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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, I'm currently using an older (2007 - 2008ish) budget system I put together. I'm somewhat of a beginner here, but I know a bit about these systems.

My big problem is the old issue of my voices are too soft, and music/sound effects too loud. We're constantly turning the volume up and down. I've spent a long time researching and trying to fix this problem to no success.

Here's my system:

Sources:
- Apple TV
- Raspberry Pi running RaspBMC/Kodi (running my Blu-Ray rips)
- Verizon FiOS DVR

All run into my TV (a 2008 model LG) via HDMI, which them outputs the audio via optical digital audio into:

- Insignia (best buy brand) 5.1 receiver (supports Dolby and DTS) - with a 2.1 speaker system
- 2x Insignia bookshelf speakers
- Polk Audio Subwoofer

I'm exploring several options to fix this issue:
1. My receiver does not support "boosting the center channel" on the 5.1->2.1 downmix, which is the first suggestion I've found. The receiver is configured to only use the L/R + Sub speakers though, so it's not as if it thinks there are more speakers.
2. I'm not seeing the DTS or Dolby source lights turned on with the receiver, so I'm wondering if there's data being lost somewhere.
3. My Raspberry Pi/Kodi system does support boosting the center channel on downmix, which I've set to +30db. It doesn't seem to have any effect.

First off, does anyone see any issues with my current setup without changing anything?

If none of these work, I'm considering a new receiver for the system. I'd like to stay around $150. However, I'm not clear what features I need:

1. Boosting center channel on downmix? This doesn't seem to work with the Raspberry Pi, so I'm wondering if this is a feature I need.
2. Night mode/dynamic range compression? Many of the receivers I've seen only support this on certain DTS or Dolby sources, and I'm not sure everything I'm playing is encoded that way, so I don't only want to fix this on certain movies/TV shows.

The last option I've considered is getting a center channel speaker, but due to space that isn't a very good option.

Any ideas? I appreciate any guidance or direction on the best way to fix this!
 

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Boy that's one tough assignment: Limited budget, no space. :eek:

1. There are centers that take less vertical space, like a sound bar.

2. I dunno if a sound bar, the simplest substitute will solve your prob.

3. A stereo equalizer to boost those midrange?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. A few questions:

1. I'm not totally averse to a center. Do you think adding it will automatically fix my problem?

My issue with space is more that I'd need to put it in front of my TV on our cabinet, and our toddler can reach it. Am I missing something about where the center channel gets put?

2. Not sure I want a sound bar either for the same reason above.

3. What's a stereo equalizer? Would it help with my receiver not properly downmixing?

Also: sounds like a new reciever isn't something you'd consider?
 

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AVR's should let you adjust the individual speaker levels. you should be able to increase the center channel volume. OF course, when you buy Best Buy equipment, who knows what you can do.
 

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Your first problem is right there - you're not seeing the surround encoding light up, which means your optical is only carrying 2 channel PCM audio. This may be because your TV is not set to bitstream encoded audio out, or it can't. In tHe first case, there will be a setting that let's you output either PCM or Dolby digital or ideally bitstream (which will carry Dolby digital or DTS) out the optical jack. Else, you won't be the first to have a tv that only does PCM out the optical jack.

If you can, see if you can run an optical cable to your other sources and configure them to bitstream. I don't know how many inputs you have, but it's a start. All your sources should output bitstream to get 5.1 audio through to the receiver.

Then consider adding a center channel.

If you cannot do any of those, make sure the output of your sources is two channel so the tv doesn't try to do anything funny.
 

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Adding a Center chsnnel speaker will definitly help your issue... 85% or more of dialoge comes from the center channel.:cool:

Posting a pic of your setups space will help us, help give you some ideas...
 

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I don't think tv's are officially allowed to bitstream out the hdmi input audio due to copy protection rules so you are probably losing out on the center and surround channels or the tv is mixing them to stereo pcm incorrectly.


Sell your insignia and purchase a low end newer 5.1 receiver with hdmi inputs and the 2.1 downmix will probably be much better. Then at that point, if still unacceptable, even adding a small small center channel you will be able to boost the center levels over the other channels.

I found my older yamaha didn't always have a loud center channel mix with dolby mixes, dts was fine, but with the new pioneer everything seemed better balanced. Even before running the room correction feature.
 
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