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My impressions of my new setup with a Denon 4311 & Emotiva XPA-5

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well, after the initial setup, I have mixed feelings. Im running a 4311 5.1 system with an XPA5 amp and the Infinity Beta series speakers. I originally had Beta 20's as mains and 10's as rears. I found a set of 50's and replaced the 20's with them and the rear 10's with the 20's. My center is the C360 and the sub is an SW-12. After running Audyssey and watching a few different source movies Im somewhat impressed and no different than before. What Ive noticed most is the rear soundsatge has improved quite a bit. The rears seem to be more dynamic and able to handle the bass sent to them. The sub sounds more precise. The front mains are kind of neutral. The center has always been one of my sore spots. Despite all of the good reviews for the C360, Im not impressed. It is better, but it seems to have a very narrow soundstage, or whatever you call it. It seems that 1 inch can make a difference. I cant seem to comprehend why a center channel is so finicky. If my ears are more than 2 inches off, it sounds like crap.Prior to running Audyssey I moved the center to the very edge of where it sits so as not to have any bad reflections from where it rests. Secondly, Im not really Impressed with the XPA5. It makes me wonder if its the speakers or the fact that my listening room is quite possibly the worst acoustical place for my system. I have hardwood floors and a vaulted ceiling. I do have a throw carpet down, but still, its not enough. After switching from a Denon 1913 ($400) to a 4311 ($1400) and the XPA5 ($900), I would expect a little more from what a $1900 increase should give me. But alas, i havent. Im not totally disappointed, but Im not totally impressed either. I think in a theater dedicated room with better acoustics my system would sound far better, but still, I should have a very noticeable, discernible difference and I really dont.

Overall, Im just not impressed. I know its either my speakers and/or the room acoustics that are adding to my disappointment. I know the Betas arent the best, or even near it, but I expect a little more with the priice tag attached to everything. Im gonna try my GF's B&W 804s tomorrow and see how they sound. I rememeber watching a Muse concert DVD with her 804s coupled with a Krell 100w amp and a Theta Casnaova pre and how sweet and clear and precise it sounded. I dont think I should have to spend $15,000 to get that sound. I believe my setup retail was somewhere around $4500-$5100 and Ive heard sytems half that sound as good or better. What am I doing wrong??
post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Well, after the initial setup, I have mixed feelings. Im running a 4311 5.1 system with an XPA5 amp and the Infinity Beta series speakers. I originally had Beta 20's as mains and 10's as rears. I found a set of 50's and replaced the 20's with them and the rear 10's with the 20's. My center is the C360 and the sub is an SW-12. After running Audyssey and watching a few different source movies Im somewhat impressed and no different than before. What Ive noticed most is the rear soundsatge has improved quite a bit. The rears seem to be more dynamic and able to handle the bass sent to them. The sub sounds more precise. The front mains are kind of neutral. The center has always been one of my sore spots. Despite all of the good reviews for the C360, Im not impressed. It is better, but it seems to have a very narrow soundstage, or whatever you call it. It seems that 1 inch can make a difference. I cant seem to comprehend why a center channel is so finicky. If my ears are more than 2 inches off, it sounds like crap.Prior to running Audyssey I moved the center to the very edge of where it sits so as not to have any bad reflections from where it rests. Secondly, Im not really Impressed with the XPA5. It makes me wonder if its the speakers or the fact that my listening room is quite possibly the worst acoustical place for my system. I have hardwood floors and a vaulted ceiling. I do have a throw carpet down, but still, its not enough. After switching from a Denon 1913 ($400) to a 4311 ($1400) and the XPA5 ($900), I would expect a little more from what a $1900 increase should give me. But alas, i havent. Im not totally disappointed, but Im not totally impressed either. I think in a theater dedicated room with better acoustics my system would sound far better, but still, I should have a very noticeable, discernible difference and I really dont.

Overall, Im just not impressed. I know its either my speakers and/or the room acoustics that are adding to my disappointment. I know the Betas arent the best, or even near it, but I expect a little more with the priice tag attached to everything. Im gonna try my GF's B&W 804s tomorrow and see how they sound. I rememeber watching a Muse concert DVD with her 804s coupled with a Krell 100w amp and a Theta Casnaova pre and how sweet and clear and precise it sounded. I dont think I should have to spend $15,000 to get that sound. I believe my setup retail was somewhere around $4500-$5100 and Ive heard sytems half that sound as good or better. What am I doing wrong??

Give it time to settle and re-position the speakers and seating position after you've put a little time on your new gear, be patient !
post #3 of 29
1. "I cant seem to comprehend why a center channel is so finicky. If my ears are more than 2 inches off, it sounds like crap." - The horizontal center channel design is inherently problematic. If you notice big difference just moving a little it could also be measurement not done ideally. Many people run Audyssey a few times. If you haven't done so, read the Audyssey FAQ.

2. "Im not really Impressed with the XPA5" - the 4311 is a powerful AVR so unless you listen at very high SPLs that exceeds what the 4311 outputs adding the Emo isn't going to make any difference. Here people say 'all properly designed amps sound the same'. Doubling the power only adds 3dB loudness. Try without the Emo. If you don't notice any worse then sell it.

3. "It makes me wonder if its the speakers or the fact that my listening room is quite possibly the worst acoustical place for my system" - Unless you measure it you don't know. By all means experimental with speaker positioning more as mentioned. Or think about room treatment.

4. "I would expect a little more from what a $1900 increase should give me" and "I should have a very noticeable, discernible difference" - unrealistic expectation: it doesn't work that way. You already noticed improvement in the surrounds and bass due to Audyssey XT32, this is what you can reasonably expect but Audyssey is not perfect by all means (or can only do so much) and not be expected to solve (1) above.
post #4 of 29
^^^^^^^ +1
post #5 of 29
The infinity speakers are the weakest part of the setup. The next step before the XPA-5 should have been better speakers.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input guys. Im just frustrated that no matter how much I spend, I cant be satisifed. Like I mentioned, my GF 's setup sounds friggin' awesome. But, do I really have to spend $5,000 on a pair of speakers, $5,000 on a power amp, $3,000 on a pre pro and then $5,000 on a dang sub just to hear a discernible difference?? Then on top of that, I read reviews on gear with praises from professionals and the like, only to buy it, and it sounds like crap. I know the Infinity Beta series is by far not a top echelon speaker, but the reviews Ive read everywhere lead me to believe that they were listenable to. Thats just not the case. Theyre muddy, they lack depth and clarity as well as a good soundstage. So how can someone in their right mind in good conscience write such a positive review??

I guess Ill continue to listen to speakers and find something I like. But even then once I get em home theyre gonna sound different than in the listening room at the dealer. Shoot, to get a decent 5.1 speaker setup Im gonna have to spend another $3,000-$5,000. I just dont think I need to spend that much to get a decent sound. Any suggestions? Ive listened to several B&W's including my GF's 804s' model. I really like them, well at least powered by the KRELL. Again, Im just venting here. I appreciates yalls comments and advice.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Thanks for the input guys. Im just frustrated that no matter how much I spend, I cant be satisifed. Like I mentioned, my GF 's setup sounds friggin' awesome. But, do I really have to spend $5,000 on a pair of speakers, $5,000 on a power amp, $3,000 on a pre pro and then $5,000 on a dang sub just to hear a discernible difference?? Then on top of that, I read reviews on gear with praises from professionals and the like, only to buy it, and it sounds like crap. I know the Infinity Beta series is by far not a top echelon speaker, but the reviews Ive read everywhere lead me to believe that they were listenable to. Thats just not the case. Theyre muddy, they lack depth and clarity as well as a good soundstage. So how can someone in their right mind in good conscience write such a positive review??

I guess Ill continue to listen to speakers and find something I like. But even then once I get em home theyre gonna sound different than in the listening room at the dealer. Shoot, to get a decent 5.1 speaker setup Im gonna have to spend another $3,000-$5,000. I just dont think I need to spend that much to get a decent sound. Any suggestions? Ive listened to several B&W's including my GF's 804s' model. I really like them, well at least powered by the KRELL. Again, Im just venting here. I appreciates yalls comments and advice.

Would it be possible for you to post a couple of pictures of your room setup? Sometimes a picture is worth more than 1,000 words. wink.gif
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Thanks for the input guys. Im just frustrated that no matter how much I spend, I cant be satisifed. Like I mentioned, my GF 's setup sounds friggin' awesome. But, do I really have to spend $5,000 on a pair of speakers, $5,000 on a power amp, $3,000 on a pre pro and then $5,000 on a dang sub just to hear a discernible difference?? Then on top of that, I read reviews on gear with praises from professionals and the like, only to buy it, and it sounds like crap. I know the Infinity Beta series is by far not a top echelon speaker, but the reviews Ive read everywhere lead me to believe that they were listenable to. Thats just not the case. Theyre muddy, they lack depth and clarity as well as a good soundstage. So how can someone in their right mind in good conscience write such a positive review??

I guess Ill continue to listen to speakers and find something I like. But even then once I get em home theyre gonna sound different than in the listening room at the dealer. Shoot, to get a decent 5.1 speaker setup Im gonna have to spend another $3,000-$5,000. I just dont think I need to spend that much to get a decent sound. Any suggestions? Ive listened to several B&W's including my GF's 804s' model. I really like them, well at least powered by the KRELL. Again, Im just venting here. I appreciates yalls comments and advice.

You need better/different speakers, simple as that.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Like I mentioned, my GF 's setup sounds friggin' awesome. But, do I really have to spend $5,000 on a pair of speakers, $5,000 on a power amp, $3,000 on a pre pro and then $5,000 on a dang sub just to hear a discernible difference??

One thing is for sure though ... that is one quality girlfriend you've got there. biggrin.gif
post #10 of 29
You should have upgraded your speakers. Instead of buying the Emo amp you could have invested in something like the PSB T-6's. The 4311 has more than enough power to run your setup.smile.gif
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well, Initially I was gonna go the separates avenue. I bought the XPA5, then I started reviewing different prepros. I decided on the Marantz 7701 and even had it delivered to me. But after much reading, the 4311 seemed the more logical approach. I could use it as a prepro and the XPA5 run the 5.1 speakers while freeing up the 4311's amps for zones 2 and 3. My question is this though, the XPA5 runs 200w RMS into each of my speakers whilst the 4311 is running what??? Its rated at 140wpc x2, but what about in the 5.1 setup?
Quote:
Instead of buying the Emo amp you could have invested in something like the PSB T-6's
I looked at those and theyre well within my budget. One thing about speakers is, outside of your local dealers inventory is that its hard to listen to them. How would you descibe these speakers? Compare them to something I know like B&W 804s. WHat about next to the Beta 50s I have.

On a side note, the specs say its wifi capable. Is it??

Thanks for yalls comments. I appreciate them.
Edited by Daffypuck - 3/10/13 at 11:46am
post #12 of 29
Maybe your gf will be nice let you borrow her amps for a "few hours".... bring them over to your place and hook them up... see what you get. Odds are that you will hear the same thing... maybe...:-) or perhaps you will have to "break the bank" so to speak.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
I have hardwood floors and a vaulted ceiling. I do have a throw carpet down, but still, its not enough.

^^^This
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Would it be possible for you to post a couple of pictures of your room setup? Sometimes a picture is worth more than 1,000 words.
Not quite done with the screen. I have to build a valence for it and run the cords through the wall.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Not quite done with the screen. I have to build a valence for it and run the cords through the wall.

Great, thanks for the picture. smile.gif

First off you have a nice, cozy and comfortable room there. Congrats!

Now let's try to look into some pros and cons from a HT point of view:

Cons first:

1. HT system layout is not perfectly symmetric, door opening on the right is not an ideal case,
2. Walls and other things like the aquarium are very much reflective, no to mention the leather seats,
3. Sub placed in the corner firing directly at the wooden cabinet is not the best solution.
4. Front Mains seem to be toed-in too much

Pros:

There is hope! I'll try to give some ideas, one-by-one they may seem subtle, but in the end all will add up to make the best out of your system.

1. Try to find a way to block the door opening on the right side, a curtain maybe,
2. Move sub out of the corner as much as possible close to the Main tower,
3. Lessen the toe-in of the Mains, maybe setting them parallel with the front wall would also be good, but shouldn't be off-axis too much for the two side seats next to the MLP (Main Listening Position).

When aboves are done, run Audyssey again with the following considerations:

1. Make sure to use all available measurement positions, in your case with MultEQ XT32 its 8 positions,
2. Make sure mic is at seated ear hight,
3. You may throw some bath towel on each seat back to tame reflection that may throw off Audyssey causing too much roll-off in the high frequency region,
4. When done turn on Audyssey, turn on DynamicEQ and make sure Dynamic Volume is turned off.

Hope this helps. smile.gif
Edited by mogorf - 3/10/13 at 1:14pm
post #16 of 29
My own experience struggling with center speakers, comprehensibility of dialog, and miniscule sweet listening spots suggests: (1) don't use Audyssey, (2) get a moderately expensive Axiom center speaker.

I used Pioneer's MCACC for several years, then for 2 years used Audyssey with an Onkyo receiver, and with Audyssey I eventually noticed that I had a good soundstage when I sat about 2 feet forward from where I had the mic during calibration. But if I moved back a foot, or forward a foot, I lost the nice sound.

On the choice of center speaker, I used a bunch of inexpensive speakers over a decade, and was never very happy with dialog. Now, according to a certain school of thought, the most important characteristic of a good speaker is a smooth roll-off of the off-axis frequency response, and according to tests, this particular measure is something the Axiom speakers are especially good at. So about 8 years ago, I talked myself into investing in an Axiom M2i bookshelf speaker at around $128 to use as center. It worked great. More recently, I started a second HT, and used an Axiom VP150, then an Axiom VP180 as centers, and they also work very well for comprehensibility of dialog. I'm sure other speakers are good at horizontal frequency dispersion, also. Perhaps Paradigm?

At any rate, I'm into centers with good horizontal frequency dispersion. And not Audyssey.
post #17 of 29
Please provide a detailed description of how you ran Audyssey; including mic placement location,
location order, and the total number of samples.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks a bunch guys. Im gonna try and rerun the setup tonight with all of yalls suggestions. One thing I noticed during Audyssey was that a front main had a bad tweet. Fortunately I had a spare Beta 10 and that series runs the same tweet in all their speakers. I plan on selling all these speakers and upgrading, but its gonna take a long time. I want to listen to many different speakers before I make a decision. As of right now, my GF's 804s are a front runner. But I still want to listen to more.

Believe it or not, the sub is 1 ft off the wall in each direction, but Ill move it out more nearer the fr main. Again, thatnks for yalls help.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Thanks a bunch guys. Im gonna try and rerun the setup tonight with all of yalls suggestions. One thing I noticed during Audyssey was that a front main had a bad tweet. Fortunately I had a spare Beta 10 and that series runs the same tweet in all their speakers. I plan on selling all these speakers and upgrading, but its gonna take a long time. I want to listen to many different speakers before I make a decision. As of right now, my GF's 804s are a front runner. But I still want to listen to more.

Believe it or not, the sub is 1 ft off the wall in each direction, but Ill move it out more nearer the fr main. Again, thatnks for yalls help.

One more thought, in case space allows you may consider to move the 3-seater more to the left till the center seat is on-axis with the center speaker. That would be best! smile.gif Take care! smile.gif
post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I used Pioneer's MCACC for several years, then for 2 years used Audyssey with an Onkyo receiver, and with Audyssey I eventually noticed that I had a good soundstage when I sat about 2 feet forward from where I had the mic during calibration. But if I moved back a foot, or forward a foot, I lost the nice sound.

Thats exactly what Ive experienced. I would move forward and down from my prime listening area and the center would improve vastly. So I raised the center 3 inches and made sure its as close, if not janging over where its sitting. I need to make some sort of stand for it.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just got done listening to the 804's on my setup. I listened to a few digital sources in pure direct and 2 channel stereo with sub. Just curious, why did the two sound so different? Does the AVR change what signals go to the mains when in pure direct vs 2 channel stereo? From what I recall reading, it treats them as small when coupled with a sub and as large when in the pure direct mode. ANyways, the 804s sounded differently. They were clearer and not muddy like the Beta 50s. But, im guessing because of the room, the highs almost distorted or were way brighter on the 804s. Im sure all the hardwood and glass and walls had a lot to do with that. SO, Ive come to a conclusion further narrowing down my frustrations. Either the Krell/Theta combo does a better job of driving speakers than the Denon/Emotiva combo OR, room acoustics played a huge role in what Im hearing. But her setup was in a very similar laid out room as mine. Hardwood floors, granite counter tops and big windows. No vaulted ceilings though. She had her speakers bridged so the Krell was putting out 200w rms just like my Emotiva.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post

Just got done listening to the 804's on my setup. I listened to a few digital sources in pure direct and 2 channel stereo with sub. Just curious, why did the two sound so different? Does the AVR change what signals go to the mains when in pure direct vs 2 channel stereo? From what I recall reading, it treats them as small when coupled with a sub and as large when in the pure direct mode. ANyways, the 804s sounded differently. They were clearer and not muddy like the Beta 50s. But, im guessing because of the room, the highs almost distorted or were way brighter on the 804s. Im sure all the hardwood and glass and walls had a lot to do with that. SO, Ive come to a conclusion further narrowing down my frustrations. Either the Krell/Theta combo does a better job of driving speakers than the Denon/Emotiva combo OR, room acoustics played a huge role in what Im hearing. But her setup was in a very similar laid out room as mine. Hardwood floors, granite counter tops and big windows. No vaulted ceilings though. She had her speakers bridged so the Krell was putting out 200w rms just like my Emotiva.

^^^ Its a bit of all of those thing. Room interaction, component synergy, etc. I have 804s for rears, great speakers. Throw all the money you can at speakers, and your 4311 should do a decent job. I also have a 4311, but not in the same room as the B&Ws. I think the Krell stuff sounds too bright. Both Rotel and McIntosh are fine matches for B&Ws.
post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
OK, I reran Audyssey. This time I got some different results. First off, the center was set lowest by Audyssey at -8.5db. I threw in Phantom Menace for my source. Everything sounded fine, but extremely loud with the exception of the center channel. At -14db on the volume knob Im getting about 68-71db with dialogue and 89-93db with action which blows out the room and my ears. As usual I, as well as others, struggle to hear and understand dialogue. So I tweaked it a bit and brought it up to about -3.5db. Those measurements with the SPL meter were at about 10 ft. I wonder if the dynamic volume being off this time is the reason for the increase in volume, I dont know. IMO, I think the center channel is just too small for this room. First I lowered the projection screen. Then I started with a blanket on the empty theatre chair and myself and GF seated in the other two with the exception of the first reading at the center chair. I place pillows on it to simulate me sitting there and place the mic at ear level on the top of a pillow.
2nd in front of first on tripod at ear level
3rd front of left chair
4th front of right chair
5th front of rt channel
6th far right
7thfront of left channel
8th far left

Edited by Daffypuck - 3/11/13 at 12:24am
post #24 of 29
Any reason not to follow the instructions in the Audyssey FAQ closely? You're not supposed to put the mic on pillows. If the 'x' in the diagram is to scale the mic in the main position is too close to the backrest too. The 7th and 8th look too close to the front speakers. Also don't think people are allowed to sit in the seats!
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

Any reason not to follow the instructions in the Audyssey FAQ closely? You're not supposed to put the mic on pillows. If the 'x' in the diagram is to scale the mic in the main position is too close to the backrest too. The 7th and 8th look too close to the front speakers. Also don't think people are allowed to sit in the seats!

+1.

Furthermore the 6th and 8th are too far left/right, they should not be off-axis from the Front mains.
post #26 of 29
This seems to be a common misunderstanding while measuring with Audyssey.
The more expanded the measurement area the less efficient and successful Audyssey is in fighting major acoustical problems because the relevant effects vary strongly across the room and can't be compensated by one set of parameters, no matter what.
The goal to keep in mind is to have eliminated some acoustical variants around the sweet spot due to room modes, reflections, resorption and resonances while maintaining improved acoustics in a larger listening area.
Unfortunately you can't do this in a standard living / listening room for more than the expanded sweet spot to due room influences. If you try to expand further you will actually lower the outcome of the measurements up to a point where it even gets worse than without Audyssey.

Especially watch out for common disturbances around the microphone position (boundary effects close to walls or other larger surfaces, vibrations of microphone or furniture, over damping from nearby textile surfaces etc.). Always use some sort of stand for the microphone and keep away from being inline with the speakers / microphone axis during measurements.
Especially read the Setup Guide at the beginning of the general Audyssey thread to prevent those many "traps" to fall into.

This will (probably) make all the major differences (hopefully smile.gif).
Edited by gurkey - 3/11/13 at 8:13am
post #27 of 29
[quote name="Daffypuck" url="/t/1462395/

Overall, Im just not impressed. I know its either my speakers and/or the room acoustics that are adding to my disappointment. I know the Betas arent the best, or even near it, but I expect a little more with the priice tag attached to everything. Im gonna try my GF's B&W 804s tomorrow and see how they sound. I rememeber watching a Muse concert DVD with her 804s coupled with a Krell 100w amp and a Theta Casnaova pre and how sweet and clear and precise it sounded. I dont think I should have to spend $15,000 to get that sound. I believe my setup retail was somewhere around $4500-$5100 and Ive heard sytems half that sound as good or better. What am I doing wrong??[/quote]

Maybe her whole system is resulted in this "how sweet and clear and precise it sounded" including her space. You can also take your speakers to her home if you want to get crazy.
post #28 of 29
This is mainly not about price but about procedure. Audyssey as an afterthought room treatment technology / algorithm being a consumer level room correction system can't - naturally - cure everything due to limitations of the physics involved.
There is no cure for everything in real life, sometimes it even may fail if the prerequisites diverge to much from the model / algorithm Audyssey is based upon. But this holds true for everything available at consumer friendly prices without major manual interaction and room treatment.
Edited by gurkey - 3/11/13 at 8:25am
post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
I guess I need to go read the Audyssey FAQ/Instructions a bit more closely. As far as people sitting in while meausuring, isnt that what you would want?? I would think that a person would affect the room acoustics and that you would want Audyssey to account for that. Anyways, Ill give it another go and see what happens. Still thanks for all of yalls comments and advice.
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