Audio Tune-Up

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Feb 6, 2010
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Helped some friends last night with their audio system. Fortunately they were using a quality small LS (B&W). Unfortunately, the levels were way off, the LF was hidden from seating view, the sub was on top of a low shelf unit, two LS's were wired in parallel and placed horizontal on a lower shelf and the TV was way off center. A pink noise test showed them the consequences of the horizontal, paralleled centers: complete change in sound between LF, C & RF. I could describe why this happened but a demonstration is far more effective than the math. Also the too-low-impedance caused this amp channel to overheat & distort. We elevated the TV, disconnected the "dual" centers, rearranged the small stands so they could stand upright again, and placed both up top so they were on the same horizontal plane as the other two. A pink noise test revealed the front stage to sound much better and more even but still not the same. Something odd there...could have been loose QC. Another issue was neither had read the 100+ page multi-channel receiver manual and didn't understand the capabilities available to them. Not a criticism, just an observation. They're not alone either: Setting up one of these takes hours & hours. What's worse is they had previously paid some popular chain to set this all up. Problem was it sounded lousy! Like a sports car with the wrong shocks, hexagonal, underinflated cheap tires and no balancing. It's trash "service" like this that gives the whole industry a bad name. First, I had to straighten out the SS decoder and change a few menu items...with a remote that wasn't the same as pictured in the owners manual! (I later discovered this rec'vr actually came with two remotes and the other I needed was lost!) Frustrating but I pressed on through the noise..... They had also misplaced the factory supplied microphone that enabled the recv'r to employ Audessyy to 'tune/calibrate' itself. (That's a big problem on a unit with this feature...). Unfortunate, but it happens. Out came the tripod & SPL meter for some manual, objective measurements. They'd never seen this done before (and obviously the kid sent from $%^[email protected] didn't do it either). I cycled it through several times, then sat down for a subjective listen. Much more even now. Onto setting up the nice B&W sub. It was nearly OFF because it wasn't set up either and they complained it just BOOOMED! I set it back down on the floor, but away from the corner. With that done, a listen to the first cannon barrage from Master & Commander had them looking at each other in disbelief! Rather amazing difference. I didn't have to say a word....just got up, let them sit where I was and restarted the scene from the beginning. Suddenly they had BIG audio to match their BIG video! (That's the way it's supposed to be). With that done, it was time for a CD listen in the multi-format player....except it wanted to play it in multi-channel mode instead of stereo; meaning it wanted to process it. More menu adjustments this time on the MFP to fix this, then back to a movie, then back to the CD to ensure each were properly played. Which brings up an important point: Both the player & receiver need to be properly set-up to ensure the source is being properly "processed" or not. Their player was applying DTS cinema to a stereo CD! Small wonder it didn't sound right. The menu system on the player was quite complicated....and they didn't have the manual. With this all finally straightened out, it was time to relax, listen and enjoy some wine. They were amazed that it sounded so much better, the bass was present, they could both now clearly understand the dialog and that "this sound" had been hostage to a poor set-up...and they'd paid for it. I've seen this same scenario played out over & over, except even worse with lousy, lousy LS's. Fortunately, they'd chosen B&W's. The junk was the service. Straightening all this out took a bit over 3-1/2hrs. as I had to deal with wiring access issues, a different remote, delays each time menu options were changed on both the recv'r and MFP, furniture moving/adjustment, etc. It all needs to be done to get it right.
 
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Not everyone knows how to setup home theatre. Even myself, it seems you have much superior knowledge than I. Do you do it for a living? Most big box store installs wont be very detailed based on the time aspect. I wouldnt trust them either.
 

sleddriver

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Originally Posted By: Rolla07
Not everyone knows how to setup home theatre. Even myself, it seems you have much superior knowledge than I. Do you do it for a living? Most big box store installs wont be very detailed based on the time aspect. I wouldnt trust them either.
This was a retailer who positioned themselves as a 'custom installer' and charged accordingly. B&W and McIntosh equipment isn't sold at the low/mid end. At least, it didn't used to be. I do know my way around Audio & Acoustics!
 

OVERKILL

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Originally Posted By: sleddriver
I do know my way around Audio & Acoustics!
That's an understatement, LOL! grin
 

sleddriver

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Originally Posted By: Papa Bear
Do you think your friends will even realize what you did ??... "Problem was it sounded lousy! Like a sports car with the wrong shocks, hexagonal, underinflated cheap tires and no balancing." My wife wouldn't notice.
????????? Of course. They were there the whole time. Heard both before & after. You need to re-read my post. Yea, she would. I'm willing to bet her high-freq extension beats yours...seriously.
 

Y_K

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May 29, 2009
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WA (USA)
Graf von Keyserlingk suffered from migraines and insomnia, so he asked J S Bach to write some music to be played by his living Walkman, a musical prodigy boy, named Goldberg, in a room next to his bedroom. The Count was a special envoy to Saxony at that time, and it was said this was the biggest commission J S Bach received in his lifetime. Centuries later the set of musical exercises for keyboard was named Goldberg Variations. This legend is still being debated by 'historians', but this is how I listen to my music. We lose quite a bit of frequency range with age, but we gain in our ability to discern good sound. I salute to your ability and skill with all the ultra-violet noise and what not in theatre domains, as I have enough trouble with my simple 2-channel sets
 
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