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post #1 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Please critique my starter system, and offer any ideas/thoughts/advice you might have on placement, equipment upgrade/change ideas and configuration.

Thanks in advance!

Post Edit: May 22nd 2013 - Reflecting Current Set-Up

Current Issues:
* Sub Placement
* Rear Speaker Choice
* Do I need a center channel or not?
* Acoustic Treatments?

Quick Sketch of Current 2.1 Floorplan:
LL

Equipment:
Marantz NR1602 AVR
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray
Panasonic 55" Plasma
Cable Box (Time Warner)
Apple TV
Win 7 Laptop as Media Server
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 Main Speakers
Klipsch RW-12D Subwoofer

EQ Settings:
Marantz NR1602
Audio Adjust Menu:
- MultEQ: Audyssey
- Dynamic EQ: Off
- Reference Offset: 0db
- Dynamic Volume: Off (sometimes turn this on during low-level/night time movie watching)
- M-Dax: Off (I play with this setting sometimes)
- Audio Delay: 0ms
System Setup Menu:
- Speaker Setup
- - - - Speaker Config
- - - - - - - Front: Large (Still Experimenting Here)
- - - - - - - Center: None
- - - - - - - Subwoofer: Yes
- - - - - - - Surround: None
- - - - Bass Setting
- - - - - - - Subwoofer Mode: LFE + Main Still experimenting here.
- - - - - - - LPF for LFE: 120hz
- - - - Distance
- - - - - - - Front L: 10.0 ft
- - - - - - - Front R: 10.1 ft
- - - - - - - Subwoofer: 16.5 ft (not actual distance: adjusted by Audyssey for room acoustics)
- - - - Crossover
- - - - - - - "Advanced"
- - - - - - - Front: 40hz Still Experimenting Here

Input Setup Menu:
- Source Level
- - - - Digital Input: +4db (manually adjusted)

Klipsch RW-12D
- Volume: 0db
- EQ Mode: Punch (using Flat for Movies)
- Lowpass: OFF (LFE Mode)
- Phase: 0
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post #2 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CubicleCrusher View Post

...I could end up piecing things together from various brands as my education evolves.
That is usually a bad idea. Speakers in a system need to be timbre matched, even the surrounds. That normally means using speakers that are all from the same manufacturer and line. You can try mixing and matching, but at least the fronts should be from the same manufacturer and line. It is possible that you may not notice a mismatch in the surrounds. Some folks don't. If you are like me, you will notice any difference.

IMHO, if you are going to be piecing the speakers together, it is best to start with what you ultimately want for your front left and right speakers, and add from there as funds permit.
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post #3 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CubicleCrusher View Post

+1 to what Colm said about sticking with speakers that are designed to work together.
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* Maybe the Diamond 10.2 speakers would make better fronts? Or would they be too bass-heavy with the eventually subwoofer that will come?

No way can a speaker with a mere single 6.5" woofer be too bass-heavy for use with a subwoofer. Even speakers with 3 10" woofers can be upgraded in a worthwhile way by an appropriate subwoofer.
Quote:
* Maybe the 2.0 system will be "terrible" with movies/TV?

It won't be overly thrilling but it will be OK to listen to. The fun begins when you add a really good subwoofer.
Quote:
* Maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew by avoiding a complete 5.1 speaker system?

No. 2.0 and 2.1 systems are good starting points.
Quote:
Please critique my starter system, and offer any ideas/thoughts/advice you might have on this theory of starting with 2.0 and upgrading vs going straight to a 5.1 speaker configuration.

You seem to be taking an umm sound approach for starting out. ;-)
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post #4 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I very much appreciate the replies, thanks!

I feel a bit better, and not so paranoid about my purchases.

I think I'll upgrade to the 10.2 speakers for the fronts. I read an article where someone used 4 10.1 speakers (2 for the fronts and 2 for the rears). I believe I'm over thinking the whole thing; trying to plan 4 steps ahead of where I am now.

So, I'll start with the Diamond 10.2 as fronts and will add the Diamond SX subwoofer ASAP; unless I'm pointed in a different direction by the time the tax refund comes in. smile.gif

The 10 CS center speaker will come later; along with whatever I do for rears. These will probably be 6 months out or more.

In the end, I'll have a complete Diamond Surround system:
10.2 Fronts ($450)
SX sub ($400)
CS center ($300)
SR rears ($230)

Total around: $1380 for the speaker system.

I sure hope I'll like it a whole lot better than the Energy Take 5.1. hehe
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post #5 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 04:24 PM
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For home theatre use it is perfectly fine to have different rears. Piecing your system together is fine as well. I would start with a 2.1 or 3.0 set at first. In the 2.1 get a good sub that you dont intend to replace for a while and the fronts will be speakers that you intend to use as rears. In a 3.0 system I would purchase a very good center that you intend to keep and the L/R will should be decent and eventually moved to surround duty. In the end this will help you get the most out of your system.

As for the sub i think there are much better subs out there. Look at the klipsch rw12d from newegg. Its $300 right now and has incredible performance at that price. Around this forum it regarded as the best value in the <$300 market.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882780078
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post #6 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Petden View Post

As for the sub i think there are much better subs out there. Look at the klipsch rw12d from newegg. Its $300 right now and has incredible performance at that price. Around this forum it regarded as the best value in the <$300 market.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882780078

Thanks, I'll definately check into the Klipsch and could very well shop around for rears too. I had made a note that the Klipsch 12hg sub is around $300 on Amazon too. But the RW seems to pack more power.

So, in theory...when piece-mealing a system, I'm hearing that it's important to have fronts and center in the same series/manufacturer - but the subwoofer and rears can be mixed-and-matched.

If that's true, then it would seem that I should buy the Fronts and Centers together (or within a reasonable amount of time) so that availability doesn't become an issue. Then toss in the sub, and then complete the system with the rears.

Although it seems odd to me, I would operate with fronts-and-center for a while before my sub came along; but it seems the safest bet if keeping fronts-and-center in the same series/manufacturer is truely a guiding principle.

Can you tell that I'm in that "waiting for delivery" phase of overthinking and excitement? biggrin.gif
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post #7 of 23 Old 04-14-2013, 10:02 PM
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FWIW the center can well be the last thing you add. You can usually run a phantom center in a residence and not notice a significant difference. The center channel was added to stereo to pin the dialogue to the screen in large movie theaters where the dialogue seemed to come from different places with stereo depending on where you sat in the auditorium.
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post #8 of 23 Old 04-15-2013, 04:30 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm glad you mentioned that.

My "gut" tells me to buy two front speakers and a sub first.

I just got hung up on the "matching the front 3" part.

So I just picked up one of those Klipsch RW-12D subs to accent the Wharfedales. I couldn't resist the deal.

And I have a feeling that the Wharfedale 10 CS will be available for a while if I feel the need to add it. For movies, I have enjoyed the center channel effect in my 5.1 HTiB systems in the past, even in smaller rooms. So I can picture it being there eventually.

But for now, I think I'm happy with the idea of a 2.1 system (2 fronts + sub).

So now I wait for the postman! smile.gif
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post #9 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm View Post

FWIW the center can well be the last thing you add. You can usually run a phantom center in a residence and not notice a significant difference. The center channel was added to stereo to pin the dialogue to the screen in large movie theaters where the dialogue seemed to come from different places with stereo depending on where you sat in the auditorium.

The "phantom center" effect will completely fall apart if you are off-axis (not centered between FL/R speakers). Phantom mode is only good for a single listener in the "sweet spot" - anywhere else in the room the center image will be shifted to the left or right speaker, whichever is closer to the listener.
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post #10 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 01:57 PM
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The "phantom center" effect will completely fall apart if you are off-axis (not centered between FL/R speakers). Phantom mode is only good for a single listener in the "sweet spot"...
BS. Having lived in a variety of residences, and having used both a matched center and a phantom center, I can tell you that a phantom center works quite well in many cases, even if you aren't sitting in the sweet spot. The brain compensates quite well for small errors unless you are actively looking for them. In other cases, adding a matched center will be a clear improvement.

In any case, the point is, adding rears before adding the center is a viable option depending on circumstances. Might not work for you, but might work for OP.
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post #11 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 02:33 PM
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Please explain to me just how a phantom center can be imaged directly between two speakers if you are physically closer to one than the other?? This is acoustics, not alchemy. rolleyes.gif
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post #12 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Alan P View Post

Please explain to me just how a phantom center can be imaged directly between two speakers if you are physically closer to one than the other?? This is acoustics, not alchemy. rolleyes.gif

Cross-fire/heavy toe in. Folks on one side or the other of the sweet spot will get the slightly reduced off-axis response of the proximal speaker, and the direct on-axis sound from the more distant speaker. You're correct. It's acoustics, not alchemy.
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post #13 of 23 Old 04-17-2013, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan P View Post

Please explain to me just how a phantom center can be imaged directly between two speakers if you are physically closer to one than the other?? This is acoustics, not alchemy. rolleyes.gif
Actually, it is acoustics and psychoacoustics. I will let you do your own research on that. You will learn so much more than if I just explain it to you.
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post #14 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Well; shipments have arrived and I'm moderately pleased. It's interesting that the "Virtual Channel" idea was mentioned here. That is my main complaint with the NR1402 - it does not have Dolby Virtual Speaker mode. I also seemed to be unable to use Audyssey set-up as I'm running a 2.1 system and this seems to only work with 5.1 configurations. Audyssey runs, detects my 2.1 set-up, but doesn't ever advance to the "Next" stage (assumingly because it's waiting to find the rear and center?). I have to "exit" out.

I have my speakers in a fairly-equi-distant triangle of 8ft. The sub is slightly ahead of the left front speaker - against a side wall - appx 18" clear space behind the woofer (where the base of a floor standing lamp is). The fronts are about 4" away from the back wall; my stands are on back-order so I have them up on some old Advents from the 80's (pretty close to the same height as the stands on-order). Almost looks like my old dorm room; much to the dismay of my wife. But my stands will come and all will be well with the wife. smile.gif I have the speakers pointed in towards the "sweet spot" just a bit - but I don't have an angle measurement for ya!

I'm not sure how to simulate a "Virtual Center" without Dolby Virtual Speaker mode. However, the Audyssey detection did leave the center channel "on" although there is no physical speaker there. I'm not sure if that is it's version of a virtual center or not. I've left it that way. I'm strongly contemplating an upgrade to the Marantz NR1602 which will give me Dolby Virtual Speaker, and network via ethernet. From what I read, Virtual Speaker could give me that last "sound piece" I feel like I'm missing and (if it works) would make me more patient for my center and rear speakers. Network connectivity might have value here-or-there; like with a remote control iPad app.

Listening to music is very satisfying; excellent even. I'm putting it through some paces with live Phish music, complete with horn section. I've set my speakers as "small", and have manually adjusted some settings. The Klipsch rw-12d has plenty of kick in my space, I've actually adjusted its volume to -3db; that seems to take a bit of the thud out.

Listening to TV is just okay. I'm not sure if I'm imagining it, but at low volumes I seem to really miss the center channel. The sound is a bit "hollow" as if I'm missing some midrange and I can't help but think a center channel would make those voices seem more in-front of me. However a live music Blu-Ray DVD played quite well (Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds acoustic concert). I've not sat down for a true "movie" test yet. Although not completely "tiny" the sweet-spot for listening isn't exactly as wide my 3 cushion couch.

However, this is still leaps ahead of my Samsung HTiB in musical sound quality, volume, and pure listening pleasure. Here is a quick summary-review of my equipment:

Marantz NR1402: Fantastic sound. I know they have the same parent company as Denon, but I can't imagine the sound being better (at the under-$300 mark). How tempting those feature-filled Denons are, and they get great reviews too, but I wouldn't gamble on losing that "Marantz-Sound" (but maybe I have a brand-bias in me some where). I only regret the lack of Dolby Virtual Speaker surround mode.

Panasonic dmp-bdt220 Blu-Ray Player: I bought this soley on the reviews on CNET. I don't have a large CD or DVD collection so I'm not fussy here. This player was under $100 and does everything I need - including streaming pandora. Hooked straight into the Marantz through HDMI.

Time Warner Cable Box: Hooked up to the Marantz through HDMI with no errors.

Apple TV: It is what it is; $100 streaming device.. It works; is hooked up to the Marantz through HDMI. AirPlay works - the YouTube app sucks but that isn't Apple TV's fault - the YouTube API simply sucks. We have better luck mirroring the iPad to the TV and using iPad apps or Chrome to find/play videos. It's best feature for us is the iTunes integration.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers: using them as Fronts. Still playing with placement and settings - but very happy with them. A damn "good looking" speaker for sure. Once I get them up on stands it'll be real nice.

Klipsch RW-12D: it's possible that coming from HTiB subwoofers, I simply don't know what a subwoofer can do. But this one seems awesome. It provides floor shaking rumbles, but can be tamed too. I have it in "Flat" mode. Tried "Depth", but that was too deep. smile.gif

My next steps are to finalize my decision on the NR1402 vs the NR1602; tweak speaker placement and settings to try and get a better movie/TV viewing experience; and find a universal remote (or app) that will consolidate all these various functions! If Dolby Virtual Speaker does what it says it does, then it would seem to be a must-have for 2.1 start-up systems that will still maintain a good amount of use as a TV/movie center.

Advice, comments, suggestions and arguements are welcomed! wink.gif
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post #15 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 02:16 PM
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You don't need Dolby Virtual Channel to have a phantom center channel....make sure center is set to none or off in your AVR and the center information will be re-routed to your FR/L speakers. As long as you are centered between the FR/L speakers, and equidistant from both, you should hear the dialogue coming from directly between your two mains.

Not sure why Audyssey is stopping you - it should work just fine with 2.1. confused.gif
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post #16 of 23 Old 04-19-2013, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, my speaker configuration was all messed up.

I turned off the center and rears (previously set to small) and I'm noticing an improvement. Will have to let it set in for a while to really tell.

And, this might show how out dated I am, but I was surprised that there are no RCA audio outputs on my AVR. Wireless Indoor/Outdoor speakers use these; the alternative is to jack them through the front headphone jack - which is ugly. I guess RCA Audio Out is - out! eek.gif
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post #17 of 23 Old 04-20-2013, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Not sure what I was doing wrong with Audyssey before, but I was able to get it to find and configure my 2.1 system upon a second attempt.

Here are the settings:

Marantz NR1402
Audio Adjust Menu:
- MultEQ: Audyssey
- Dynamic EQ: On
- Reference Offset: 0db
- Dynamic Volume: Medium
- M-Dax: Off (I play with this setting sometimes)
- Audio Delay: 0ms
System Setup Menu:
- Speaker Setup
- - - - Speaker Config
- - - - - - - Front: Large (manually adjusted back to Small per forum recommendations in other threads)
- - - - - - - Center: None
- - - - - - - Subwoofer: Yes
- - - - - - - Surround: None
- - - - Bass Setting
- - - - - - - Subwoofer Mode: LFE + Main
- - - - - - - LPF for LFE: 80hz
- - - - Distance
- - - - - - - Front L: 10.1 ft
- - - - - - - Front R: 10.3 ft
- - - - - - - Subwoofer: 16.5 ft (not actual distance: adjusted by Audyssey for room acoustics)
- - - - Crossover
- - - - - - - "Advanced"
- - - - - - - Front: 40hz (I've read in many place where this should be manually adjusted to 80hz, but I've not done that yet)

Input Setup Menu:
- Source Level
- - - - Digital Input: +7db (manually adjusted)

Klipsch RW-12D
- Volume: 0db (sometimes knock it back to -3db)
- EQ Mode: Flat
- Lowpass: OFF (LFE Mode)
- Phase: 0
There are more settings, but I've not dug into them yet. The sound is improving with these adjustments although I still flip-flop on a few of them sometimes. Of concern to me at this point is the Crossover setting of 40hz and the Large/Small settings on my Fronts.

I am also noticing that my surround mode has three settings: Auto, Stereo, and Virtual. What the hell is that? The Marantz product documentation does not specify Dolby Virtual Speaker - is there some other virtual surround sound mode? It's not so good for music, but I'll be testing it tonight with a movie.
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post #18 of 23 Old 04-22-2013, 09:13 AM
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My guess would be that "Virtual" gives you virtual surround sound - it will try to replicate the missing surround speakers. Some of these matrixes can sound OK, but most do a pretty bad job of it. I'd leave it off.

Personally, I hate Dynamic Volume and leave it off (I see yours is set to "Medium").

I see you are using LFE+Main - this will have no effect unless your fronts are set to large.

Most people recommend to cross over your fronts at 80hz, but go ahead and experiment to see what sounds best to you.

I see you have manually adjusted your source level +7db - this is fine, but do realize that this will effect Audyssey Dynamic EQ and how it boosts the bass in your setup. With the input level bumped up, you will get more of a bass boost from Dynamic EQ than you really should.
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post #19 of 23 Old 04-22-2013, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow - thanks for the input Alan. I'm still learning what all this stuff means, and how the settings interact with each other.

I'm going to take your advice about the Dynamic Volume. To me, the description of it from Audyssey is like saying "we take all the fun out of your sound!"
Volume fluctuates: dialog can be soft while explosions blast and switching between different components often raises or lowers the volume. All these unexpected changes can be annoying. - Annoying!? To me it's called "desirable"! LOL So yeah, I'll be turning that off tonight.

I choose LFE+Main because it was my understanding that this would still send signals to the subwoofer even when not using 5.1. I read "somewhere" that using LFE only will only engage the sub during movies (or when a 5.1 signal is present). I wanted to be sure it would still fire for stereo signals. I'll experiment here too when time allows.

One thing that is puzzling me, is the relationship between the various "cross over" frequencies. And perhaps I'm not classifying it right, but isn't the "LPF for LFE" in-effect a cross over setting? Shouldn't the "LPF" and the "crossover" match? If my LPF is 80, but the crossover is 40 - do I confuse my Marantz as much as my Marantz confuses me? wink.gif

LPF is the low-pass frequency, right? So it will only pass frequencies lower than 80hz to the sub, correct? Isn't that the same thing the cross-over is doing?

All I know is that I'm having fun with music and movies again - the research, the experimentation, the buyers-remorse and the upgrading-addiction - they all combine to bring more fun to my AV experience than I've had in a decade or more. So thanks (again) to all of you who have help me get back into this hobby and have shared my excitement with your advice and insights.
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post #20 of 23 Old 04-22-2013, 04:12 PM
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Totally agree about Dyn Volume - it takes all the fun (read: dynamic range) out of everything!

LFE+Main will only work when your fronts are set to large and will give you what is called around here "double bass", duplicating the front L/R bass in the subwoofer channel. This is usually considered undesirable and can "muddy" the bass response. If you have your fronts set to "small", LFE+Main will do nothing.

The LPF for LFE is indeed the low pass for the subwoofer, but ONLY for the LFE (the ."1" in 5.1) - you should have it set at 120hz. Since all LFE frequency content is below that threshold, 120hz is the desired setting here.

The crossover setting is taking the bass info from your FL/R channels (as opposed to the LFE channel) below 80hz and re-directing it to your subwoofer.
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post #21 of 23 Old 04-23-2013, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, to my surprise (and chagrin) I found that I had a use for Dynamic Volume last night while watching a 5.1 movie after the kids went to bed. Dynamic Volume reduced the thunder of horses hooves and enhanced the dialogue to make low-volume listening a bit easier. And, as a result, people fell asleep during the movie! But, it didn't wake the kids either I suppose. smile.gif

This morning, I adjusted my setup per your recommendations (changed to LFE only, increased LPF to 120 and set the cross over to 80). I'll give em' a go this way for a while.
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post #22 of 23 Old 05-22-2013, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay...
I edited the top post (original thread starter post) to reflect my current set-up, configuration and questions.

This set-up gives me "acceptable" results for both movies and music, with its strength being 2-channel music.

You need to be right "on-axis"; although off-axis performance is still good, it's obvious you are not in the sweet-spot. I wonder what I could do to give me a wider sweet spot and to make the off-axis changes less noticeable. Would room treatments assist in this, or is there simply little that can be done to expand the size of the sweet-spot?

In most cases, I feel like I have adequate bass response - but with some source material (usually that of lesser quality) - the bass can need some adjustment. I often tackle this by adjusting the volume or mode of the sub itself. For the most part that works, yet I can't help but feel that I need to really re-evaluate my sub-placement.

My next steps are:
* Re-read Ethan's set-up guide.
* Experiment with the Harmon-Kardon spreadsheet I see floating around that does some room mode calcs for you.
* Buy a SPL meter and start taking readings in various spots within the room
* Experiment more with AVR configuration/EQ
* Buy a configured mic for REW, and start REW experimentation.
* Contemplate acoustic room treatments.

As usual, questions, comments, suggestions and critiques are always welcomed!
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post #23 of 23 Old 05-23-2013, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CubicleCrusher View Post

Okay...

You need to be right "on-axis"; although off-axis performance is still good, it's obvious you are not in the sweet-spot. I wonder what I could do to give me a wider sweet spot and to make the off-axis changes less noticeable. Would room treatments assist in this, or is there simply little that can be done to expand the size of the sweet-spot?

From your diagram, it looks like your speakers are aimed directly at the listening position. Try tweaking the toe in just a bit more, perhaps a couple degrees, so that their direct axis crosses a couple feet in front of the listening position. Consider moving them a couple inches further apart if possible. It's free to experiment, so try every which way. The more they're toed in, the wider you should place them.

First reflection points that you should treat include the wall behind the couch on the right, and maybe the ceiling above coffee table, although your ceilings are high enough to forego that.
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