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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm auditioning the Denon X3500H and X1500H AVRs and am getting some listener fatigue with both. The user manual recommends a flat MultiEQ setting:

"Selects the calibrated setting which is optimized for small rooms where your listening position is closer to the speakers."

I tried the flat setting and it seemed to help but the audio didn't sound as good as the reference setting. It made me think that maybe I have the rear speakers placed too closely. My room is about 13'X14'X8' and the surround speakers are currently 5'-6' from my ear, slightly behind me, and about 18" above my ear. My question is could the speakers be placed in a better location?

Thanks in advance.
 

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I really doubt fatigue is from the surround speaker positions. Five or six feet should be fine. Whenever I have dealt with fatigue issues it has usually been "too loud for too long". sometimes reducing the upper midrange and above helps. Flat does not sound right to me; I (and most folk) prefer a bit of bass boost and treble roll-off. I would set EQ where you like it and, if you think the surrounds are too close, try setting their trim levels down about 3 dB and see if that makes any difference.

Make sure the mic has clear line of sight to the speakers when doing the cal -- I had to gently correct a friend who put the mic on stack of books and failed to notice the rears had to go through the couch to reach the mic. That caused Audyssey to boost the highs and the levels, a double whammy. He since got a stand for the mic and places it at ear level.

HTH - Don
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I really doubt fatigue is from the surround speaker positions. Five or six feet should be fine. Whenever I have dealt with fatigue issues it has usually been "too loud for too long". sometimes reducing the upper midrange and above helps. Flat does not sound right to me; I (and most folk) prefer a bit of bass boost and treble roll-off. I would set EQ where you like it and, if you think the surrounds are too close, try setting their trim levels down about 3 dB and see if that makes any difference.

Make sure the mic has clear line of sight to the speakers when doing the cal -- I had to gently correct a friend who put the mic on stack of books and failed to notice the rears had to go through the couch to reach the mic. That caused Audyssey to boost the highs and the levels, a double whammy. He since got a stand for the mic and places it at ear level.

HTH - Don
Thanks, I'll give that a try! I noticed that my surround speakers have a metal dome tweeter so I've also been looking at affordable options (< $150/pair) with silk dome tweeters to try as the surrounds. I used to hear good things about the NHT super zeros and they are $68 each right now.
 

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If you want new speakers and believe they will help, they probably will... That metal domes are more fatiguing and "harsh" is a myth IME, however. Softer domes seem to exhibit more breakup modes lower in frequency and at lower power than metal domes so the opposite may be true. That said, dome material has rarely if ever played into a purchase decision -- I look at specs and listen to them.
 

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I'm auditioning the Denon X3500H and X1500H AVRs and am getting some listener fatigue with both. The user manual recommends a flat MultiEQ setting:

"Selects the calibrated setting which is optimized for small rooms where your listening position is closer to the speakers."

I tried the flat setting and it seemed to help but the audio didn't sound as good as the reference setting. It made me think that maybe I have the rear speakers placed too closely. My room is about 13'X14'X8' and the surround speakers are currently 5'-6' from my ear, slightly behind me, and about 18" above my ear. My question is could the speakers be placed in a better location?

Thanks in advance.
There shouldn't be enough content coming from the surrounds during movies/TV for it to be an issue. My room is the same size and my surrounds are in about the same position. Even with all channel "stereo" the surrounds are not a problem.

Maybe the fatigue your experiencing is coming from your front speakers.
 
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Not sure if this is a problem but it might be good to check how your speakers are aimed. This worked well in my system:
- Center is aimed directly at the mlp at ear level.
- L/R are aimed at the mlp or a couple of feet behind it.
- SL/SR are aimed at the mlp.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If you want new speakers and believe they will help, they probably will... That metal domes are more fatiguing and "harsh" is a myth IME, however. Softer domes seem to exhibit more breakup modes lower in frequency and at lower power than metal domes so the opposite may be true. That said, dome material has rarely if ever played into a purchase decision -- I look at specs and listen to them.
I hadn't heard that before about the tweeters. That's how I do it too, the specs gets it in the door but then it has to sound good.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
There shouldn't be enough content coming from the surrounds during movies/TV for it to be an issue. My room is the same size and my surrounds are in about the same position. Even with all channel "stereo" the surrounds are not a problem.

Maybe the fatigue your experiencing is coming from your front speakers.
Good thought, I think if I order another pair of speakers I'll try swapping the front first then the rear to see what I notice. I should dig out the SPL meter and see what the level is sometimes when the sound is distortion free it's louder than you think. On a side note I plugger my sub woofer and AVR into an Audience Adept-Response power conditioner and the bass is now great. I'll probably have to run the Audyssey again to dial it in it changed so much.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Not sure if this is a problem but it might be good to check how your speakers are aimed. This worked well in my system:
- Center is aimed directly at the mlp at ear level.
- L/R are aimed at the mlp or a couple of feet behind it.
- SL/SR are aimed at the mlp.
I need to get some stands for the front L/R speakers. Maybe I'll try to rig something up to get them closer to ear level in the meantime.
 

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What are your speakers? And perhaps a few pictures of your setup should help.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
What are your speakers? And perhaps a few pictures of your setup should help.
ELAC cinema 5, ACI Titan II LE sub + ELAC sub when using the X3500H.

Satellite Speakers (Front, Center & Surround) Speaker Type: 2-way sealed box Tweeter: 1 x ½-inch Neodymium Magnet
Woofer: Front & Surround: 1 x 3-inch Polypropylene;
Center: 2 x 3-inch Polypropylene
Frequency Response: 160 to 20,000 Hz Nominal Impedance: 8 Ω Power Handling: 80 Watts

I've also got some old Corner Tunes (absorbing side forward, reflective side was bright) in each room corner. I was hoping to start with the AVR and upgrade the speakers maybe next Christmas but right now it's almost unlistenable. I've got some old Unity Audio CLA speakers that I'm going to hook up today and try listening in 2.1 mode to try to isolate the problem.
 

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I've never listened to one, but the Elac Cinema 5 seems to be just one step up from HTIB. I'm familiar with the Titan sub. I built an ACI Saturn Push/Pull sub over 30 yrs ago. ACI was a good company with excellent quality components. You did well in buying speakers from a speaker company and the Elacs are well-respected, but at an original retail cost of $399 and current value of about $149 for a 5.1 system, you can't expect a lot. The Unity Audio speakers should sound better over the smallish Elacs. If not, you may want to look elsewhere in your system.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I've never listened to one, but the Elac Cinema 5 seems to be just one step up from HTIB. I'm familiar with the Titan sub. I built an ACI Saturn Push/Pull sub over 30 yrs ago. ACI was a good company with excellent quality components. You did well in buying speakers from a speaker company and the Elacs are well-respected, but at an original retail cost of $399 and current value of about $149 for a 5.1 system, you can't expect a lot. The Unity Audio speakers should sound better over the smallish Elacs. If not, you may want to look elsewhere in your system.
The frustrating part is my old 90's HTIB Sony system doesn't cause listener fatigue. I bought the ELAC system because of the brand name thinking that it might be a step up but it appears I've opened a can of worms. Like I mentioned it was a stop gap until maybe next Christmas. Now that I'm retired and on a fixed budget I can't spend a fortune. The Titan is solid it was more of a two channel sub than Home theater but it was $1200 factory direct and sounds very good. Definitely not the weak link. I've hooked up the unity speakers in a 2.1 configuration and it's a big relief to my ears so far. I've also got a Marantz AVR coming in today for comparison to the Denons. I haven't been able to contact Denon customer support so I don't know the design specifics but the amplification section of the Marantz uses a linear power supply and it uses AKM DACs.
 

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The frustrating part is my old 90's HTIB Sony system doesn't cause listener fatigue. I bought the ELAC system because of the brand name thinking that it might be a step up but it appears I've opened a can of worms.
Well, ya can't expect too much out of 3" woofers and 0.5" tweeters. All those inexpensive speakers have their problems and sins-sometimes those happen to hit you OK and sometimes not. Actually those tiny Bose cubes can sometimes sound fine, and some speakers with bigger woofers and tweeters sound nasty with some stuff.
In any case, if you're on a limited budget, then you should be looking to improve the speakers long before spending much on an AVR, which will do little to improve the sound. (I don't believe all amplifiers sound the same, but that the differences are not vast, and not too hearable until your speakers are quite expensive. Certainly the speakers make orders of magnitude more difference to the sound. And, some folks seem to think more power will make their speakers sound better but that is simply not true except maybe at high volumes if the amps are clipping).
- What are you using now for an AVR?
- Why do you want to change it?
- I recall your Titan as being a good sub. The ELAC thing looks like one of those deals where the driver inside even though 8" is probably cheap and not very robust, so they make the sub a bandpass to try and get more performance, which worsens the time response, then it is furthermore saddled with just 60 watts of power. So maybe that sub is actually making your sound bad as well. Turned up, it is surely clipping.
- Some people think "Oh I have a sub so that handles all the bass so my satellites can have tiny woofers" but lemme tell ya as a loudspeaker engineer it doesn't work like that. You still need to move air to reproduce midbass, so for me satellites should still have at least 5" more like 6" woofers.
- By the way having slammed on ELAC a bit (in part because I did not realize and am disappointed to find they are making HTIB kind of crap), don't let that discourage you from trying their standalone models. I'm also a longtime NHT fan.
- On a budget, keep an eye out for used bargains. Not ancient stuff, but speakers last a long time so something 5-10 years old can be just fine. I'd especially apply that to AVRs in your situation.
 

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It doesn't sound like there's too much wrong with how you have it set up. Personally, I'd move those surrounds closer (cut the distance in half if it's not in the way of anything) if you can - with those woofer sizes, I'd struggle to even hear anything coming out of them, I think - not without boosting the trim by a bit. Height is fine - they say that 12" - 24" above ear level is the ideal height for surrounds to get that atmospheric effect, and 18" is right smack dab in the middle.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
Well, ya can't expect too much out of 3" woofers and 0.5" tweeters. All those inexpensive speakers have their problems and sins-sometimes those happen to hit you OK and sometimes not. Actually those tiny Bose cubes can sometimes sound fine, and some speakers with bigger woofers and tweeters sound nasty with some stuff.
In any case, if you're on a limited budget, then you should be looking to improve the speakers long before spending much on an AVR, which will do little to improve the sound. (I don't believe all amplifiers sound the same, but that the differences are not vast, and not too hearable until your speakers are quite expensive. Certainly the speakers make orders of magnitude more difference to the sound. And, some folks seem to think more power will make their speakers sound better but that is simply not true except maybe at high volumes if the amps are clipping).
- What are you using now for an AVR?
- Why do you want to change it?
- I recall your Titan as being a good sub. The ELAC thing looks like one of those deals where the driver inside even though 8" is probably cheap and not very robust, so they make the sub a bandpass to try and get more performance, which worsens the time response, then it is furthermore saddled with just 60 watts of power. So maybe that sub is actually making your sound bad as well. Turned up, it is surely clipping.
- Some people think "Oh I have a sub so that handles all the bass so my satellites can have tiny woofers" but lemme tell ya as a loudspeaker engineer it doesn't work like that. You still need to move air to reproduce midbass, so for me satellites should still have at least 5" more like 6" woofers.
- By the way having slammed on ELAC a bit (in part because I did not realize and am disappointed to find they are making HTIB kind of crap), don't let that discourage you from trying their standalone models. I'm also a longtime NHT fan.
- On a budget, keep an eye out for used bargains. Not ancient stuff, but speakers last a long time so something 5-10 years old can be just fine. I'd especially apply that to AVRs in your situation.
Thanks, a lot of good information.
 
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