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Surround Sound Help Needed

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Surround Sound Help Needed

Old 10-10-11, 11:22 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

First of all, stop worrying so much about all the technobabble associated with these things.

Go to a store that sells electronics, look around at the speakers and test them out. Even bring something you're familiar with - a CD with a favorite song you know every note of, or something similar, as your quality control.

Look at the speaker's size, the overall quality of the sound - do they sound good to YOU, and decide that way. If you want some 200W speakers then you're obviously intending to crank the volume high and want that power. If you want 60W speakers then you're probably looking for a nice even level, not too loud, but with decent enough power, etc.

This isn't something you're going to be able to do well online only.

It's not as complicated as it seems.
Old 10-10-11, 02:49 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Alright. But I pay extra money to get higher watt speakers, like the 200W ones you spoke about, but the system is only 110x5 Watts, isn't that wasting about 100 watts ? Would the speakers sound even better with more power from the receiver ?
Old 10-10-11, 04:24 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
Alright. But I pay extra money to get higher watt speakers, like the 200W ones you spoke about, but the system is only 110x5 Watts, isn't that wasting about 100 watts ? Would the speakers sound even better with more power from the receiver ?
You can plug a 200W speaker into a 110W receiver, but the problem with that is the receiver won't be strong enough to fully handle those speakers, so if you turned the volume too high, you can damage the receiver (usually it will catch what you're doing and shut itself down before any damage occurs).

Speakers of a higher wattage are capable of handling higher volumes, bigger bass, etc. You could go for smaller speakers (usually called satellite speakers) and a subwoofer can handle the bass.

My example of 200W speakers is an exaggeration, since having speakers of that wattage basically means you would want to blast the hell out of movies and music. If I was going for like a hardcore home movie theater kind of thing, hell yeah I'd do it.

More wattage = more power, more volume, more powerful receiver needed to support them.

Last edited by Nick Martin; 10-10-11 at 04:30 PM.
Old 10-10-11, 05:24 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Using our examples, wouldn't a 200W speaker not get enough power from the receiver, and therefore not work as well as it would if it was connected to a 200W receiver ? You said it would damage the receiver if you turned the volume too high. But wouldn't the receiver not be powerful enough to do that ?
Old 10-10-11, 06:05 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
Using our examples, wouldn't a 200W speaker not get enough power from the receiver, and therefore not work as well as it would if it was connected to a 200W receiver ? You said it would damage the receiver if you turned the volume too high. But wouldn't the receiver not be powerful enough to do that ?
Because it wouldn't be powerful enough, what would happen would be the same thing as plugging too many devices into one outlet - it overloads.

A speaker with a higher wattage, connected to a lower-wattage receiver would not give you the same overall volume level as a speaker that matches the receiver's wattage. The volume level would be too low for a higher-wattage speaker in that instance, so the natural thing would be to simply turn it up to hear it properly, which is where the problem occurs because it's not strong enough to power the speaker at its proper level.
Old 10-10-11, 10:37 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

I'm really interested in that 110 watt receiver. What sort of sound quality can 110 watts give me ? It doesn't have to be massively loud. It's for my bedroom, which is pretty small. About 10 feet by, maybe, 15 feet. I'm thinking that 110 watts will be fine.
Old 10-10-11, 11:03 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Wattage has nothing to do with sound quality.
Old 10-11-11, 10:13 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Nick Martin View Post
Because it wouldn't be powerful enough, what would happen would be the same thing as plugging too many devices into one outlet - it overloads.

A speaker with a higher wattage, connected to a lower-wattage receiver would not give you the same overall volume level as a speaker that matches the receiver's wattage. The volume level would be too low for a higher-wattage speaker in that instance, so the natural thing would be to simply turn it up to hear it properly, which is where the problem occurs because it's not strong enough to power the speaker at its proper level.
You guys are spending way too much time worrying about watts. The wattage ratings on speakers are basically useless. The only rating that matters is the amp/receiver, and most of the marketing labels are fictional (esp on low-end), so there isn't even really a rating there to worry about, anyway.

Basically, a low end receiver should not be played too loud, because its amps cannot handle it. That is independent of the speakers. Not that any receiver should be played too loud, protect your ears and use them tomorrow, too.

Spottedfeather, if you want to ease into surround sound, buy a decent HTiB system as recommended above and you'll be fine. They are designed to be matched sets, so you don't have to worry about wattages and other specs. If you shop on the internet or clearance racks, you can get last year's model (whatever that is) for a great price. Crutchfield.com or onecall.com or amazon are good places to start.

Don't worry about specs unless you want to get serious. And by serious I mean thousands of dollars. There's no point in getting worked up over watts unless you intend to learn geeky facts and blow real money on it.
Old 10-12-11, 02:49 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

I think I've settled on the Onkyo-HT-S3400. It seems to have everything I need ; it has a radio. I listen to the radio pretty much all day. So, that's cool. It also has a spot where you can plug in an iPod to charge it. And from what I've read, it seems to be a good system. 300 bucks is a lot, though. It will be a while before I can get it. Got a lot of bills and stuff right now.
Old 06-17-12, 05:03 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

I just had another question. I'm looking at a cheap system and the audio in connection it has is left and right stereo input. My question is this. Will I get the same sound our of all 5 speakers and subwoofer, or would I be able to turn the center speaker up so I could hear the dialogue more clearly ?
Old 06-17-12, 05:23 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
I just had another question. I'm looking at a cheap system and the audio in connection it has is left and right stereo input. My question is this. Will I get the same sound our of all 5 speakers and subwoofer, or would I be able to turn the center speaker up so I could hear the dialogue more clearly ?
If the system you're looking at has Dolby Pro Logic, then you'll hear dialogue only in that center speaker if the Pro Logic is turned on, and you can customize the speaker channel volumes one by one. The other channels will fill with music and effects just as usual.

Pro Logic or Pro Logic II mimicks 5.1 using a stereo source. The difference is the rear channels are in mono for Pro Logic (Left, Center, Right, mono Surround) and Pro Logic II movie splits it so it's stereo, but I find it's not as discrete as dialogue can bleed into the rears with Pro Logic II. I never use II because of that reason, but to each their own.

Pro Logic II music is a little different, because it keeps the dialogue coming out of the left and right stereo speakers.

So, yup
Old 06-17-12, 06:16 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

The Onkyo-HT-S3400 has Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Would I get center channel dialogue with this ? Most of the movies I have are fine. But the audio on some movies are so low that if you have the dialogue at a good level, the effects are way too loud. Know of any good systems that will let me have center channel dialogue and customize the speaker channel volumes one by one ?
Old 06-17-12, 07:09 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

That could be one of several issues:

One, you do need to adjust the levels of each speaker, which for that specific model can be done by following the instructions here, on page 29:

http://filedepot.onkyousa.com/Files/...290_En_web.pdf

Or it may be an issue of dynamic range where you need to set either your player or your receiver to one of the range compression modes which are usually called "midnight" modes. According to Onkyo's website for that model, it has a feature called "Audyssey Dynamic EQ™ for Loudness Correction".

The page for that model is here:
http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=...ss=Systems&p=i

Also, depending on what you're watching, a DTS / DTS HD title is generally much louder in volume and has a wider dynamic range than a Dolby / Dolby True HD title.
Old 06-18-12, 08:11 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

If you can read then I suggest you get a basic home theater book from the library. It will answer all your questions rather than going back and forth here. It will also give you a basic knowledge of the subject. And as someone above said, HTiB at around 300, don't worry about the specs.





Or anything similar, your library will have some.
Old 06-18-12, 08:29 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by arminius View Post
If you can read then I suggest you get a basic home theater book from the library. It will answer all your questions rather than going back and forth here. It will also give you a basic knowledge of the subject. And as someone above said, HTiB at around 300, don't worry about the specs.





Or anything similar, your library will have some.
You don't have to be so rude about this. I was just asking a few simple questions. I didn't say anything insulting to you, did I ? Sorry if I was asking home theater questions in a home theater forum. I didn't realize that we were all inferior to you.
Old 06-18-12, 11:00 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
You don't have to be so rude about this. I was just asking a few simple questions. I didn't say anything insulting to you, did I ? Sorry if I was asking home theater questions in a home theater forum. I didn't realize that we were all inferior to you.
Yeah but you're asking ridonnkkkulous questions dude. If you get dialog out of the center channel with Doly True Or DTS-MA? Of course you do.
Old 06-19-12, 12:58 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

I'm asking perfectly normal questions. I've never had a surround system. There's nothing idiotic about asking questions about one.
Old 06-19-12, 09:05 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by ATX View Post
if your dvd player has those on the back they are preouts (for the built in surround decoder)
They are not "pre-outs". They are 5.1 multi-channel analog outputs, which is the only way, other than HDMI, to get the HD audio formats. They are there for use with older receivers without HDMI inputs. Pre-outs look the same, but are used for plugging in powered sources, like external amps or powered speakers. Pre-outs are on receivers, and not the sources.

Spottedfeather......
The Onkyo HT-S3400 is an ok starter system. I like Onkyo. My receiver is an Onkyo. But, if there's any way you can swing it, I'd at least try to get the HT-S5500 (next step up). I say this because it has a powered subwoofer, instead of a passive, like the 3400 has. With a powered sub, upgrade options later, will be better. You could keep the receiver (if happy with it) and just get better speakers and subwoofer. Even though the 5500 is a 7.1 system, it can still be set up for 5.1 surround. You'd just need to disable the two surround back speakers, in the receiver's set up menus, so all the sound would be distributed right. Don't get mewrong......... the 3400 system is fine, if that's the best you can afford at the time.

Where HTIBs fall short is with the speakers and sub. At the HTIB price point, they just can't give you real good speakers, although Onkyo gives a little better than most HTIBs. Onkyo gives more bang for the buck with the whole system. The speakers are the most important part of any system. Afterall, that's where the sound is. You get another receiver at the same price point, and you won't notice much difference. But, if you get other speakers, chances are, you will notice a difference. Whether a good or bad difference depends on the brand and series of speaker. Good speakers cost. Speakers are usually the most expensive part of a system. My front three speakers cost more (over $1500) than the rest of my system added together, and makes my system sound great.

The Onkyo also has Audyssey, which is very good. When you set up the system, you definitely need to run the Audyssey set up option. You keep asking about the volume of the center speaker. Ideally, the volume of all speakers should be the same, at the listening position, so nothing over-powers anything else. The front speakers are usually farther away from your seat, than the rear speakers are. So, the front speaker's volume will need to be set a little higher, to be the same volume as the rear speakers, at your seating position. Understand a little better? This is where Audyssey does very well. It's almost impossible to do by ear. Without Audyssey, you'd really need an SPL (sound pressure level) meter to get it right. Radio Shack sells them. Some people sets the volume up a couple more clicks, on the center channel, even after using Audyssey, to make sure the dialog is loud enough. Some sets the sub volume a little higher too.

As far as watts to a speaker is concerned, I wouldn't worry about it. The 200 watt speaker that you mentioned, would have a listing of something like 40 watts to 200 watts (just as an example). So, as long as the receiver has over 40 watts, you're good. The closer to 200 watts the receiver is, the more efficient the receiver and speaker would be. It would take less volume setting on the volume knob, for the speaker to sound good, and loud enough. I had an old stereo receiver many years ago, that was only 12 watts per channel. The speakers had a minimum rating of 20 watts. I had to turn the volume knob almost all the way up, to hear it at a fairly decent volume. This is basically what NIck Martin said earlier.

Sorry for such a long post, but I hope I've made a couple of things clearer for you. Home theater equipment can be a little intimidating at first. Afterall, a lot of people never figured out how to set the clock on their VCRs. So, setting up a home theater system would blow their minds. I'm not saying you're one of them, because I don't know you. Good luck with whatever you decide on. I think you'll like surround sound better than a stereo receiver. They make the movie experience so much better..........
Old 06-19-12, 09:55 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
Know of any good systems that will let me have center channel dialogue and customize the speaker channel volumes one by one ?
What price range does "good" mean to you? A family member spent about $1300, has a very nice system. Mine cost several thousand for receiver and 8 speakers, after discounts.

Also, about the surround formats (codecs):
Dolby Digital and DTS are discrete codecs, on both DVD and BD. Discrete means the authors put specific sound in each channel, up to 7.1 channels of individual sound. A surround system simply plays each channel in the proper speaker to recreate what the authors intended. The Dolby Pro Logic mentioned above is an older system, designed to create surround channels out of a stereo recording. It is called matrixed, rather than discrete, since it is "faked" from stereo. It is less effective at creating good surround sound, but it's not horrible. (it's more complex than this, I'm just giving an overview) Any modern surround receiver will have both discrete and matrix options.

Both the Pro Logic and the newer discrete codecs will put the dialog mainly into the center channel, that is one of the original purposes of surround sound, separating the dialog and placing it in a speaker right by the TV to sound more natural.
Old 06-19-12, 11:35 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
You don't have to be so rude about this. I was just asking a few simple questions. I didn't say anything insulting to you, did I ? Sorry if I was asking home theater questions in a home theater forum. I didn't realize that we were all inferior to you.
I was really just kidding. But I was serious about the book. Most of the stuff you are getting here is beyond what you are asking for. You need to read up a little on the basics and most of your questions will be answered.
Old 06-19-12, 12:18 PM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Let's all place nice.

For those that are helping, thanks for your expertise and patience.

For those that are commenting about question quality, maybe ignore the thread.

And for those that are asking the questions, maybe concentrate on the informative answers and ignore anything that doesn't match your requirements. I can see at least one instance of an overreaction to a reasonable answer that should not have caused offence.

Thanks to all for their understanding and cooperation.
Old 06-20-12, 12:56 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by benedict View Post
Let's all place nice.

For those that are helping, thanks for your expertise and patience.

For those that are commenting about question quality, maybe ignore the thread.

And for those that are asking the questions, maybe concentrate on the informative answers and ignore anything that doesn't match your requirements. I can see at least one instance of an overreaction to a reasonable answer that should not have caused offence.

Thanks to all for their understanding and cooperation.
I was just defending one of the other posters comments about reading the Home Theater for Dummies book. Most that post on this forum have some knowledge about home theaters, and the OP has none (no offense).
To OP: I suggest you wiki "home theaters" to get some basic knowledge on how they work then come back to ask more technical questions.
Old 06-29-12, 01:23 AM
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Re: Surround Sound Help Needed

Originally Posted by Spottedfeather View Post
Know of any good systems that will let me have center channel dialogue and customize the speaker channel volumes one by one ?
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