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Hi, please let me preface this by saying I am totally clueless so please forgive any stupid questions.

I wanted to improve the sound from my Panasonic tv and after being unimpressed with a couple of soundbars I decided to try a home theatre setup. The main objective is to achieve balanced sound with clear dialogue, I'm sick of using headphones all the time so the upstairs neighbours can't hear my tv.

I already had a Yamaha amp (RXV365) which has been in the cupboard for years - although I've always been suspicious that it might be faulty.

Bought Q Acoustics 3010 Bookshelf Speakers for my front left and front right output. And as a starter, the sound was promising. To build on this I added a Q Acoustics Q7000i Centre Speaker (from eBay). Simply put, my reasoning was the front left/right speakers will control the atmospheric sounds, whereas the centre would handle the dialogue (is it that simple?). Well the sound from the centre is really muffled. As a test I hooked the centre speaker to the front right stereo connection and the sound was pretty good so don't think there's a fault with the speaker.

At this point have I already said something stupid - was I naive to think these 3 speakers would achieve the effect I was looking for? Do I need more speakers/sub-woofer to draw bass away from the centre?

I'm thinking the amp may be faulty, or an upgrade might help - but before I go that route it would be helpful to have some comments on what I've tried so far.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Unfortunately, there's no single fix for dialogue issues. Here's some random things to think about -
The speakers you have are more satellites than bookshelves, you'll get better sound from a true bookshelf (larger diameter woofer).
The receiver is fine, but it doesn't have an auto-calibration feature. That might help your situation. If you don't upgrade your receiver (and it's not the best place to spend money in your case), there are articles and disks to help you manually calibrate. Whether you calibrate or not, consider increasing the gain on the center channel. (You were correct, most of the dialogue is on the center channel.)

Are your speakers too close to the wall, this could muck with the port and muffle the sound.
What's you source material? If it's not at good then the equipment might not be able to correct. And even if it's good, if it's not at least 3.1 (for instance if it mono or stereo) then the center channel will not get most of the dialogue.
 

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Hi, please let me preface this by saying I am totally clueless so please forgive any stupid questions.

I wanted to improve the sound from my Panasonic tv and after being unimpressed with a couple of soundbars I decided to try a home theatre setup. The main objective is to achieve balanced sound with clear dialogue, I'm sick of using headphones all the time so the upstairs neighbours can't hear my tv.

I already had a Yamaha amp (RXV365) which has been in the cupboard for years - although I've always been suspicious that it might be faulty.

Bought Q Acoustics 3010 Bookshelf Speakers for my front left and front right output. And as a starter, the sound was promising. To build on this I added a Q Acoustics Q7000i Centre Speaker (from eBay). Simply put, my reasoning was the front left/right speakers will control the atmospheric sounds, whereas the centre would handle the dialogue (is it that simple?). Well the sound from the centre is really muffled. As a test I hooked the centre speaker to the front right stereo connection and the sound was pretty good so don't think there's a fault with the speaker.

At this point have I already said something stupid - was I naive to think these 3 speakers would achieve the effect I was looking for? Do I need more speakers/sub-woofer to draw bass away from the centre?

I'm thinking the amp may be faulty, or an upgrade might help - but before I go that route it would be helpful to have some comments on what I've tried so far.

Thanks in advance.
The QA 7000i center as cute and WAF friendly as it is only has 3" drivers which will make it sound small and unimpressive. If you want a significant improvement with dialog, you'll need a center with at least 5.25" drivers. The HSU MC-1 MK2 (currently on sale) would be a great option. Their HB-1 speakers would also have improved dynamics and larger soundstage. A better sub may be a good idea as well.
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hc-1.html


 

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I think first of all, let's get the stupid questions out of the way. These aren't stupid questions at all! They just are questions from someone learning.
1. What makes you think your AVR is faulty?
2. You plugged your center into the front right connection. Good call. How about now put the right speaker in the center position. How does that sound. Here we're just trying to rule out the center connection.
3. Let's check your settings.

4. I don't think the speaker size is the culprit. They wouldn't sound fantastic but I think the dialogue intelligibility would be just fine.

5. Please describe the location of your speakers. In a cabinet, on a shelf, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Tried the Q Acoustics 3010 right speaker as the centre and there was a definite improvement, so now I'm thinking send back the Q Acoustics Q7000i Centre and get a Q Acoustics 3090c centre instead. Although the Q3010 was an improvement (in the centre) it still wasn't quite what I expected, still a bit 'harsh', distorted and lacked a bit of clarity.

i find the 5 channel stereo setting on the Yamaha RXV365 achieves the best sound, but obviously I haven't got the 5:1 setup (just 2 stereo speakers and centre). With a 3 speaker setup (2 x stereo + centre) would it be a good idea to add a sub-woofer?

While just testing, the stereo speakers are on side tables for now, on either side of the tv. And the centre is on the floor. I've been sitting up close during the testing, putting my ear to the speakers, messing with volume and settings etc. If I can achieve the clarity I'm looking for then I'll wall hang the tv and have all speakers on plinth's (with centre speaker on the tv stand), and potentially add further speakers for surround sound.

I can definitely see the potential as the stereo speakers are impressive, maybe in the future I can look at buying a better amp (any budget recommendations?).

Thanks for all the advice everyone.
 

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Several of the higher end Denon receivers have a 3-way adjustable dialogue enhancement circuit. I find it useful with center channel clarity.
 

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1.) Make ABSOLUTELY SURE that the Center (and all speakers) are wired correctly. That in every case the Amp RED+ goes to the Speaker RED+. Nothing will suck the life out of a speaker like one of them being wired backwards. Don't blow this off, this is a very easy and common mistake.

2.) Make sure that the Crossover is applied to all channel and thereby all Speakers. Not applying the Crossover to the Center will make voice sound husky and droning.

3.) Run the Amp Setup Program. For Yamaha that is the YPAO program.

4.) Assuming the Amp allows it, after running YPAO SUCCESSFULLY, tweak the volume of the Center up a few dB to emphasize the Center channel.

5.) As mentioned by someone else, describe the physical set up of the system and the placement of the Center Speaker.

6.) As a broad generalization, the Dialog in most Movies sucks. This is especially true if there is a lot of other sound going on like special effects or sound track (music). I heard/saw a behind the scenes clip of one of the Harry Potter movies, where the dialog was crystal clear. But in the final mix of that scene with background noise and music, the dialog was really bad.

Many movies mix and re-mix the sound layering one sound over another until it simply becomes a hodge-podge of noise. So ...sometimes... the movie sound track and mixing just suck.

I only heard Energy Speakers once (not Take), and found them to be very clear with decent crisp highs. But the Sound-and-Vision review and frequency response charts indicates those Take Classic speakers are a bit soft above about 5khz. That probably doesn't help.

Keep in mind that when most people have trouble hearing in general, it is because they are losing their high frequency hearing. So a softness in the lower High Frequencies can contribute to poor sound or poor intelligibility.

7.) Then the matter of Room Acoustics. Even is a small modest system, you simply can't ignore room acoustics. If this is a very bare reflective room, then sound bouncing off the wall is probably interfering with the main sound. Keep in mind that in a small room you do not get slap-back echoes like you would shouting into a canyon. The reverb is going to be so fast as to not be consciously noticeable, but it is still interfering with the intelligibility of the sound.

So, if your room has hard floors and a lot of bare surfaces, then you need to do something about Room Reflections. This can cost a fortune to fix, but it doesn't necessarily have to cost a fortune.

Here is a very simple illustration of Before and After Acoustic Treatments-


Just a few thoughts for now.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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Q Acoustics 3010 Bookshelf Speakers for my front left and front right output. And as a starter, the sound was promising.

To build on this I added a Q Acoustics Q7000i Centre Speaker (from eBay). Simply put, my reasoning was the front left/right speakers will control the atmospheric sounds, whereas the centre would handle the dialogue (is it that simple?). Well the sound from the centre is really muffled. As a test I hooked the centre speaker to the front right stereo connection and the sound was pretty good so don't think there's a fault with the speaker.

At this point have I already said something stupid - was I naive to think these 3 speakers would achieve the effect I was looking for?
Sure, you can try out all of Steve's troubleshooting suggestions first. Good luck!

=== (continue reading only if Steve's tips don't help)

The laws of physics don't care about sales/marketing BS. You will never get great sound out of 3-4" woofers. At *ANY* price. I would go never smaller than 5.25" woofers, which in the case of QA means the 3020i or 3030i speakers.

If your usage is mostly focused on HT/TV, a good start is to get yourself a decent center. Sure you could try the QA 3090, it has about a 50/50 success rate between people who like it and people who don't...just make sure you have a good return policy in case you're in the "thumbs down" 50%. Or, you could get yourself a proven performer REALLY GOOD center speaker from a whole different brand for as little as $250-400, if you can bring yourself to ignore the usual knee-jerk "b-b-b-but what about TIMBRE MATCHING" reactions.

The only indisputable disadvantage of a mismatched center is the lack of VISUAL UNIFORMITY---so if that bothers you, I'd just return all of your QA speakers and start over completely. Or, if you like the QA aesthetics, buy a second pair of 3010i and use one of them as the center...that will be an improvement, as long as you don't need high volumes.

But whatever you do, do NOT NOT NOT buy any of Q Acoustics' overpriced, under-performing subwoofers! You definitely WILL need a sub, though...look at Hsu, Rythmik, Monolith, etc. instead.
 

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Sure, you can try out all of Steve's troubleshooting suggestions first. Good luck!

=== (continue reading only if Steve's tips don't help)

The laws of physics don't care about sales/marketing BS. You will never get great sound out of 3-4" woofers. At *ANY* price. I would go never smaller than 5.25" woofers, which in the case of QA means the 3020i or 3030i speakers.
I tend to agree. For myself, 5.25" is as small as I would go, and in a combined Music/Movie system, I would prefer not to go below 6.5".

If your usage is mostly focused on HT/TV, a good start is to get yourself a decent center. Sure you could try the QA 3090, it has about a 50/50 success rate ...
Here is the QA 3090 Center Speaker -

https://www.qacoustics.com/3090ci-center-speakers.html

It uses TWIN 100mm (4") bass drivers.

Here is the better Concept Center Speaker -

https://www.qacoustics.com/concept-center-channel-speaker.html

This is a noticeably better speaker, but it is still only 2x4" bass drivers.

The only indisputable disadvantage of a mismatched center is the lack of VISUAL UNIFORMITY---so if that bothers you, I'd just return all of your QA speakers and start over completely. Or, if you like the QA aesthetics, buy a second pair of 3010i and use one of them as the center...that will be an improvement, as long as you don't need high volumes.
On the issue of Tonal Uniformity, Zorba and I are not in complete agreement, but in the very broad sense our opinions are not that far off.

There are aspects of your system that we are not aware of - Speaker Placement, Room Size, Room Acoustics, AVR Settings, etc... - so the best we can do is guess as to the problem. In a small-ish room the 3010 are probably OK, and perhaps a bit more so in a dedicated Movie system. But in anything larger than a small room, not so much.

Now I have, on my computer, Q Acoustic 3020 (5.25") and they are very nice speakers. Noticeable better than my previous Polk Audio, but not as good as the Concept 20 that I auditioned in my home for a few months.

But we all do the best we can with the budgets we have. The QA 3000 series are well regarded in their price range. But in any speaker 4" bass drivers are a bit on the small side.

But whatever you do, do NOT NOT NOT buy any of Q Acoustics' overpriced, under-performing subwoofers! You definitely WILL need a sub, though...look at Hsu, Rythmik, Monolith, etc. instead.
Agreed, the only advantage of the Q Acoustic Subwoofer is that it has a small unobtrusive size. If that matters to you, then perhaps it is OK.

https://www.qacoustics.com/3070-active-subwoofer.html

But for over $400, there are many better even lower cost Subs that will outperform the Q Acoustic. I seriously doubt that this Subwoofer goes much deeper than the deepest bookshelf speakers. So in that sense it is technically not really a Subwoofer.

Now, don't get me wrong, in their price range, the QA-3000 Series are well regarded. But there are limits to what you can expect from a small speaker or a small Subwoofer.

Not wanting to sound too negative.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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