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post #1 of 10 Old 04-08-2013, 05:29 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently put together a home theatre system and am looking for some advice on how to set it up to get the most out of it.

The receiver is a Harmon Kardon AVR 1700 hooked up to Energy Take Classics 5.1 speakers using 14 guage wire. The TV is a Samsung UN55C6500 LED TV.

I primarily watch programming through my cable set top box and also occasionally watch MKV's through my Western Digital Media Player plus and also HULU through my smart tv app. Everything is connected to the receiver using HDMI cables.

I am extremely new to the whole audio world and seem to be having difficulty setting up the system to deliver the optimal sound majority of the time. I have the center, and two front speakers right by the TV while I have the rear ones mounted about ear level behind the couch. I've also used the calibration mic that came with the receiver and run the EZ Setup on the receiver to calibrate the speakers based on listening position.

I am trying to understand how I can acheive the surround sound effect most of the time and seem to be getting it with certain programming or certain channels without having to change any settings. Do I need to change my setup so that the audio is sourced through something beside HDMI cables or do I just need play with the settings on my receiver to achieve the optimal sound? Also, a lot of the time the dailogue seems to be a bit low and seems to only be transmitted through the front speakers so I find myself cranking up the volume to understand the dailogue better but find that it gets too loud during action or other scenes (i.e car chases, explosions, gun fire etc.) and end up having to reduce the volume only to have to turn it back up when the dialogue begins again. I live in a two floor condo so I am often trying to be respectful of my downstairs neighbors hence I try to monitor how loud things get, espcially at night time.

Any help or advice on this is greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-08-2013, 12:00 PM
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Your main problem IMO is the low quality and limited output capability of the front speakers in that setup.

A pair of Energy CB-10 speakers to replace your current front speakers would be the first step that I would advise. That should be a huge improvement.

A lot of movies and/or program sources will only give you 2-channel sound, so anything coming out of the other speakers is artificially synthesized by the receiver.

You are probably better off setting the receiver for 2-channel only unless you know that your source is actually supplying 5.1, which is often not the case.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-08-2013, 02:57 PM
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...AND, even if you are getting a 5.1 signal from your cable box, a lot of the mixes are of questionable quality.

The only way to hear what your setup is really capable of, and to make sure everything is working correctly, is blu ray (IMO).
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-08-2013, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theproman23 View Post

I am trying to understand how I can acheive the surround sound effect most of the time and seem to be getting it with certain programming or certain channels without having to change any settings. Do I need to change my setup so that the audio is sourced through something beside HDMI cables or do I just need play with the settings on my receiver to achieve the optimal sound?
Play with the settings. I don't have that receiver, but there should be a setting that asks the receiver to synthesize the surround from just 2 channels if the source signal does not have surround channel information already. One such mode is Dolby ProLogic. (Setting your receiver for 2 channel only, as a previous poster just recommended, is not what you want to do -- that would do the opposite of what you want.)

Getting dialog to be comprehensible in a surround system can be difficult. Lots of people have a problem with this. Your receiver may have settings to enhance dialog, you can try pointing your center speaker more directly toward your listening position, you can try putting soft surfaces in the vicinity of the center speaker to reduce early reflections, you can probably turn up the trim volume for your center, or you can buy a better quality center speaker.

Greg Lee
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-08-2013, 06:11 PM
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It is not uncommon for dialog to get lost in
effects with 5.1 mixes, especially at low volumes. GregLee has given good advice on adjustments to help with that. Using DRC or midnight mode can also help. They lower the loudest sound and boost the quieter parts, which helps with dialog.

I also agree that you should use a mode such as PLII to expand stereo sources to 5.1. Most receivers are smart enough to remember the mode selected for each type of audio. So, you can set it once and the AVR will use PLII with stereo until you tell out to stop.

You do not need any other cables.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-09-2013, 04:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Your main problem IMO is the low quality and limited output capability of the front speakers in that setup.

A pair of Energy CB-10 speakers to replace your current front speakers would be the first step that I would advise. That should be a huge improvement.

A lot of movies and/or program sources will only give you 2-channel sound, so anything coming out of the other speakers is artificially synthesized by the receiver.

You are probably better off setting the receiver for 2-channel only unless you know that your source is actually supplying 5.1, which is often not the case.

You know I did research a customized setup before buying the speaker set but went against my better judgement and bought the energytakes. Thanks for the suggestion, I don't mind have some bigger front speakers then the ones you're recommending so given that size is not too much of an issue, any other suggestions for models I can look at to replace the fronts?
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-09-2013, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregLee View Post

Play with the settings. I don't have that receiver, but there should be a setting that asks the receiver to synthesize the surround from just 2 channels if the source signal does not have surround channel information already. One such mode is Dolby ProLogic. (Setting your receiver for 2 channel only, as a previous poster just recommended, is not what you want to do -- that would do the opposite of what you want.)

Getting dialog to be comprehensible in a surround system can be difficult. Lots of people have a problem with this. Your receiver may have settings to enhance dialog, you can try pointing your center speaker more directly toward your listening position, you can try putting soft surfaces in the vicinity of the center speaker to reduce early reflections, you can probably turn up the trim volume for your center, or you can buy a better quality center speaker.

GregLee,

I have the surround mode set to Auto select and I do see the receiver change to the ProLogic setting every once in a while. I am guessing the sound is a bit clearer and the surround effect is present with this mode which is probably what got me on this path to find a setting or two to make the overall lisenting experience similar to the ProLogic mode.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-09-2013, 04:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

Using DRC or midnight mode can also help. They lower the loudest sound and boost the quieter parts, which helps with dialog.

Thanks for the suggestion on the midnight mode! Totally forgot about that and should defintiley come in hand for those late nights when I am trying to watch a action flick!
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-09-2013, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theproman23 View Post

I have the surround mode set to Auto select and I do see the receiver change to the ProLogic setting every once in a while. I am guessing the sound is a bit clearer and the surround effect is present with this mode which is probably what got me on this path to find a setting or two to make the overall lisenting experience similar to the ProLogic mode.
The receiver doesn't switch to ProLogic on its own. It does that because you told it to or because there's a flag in the source material telling it to. You have control over whether or not the AVR applies PLII to stereo sources.

Also, I recommended midnight mode as an approach to solving your dialog problem, not just for late night viewing.
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-09-2013, 08:38 AM
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Go here for info and tips http://www.avsforum.com/t/824554/setting-up-your-home-theater-101
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