Need a new apartment set up - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-01-2020, 05:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Need a new apartment set up

I need some help because I have had it with my old Frankenstein system.

The Room:
I live on a 4th floor all concrete apartment. I get a fair amount of street noise when the deck door or window is open and the AC unit is near where my couch is. Wall to wall (where my tv and front speakers are to the wall behind my couch) is about 10ft.

The Equipment:
I would say speakers to couch is 6-8 feet. My current set up is a I take optical out from my TCL TV to my Sony STR DH800. From there I have a pioneer SP-C22 center channel and small left right klipsch speakers that came out of a box set. The left right speakers sit right next to the center one right now because They are tiny and I don’t have stands at the moment. Along with that I have the klipsch sub 6 that came from that box set.

The Problem:
I have never gotten this system balanced. Even with the sub off for the most part I feel like it has always been bass heavy and dialogue has been very difficult to hear. Being in an apartment (especially one that is mostly concrete) I can’t crank the volume all the way to hear clear dialogue without having a ton of bass and upsetting my neighbors. I tried a sound bar once and absolutely hated the sound of it. I mostly use my TV to watch twitch, YouTube, Netflix and Prime. I used to have full surround but I didn’t want to run the wires in the new apartment and due to orientation I didn’t feel they really provided much anyway. The Sony receiver seems to be showing its age as certain thing cut in and out at times.

The Request:
Help me with a system that meets the needs of clear dialogue balanced bass/sound and maybe leaves room for future expansion. I have no idea what budget for a system like this should be but let’s just say I would like to keep lower than $1000. $500 would be great but I would be willing to go to go up to $1000.

Sorry if this isn’t the right place or I missed something.
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-02-2020, 01:44 AM
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Before spending money, did you try the automatic calibration? For that model, it's called DCAC, described on page 33 of the manual. Do you still have the calibration microphone?
https://www.sony.com/electronics/sup.../41317231M.pdf
If not, see if getting one isn't too hard. Not replacing the AVR of course leaves you more money for speakers.

If you're using the apps in the TV for watching, it doesn't seem that it has a way to pass uncompressed sound out, even to an AVR with eARC. If that's true, you're potential for best sound is limited, but it wouldn't be a change from before.
The only way to really solve that is to not use the TV as the player, but to use another device to the AVR. Very few streaming devices pass uncompressed sound from their apps. The NVidia Shield TV is the only one that comes to mind.

With that said, the speakers c/w/should get an upgrade. If your problem is lack of clear dialog, focus on the center. The Pioneer is known to be weak for dialog. There are lots of threads with suggestions.
FWIW, the JBL Arena 125C seems to be available as a refurb at the moment.

After that, get some L/R speakers with performance in the same ballpark. Don't worry about matching brands/families. It shouldn't be hard to surpass the HTIB speakers.
Get stands (unless you decide on towers), and get some separation between the speakers.

If the Sony receiver is dying, most modern AVRs would be a more than suitable. You'll have to decide if refurbished units can work for you, but it's a way to hold the budget down. With that said, the Onkyo TX-SR494 seems to be a budget priced AVR available new.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
I need some help because I have had it with my old Frankenstein system.
The Problem:
I have never gotten this system balanced. Even with the sub off for the most part I feel like it has always been bass heavy and dialogue has been very difficult to hear. Being in an apartment (especially one that is mostly concrete) I can’t crank the volume all the way to hear clear dialogue without having a ton of bass and upsetting my neighbors. I tried a sound bar once and absolutely hated the sound of it. I mostly use my TV to watch twitch, YouTube, Netflix and Prime. I used to have full surround but I didn’t want to run the wires in the new apartment and due to orientation I didn’t feel they really provided much anyway. The Sony receiver seems to be showing its age as certain thing cut in and out at times.

The Request:
Help me with a system that meets the needs of clear dialogue balanced bass/sound and maybe leaves room for future expansion. I have no idea what budget for a system like this should be but let’s just say I would like to keep lower than $1000. $500 would be great but I would be willing to go to go up to $1000.

Sorry if this isn’t the right place or I missed something.

Last edited by philpoe; 05-02-2020 at 12:58 PM.
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post #3 of 24 Old 05-02-2020, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
The Request:
Help me with a system that meets the needs of clear dialogue balanced bass/sound and maybe leaves room for future expansion. I have no idea what budget for a system like this should be but let’s just say I would like to keep lower than $1000. $500 would be great but I would be willing to go to go up to $1000.
If the Sony has the capability to manually EQ each channel, try boosting a few dB in the 2-4 kHz range, which will add some “presence.” If you feel male voices sound “boomy,” try also a cut in the 100 Hz range.

If the Sony can’t do that, or if it doesn’t help, the go with phil’s recommendation for a new center channel speaker.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-02-2020, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
I need some help because I have had it with my old Frankenstein system.

The Room:
I live on a 4th floor all concrete apartment. I get a fair amount of street noise when the deck door or window is open and the AC unit is near where my couch is. Wall to wall (where my tv and front speakers are to the wall behind my couch) is about 10ft.

The Equipment:
I would say speakers to couch is 6-8 feet. My current set up is a I take optical out from my TCL TV to my Sony STR DH800. From there I have a pioneer SP-C22 center channel and small left right klipsch speakers that came out of a box set. The left right speakers sit right next to the center one right now because They are tiny and I don’t have stands at the moment. Along with that I have the klipsch sub 6 that came from that box set.

The Problem:
I have never gotten this system balanced. Even with the sub off for the most part I feel like it has always been bass heavy and dialogue has been very difficult to hear. Being in an apartment (especially one that is mostly concrete) I can’t crank the volume all the way to hear clear dialogue without having a ton of bass and upsetting my neighbors. I tried a sound bar once and absolutely hated the sound of it. I mostly use my TV to watch twitch, YouTube, Netflix and Prime. I used to have full surround but I didn’t want to run the wires in the new apartment and due to orientation I didn’t feel they really provided much anyway. The Sony receiver seems to be showing its age as certain thing cut in and out at times.

The Request:
Help me with a system that meets the needs of clear dialogue balanced bass/sound and maybe leaves room for future expansion. I have no idea what budget for a system like this should be but let’s just say I would like to keep lower than $1000. $500 would be great but I would be willing to go to go up to $1000.

Sorry if this isn’t the right place or I missed something.
That center channel is the most complained about on AVS.

What are size restrictions for the center channel?

Can you accomodate tower speakers or do they have to be bookshelves?
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-02-2020, 02:18 PM
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If you find that tweaking is not working for you, then you might find this system to your liking:

https://www.whathifi.com/us/wharfedale/dx-2/review

Pair it with one of the smaller Marantz receivers:

https://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/category/avreceiver/home-audio/receivers-amps/home-theater-receivers/1.html?brand_f[]=MARANTZ

Should be all you will ever need in that size room.

https://www.wharfedale.co.uk/dx-2-hcp/
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It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

Last edited by RayGuy; 05-02-2020 at 02:22 PM.
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post #6 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the suggestions. I feel pretty confident the old system needs to go due to some issue that pop up here and there. I have tried the auto-cal with the Sony and still didn't get very good results. I know my room isn't optimal, but I want to build something decent for it. I don't know if it is a realistic goal or not, but one of my main goals it that I can set the volume on a movie or show and not have to adjust it 20 times during that movie/show due to dialogue being low, but music or explosions being so loud.

Someone asked about restrictions and yes I have some. I could do towers so that isn't a problem, but for the center my TV sits on top of a cabinet. The center channel would sit inside that cabinet and the bay that can hold it is just less than 24" wide and 12" inches high. My TCL sits too low to put speaker on top of the cabinet under the TV although this height would be more inline with my head height while sitting on the couch. I am not sure it matters much, but wall to wall is 13' and speaker to where I sit is 8-9'.

Thanks again for all the suggestions I will look through them.
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 05:12 AM
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If I were in your position, I'd do things incrementally, and start by addressing the biggest weakness, your center channel. Emotiva C1+ is HIGHLY regarded and at $250 is a bargain. I'd put that in to your system, run your calibration and see if the immediate benefit is enough to tide you over. Your LR speakers are definitely weak, but the center is really the workhorse for movies, etc.. If you want to match your LCR the Emotiva B1s are currently out of stock, but presumably available soon. However, I share the opinion of many that the center does not necessarily need to match--you have many, many options--check out the threads discussing bookshelf "shoot-outs."

Your receiver is not that old, it may not be failing. Your speakers are pretty bad, their drivers may be "failing."

So for around $500 you've got a solid LCR. If you can swing it, a solid little sub would surely improve your experience. Good bass does not have to mean loud bass, if neighbors are a concern. RSL Speedwoofer at $399 is a great little sub.

If you want to go back to a 5.1, any small speaker (maybe even your Klipsch) can do. You could probably pick up something off Craig's for $20 or so and be good.
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dargent0628 View Post
If I were in your position, I'd do things incrementally, and start by addressing the biggest weakness, your center channel. Emotiva C1+ is HIGHLY regarded and at $250 is a bargain. I'd put that in to your system, run your calibration and see if the immediate benefit is enough to tide you over. Your LR speakers are definitely weak, but the center is really the workhorse for movies, etc.. If you want to match your LCR the Emotiva B1s are currently out of stock, but presumably available soon. However, I share the opinion of many that the center does not necessarily need to match--you have many, many options--check out the threads discussing bookshelf "shoot-outs."

Your receiver is not that old, it may not be failing. Your speakers are pretty bad, their drivers may be "failing."

So for around $500 you've got a solid LCR. If you can swing it, a solid little sub would surely improve your experience. Good bass does not have to mean loud bass, if neighbors are a concern. RSL Speedwoofer at $399 is a great little sub.

If you want to go back to a 5.1, any small speaker (maybe even your Klipsch) can do. You could probably pick up something off Craig's for $20 or so and be good.
If I ever go back to 5.1 I think I will need wireless rears just for flexibility with different apartments, but that is for a later time. I don't want to muddy the waters of the current situation. I will look into that center channel you mentioned. Thanks.
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 06:43 AM
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First I'd move the L/R speakers away from the center. You say they are right next to the center because you lack stands so you are going to get a muddled sound no matter what adjustments you make because you basically created one large speaker.
Buy an inexpensive pair of speaker stands.
I've no info on your avr but if you can access EQ you should see what they are set at and decrease bass levels if you can.
Can you adjust the crossovers on the AVR? If so adjust to decrease boomy bass by increasing the crossover Hz to 80+Hz until you get a sound that is more pleasing in your environment.

If I were spending the money I'd start with a more modern AVR that offers better "room adjusting" software...Audyssey, etc. You can get a lot for $500 or even a bit less. I'd use the balance to get better speakers starting with a better center then F/L then depending on how the system sounds and performs in your environment I'd add a sub.

What have you done for room acoustics in such a room? Rugs, etc? Room treatments go a long way taming sounds and can make a room sound much better.

Good luck and keep us informed.
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TV: Sony XBR 65X950G, AVR: Marantz SR5014, Speakers: front/Paradigm Prestige 15B bookshelf, center/Paradigm Prestige 45C, surround/Paradigm Atom, sub/SVS SB3000, DVD: Panasonic DP-UB820P-K Disk Player, Media Player: Zidoo Z9S & Roku Streaming Stick +, Remote: Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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First I'd move the L/R speakers away from the center. You say they are right next to the center because you lack stands so you are going to get a muddled sound no matter what adjustments you make because you basically created one large speaker.
Buy an inexpensive pair of speaker stands.
I've no info on your avr but if you can access EQ you should see what they are set at and decrease bass levels if you can.
Can you adjust the crossovers on the AVR? If so adjust to decrease boomy bass by increasing the crossover Hz to 80+Hz until you get a sound that is more pleasing in your environment.

If I were spending the money I'd start with a more modern AVR that offers better "room adjusting" software...Audyssey, etc. You can get a lot for $500 or even a bit less. I'd use the balance to get better speakers starting with a better center then F/L then depending on how the system sounds and performs in your environment I'd add a sub.

What have you done for room acoustics in such a room? Rugs, etc? Room treatments go a long way taming sounds and can make a room sound much better.

Good luck and keep us informed.
Thanks for all the advice. At this point I want to buy some new equipment. It sounds like the order right now would be center channel, then l/r, then AVR, but someone correct me if I am wrong. I would prefer to take it in phases if possible.

My room acoustics are not good. It is all concrete and we have nothing on the walls and we have the couch and small rug in front of it on the floor. Are there prime locations to place things on the walls and do you have suggestions for something that doesn't just look like foam on the wall (wife may have issues with that).
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post #11 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 08:02 AM
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Here are a couple of speaker packages that punch above their low-price wieght:
https://www.accessories4less.com/mak...e-black/1.html
https://pricedrightsales.com/product...nter-channel-1
Both will work well with your Sony AVR. The Focal sub is actually pretty decent for it's size, and you don't have to turn the sub up to 11 in order to hear bass.
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post #12 of 24 Old 05-04-2020, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
Thanks for all the advice. At this point I want to buy some new equipment. It sounds like the order right now would be center channel, then l/r, then AVR, but someone correct me if I am wrong. I would prefer to take it in phases if possible.

My room acoustics are not good. It is all concrete and we have nothing on the walls and we have the couch and small rug in front of it on the floor. Are there prime locations to place things on the walls and do you have suggestions for something that doesn't just look like foam on the wall (wife may have issues with that).
AVR first...separate too close together speakers, run room correction software, level match with SPL meter...test system compared to previous AVR...if sounds go you are good to go, if sound is still lacking begin speaker replacement with a quality center if HT is your general priority, sides are not the dominant speakers when watching video in some sort of surround mode, then replace L/R as needs require.

Buying speakers to add to a lacking AVR will do little to correct the situation.
Don't forget room treatments to improve acoustics...
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TV: Sony XBR 65X950G, AVR: Marantz SR5014, Speakers: front/Paradigm Prestige 15B bookshelf, center/Paradigm Prestige 45C, surround/Paradigm Atom, sub/SVS SB3000, DVD: Panasonic DP-UB820P-K Disk Player, Media Player: Zidoo Z9S & Roku Streaming Stick +, Remote: Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home
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post #13 of 24 Old 05-05-2020, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Winters View Post
AVR first...separate too close together speakers, run room correction software, level match with SPL meter...test system compared to previous AVR...if sounds go you are good to go, if sound is still lacking begin speaker replacement with a quality center if HT is your general priority, sides are not the dominant speakers when watching video in some sort of surround mode, then replace L/R as needs require.

Buying speakers to add to a lacking AVR will do little to correct the situation.
Don't forget room treatments to improve acoustics...
I will take a look at a AVR and center. I hear the center I am using is known for bad dialogue so if I go for AVR and center I should get the best of both worlds.
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post #14 of 24 Old 05-05-2020, 06:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
Thanks for all the advice. At this point I want to buy some new equipment. It sounds like the order right now would be center channel, then l/r, then AVR, but someone correct me if I am wrong. I would prefer to take it in phases if possible.

My room acoustics are not good. It is all concrete and we have nothing on the walls and we have the couch and small rug in front of it on the floor. Are there prime locations to place things on the walls and do you have suggestions for something that doesn't just look like foam on the wall (wife may have issues with that).
You can improve room acoustics by softening that environment through attractive furnishings. I don't know what your financial situation is, but if you can afford it, start by getting a nice big and thick rug--like 8 x 10 or something. Place a large canvas (no glass) behind your sofa. We have a beautiful oil on canvas that's about 4 x 6 behind us to absorb reflection there. Bookcases (with books!) help. Soft upholstered furniture helps. Our house is a converted New Englander with an open concept, maple floors, tall cathedral ceilings. When I set up my system before the movers arrived, the room was basically empty except for the sofa and a few misc things left by previous owner. The room sounded horrible--an echo chamber with screeching highs. Now I think things sound great.

I respectfully disagree with the recommendation to start with a new AVR. I still suggest starting with a better center channel and seeing if that drastically improves things. You're going to need a new center anyway. Your Sony is not a bad receiver by any means--as long as it is not really "failing" then it has no real impact on the quality of your modest system. There are many on the forum who will argue that electronics sound different, but at the lower price points I do not agree. If you start getting into the higher stratospheres--maybe?

Order the Emotive center. For $250 and the furnishing accents I suggested you may achieve a dramatic improvement.
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post #15 of 24 Old 05-06-2020, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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You can improve room acoustics by softening that environment through attractive furnishings. I don't know what your financial situation is, but if you can afford it, start by getting a nice big and thick rug--like 8 x 10 or something. Place a large canvas (no glass) behind your sofa. We have a beautiful oil on canvas that's about 4 x 6 behind us to absorb reflection there. Bookcases (with books!) help. Soft upholstered furniture helps. Our house is a converted New Englander with an open concept, maple floors, tall cathedral ceilings. When I set up my system before the movers arrived, the room was basically empty except for the sofa and a few misc things left by previous owner. The room sounded horrible--an echo chamber with screeching highs. Now I think things sound great.

I respectfully disagree with the recommendation to start with a new AVR. I still suggest starting with a better center channel and seeing if that drastically improves things. You're going to need a new center anyway. Your Sony is not a bad receiver by any means--as long as it is not really "failing" then it has no real impact on the quality of your modest system. There are many on the forum who will argue that electronics sound different, but at the lower price points I do not agree. If you start getting into the higher stratospheres--maybe?

Order the Emotive center. For $250 and the furnishing accents I suggested you may achieve a dramatic improvement.
I will look into the Emotive C1+ are there any other centers you suggest? Also while maybe it isn't the first thing on the list do you have an AVR you would suggest that is good for a small 4k system like this, but potentially allows for some growth (say I end up putting in full surround). I know that is kind of vague, but if I buy one now I would rather spend an extra 2-300 more on it if it means I don't have buy another one in a year or two when I move or have the opportunity to grow my system. Thanks again for all the help.
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post #16 of 24 Old 05-06-2020, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
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I will look into the Emotive C1+ are there any other centers you suggest? Also while maybe it isn't the first thing on the list do you have an AVR you would suggest that is good for a small 4k system like this, but potentially allows for some growth (say I end up putting in full surround). I know that is kind of vague, but if I buy one now I would rather spend an extra 2-300 more on it if it means I don't have buy another one in a year or two when I move or have the opportunity to grow my system. Thanks again for all the help.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_714RP5...00C-Ebony.html

https://smile.amazon.com/Denon-AVR-X...xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

Right now, at that price I think the Denon offers really important features like the highest level of room correction including dual sub EQ and full preouts, and all the audio/video processing to future-proof changes you may make down the road.
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post #17 of 24 Old 05-06-2020, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I was curious how much impact the cabinet the speaker sits in impacts the sounds quality. It isn't a "traditional" TV stand. So the speaker sits inside the cabinet in its own "enclosed" bay. We open then door on the front of the cabinet when we watch TV. It isn't huge, but there is extra space in that bay and I was wondering if that impacts the sound. The speaker is pulled up to the edge of the cabinet, I was wondering if I needed to put any kind of material in behind the speaker.
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post #18 of 24 Old 05-08-2020, 01:06 PM
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Yes, of course the cabinet changes the sound. Take the speakers out and put them on stands to hear the difference.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #19 of 24 Old 05-09-2020, 10:18 AM
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As far as stands go, wood TV tray tables or if need higher, wood bar stools, would serve the purpose, if your not into decor..... It might add some character to the room.

If looking for AV Receiver, I also am a Denon person for a number of years. Have fun!

TV: TCL 55" 4K UHD HDR w ROKU
DENON AVR-S910W, 7.2, HDMI 2.0a, 4K UHD HDR, Upscaling, Atmos, Wi-Fi, etc. [2016]
KLIPSCH: L/R: R-51M - Ctr: RP-400C - Sub: R-100SW - POLK S-20 Surround
SPKR Wire:Windy City Wire - 16ga, 2 Cond, Twisted Pair, Shielded, Jacketed [USA]
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post #20 of 24 Old 05-10-2020, 05:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, of course the cabinet changes the sound. Take the speakers out and put them on stands to hear the difference.
For now it is going to have to stay in the cabinet so I was curious if I should put some kind of foam or any other sounds absorbing material in the cabinet behind the speaker. I didn't know if being in cabinet like it is created more "boomy" bass or what real impact it had.
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post #21 of 24 Old 05-10-2020, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
For now it is going to have to stay in the cabinet so I was curious if I should put some kind of foam or any other sounds absorbing material in the cabinet behind the speaker. I didn't know if being in cabinet like it is created more "boomy" bass or what real impact it had.
You don't have to do a permanent removal from the cabinet. Just do it temporarily, so you can hear what it is supposed to sound like. Then you can go about trying to get as close as possible inside the cabinet. If nothing else, if the speakers have rear ports, you'll want to put some foam stoppers in the ports ...

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

Last edited by RayGuy; 05-10-2020 at 09:05 AM.
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post #22 of 24 Old 05-10-2020, 07:34 PM
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Can you post a picture of the current setup so people may get a better idea of what they're working with, especially with regard to where the Center channel may have to go?
Is it possible to raise the TV to accommodate a Center channel outside of the cabinet?

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I was curious how much impact the cabinet the speaker sits in impacts the sounds quality. It isn't a "traditional" TV stand. So the speaker sits inside the cabinet in its own "enclosed" bay. We open then door on the front of the cabinet when we watch TV. It isn't huge, but there is extra space in that bay and I was wondering if that impacts the sound. The speaker is pulled up to the edge of the cabinet, I was wondering if I needed to put any kind of material in behind the speaker.
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post #23 of 24 Old 05-10-2020, 07:45 PM
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For big changes in volume, some AVRs have something like "Dynamic Volume" (at least that's what Denon calls it). It detects and stops major loud noises that deviate from the "average" volume you were listening to. You'll have to verify is a specific model has it. It appears that it's only included on their mid-range (X Series) and higher AVRs.

What's the depth of the cabinet to help know what centers may fit inside?


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I don't know if it is a realistic goal or not, but one of my main goals it that I can set the volume on a movie or show and not have to adjust it 20 times during that movie/show due to dialogue being low, but music or explosions being so loud.

Someone asked about restrictions and yes I have some. I could do towers so that isn't a problem, but for the center my TV sits on top of a cabinet. The center channel would sit inside that cabinet and the bay that can hold it is just less than 24" wide and 12" inches high. My TCL sits too low to put speaker on top of the cabinet under the TV although this height would be more inline with my head height while sitting on the couch. I am not sure it matters much, but wall to wall is 13' and speaker to where I sit is 8-9'.

Thanks again for all the suggestions I will look through them.
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post #24 of 24 Old 05-11-2020, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro62 View Post
I was curious how much impact the cabinet the speaker sits in impacts the sounds quality. It isn't a "traditional" TV stand. So the speaker sits inside the cabinet in its own "enclosed" bay. We open then door on the front of the cabinet when we watch TV. It isn't huge, but there is extra space in that bay and I was wondering if that impacts the sound. The speaker is pulled up to the edge of the cabinet, I was wondering if I needed to put any kind of material in behind the speaker.
Indeed but the better the EQ your receiver has the better it can mitigate it and make the frequency response conform more to the ideal target that it shoots for.

The Emotiva C1 is sealed and 3 way so a solid choice.

Eventually they will have the B1 back in stock so down the road you can get Emotiva left and rights as well.
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