Originally Posted by Overrid3
I guess this is a given, but Audyssey is supposed to improve imaging and soundstage, right? I turned it off last night for some music (was just listening in pure direct mode), which sounded pretty good, but it seemed that the vocals were coming from the right side. This probably makes sense since that speaker is in a corner, and the left speaker is near an archway that opens into another room. Anyway, engaging Audy seemed to put the vocals dead center. For a second, I thought my center speaker was on, but it wasn't.
Just to add to this, engaging Audy definitely changes the soundstage. It centers the vocals more, but also seems to narrow the soundstage, like most of the sound is coming from the center. What really ruins it for me is the lack of bass. I've been listening to 2 ch with DEQ off since it's usually just too over the top, so that could be why. Without DEQ, the bass is just gone from my speakers. I've tried boosting the sub a bit, and even used tone controls to raise the bass to the speakers. It sounds better, but then I'll flip to 'direct' mode on my Marantz, and the bass is back. Also, the bass seems tighter and more natural this way. I like Audy for movies, though.
Everyone hears things a little bit differently, so in the end we just have to please ourselves with what we like. With respect to Audyssey focusing the soundstage a little too much into the center, I might experiment with my toe-in (or out) a little more. That's a shot in the dark, but it might be worth a try. There is a Guide, linked in my signature, that makes some suggestions in the very first section about speaker setup and Audyssey calibration techniques. There might be something in there that can help.
I am a little bit surprised that the bass sounds tighter and more natural with Audyssey off. That's an unusual experience. There may very well be more
bass when you turn Audyssey off, if Audyssey has pulled down a peak in the mid-bass for instance, especially somewhere around 50 to 70Hz. We seem to be especially sensitive to changes in that frequency range. And, you might very well like the sound of that better. But, it is very unlikely that the bass will be tighter or more natural with Audyssey off. Unless you have multiple subs, and/or an exceptional room, bass frequencies will normally have peaks and dips throughout the frequency response. Those are caused by room modes, and as noted above, they are pretty inescapable.
What Audyssey does is to smooth-out some of those random peaks and dips so that the speakers and the subwoofer(s) can play in a more linear way, which is what they were designed to do before the room got hold of them. Audyssey is usually consistently helpful below about 500Hz. And, when the random bass peaks and dips are removed, we should be able to hear the music the way it was actually recorded.
I am not saying that you shouldn't like the sound you like. If you prefer Audyssey off for music, then that's the way to listen to it. But, I might give it a little time to see if you get used to hearing what should be more accurate bass. If you are, in fact, hearing a peak at a particular frequency, you may find in time that the more natural and tighter sound actually occurs when the peak is removed.
This is just speculation on my part, but I thought I should respond in case you were seeking suggestions, and not just posting some impressions.