but I wanted to give some background and history to hopefully make the most of my post/question.
I have been lurking and reading for a while now, and have read a lot of the HT 101 stuff and 100's of threads on here. It's all a bit overwhelming, so I thought I would post my equipment, what I've tried, and where I am at so far to see what ideas folks might have to help me improve my HT sound experience.
First and foremost, let me say that I wear hearing aids and have for over 10 years now (I am 47 years old). Too much loud music and other loud activities without ear protection has left me with bad tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) and difficulty understanding speech at normal levels. My hearing aids are tuned to increase the sound at higher frequencies, specifically the frequencies that make speech clear. I also have a setting that is pure volume increase at all frequencies for when I want to just make something louder and not alter the sound by frequency.
The equipment I have in my home theater is as follows:
Projector - Panasonic PT-AE900U (ceiling mounted, behind second row of seats)
AV Receiver - Onkyo TX-SR604
BD Player - Panasonic DMT-BD210
Speakers and their rated frequencies are:
Center - Klipsch Synergy C2 (range 82Hz - 23kHz +/-3dB )
Front - Klipsch Synergy F2 (range 39Hz - 23kHz +/-3dB)
Side surrounds - Klipsch Synergy S2 (83Hz-23kHz frequency response) (mounted near ceiling just behing/above second row of seats)
Sub - SVS PB10-NSD (range 20Hz - 100Hz +/-3dB)
Screen is painted wall using special screen paint. Room is pretty dark since it's in the basement on the far side from any windows, and the screen in in a "bump out" below our sun room. I have a drawing I will try to attached to this post.
I inherited everything except the BD player and the theater seating when we purchased the house last year, and have been playing around trying to get the sound set to something that would be enjoyable for me, the wife and our three small kids. When we first moved in and I would watch a movie, any explosions or other significant bass were loud enough to wake sleeping kids on the second floor (theater is in the basement) when I had the volume turned up loud enough to hear speech during quiet parts of the movie. The basement mostly finished, with the floor covered in Pergo. There is some furniture and kids toys off to the side with an area rug. There are two rows of theater seats - Berkline motorized leather recliners - three in the first row, and two in the second row. The second row is elevated about 8".
I started reading up and playing around with the AV receiver settings. The receiver has Audyssey 2EQ, which I initially tried using to calibrate. This really never produced what seemed to be a reasonable setting, as I could rarely understand speech at any reasonable volume (especially for DTS material - Dolby stuff seemed to be less troublesome). I manually changed the Audyssey settings to increase the center channel a touch and decrease the subwoofer and that seemed to be much better. I have tried running the Audyssey set up many, many times, but I am never that satisfied with the sound I get leaving it along. As I read more I started reading about crossover settings, SPL meters and such. For Xmas this year, my wife got me Disney's World of Wonder Blu-Ray and my brother got me an SPL meter (gotta love the Amazon.com wish list!). I had already set the projector to what pleased me visually, and was happy to see that it was not far off from the optimal settings the WOW blu-ray suggested (which I followed and am happy - I could never seem to get tint and hue just where I liked them). Sound still leaves me wanting more (or less, depending).
I have turned off Audyssey and manually calibrated following some instructions I found on here. Not sure if I did it correctly, but I will post that question at the end to keep all the questions together. I am definitely much happier with things now than I have been thus far, but I still feel like things could be better. I read about setting the front speakers to "small" even if they are not, but my Onkyo doesn't have a setting like that. It let's me specify the lowest frequency that each speaker can output (or highest for the sub). I currently have them set as follows:
Front - 60hz (based n SVS's Merlin wizard's suggestion for my speakers).
Center - 100hz (these move in 20hz increments, so I put it at the lowest one that was ABOVE the lowest frequency the speaker was rated for).
Surround - 100hz (same theory as the center speaker)
Sub - 100hz (I haven't played with this much yet, but will probably take it down to 60hz - the recommended setting from SVS's Merlin wizard).
This seems to give the most pleasing sound so far after calibrating with the SPL meter, but I would still describe the sound as "too bright". I am thinking this has to do with the fact that there isn't a lot to absorb sound in the finished basement with Pergo flooring. So my questions, in no particular order are:
1. Would it help to put some carpeting down between the screen and the first row of seating? I am guessing yes, but wanted to ask before I tried it. Also, what other options might I consider to aid in this area?
2. When using the SPL meter - what volume level should I set the receiver to before I start (meter is set to C and slow)? If I put it where I normally run music or television shows, I need to really crank up the speaker settings to get the SPL meter to register 75. I re-did the balancing turning the volume up before I started, and thus taking each speaker adjustment down some, which again, seems more pleasing, but should that even matter? Am I even understanding what I have read here?
3. My layout isn't really subject to any significant modifications without incurring some cost or headaches, so moving a ton of stuff around isn't an option right now (I suspect sub placement and surround placement could be better - see pic), but I will put suggestions on a "wish list" of things to do at some point in the future as time permits.
Phew! If you've read this far - thank you! If there is some pertinent information I've left out, please ask and I will provide it.
Thanks for any assistance,
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