highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I'm having a little trouble getting my Marantz 6014 consistently sounding the way I would like. It may just be the source material as some things sound great, but other things not so much. I was wondering what benefit REW might have over just using the Audyssey app and if there is a good explanation somewhere that anyone is aware of on how to use these tools (bith the audyssey app and REW) to best effect. I have looked and see a ton of things online, but some of the information is either not particularly helpful or suspect and I would prefer to get a recommendation about something that I can feel confident is actually accurate and reliable.
Don't expect software to analyze and fix problems without being much more full-featured- it's not for perfect sound, it's for better sound.

In order to make a room and system better, more extensive understanding of what's happening is needed- all REW does is show what's happening, not what to do about it.

REW is useful and accurate, but within limits. Is the mic accurately calibrated? If not, don't expect miracles. Have samples been averaged over a large area? If not, don't expect miracles.

Speaker placement and some balance of reflective, diffusive and absorptive surfaces is needed- without that, there's not much hope of getting great sound- equalization only fixes part of the problem.
 
CajunLB

CajunLB

Full Audioholic
That's certainly possible. Before I got my new Sierra Towers with RAAL 70-20 tweeters set up as Fronts, I use to increase the center channel by 3db for movies. But now with the Sierra Tower Fronts and the Monolith THX-365C as a center I no longer need to. I simply turn the Denon 4700 volume to 58 for movies and the dialog is always crisp and clear with no center boost needed. I love it.

By the way, the THX-365C is on sale today for Black Friday. It's an amazingly clear and smooth sounding speaker for dialog and its only $330. It's a great value and sounds awesome.


That center reviews well.
 
V

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic General
That center reviews well.
Yeah the Monolith THX-365C sounds warm and crisp. If I was starting over with speakers for a room, I wouldn't hesitate using Monolith speakers. You don't see many reviews on them but that center really works well.
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
That's certainly possible. Before I got my new Sierra Towers with RAAL 70-20 tweeters set up as Fronts, I use to increase the center channel by 3db for movies. But now with the Sierra Tower Fronts and the Monolith THX-365C as a center I no longer need to. I simply turn the Denon 4700 volume to 58 for movies and the dialog is always crisp and clear with no center boost needed. I love it.

By the way, the THX-365C is on sale today for Black Friday. It's an amazingly clear and smooth sounding speaker for dialog and its only $330. It's a great value and sounds awesome.


I guess you don't mind not having your 3 front speakers in the same "family"?

Out of curiosity, what size room is your system in? Do you know how your volume equates on a db scale? Those speakers are more sensitive than mine and I generally have to turn it up to around -20 (give or take) for movies streaming through the Roku.
 
V

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic General
I guess you don't mind not having your 3 front speakers in the same "family"?

Out of curiosity, what size room is your system in? Do you know how your volume equates on a db scale? Those speakers are more sensitive than mine and I generally have to turn it up to around -20 (give or take) for movies streaming through the Roku.
I thought about changing the center to a matching Ascend ($1500) speaker. But the more I listened to the Monolith THX-365C center with the Sierra Towers the more I liked it. To me it's an excellent match.

My room is 28' x 24' with a 9' ceiling. I'm running the Monolith 7x200 for fronts, center, surrounds and front heights. An Adcom GFA-7000 (130 watts per channel) 5 channel amp runs the rear surrounds, rear Heights and a VMPS Tallboy with dual subs at the rear of the room. The front has the HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP Subs.

The Denon 4700 is set in Pre-amp mode with NONE of the internal Denon amps in use for these speakers. When my volume is above 65 on the Denon 4700 it's way too loud for me during the peaks. The 58-63 volume range measures around 90db with explosions/rocket launches and that's plenty for me. During explosions with "Midway" or rocket launches with "InterSteller" the room is shaking and the kitchen on the main floor feels it as well. :D

If the wife is not enjoying the movie with me, I might hear some yelling to turn it down during the quiet sections. lol
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
I thought about changing the center to a matching Ascend ($1500) speaker. But the more I listened to the Monolith THX-365C center with the Sierra Towers the more I liked it. To me it's an excellent match.

My room is 28' x 24' with a 9' ceiling. I'm running the Monolith 7x200 for fronts, center, surrounds and front heights. An Adcom GFA-7000 (130 watts per channel) 5 channel amp runs the rear surrounds, rear Heights and a VMPS Tallboy with dual subs at the rear of the room. The front has the HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP Subs.

The Denon 4700 is set in Pre-amp mode with NONE of the internal Denon amps in use for these speakers. When my volume is above 65 on the Denon 4700 it's way too loud for me during the peaks. The 58-63 volume range measures around 90db with explosions/rocket launches and that's plenty for me. During explosions with "Midway" or rocket launches with "InterSteller" the room is shaking and the kitchen on the main floor feels it as well. :D

If the wife is not enjoying the movie with me, I might hear some yelling to turn it down during the quiet sections. lol
Haha. That's quite the room and system. Clearly not an apples to apples comparison in terms of volume and power as I am simply using the internal amp from the receiver and the equipment is in a considerably smaller space (albeit one that is open to a larger space on one side).

At some point I expect I will replace everything and put together a new setup from scratch, but I'm not ready to do that just yet.
 
little wing

little wing

Audioholic Chief
Are you sure it's the center speaker or is it those ribbon tweeters that are making everything clearer. Those ribbons give us more detail more transparency.

And why not this center?
I use this center with my Ascend towers! The standard one wouldn't fit my rack so Ascend offered to make a custom one. It was a bit costly, but absolutely the best decision I made. It sounds utterly fantastic. Dialogue during movies is crystal clear and music sounds amazing. All three speakers across the front are at +1.0db. No center boost needed. But the Ascend towers seem to be pretty neutral sounding so I'm sure other centers such as the Monolith will work well too. I have mine slightly angled up with some Auralex isolation pads.
horizon center .jpg
 
V

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic General
Ascend Sierra Towers - yum.... They certainly do help bring clarity to dialog!
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
That's certainly possible. Before I got my new Sierra Towers with RAAL 70-20 tweeters set up as Fronts, I use to increase the center channel by 3db for movies. But now with the Sierra Tower Fronts and the Monolith THX-365C as a center I no longer need to. I simply turn the Denon 4700 volume to 58 for movies and the dialog is always crisp and clear with no center boost needed. I love it.

By the way, the THX-365C is on sale today for Black Friday. It's an amazingly clear and smooth sounding speaker for dialog and its only $330. It's a great value and sounds awesome.


I've been playing around with the settings on the receiver and am still having some issues with dialog. It's not terrible, but just not as clear as I feel like it could/should be and I wind up missing things.

A few questions/thoughts.

1. The center channel speaker (a B&W CC6s2) sits on the top shelf of a stand in front of the TV (which is a also on a stand -- between the TV bezel and its stand the speaker just clears the bottom of the screen). The center channel has rubber feet on the bottom. Do you think this is sufficient isolation from the stand it sits on? Adding isolation pads would likely raise the speaker too high and block the screen.

2. The center channel (and my speakers in general) are fairly old, but in good shape. At the time, I bought a center from B&Ws 600 series rather than the CDM center that exactly matched the fronts, because the CDM center speaker is huge by comparison and too big for the space. The newer 700 series has 2 center channel options, the smaller of which (HTM72 S2) is about the same size as the center I currently have, but it is technically a higher tier product. It's expensive -- around 1K (which I guess is typical of B&W in general). Do you think a similar sized speaker from the same (albeit higher tier) product line is even worth considering?

3. I know you have a non-matching center channel. I would prefer not to replace all of my speakers. Is it worth considering replacing the center only for something else, even if it isn't a brand match?
 
V

VMPS-TIII

Audioholic General
I've been playing around with the settings on the receiver and am still having some issues with dialog. It's not terrible, but just not as clear as I feel like it could/should be and I wind up missing things.

A few questions/thoughts.

1. The center channel speaker (a B&W CC6s2) sits on the top shelf of a stand in front of the TV (which is a also on a stand -- between the TV bezel and its stand the speaker just clears the bottom of the screen). The center channel has rubber feet on the bottom. Do you think this is sufficient isolation from the stand it sits on? Adding isolation pads would likely raise the speaker too high and block the screen.

2. The center channel (and my speakers in general) are fairly old, but in good shape. At the time, I bought a center from B&Ws 600 series rather than the CDM center that exactly matched the fronts, because the CDM center speaker is huge by comparison and too big for the space. The newer 700 series has 2 center channel options, the smaller of which (HTM72 S2) is about the same size as the center I currently have, but it is technically a higher tier product. It's expensive -- around 1K (which I guess is typical of B&W in general). Do you think a similar sized speaker from the same (albeit higher tier) product line is even worth considering?

3. I know you have a non-matching center channel. I would prefer not to replace all of my speakers. Is it worth considering replacing the center only for something else, even if it isn't a brand match?
Being able to clearly hear dialog is not only a function of the center channel but also the Left/Right Fronts. As one person pointed out my Sierra Tower Fronts may have something to do with why my dialog no longer needs a boost.

Question #1. I have not used isolation pads. I don't need them for my center. I doubt you would see much difference. Instead, I would verify the center speaker is pointed at your upper body.

Question #2. If your center channel is working and you are happy with it, there is nothing wrong with boosting the signal for movie dialog. If a substantial boost does not help then you may want to try another speaker(s). Also, consider how loud the main receiver volume is. If my Denon 4700 volume is at 58-60, I hear the dialog loud and clear. If it's 48 or lower it will be less clear. You may find with a higher receiver main volume level your dialog is clearer?

Question #3. This is a personal taste issue that may be driven by several factors from cost to listening preference. If you are going to try different Center speakers I would suggest buying from Best Buy or Crutchfield and confirming the return policy. I would tell them you want to try it at home and if it's better keep it, if not be able to return it without penalty. If you have tried all of the above suggestions and still dialog is difficult to hear it's certainly worth trying something different. Personally, I would not limit my choices to only matching speakers.
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
Being able to clearly hear dialog is not only a function of the center channel but also the Left/Right Fronts. As one person pointed out my Sierra Tower Fronts may have something to do with why my dialog no longer needs a boost.

Question #1. I have not used isolation pads. I don't need them for my center. I doubt you would see much difference. Instead, I would verify the center speaker is pointed at your upper body.

Question #2. If your center channel is working and you are happy with it, there is nothing wrong with boosting the signal for movie dialog. If a substantial boost does not help then you may want to try another speaker(s). Also, consider how loud the main receiver volume is. If my Denon 4700 volume is at 58-60, I hear the dialog loud and clear. If it's 48 or lower it will be less clear. You may find with a higher receiver main volume level your dialog is clearer?

Question #3. This is a personal taste issue that may be driven by several factors from cost to listening preference. If you are going to try different Center speakers I would suggest buying from Best Buy or Crutchfield and confirming the return policy. I would tell them you want to try it at home and if it's better keep it, if not be able to return it without penalty. If you have tried all of the above suggestions and still dialog is difficult to hear it's certainly worth trying something different. Personally, I would not limit my choices to only matching speakers.
Thanks. Just "talking" it out is helpful. Regarding volume, I think I have this feeling that I shouldn't need to turn the volume up too high even though it's just a number. I'll experiment with volume levels and center channel signal.

Good advice regarding return policy. I try to do that in general. I would rather pay a little more, if necessary, to ensure the ability to test it out and return easily. My receiver is still in the "trial" stage.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
@TechToys2 – This is a follow-up to your answer to a question from @mazersteven , about what speakers are you running – B&W CDM-1NT speakers.

When I read your responses (below) I noticed your complaint about bright, shrill, or harsh sounds that, if loud enough, made your ears tired or fatigued. This is a classic complaint about B&W speakers that use the yellow Kevlar mid-woofer.

I'm working on a longer answer why I think your speakers are the source of your problem, not the receiver or the room correction software. Thanksgiving and my birthday are getting in the way right now. As Arnold The Terminator famously said, I'll be back ;). I promise.
I tend to listen to a lot of jazz and some recordings sound very harsh/bright. Also, some dialog on movies/TV sounds fairly bright/shrill. I realize that different sources are going to sound differently, but I didn't have the same issue with my prior receiver - or, in fairness, maybe I just wasn't being as critical after having gotten used to it. It doesn't seem to be input related as much as it is dependent on the particular material I am watching/listening to, so I was thinking maybe there would be a way to just reduce the upper frequencies slightly. However, I don't want to go messing around with stuff and make it worse.
It's possible. With respect to music, the things that tend to sound good are well recorded or remastered recordings with an emphasis on midrange, like female vocals -- something like Diana Krall. Some instrumental recordings with brass and saxophones, depending on the recording (and some are older sessions but have been very well remastered) aside from being a little harsh can sound a bit synthetic to my ears.

Some of my issues with respect to movie/TV content has to do with dialog (which I mentioned in a previous thread). Last night I was watching a show on Amazon and had to crank it up to understand the dialog. Half the time I still couldn't make it out and other times it was so loud and fatiguing that it hurt my ears.
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
@TechToys2 – This is a follow-up to your answer to a question from @mazersteven , about what speakers are you running – B&W CDM-1NT speakers.

When I read your responses (below) I noticed your complaint about bright, shrill, or harsh sounds that, if loud enough, made your ears tired or fatigued. This is a classic complaint about B&W speakers that use the yellow Kevlar mid-woofer.

I'm working on a longer answer why I think your speakers are the source of your problem, not the receiver or the room correction software. Thanksgiving and my birthday are getting in the way right now. As Arnold The Terminator famously said, I'll be back ;). I promise.
Happy Birthday (and Thanksgiving) :)
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
@TechToys2
@TechToys2 – This is a follow-up to your answer to a question from @mazersteven , about what speakers are you running – B&W CDM-1NT speakers.
In speakers where the mid-range sometimes (depending on the music) sounds too forward or even harsh, a major cause is a natural bump in the woofer's response in the upper mid-range (roughly 3-6 kHz). It's caused by a resonance coming from where the cone meets the surround. This bump in the frequency response curve is not just a louder response, but noise that you really don’t want to hear. It’s often called woofer break-up noise. This resonance, found in all coned speakers, a result of the whole mechanical system formed by the cone, surround, and suspension, varies significantly with the speaker cone material.

Most woofers have at least a little of this, but some have quite a bit. Paper coned drivers suffer much less than speakers with stiffer cone material, such as metal or woven glass or Kevlar fibers. That’s the ugly secret of most mid woofers, and, a large reason why good crossover design is so important. Again, this can result in accentuated detail, but also produces an irritating edge to the sound that leads to listener’s fatigue. Speakers that at first listen seem to add detail over and above what is in the recording generally suffer from this kind of upper mid-range peak. Not surprisingly, many people mistakenly believe this fatiguing sound comes from the tweeter and not the woofer.

B&W, in particular, has hitched its wagon to those highly visible yellow mid woofers. I can't tell you what the engineers and marketing people were thinking, but it seems to me that they wanted their speakers to sound as identifiable as they look. So they moved the crossover point high enough, 4 kHz, to include the range where the Kevlar driver was beginning to go into break up. That did succeed in making it sound different, but it also led to listener's fatigue. Eventually B&W lowered the crossover frequency some, to 3.5 kHz, the problem was diminished, but still remained. If the crossover frequency was lower, such as 2 kHz, it wouldn't have the fatiguing noise, but it would also lack that identifiable Kevlar sound.

Over the years, there have been too many different B&W model versions for me to be able to clearly say which ones do and don't suffer from this problem. Several 600 series speakers I've heard in the past have all suffered from it. The few CM series speakers I've heard also have the problem, but a bit less. The trouble is, once I learned to hear the problem, it was hard to "unhear" it. And many of those 800 series speakers I heard all sounded rather good.

From my own viewpoint, I would never want a speaker with a Kevlar mid-woofer combined with a high frequency crossover point. However, it does seem like the engineers found ways to silence that ugly break up noise, but only in the very expensive 800 series speakers. For me, they cost much more than I would want to pay. It is interesting that the most recent B&W models have what looks like a completely new mid-woofer. It isn't yellow and it doesn't look like it's made from any woven fibers.
 
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Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
To illustrate this Kevlar resonance noise problem, I wish I could show you a frequency response curve of a 6½" Kevlar woofer with no crossover filter. B&W doesn't sell them as separate drivers, and they seem to have made efforts to keep such information from being publicized.

The only way I know to illustrate this is to show measurements published in Stereophile reviews, in this case, of the B&W CM1. The overall frequency response curve shows a dip centered around 2 kHz, and peak just below 4 kHz. My guess is that is what remains after B&W's crossover plus trap filter circuits cut down the amplitude of that offending peak. It is what causes the high frequency harshness you described.
1606750733030.png

This next graph shows the responses of the mid woofer (in green) and the tweeter (in blue). This is done with the presence of the crossover plus any added EQ filters that B&W put in. The offending 4 kHz peak is mainly from the mid woofer and partially from the tweeter. My guess is the unwanted harsh noise is all from the mid woofer, but frequency response curves alone cannot directly tell you that.
1606750758593.png


When you listen to music, 4 kHz is high enough to be mostly harmonic overtones of lower frequency primary tones. If an instrument, such as a trumpet or saxophone, hits a note at 1 or 2 kHz, there will be harmonic overtone sound at double (1st harmonic overtone) or quadruple (2nd harmonic overtone) the frequency. So whether you hear the offending noise depends of the musical content and how loud you're listening. It can only be fixed by preventing the Kevlar mid-woofer from responding at roughly 4 kHz. Changing the tweeter, treating the reflecting walls, or playing with equalizers cannot treat the problem at it's source.
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
To illustrate this Kevlar resonance noise problem, I wish I could show you a frequency response curve of a 6½" Kevlar woofer with no crossover filter. B&W doesn't sell them as separate drivers, and they seem to have made efforts to keep such information from being publicized.

The only way I know to illustrate this is to show measurements published in Stereophile reviews, in this case, of the B&W CM1. The overall frequency response curve shows a dip centered around 2 kHz, and peak just below 4 kHz. My guess is that is what remains after B&W's crossover plus trap filter circuits cut down the amplitude of that offending peak. It is what causes the high frequency harshness you described.
View attachment 42194
This next graph shows the responses of the mid woofer (in green) and the tweeter (in blue). This is done with the presence of the crossover plus any added EQ filters that B&W put in. The offending 4 kHz peak is mainly from the mid woofer and partially from the tweeter. My guess is the unwanted harsh noise is all from the mid woofer, but frequency response curves alone cannot directly tell you that.
View attachment 42195

When you listen to music, 4 kHz is high enough to be mostly harmonic overtones of lower frequency primary tones. If an instrument, such as a trumpet or saxophone, hits a note at 1 or 2 kHz, there will be harmonic overtone sound at double (1st harmonic overtone) or quadruple (2nd harmonic overtone) the frequency. So whether you hear the offending noise depends of the musical content and how loud you're listening. It can only be fixed by preventing the Kevlar mid-woofer from responding at roughly 4 kHz. Changing the tweeter, treating the reflecting walls, or playing with equalizers cannot treat the problem at it's source.
Thank you for the very thorough response. I admit, I'm a bit out of my depth with respect to some of the technical aspects of this stuff, although I understand the issue. This is a graph I found online -- published by Sound and Vision -- of the CDM NT series measurements -- the bottom red line is the CDM 1 NT, which is what I am using as my fronts. It also seems to show a slight peak around 4khz, but I don't know if it is as pronounced as the graph for the CM 1 that you attached shows.

501bw.4.jpg
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
This is a graph I found online -- published by Sound and Vision -- of the CDM NT series measurements -- the bottom red line is the CDM 1 NT, which is what I am using as my fronts. It also seems to show a slight peak around 4khz, but I don't know if it is as pronounced as the graph for the CM 1 that you attached shows.

501bw.4.jpg
Thanks for posting that graph. I knew there was one around, but I couldn't find it on Stereophile or SoundStage.

Yes, that S&V graph shows a peak at roughly 4 kHz, about 2.5-3 dB peak above the 75 dB line. At roughly 2.5 kHz, there is a dip down to about 2.5-3 dB below that same reference line. Going from the dip to the peak is at least a 6 dB difference.

The CDM NT series speakers have an overall frequency response that I wouldn't call smooth. There are a number of peaks and dips. But that peak at 4 kHz, is not just a louder response, it's noise that you really don't want to hear. No equalization can fix that.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Here's another example of the noisy 4 kHz resonance of a Kevlar mid-woofer, and the drastic steps B&W took to deal with that noise. This is Figure 3, from a B&W DM603 S3 speaker review published in Stereophile in 2005.
1606786875675.png

The text says:

"Higher in frequency, the midrange unit crosses over to the tweeter just below 4 kHz, as specified, though its low-pass rollout is marred by a very narrow suckout at 4080 Hz."​

B&W used a narrow and steep trap filter to try and suppress the noise, resulting in that narrow suckout. I can't tell you if that filter was effective while also being unnoticed. But it illustrates that B&W was aware of the problem, and shows one of their efforts to deal with it.

It's also interesting to me how this review showed that obvious frequency response anomaly in Figures 3, 4 and 8, mentioned it in passing, but never commented on it, other than a mild under-statement. Fig 8, a cumulative spectral-decay plot, is below, followed by their mild comment:
1606787518406.png

"Finally, the DM603's cumulative spectral-decay or waterfall plot (fig.8) is overall very clean, but reveals that the sharp on-axis notch in the woofer's output is associated with a ridge of delayed energy at the same frequency. I might have expected a slight degree of hardness to result from this behavior, but I note that BJR didn't comment on any mid-treble problems."​

The DM603 is not the same speaker as your CDM 1NT, but it still has a similar 6½" Kevlar mid-range driver with an obvious problem at 4 kHz. B&W may have gone about treating the problem in a different manner, but I think their sound qualities may very well be similar.
 
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Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
@TechToys2

I'm sorry about being the bearer of bad news about your speakers. You've had them for a while, seem to like them, and you're proud of them. I get that. I've been there too, in the past.

The only reason why I chimed in is because your description of the irritating sound you heard was almost exactly like I've heard other B&W owners describe. I've heard it as well. Your original post made it seem you were looking into electronic ways to equalize their sound in hopes it would effectively deal with the problem. I don't want you to waste much time persueing that. And I certainly don't want to see you spend money in an attempt at fixing what seems to be a speaker problem.
 
T

TechToys2

Audioholic
@TechToys2

I'm sorry about being the bearer of bad news about your speakers. You've had them for a while, seem to like them, and you're proud of them. I get that. I've been there too, in the past.

The only reason why I chimed in is because your description of the irritating sound you heard was almost exactly like I've heard other B&W owners describe. I've heard it as well. Your original post made it seem you were looking into electronic ways to equalize their sound in hopes it would effectively deal with the problem. I don't want you to waste much time persueing that. And I certainly don't want to see you spend money in an attempt at fixing what seems to be a speaker problem.
No worries. I appreciate the information. Thanks for taking the time. At some point I plan to put together a new system, but given constraints related to the room the system is in and the likelihood of a move in the next couple of years or so, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to do it now -- although I am thinking about it.

The interesting thing is that, while I had noticed some minor issues with dialog from time to time in the past, it only really became a noticeable problem after I set up the new Marantz receiver. I have been constantly trying various things to compensate. I am not certain if I am simply being much more critical because there is a new piece of equipment in the system, or if there really is that big of a difference. I still have my old receiver and I think I am going to hook it up again - low hum and all - and see how it compares.
 

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