Need suggestions from fellow ascend owners or those who owned ascend and moved on. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Need suggestions from fellow ascend owners or those who owned ascend and moved on.

Current setup:

Front Left/Front Right: CBM-170s
Surrounds: 200SE's
Center: TSC MTM Design (The Speaker Company)
Sub: Klipsch 112SW


I have been running my setup for a week now and overall I am pretty happy. However when I switch from Direct or stereo mode to Multichannel mode when playing music and my center comes into play its almost like a viel/blanket was lifted. I switched the setting with the wife listening to some of her random youtube music and she was like "woah, that sounds much better!". We both agreed every time the receiver was put in multichannel mode everything just sounded better.

I know ascend speakers are known for their neutral sound. I guess I am trying to find if there is a way to measure with and without the center channel to see what bump I am hearing? Something like REW or the like? I could tell a big jump from the 200'se to the 170's in room filling sound, stage presence and imaging when I simply swapped the 200's to the 170's for 2 channel music listening. Tone wise both ascend speakers sound pretty much identical.

I really like the ascend speakers but I feel I am missing a lot without my center engaged. I have kept this TSC center for MANY years... I found the company through this site and I have been VERY happy ever since. Perhaps someone can dig up or remember who was the actual maker of TSC so it may give me a better idea of the sound signature the wife and I like? I dug through old posts but couldn't find this information.

Once the wife could hear the difference with the center channel engaged she agreed it would be worth upgrading speakers, but we want to upgrade in the right direction for our ears.

I have zero issues with my current setup for Home Theater. It is very dynamic and works awesome (I don't really know what I am missing as my center is always engaged). However for music I have always been more of a purist and prefer 2 channel or 2.1. Plus being able to swap from 2.1 to multi channel it allows me to audibly here there is a big difference in the speaker design.

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:15 PM
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The center will always add another component to the sound, one of which is an increase in volume. This can lead you to believe you are hearing more clarity.

Maybe try out the CMT340 center and you’ll see an even bigger improvement in sound, or even just a single CBM170.
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Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #3 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
The center will always add another component to the sound, one of which is an increase in volume. This can lead you to believe you are hearing more clarity.

Maybe try out the CMT340 center and you’ll see an even bigger improvement in sound, or even just a single CBM170.
I was going to suggest just that. Good advice in my opinion.
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post #4 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
Current setup:

Front Left/Front Right: CBM-170s
Surrounds: 200SE's
Center: TSC MTM Design (The Speaker Company)
Sub: Klipsch 112SW


I have been running my setup for a week now and overall I am pretty happy. However when I switch from Direct or stereo mode to Multichannel mode when playing music and my center comes into play its almost like a viel/blanket was lifted. I switched the setting with the wife listening to some of her random youtube music and she was like "woah, that sounds much better!". We both agreed every time the receiver was put in multichannel mode everything just sounded better.

I know ascend speakers are known for their neutral sound. I guess I am trying to find if there is a way to measure with and without the center channel to see what bump I am hearing? Something like REW or the like? I could tell a big jump from the 200'se to the 170's in room filling sound, stage presence and imaging when I simply swapped the 200's to the 170's for 2 channel music listening. Tone wise both ascend speakers sound pretty much identical.

I really like the ascend speakers but I feel I am missing a lot without my center engaged. I have kept this TSC center for MANY years... I found the company through this site and I have been VERY happy ever since. Perhaps someone can dig up or remember who was the actual maker of TSC so it may give me a better idea of the sound signature the wife and I like? I dug through old posts but couldn't find this information.

Once the wife could hear the difference with the center channel engaged she agreed it would be worth upgrading speakers, but we want to upgrade in the right direction for our ears.

I have zero issues with my current setup for Home Theater. It is very dynamic and works awesome (I don't really know what I am missing as my center is always engaged). However for music I have always been more of a purist and prefer 2 channel or 2.1. Plus being able to swap from 2.1 to multi channel it allows me to audibly here there is a big difference in the speaker design.

Thanks in advance!
What receiver are you using? Which multi-channel mode are you using?

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post #5 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Receiver is a denon 540BT. It only has multichannel, dolby ii , direct, stereo, virtual and one other mode.

Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
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post #6 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
The center will always add another component to the sound, one of which is an increase in volume. This can lead you to believe you are hearing more clarity.
Switching from 2-channel to multi-channel should not result in an overall increase in volume. There is no new sound added when adding the CC. All the content that goes to the CC comes from the L/R channels. What is removed from the L/R speakers and sent to the CC is level-matched so the overall volume is unchanged. Same goes for the surround content.



There should be an improvement in "spaciousness" but not overall volume.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
Maybe try out the CMT340 center and you’ll see an even bigger improvement in sound, or even just a single CBM170.
I totally agree with the concept of timbre-matching the CC with the L/R's, and I don't know how good the timbre-match is between his L/R's and his current CC. However, if he prefers the sound of his CC, he may be better off replacing the L/R's to timbre-match to it.



Just sayin'
YMMV
My $0.02
Yada, Yada


Craig

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post #7 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Agreed, I enjoy the timber of the CC. I would say it more forward/clear? Hard to describe. The ascends in comparison sound like they have less treble? That's the best way I can describe it. Doesn't necessarily sound louder with center engaged, I just hear more of the center channel. It literally sounds like I draped a blanket over a speaker and then moved it away. Just sounds much more clear.

Last edited by 1983weatherby; 10-03-2019 at 12:52 PM.
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post #8 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post
Switching from 2-channel to multi-channel should not result in an overall increase in volume. There is no new sound added when adding the CC. All the content that goes to the CC comes from the L/R channels. What is removed from the L/R speakers and sent to the CC is level-matched so the overall volume is unchanged. Same goes for the surround content.

There should be an improvement in "spaciousness" but not overall volume.

I totally agree with the concept of timbre-matching the CC with the L/R's, and I don't know how good the timbre-match is between his L/R's and his current CC. However, if he prefers the sound of his CC, he may be better off replacing the L/R's to timbre-match to it.



Just sayin'
YMMV
My $0.02
Yada, Yada


Craig

If it’s multichannel stereo, wouldn’t the CC just be playing both L/R?

I’ll trust you on this as you have more knowledge on this than me.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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Have you tried playing around with graphic equalizers at all? Sound signature often accounts for a large part of preferences like this. Music selection plays a role as well in this equation; for example, I discovered that some music that I selected for sounding amazing on my Bowers and Wilkins 702 S2 towers still sounded better on them vs my Ascend Towers, until I temporarily equalized the Ascend Towers to mimick the B&W’s sound signature, at which point everything I thought I liked better about the B&W for that song disappeared — it turned out some songs were mostly just poorly mastered for neutral speakers. That said, most of my test songs immediately sound best on the Ascend Towers, but this could vary quite a bit depending on your song selection.

If you end up just liking your center better for whatever reason, that’s totally fine if course, but please let us know if you ever figure out why — many of us I think would be curious to know.

P.S. I also have a center channel that I prefer on for most music, the one also made by Ascend. Since it’s not necessarily a fair comparison to compare 2 to 3 channel (plus the fact that you’re combining speaker brands makes it more complex), you may find it valuable to compare just mono of the Ascend vs your old center channel. Then note down what it is you hear that’s different, and of what what you like or dislike etc.
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post #10 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by echopraxia View Post
Have you tried playing around with graphic equalizers at all? Sound signature often accounts for a large part of preferences like this. Music selection plays a role as well in this equation; for example, I discovered that some music that I selected for sounding amazing on my Bowers and Wilkins 702 S2 towers still sounded better on them vs my Ascend Towers, until I equalized the signal to mimick the B&W’s sound signature, at which point everything I thought I liked better about the B&W for that song disappeared — it turned out some songs were mostly just poorly mastered for neutral speakers. That said, most of my test songs immediately sound best on the Ascend Towers, but this could vary quite a bit depending on your song selection.

If you end up just liking your center better for whatever reason, that’s totally fine if course, but please let us know if you ever figure out why — many of us I think would be curious to know.

P.S. I also have a center channel that I prefer on for most music, the one also made by Ascend. Since it’s not necessarily a fair comparison to compare 2 to 3 channel (plus the fact that you’re combining speaker brands makes it more complex), you may find it valuable to compare just mono of the Ascend vs your old center channel. Then note down what it is you hear that’s different, and of what what you like or dislike etc.
I have not... I would need to google that. I haven't adjusted anything with treble/bass and don't know how much I can on this receiver. I know on my denon 3312CI I can adjust a bunch of things like dynamic volume and stuff. This one is pretty basic.

Looking online I found that TSC bookshelves were rebranded polk speakers.

Quote:
The TSC P-series bookshelves appear to be the older Polk R Series speakers (R15 and R20).
So maybe my center is a rebranded polk? If so, does Polk have a typical sound signature that differs from ascend?

Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
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post #11 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
I have not... I would need to google that. I haven't adjusted anything with treble/bass and don't know how much I can on this receiver. I know on my denon 3312CI I can adjust a bunch of things like dynamic volume and stuff. This one is pretty basic.



Looking online I found that TSC bookshelves were rebranded polk speakers.







So maybe my center is a rebranded polk? If so, does Polk have a typical sound signature that differs from ascend?

Generally the Polk centers are muddy and far from resolving.

Your CBMs are a superior design in almost every way.

I still think you should try an Ascend Center, but your call.
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Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #12 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
Receiver is a denon 540BT. It only has multichannel, dolby ii , direct, stereo, virtual and one other mode.

According to the spec's for that receiver, the multichannel mode is actually multichannel stereo. It doesn't upmix the sound at all; it just sends a duplicate of the L/R channels to the surrounds and a summed signal to the CC. You also have Dolby PLII, and DTS Neo:6. Those both upmix the 2-channel to "surround sound." Have you tried either of those? (My personal favorite of those is DTS Neo:6, but try PL as well.)


Actually, I would like to correct my earlier post about volumes. If the CC is higher sensitivity than the L/R's the volume from the CC will be higher than the volume from the L/R's as none of the modes recalibrate the CC before sending the signal there. The Acsends are 89 dB, but I can't find any info on the now-defunct The Speaker Company. (I guess that would also make it hard to get timbre-matching LR's for the CC.)



Craig

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Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
I have not... I would need to google that. I haven't adjusted anything with treble/bass and don't know how much I can on this receiver. I know on my denon 3312CI I can adjust a bunch of things like dynamic volume and stuff. This one is pretty basic.

Looking online I found that TSC bookshelves were rebranded polk speakers.



So maybe my center is a rebranded polk? If so, does Polk have a typical sound signature that differs from ascend?
Not sure they're rebranded Polk's:
http://thespeakercompany.blogspot.com/


Is this your CC:

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If I was to timber match and add another CBM-170 to my front stage and swap out my current center your thinking that would fix the issue? I guess my issue seems like the cbm's aren't as clear. Couldn't i remove my center and put it in the left channel location and compare the sound from the left speaker (center) to the CBM to get a better idea of what might be different?

When I put my head up to the center channel currently vs the ascends its like the ascends are muddy. I know that's a bad term to use with the ascend brand... But that's the best way I can describe it. The main issue is with vocals. The rest of the speaker sounds great on the ascends. With certain musicians the center sounds MUCH clearer with vocals when using multichannel.

If I run in multichannel everything blends amazing. It's just when I go back to stereo or direct that I notice the difference.

I am no audiophile, so I am trying to describe the best I can.

Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
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post #15 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
If it’s multichannel stereo, wouldn’t the CC just be playing both L/R?

I’ll trust you on this as you have more knowledge on this than me.
The CC would be getting a "summed" L/R signal. To do that, the the L/R channels are both lowered by 3 dB before summing. Once summed, the signal is 3 dB louder, and the resultant signal is equal in level to the L/R's.

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Not sure they're rebranded Polk's:
http://thespeakercompany.blogspot.com/


Is this your CC:
Yup, that's my center.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post
According to the spec's for that receiver, the multichannel mode is actually multichannel stereo. It doesn't upmix the sound at all; it just sends a duplicate of the L/R channels to the surrounds and a summed signal to the CC. You also have Dolby PLII, and DTS Neo:6. Those both upmix the 2-channel to "surround sound." Have you tried either of those? (My personal favorite of those is DTS Neo:6, but try PL as well.)


Actually, I would like to correct my earlier post about volumes. If the CC is higher sensitivity than the L/R's the volume from the CC will be higher than the volume from the L/R's as none of the modes recalibrate the CC before sending the signal there. The Acsends are 89 dB, but I can't find any info on the now-defunct The Speaker Company. (I guess that would also make it hard to get timbre-matching LR's for the CC.)



Craig
I am using an Xbox using bitstream passthrough to my denon. It wont let me do DTS Neo for whatever reason. I can do Dolby PLII. Direct gives the most bass and fullness. Stereo/Dolby PLII sound VERY similar. Virtual sounds absolutely horrid. Multichannel sounds the best, i get the deeper bass with direct, but the thinner airyness of stereo. Hard to describe.

By far I like either Direct or Multichannel. I could take or leave Stereo/Dolby PLII.

Fullness when in Multichannel is the best way I can describe. It reminds me of listening to big floor standers. Just seems more of how I remember my old floor standers sounded when listening to music.

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See this Page of your manual to see all the different surround sound modes you have, (and you have quite a few.) There are sub-modes for Movies and Music under each surround mode:
http://manuals.denon.com/AVRS540BT/N...SYvdfworfs.php


Also, be sure Dynamic Range Compression is ALWAYS OFF!

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Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
Yup, that's my center.
Do you know the "Sensitivity" spec for it? It might also be called the "Efficiency."

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Dynamic compression is off. Interesting enough, the mode button on the controller does nothing. In the setup menu I have VERY limited options. The only time I can adjust the surround parameters are within "Dolby PLII" and even then I can only adjust compression and nothing else.

I went into my denon and the decode option is set to "Auto". If I change it to PCM or DTS manually I get no sound.

I can't adjust any of these settings shown in that manual.

Dolby PL 2-Roman Numeral Mode
Movie :
Switches to the sound mode suit*able for en*joy*ing movies and TV pro*grams.

Music :
Switches to the sound mode suit*able for en*joy*ing music.

Game :
Switches to the sound mode suit*able for en*joy*ing games.

Pro Logic :
Dolby Pro Logic play*back mode.

Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
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Originally Posted by craig john View Post
Do you know the "Sensitivity" spec for it? It might also be called the "Efficiency."
Sensitivity shows 89db for the center.

Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
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To ensure you're Bitstreaming a multi-channel signal from your XBox, make sure you have selected HDMI audio:



Quote:
If you have an audio receiver or other sound setup, you may want to change your audio settings. In System > Settings > Display & sound > Audio output: HDMI audio - Keep this set at Stereo uncompressed unless your HDMI cable is plugged into a receiver that can process 5.1 or 7.1 uncompressed signals or bitstream formats. If your receiver works with these formats, select whichever one best matches your system.


Bitstream format – Once you’ve set HDMI audio or Optical audio to Bitstream out, you can select one of these formats. These formats are typically used with compatible audio receivers or optical headphones.





To Select HDMI audio:
Quote:
Troubleshooting sound issues with an audio-video receiver

If your Xbox One console is connected to an audio-video receiver that's connected to your television and you have no sound, follow these troubleshooting steps:
  1. Turn on your devices in the following order. Wait for each device to fully power up before starting the next device:
    1. Television
    2. Audio-video receiver
    3. Xbox One console
  2. Use the “Input” button on your television's remote control (or the buttons on the television) to switch the input source of your receiver away from the console and then back (for example, HDMI1 to HDMI2, then back to HDMI1).
  3. Restart the audio-video receiver.
  4. Set your TV connection to HDMI:
    1. Press the Xbox button to open the guide.
    2. Select System > Settings > Display & sound > Video output.
    3. Select Video fidelity & overscan.
    4. Under Display, select HDMI.

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post #23 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
Sensitivity shows 89db for the center.
Then it matches the Ascends and there should be no volume increase when sending it a signal.

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You're not running the sound through the TV and then back to the receiver with ARC, are you?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john View Post
To ensure you're Bitstreaming a multi-channel signal from your XBox, make sure you have selected HDMI audio:










To Select HDMI audio:
Bitstream was selected on Xbox One, then Dolby. I switched Xbox one to DTS from Dolby and then manually selected DTS on my denon and also played with "Auto" on the Denon, sound wise it makes zero difference.
Using DTS I also now get a mode called DTS surround. This mode doesn't actually do multi channel, direct still sounds better than either DTS mode and multichannel sounds the best.
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post #26 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by craig john View Post
You're not running the sound through the TV and then back to the receiver with ARC, are you?
Xbox one goes into Denon AVR "Game" HDMI port.
Amazon Firestick into Denon AVR "CBL/SAT" HDMI port.
HT2050a connects to Denon "ARC" via HDMI port.
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post #27 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I finally figured out what the receiver was doing. Maybe its just me and my ears but whatever the denon is doing its bumping the dialog/voices when you select multichannel.

I switched to my firestick and put on the same track using youtube and I now have every dolby mode available. So the Xbox must not be capable of sending the correct signal to my receiver.

When I select Dolby PLII Movie or Multichannel both allow me to hear the vocals much clearer. I tried every other Dolby PLII mode and the center is in fact playing but you can't tell. This has to be due to the denon must be doing an internal bump somehow with the center channel when in multichannel or Dolby PLII Movie modes.

Dolby Cinema, Music, Game etc are a huge step above the sound I was getting out of the Xbox.

I will stick to Dolby PLII Movie since I plan to watch movies as well.

Seems the source device Xbox may have contributing to some factors, but still seems maybe I just like a bump in audio coming from the center channel?

This is all anecdotal based off my listening experience, but I am pretty sure the Center is getting a bump in volume. Which in turn makes everything seem much fuller and vocals more pronounced.
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Last edited by 1983weatherby; 10-03-2019 at 02:19 PM.
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post #28 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick responses and helping me troubleshoot what may have been happening. So at this point different speakers probably wont help. It just seems I like a bump in vocals.

The good news is you saved me a bunch of $$! The wife will be appreciative!
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Receiver: Denon S540BT
Speakers: Ascend 170's, CMT-340SE center channel with HTM-200's for surround
Sub: Klipsch 12"
HT2050a
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post #29 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 02:38 PM
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It's great to get the approval to upgrade, but be careful that you're upgrading for the right reasons or you may be chasing ghosts. Your speakers I would say are very capable, even for largish rooms. As others have said, you need to make sure as well that you are comparing apples to apples, starting with loudness.
- Download an SPL meter for your phone and use that to measure the SPL wherever you are sitting. It doesn't need to be at exact listening, but needs to be repeatable for all conditions.
- REW is a great way to measure and visualize the frequency responses of the speakers, either individually, in pairs or summed, and for any variable you want to throw at it. I am doing this now as part of my auditions for a budget speaker for ATMOS. I am running it as main, and trying with/without room correction, grille on/off, toe in/out, raised/level etc.

System 5.1.2 :|: Marantz SR6013 :|: Vizio Quantum 4K 65" :|: Emotiva T2 :|: Ascend CMT 340 SE C:|: Ascend HTM 200SE Rear Surr :|: SVS SB4000 :|: Dayton B652 AIR Front Height
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post #30 of 50 Old 10-03-2019, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983weatherby View Post
Ok, I finally figured out what the receiver was doing. Maybe its just me and my ears but whatever the denon is doing its bumping the dialog/voices when you select multichannel.

I switched to my firestick and put on the same track using youtube and I now have every dolby mode available. So the Xbox must not be capable of sending the correct signal to my receiver.

When I select Dolby PLII Movie or Multichannel both allow me to hear the vocals much clearer. I tried every other Dolby PLII mode and the center is in fact playing but you can't tell. This has to be due to the denon must be doing an internal bump somehow with the center channel when in multichannel or Dolby PLII Movie modes.

Dolby Cinema, Music, Game etc are a huge step above the sound I was getting out of the Xbox.

I will stick to Dolby PLII Movie since I plan to watch movies as well.

Seems the source device Xbox may have contributing to some factors, but still seems maybe I just like a bump in audio coming from the center channel?

This is all anecdotal based off my listening experience, but I am pretty sure the Center is getting a bump in volume. Which in turn makes everything seem much fuller and vocals more pronounced.
You shouldn't need PLII if you're sending the receiver a Dolby Digital signal, which the Firestick should definitely be doing and Youtube may or may not be doing, depending on the signal in the specific video. You would only need PLII if you are upmixing a 2-channel signal to a multichannel signal, (of any variety).

Lombardi said it:
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

My System
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