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Surround sound, and dedicated center channel questions...

JimJimBinksJimJimBinks Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm thinking my home theater setup needs an upgrade, but I have some questions and was hoping someone here could help me out.

Right now I have a Sony receiver that decodes Dolby TrueHD, and a PS3 as my Blu-Ray player hooked up to it through HDMI. For my speakers and subwoofer I'm using a 3 year old Bose Accoustimass 10 setup. This was bought before the Acoustimass series started coming with a horizontal dedicated center channel speaker. Basically all 5 speakers are exactly the same. I've had a problem since I got the speakers in that I have to mess with the volume throughout movies in order to be able to hear the dialogue clearly. Turning it down during action scenes and up during scenes that are nothing but dialogue.
This was a long way of getting to my main reason for starting the thread.
I'm thinking I need to get a new center channel speaker. My question is this...
Will a dedicated center channel speaker that was manufactured to be a center channel speaker make a difference here? Or are all speakers basically the same? Last week I purchased this speaker off Ebay refurbished from the manufacturer, and when I hooked it up last night and threw in The Dark Knight on Blur Ray, things tended to sound "tinny." Dialogue was okay, better than the speaker I was replacing but everything else that came fromt the speaker just sounded off. Is this normal when mixing speaker brands?

One more question Has anyone heard anything about the Bose VCS-10? Is it worth getting? I know Bose speakers are essentially a ripoff and there are much better speakers out there, but my wife is big on having smaller speakers that can be hidden well and still sound really good. She's the one who purchased the Accoustimass system in the first place.

This post is kinda all over the place. Sorry about that. I'm just kinda at a loss here. I was hoping the Infinity speaker would've helped.

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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I'm sorry to hear about the fact that you not only have BOSE but are probably stuck with similarly garbage speakers due to WAF. :(

    I think there's something amiss with your setup (other than using BOSE) since probably 90% of the dialogue in a surround mix comes through the center channel. It almost sounds like your center channel isn't working. Try telling your receiver that you don't have a center channel, and see if the sounds mix out to FL/FR.

    Also check the ohm ratings - I'm thinking that your BOSE setup is on 6ohm/4ohm or something, and your center channel is throwing a fit.

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Two cheap fixes:

    (1) Using your center channel that came with the Acoustimass 10: If you have to turn it down during gunfire and explosions, see if there is gain cntrol for the subwoofer. On the Bose "Bass Module" I believe it's the "LFE" knob. Turn this down to reduce the relative volume of the "Bass Module" to the satellites.

    (2) Using the Infinty speaker: Are you running the wire from the receiver to the Acoustimass module and then to the Infinity center channel? If so stop, and run speaker wire (cheap radio shack 18/16 guage wire will do) directly from the center channel output on the receiver to the Infinity Center Channel speaker and see if this attentuates the tinny-ness. I think the crossovers for the satellites are located on the AM module, so passing it through 2 crossover networks (there's a crossover in that Infinity speaker) over thin wire cannot be helping things.

    As far as pairing the VCS-10 with an AM-10, a friend of mine has done this and is happy with the results. And though I'm not commenting on how good it sounds, the VCS-10 sound blends with the satellites (meaning there is no noticeable change in timbre with sound passing across the front sound field). Most likely Bose uses the same cheap drivers and crossovers in the VCS-10 that is used in the satellites and Acoutimass module so that's why it sounds OK. He's got the VCS-10 hooked up directly to the receiver (not via the AM module).


    Best solution, take the wife and a good sounding movie she likes (for my wife I'd choose Chicago or possibly Moulin Rouge) and drag her to a mid/hi-fi audio place (e.g. some place that carries the Paradigm brand), and play the movie through their speaker systems. See if you can wow her with the sound to get her to budge on what she considers an acceptably-sized speaker.

    Djeet on
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    eternalbleternalbl Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    For the cheap ass fix, try this

    Or check your reciever manual for a night mode or something like that. On my reciever that'll reduce bass while not affecting higher frequencies. Maybe turning that on a little will help so you can put volume higher without blowing your face off whenever something happens.

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    JimJimBinksJimJimBinks Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Thank you all. The information in this thread has been very helpful.

    I think there's something wrong with the refurbished Infinity speaker (Which, to answer your question Djeet, was plugged directly into my receiver) question. I plugged in the microphone that came with my receiver last night and ran the auto calibration (Which I had forgotten to do before just because I was so excited to get it hooked up and tested.) After the auto calibration, my wife and I watched HANCOCK because we'd just gotten it from Netflix, and I noticed in some scenes that mixed a lot of dialogue and action, a barely audible high pitched whine would come from the Infinity speaker. Not sure if it matters but I was watching the Dolby TrueHD track (Which my reciever and PS3 can handle normally) It would go away when someone started talking but come right back during some silence.
    I only noticed it in that movie, not during my test of Terminator 2 on Blu-Ray beforehand. But I only watched the first 15 minutes or so of T2.
    I'm going to play around with it a lot more when I get home tonight. Right now I'm hoping I can get the center channel that came with the Accoustimass system to work well since that would be the cheapest option.

    One more, slightly off topic question but I think you guys would be able to tell me. Do you notice a huge difference between 5.1 and 6.1? I know a lot of movies don't support 6.1 but when I was on the phone with Bose last night they offered to sell me a horizontal center channel speaker (For the Accoustimass system, not the VCS-10) for $50 and I could take my double cube one I have right now and use it as the 6th channel.

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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Thank you all. The information in this thread has been very helpful.

    I think there's something wrong with the refurbished Infinity speaker (Which, to answer your question Djeet, was plugged directly into my receiver) question. I plugged in the microphone that came with my receiver last night and ran the auto calibration (Which I had forgotten to do before just because I was so excited to get it hooked up and tested.) After the auto calibration, my wife and I watched HANCOCK because we'd just gotten it from Netflix, and I noticed in some scenes that mixed a lot of dialogue and action, a barely audible high pitched whine would come from the Infinity speaker. Not sure if it matters but I was watching the Dolby TrueHD track (Which my reciever and PS3 can handle normally) It would go away when someone started talking but come right back during some silence.
    I only noticed it in that movie, not during my test of Terminator 2 on Blu-Ray beforehand. But I only watched the first 15 minutes or so of T2.
    I'm going to play around with it a lot more when I get home tonight. Right now I'm hoping I can get the center channel that came with the Accoustimass system to work well since that would be the cheapest option.

    One more, slightly off topic question but I think you guys would be able to tell me. Do you notice a huge difference between 5.1 and 6.1? I know a lot of movies don't support 6.1 but when I was on the phone with Bose last night they offered to sell me a horizontal center channel speaker (For the Accoustimass system, not the VCS-10) for $50 and I could take my double cube one I have right now and use it as the 6th channel.

    Not really worth it. In Dolby EX the sixth channel is matrixed, so the only true discrete 6.1 sources would be DTS-ES DVDs.

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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    6.1 is a bit silly, 7.1 is the next real step. However, most people don't need a 7.1 (the lack of 7.1 stuff out there aside). It is great for very large rooms with a lot of seating. Thats pretty much it.

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    JimJimBinksJimJimBinks Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Thank you all. The information in this thread has been very helpful.

    I think there's something wrong with the refurbished Infinity speaker (Which, to answer your question Djeet, was plugged directly into my receiver) question. I plugged in the microphone that came with my receiver last night and ran the auto calibration (Which I had forgotten to do before just because I was so excited to get it hooked up and tested.) After the auto calibration, my wife and I watched HANCOCK because we'd just gotten it from Netflix, and I noticed in some scenes that mixed a lot of dialogue and action, a barely audible high pitched whine would come from the Infinity speaker. Not sure if it matters but I was watching the Dolby TrueHD track (Which my reciever and PS3 can handle normally) It would go away when someone started talking but come right back during some silence.
    I only noticed it in that movie, not during my test of Terminator 2 on Blu-Ray beforehand. But I only watched the first 15 minutes or so of T2.
    I'm going to play around with it a lot more when I get home tonight. Right now I'm hoping I can get the center channel that came with the Accoustimass system to work well since that would be the cheapest option.

    One more, slightly off topic question but I think you guys would be able to tell me. Do you notice a huge difference between 5.1 and 6.1? I know a lot of movies don't support 6.1 but when I was on the phone with Bose last night they offered to sell me a horizontal center channel speaker (For the Accoustimass system, not the VCS-10) for $50 and I could take my double cube one I have right now and use it as the 6th channel.

    Not really worth it. In Dolby EX the sixth channel is matrixed, so the only true discrete 6.1 sources would be DTS-ES DVDs.

    Heh, after working at DTS for 3 years this is stuff I should really know (Though I worked in their Digital Images department, which was known as Lowry Digital Images)

    JimJimBinks on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2008
    Okay, let's stop and be reasonable here.

    If your wife demands tiny speakers, you can get some that are Bose-sized, sub-Bose-priced, and a fuckton better than Bose. For example, these and these and these.

    In short, there is never a good reason to buy a Bose product. Never. Never. There is always something that will outperform any given Bose thing for far cheaper.

    On to center speakers. First, know that quiet dialog and loud action scenes are pretty much the way 5.1 movies are supposed to be. If you need to turn up the volume during quiet dialog and crank it down when the trucks start exploding, your system is likely working just fine. You don't realize this is happening in theaters because the theaters crank up the volume. People whispering is perfectly audible, and loud action scenes make your fillings shake. You can recreate this at home, too, which is why people with money sound-proof their home theaters. Properly done, shit is fucking loud.

    As to center speakers, Infinity generally makes quality low-to-mid-range products. I have Infinity fronts right now, and the main reason I haven't swapped them out (I've upgraded every other speaker thus far) is because they do an adequate job. Not great, but adequate. If yours isn't working, it's probably the refurbishing, not the brand. As to other brands you might consider, I like Paradigm, Paradigm, and Paradigm. If you aren't keen on getting speakers that are fucking fantastic for the price, then Boston Acoustics is also great (I have a BA center), and B&W is pretty nice, though typically not cheap. Also, Paradigm. (Sorry, I have sort of a techno-crush on Paradigm speakers, and aim to ultimately supplant my entire set-up with them.)

    As to your question about what makes center channels center channels, it's basically just the shape - it's designed to be symmetrical and fit on or under your TV. You can technically use any speaker as a center, though ideally you'd have one with two drivers arranged horizontally so your sound field is symmetrical from right to left. That said, the center channel is the most important speaker in your set-up, as it's where almost all of your dialog and principal sound comes from. It should be crystal-clear. The fronts and surrounds are more used for ambient or directional sound, so if things are a little muddier it's less obvious. It's not a terrible idea to spend as much on your center as on the rest of your speakers combined, discounting the sub, though that's not required by any stretch.

    And remember: every penny you give to Bose goes directly to raping puppies with dildos made from dead kittens. You don't support dead-kitten puppy rape, do you?

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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    And remember: every penny you give to Bose goes directly to raping puppies with dildos made from dead kittens. You don't support dead-kitten puppy rape, do you?

    I am torn as to whether to retain my present out-of-context quote sig, or use this line.

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