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sad surround...

226 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Cliff Watson
I'm a happy owner of a budget HTPC. ECP4500 w/ 3Dfusion HTPC driving the system, I have a Yamaha 5140 reciever, DD+DTS , Paradigm speakers. (MiniMons, CC350, Atoms) w/ a Pinnacle BabyBoomer subwoofer.

After a few months, 12 to be precise, of installing everything, I've finally decided that I'm not really happy with the performance of my surrounds. I feel that in most cases I don't really feel like I'm being enveloped in all the sound. I suspect this is due to the way I'm placing my surrounds, behind the couch, which is against the back wall, facing up at the ceiling. My question is simple really, how do I go about improving this. Perhaps the delay levels on my reciever are set incorrectly, I sit very close to the surrounds, they're behind the couch and there's no space for me to move them further back. My front speakers are eight feet away from me. What is the right delay value to use to get the surround field right w/ DD?

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Raoul, I appear to be a minority here, but I find the best way to audio nirvana via this path:

1) Use five identical speakers and an amp with five channels of equal power.

2) Arrange the speakers well away from any boundary such as a wall or floor, perhaps on speaker stands, with the tweeters the same height as the seated listener, and all the same distance from the "sweet spot".

3) Point all five speakers at the "sweet spot" where the listener is, and use the Avia DVD and a SPL meter to exactly match volumes. (All my speakers are monopoles, but let's save that argument for another time.)

4) Stash the sub in the corner where it sounds loudest, and only use the digital delay for the LFE channel, to get it in phase with the 5 mains.

There are probably many ways to do this, but the arrangement above sounds best to me.....at least until the wife gets home and we have "that" discussion again (sigh).


[This message has been edited by Gary McCoy (edited 12-08-2000).]
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Actually my room is a little strange... I have a viewing area on one half of my room. My couch is 8 ft wide, that's as far apart as I can put the atoms, should they be above me or at ear level?

Also, I can't really angle them in as there's a damned window w/ a blind that need to be drawn to watch the projector. My listening/viewing area is 8" x 12" in size. It's a really small space, but watching my projector at a distance of 11" feet is really nice!

I got the idea about pointing my speakers up at the ceiling from the Dolby Digital surround config guide. It's on their site, a PDF document. I suspect my couch is absorbing some of the sound and that's what's making the whole thing sound crappy. My DD delay is at 22 that may be a problem. I guess I'll try 15 and see if that helps.



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I was in your boat to. I have a small room, only 143"X128X96! I think putting the speakers behind you totally destroys the effects. Try sidewall placement and pull your couch out from the back wall 10-12inches. This will put your ears at 19-28inches from the backwall when watching movies. Just this little bit of space in the back has made dramatic differences in my setup. Mount your speakers on the sidewalls about 10 inches as well from the backwall, making them about 100-120 degrees slightly behind the listening position. if you can mount the speakers high on the sidewalls. If you have an eight foot cieling mount them where only about a foot exist between the top of the speaker and the cieling so mount the sides up about 6-7feet which is about 2-3feet above the listeners ears. look at http://www.davidstheater.com for pictures. The only differences I have made from those pictures is my couch is pulled out 10 1/2 inches from the backwall and boy this made a huge difference.

Last but not least make sure you use an spl meter to get the channels balanced with the front and measure precise distances for your delays. Mine are only 8ft to the front three and 6ft to the surround speakers.
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Did I mention my couch is also against one side wall?? Does this make a difference to what's being suggested?

Nah, you have a pair of couch's right? one on the backwall and one on the sidewall? Are they in an L configuration? If so just move everything forward about 10-12" inches. Let me know how it works out for you.

ok I understand now. No this should not make a difference. Just bring them forward about 10-12inches. When you sitdown your ears should be about 21-28" from the backwall. This should make a big difference.

I would advise anyone to take Gary McCoy's advice. During the '70s, I did a lot of experimenting with quadraphonic sound and got used to the real surround effects, so when I first heard one of the surround systems recommended by Dolby, using left and right bipolar rear speakers, it just sounded wrong. Sure there was ambiance, but not real surround sound. I suggest that once you hear the kind of set up Gary describes, you won't want anything else.


Hi Raoul,

The weak link in your system may be the 3Dfusion.

I had one and loved it for the video. I now use a Sony DVP-CX850D dvd player and it was as though I installed new speakers. I am not sure why the dynamic range seems to be much better.

I have not yet spoken to Cliff Watson about this, but it was as though the 3Dfusion card is "toned" down.

I have over 70 DVDs and in everyone that I tested I hear more nuances in the sound than before.

i.e. I have watched Bugs Life, too many times, and it the opening scene the birds and the sounds are much more distinctive than before.


[This message has been edited by clopez (edited 12-14-2000).]
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â€The weak link in your system may be the 3Dfusion.

I had one and loved it for the video. I now use a Sony DVP-CX850D dvd player and it was as though I installed new speakers. I am not sure why the dynamic range seems to be much better.

I have not yet spoken to Cliff Watson about this, but it was as though the 3Dfusion card is "toned" down.â€


According to recent discussions with Todd from Dolby Labs and my reading of Dolby AC-3 encoding/decoding it is impossible to “tone down†the AC-3 bitstream at the player level. The dynamic range is set by the recording engineer and can only be altered at the decoder (Receiver/Pre/Pro). I just played the “Hell Unleashed†chapter of “Gladiator†in AC-3 on three different players including a Mpact2 based RKR Cassini HTPC. They all sounded identical with excellent surround sound.

The only reason I can think of for the reduced dynamic range would be because of excessive jitter from your Mpact2 card, which is not normal.


Best Regards, Cliff

Digital Connection, LLC

[email protected]
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