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How much should I hear my surrounds? (Rocket RSS300's)

2588 Views 41 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Megalith
Quick question for the group. I have had a great rocket package for over a year now. But I don't hear the surrounds very often and I have them cranked via my receiver to +10 (mains at 0, didn't want to turn them below that). They are about 14 feet from our heads (mains are 6') which I realize is a bit far. I'm wondering if I have them reversed. I can't remember if the even # is the right or left, does anyone know? And, I know it depends on how much the person encoding uses surround, but how often do we really hear it? Maybe we're not actually supposed to notice it that much because if we're not noticing it seems more realistic....?

Even with DTS music I rarely notice the surrounds, but am afraid to make them louder and everything else lower. Are they made for near-reference level listening? Maybe I'm not playing my stuff loud enough (we have young kids)!

Curious to hear some thoughts. I'm definitely feeling like I'm not getting the potential. Thanks!!
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Originally posted by lowella
They are about 14 feet from our heads (mains are 6') which I realize is a bit far.
Not far at all. In fact, it never hurts to have the surrounds further away from you than the mains. Besides, during initial set-up, you dial in time-alignment to correct for varying distances.

As to your original question: you should hear as much or as little in the surrounds as the filmakers put there. Some movies have very, very subtle use of the surrounds. Other soundtracks can have your head spinning like Linda Blair's.

BTW, have you calibrated your system with a SPL meter (for volume levels) and set your speaker distances?


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The amount of surround info on modern movie soundtracks is dense. Something isn't right if you have +10 on your surrounds and you rarely notice them. Spl meter spl meter spl meter. That and check your DD and DTS settings on your receiver, on mine anyway you must calibrate each mode as well as your general speaker setup.

I have a Pio 47i receiver w/ auto-calibration thing (the mic you set in the middle of the room, I can't remember all the terminology now) and have calibrated it (not with actual spl meter) but it should be very close to exact. I remember something about matching the rocket surrounds so maybe I've got them reversed! I'll try that first. I do notice some stuff in movies, but I would say only maybe 3-4 times in a movie does it really stick out, so it's probably just a matter of turning up the gain on the surrounds (or turning down the gain on the mains since i'm already max'd out at 10 on surrounds!)

I have checked the DTS settings on my player/receiver and am pretty sure they are correct, as is the time alignment on all the speakers.

I appreciate the QUICK response!
You should do what sounds best to you.

I like my mains equal to the fronts. I did this last night and used the SPL meter and set them all to 75 Db's with the mains set at 0Db's in the receiver menu. I decided to not adjust the mains because I like to listen to music as well and like that louder than my movies.
what happens if you use the test tones?

when you are playing DD or DTS source does the reciever say DTS or DD? Do you have yuor DVD player set to output Bitstream and not PCM?
How far off axis are you? I had the problem that by surrounds were set above a sliding glass door, and the seating area was only about 4-5ft in front of that door. They also were not angled towards the seating position. So, a little quick trig... And, I was listening at around 60degrees off axis. Which depending on the speaker can lose 5db or more. And, given my surrounds are less sensitive than my fronts I was getting similar results, in that I just couldn't hear the surround a lot of the time.

Thanks all, once again, for the replies.

I have all the speakers showing up as "in use" when DTS source is playing (or other multi-channel source). I can hear them when I get close to the speakers, I just don't hear it much during movies (nor does my wife who prompted me posting the question!)

I could hear the test tones plenty loud, so I'm thinking it's just a matter of the source. I thought maybe the authors weren't using surround as much as they could.

Don your feedback is particularly interesting, I wonder if we're just listening off-axis and need to do a little math....but I'm not sure what measurements to make - any hints or guides anywhere? There's so much on this forum I have a hard time finding what I need. I've already mounted them pretty sturdily in the wall but could always change the position of the sofas etc.

Player is set to PCM.
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Here is the test, get a copy of Master and Commander and play it. If you do not have virtually constant use of your surround speakers, then something is set up incorrectly
Just noticed this:

"Player is set to PCM."

That is your problem, you are not passing the Dolby Digital or DTS source, it is getting down mixed to 2 channel PCM. I bet your sub isn't performing as well as it should either.

To get true DD or DTS you need to change from PCM to Bitstream.
Thanks!!! Will try it. I'm not sure why I would be hearing anything from them at all in that case. I'm also guessing - I'm at work now :) But I'm pretty sure it said PCM on it.
Originally posted by lowella
I'm not sure why I would be hearing anything from them at all in that case.
Just because your receiver is getting a 2-channel signal, it doesn't mean that you'll hear it through only 2 speakers. More than likely, your receiver defaults to a surround processing mode that takes any incoming 2-channel signal and converts it into multi-channel surround sound. This can often sound good, but discrete multi-channel (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1) usually sounds better.


the reason you are getting some information to the surrounds while watching movies, is Pro-logic is most likely kicking in and creating seperation out some of the channels.

Trust me, change it from PCM, and then lower your surrounds and be prepared to have a smile on your face. You can then send $100 as a service fee :)

edit: It also may noy say "bitstream". It may say "digital" or "dolby", but these are the choices you want. Typically it iwll just be PCM and one of the other names above, so choose the one that isn't PCM.
You also may want to make sure you have the speaker wires attached to the surround terminals and not the rear surround terminals on your receiver. If attached to the rear terminals, you would get some sound out of them if you have the receiver in PLIIx mode, but otherwise would only get sound from 6.1 descrete movies, and not all that much even then.
Nice...thanks again guys!! Will report back tomorrow :) I remember it now, there is a Digital option on my dvd player.

I am pretty sure I've got them in the surround terminals (not rear) but will double check!
Pleased do let us know if we can assist in any way...

[email protected]**********

All the best...

Sorry - tomorrow was the weekend :)

Actually contrary to what I was thinking, I had the right setting selected...it was on dolby digital and not PCM....so back to square one. I did increase the gain on the surrounds and heard some surround this weekend. I think I may take my rockets down and switch them to see if that helps.

Thanks again for the great help here though!!

I didn't see the tip on Master & commander last week so will see if I can watch that this week - I watched it once before and didn't particularly notice the surrounds though!
BTW, This is why I bought Rockets. You post a question on a public bulletin board and the president of the company sees it and offers help ;) I can place some good faith in a company like that, there aren't many of them out there. I will let them know if nothing works.
Originally posted by lowella
I have a Pio 47i receiver w/ auto-calibration thing (the mic you set in the middle of the room, I can't remember all the terminology now) and have calibrated it (not with actual spl meter) but it should be very close to exact.
The mic should be placed at the listening position...not in the middle of the room, unless that's where your listening position is.
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