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  1. #1

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    Default Muddy sound for music if it's not 2 channel

    I am a newbie. I have been playing around with this audio stuff for about a year. After a series of upgrades I am pretty happy with my setup, which is stated below. I have found components that sound good to me and were priced within my budget.

    When playing 5.1 audio source, my system sounds great to me. So for home theater, or 5.1 channel music, I am very happy. But when playing CDs or MP3s the stereo source sounds good when played out of my loudspeakers only. When I select a Neo6 or PLIIx my 6.1 configuration produces a somewhat muddy sound that lacks crispness. It's most apparent with vocals. It sounds OK, but when I switch to my loudspeakers it sounds noticeably crisper.

    This isn't a big problem. It is fine for me to just use 2 channels. But I do like the surround benefit of the setup. So I was wondering if you think this "muddiness" sound I am having is a common experience. Or is this something I may be able to improve with tuning? I have positioned my speakers in pretty standard way: My loudspeakers are about 9 feet apart, about 7 feet from the sweat spot. The surrounds are directly to the side at ear level, pointed to the sweat spot, around 6 feet away. The rear speaker (single) is 6 feet away behind, and up high. There is open space behind the sweat spot, which I understand to be a good thing. The room is smallish to mid sized. I have tuned the levels with a sound pressure meter using a calibration DVD.

    So my question is - can I tune my way out of this? I haven't tried moving speakers around much yet. Do you think that might help?

    My components:

    L/R Mains Polk RTi8
    Center Polk CSi5
    L/R Surrounds Polk R30
    Rear Surround Polk CSi20
    Sub Acoustic Research 108PSB

    Receiver Onkyo 602

  2. #2

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    That Neo or PLIIx mode you are using is just matrixing sound from the source...

    CDs are only recorded in two channels, so that's really what you get...that muddy sound that you're hearing is the receiver 'making stuff up' ...

    Best advice, if you want the surround benefit of music, look in to SACD...
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  3. #3

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    Polkmaniac, thanks for the reply. What do you think about all channel stereo?

  4. #4

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    all channel stereo is good for adding more volume to your music, but doesnt add to the quality. it also may sound weird because the rear surround speakers are playing the same signal as the front, so you hear things from behind that normally wouldnt be there.

    i would stick to 2 channel audio and save the surrounds for movies, unless you want to pick up a cheap SACD/DVD-A player like polk maniac suggested
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  5. #5

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    Originally posted by zacgo1
    What do you think about all channel stereo?
    It sucks, what else do you need to know!?!
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  6. #6

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    SACD/DVD-A in 5.1 can be very good, operative word being can. Some mixes are outstanding while others flop and flounder.

    But taking stereo and pumping it out every speaker with some fake surround processing is just gawd awful. DPLIIx being the lesser of all evils, it's still never "right". Stereo=2 channel=2 speakers (and maybe a sub)=right......period.

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    I have R30s for surrounds and rears. I have them on 29" stands so the base port is around ear level, and the main drivers are above. Playing around with the cross-over on your center channel may also make things better or worse.

    In my opinion, the phoney surround modes work their best at lower volumes, and create too much interferance at high volumes. All channel stereo is good for parties or background music, not for real listening.

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    it seems that alot of people are using the DSP modes in their recievers for music listening these days.. to me it sounds really bad. LIke someone said earlier.. feeding a stereo signal to 5 or more speakers could really sound terrible.

    I've tried it before and wasn't happy with the sound too. I think some people are thinking that if they listen to stereo music in DPLII or whatever other DSP.. they think in some small way it will sound close to SACD or DVD-a. It's not the same guys. not even close. SACD and DVD-a are both hi resolution formats.. that were mastered in multichannel surround. not a fake DSP.
    Last edited by danger boy; 11-21-2004 at 01:56 PM.
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  9. #9

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    Thanks for the advice. I have to agree that it's probably more of an issue with format than positioning or equipment.

    With better speakers and better placement I bet I could reduce the the distortion a little bit. But I am not going worry about it. Unless it's in DVD-A or SACD I will use just my loudspeakers.

  10. #10

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    Originally posted by zacgo1
    Thanks for the advice. I have to agree that it's probably more of an issue with format than positioning or equipment.

    With better speakers and better placement I bet I could reduce the the distortion a little bit. But I am not going worry about it. Unless it's in DVD-A or SACD I will use just my loudspeakers.
    You're getting distortion? did you mention this earlier? if you are getting distortion.. that is probably another problem altogether. either over driving your speakers or the amp is clipping. I thougth you were just having problem with the sound being muddy. Distortion is another problem.

    what does it sound like?
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  11. #11

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    My .02

    DB's asessment is right on. The problem lies with your Oink's struggle powering 6 speakers simultaneously. It is not so much DSP or DPLIIx. Typically, DPL will filter the frequency response to the appropriate channels (in a 6 speakers setup) and will try its best to put the vocals in the center channel. If i am a betting man, I would narrow it down to get add 5/7 channel power amp to help pushing those speakers. Most of the mainstream receivers out there do not have power output as stated (driven simultaneously for 6 channels at the stated wattages and damping factor), so it makes sense that on 2 channel it sounds good but not with all channels driven.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by TheReaper
    I have them on 29" stands so the base port is around ear level...
    Damn, what are you... about 3' tall?

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    Originally posted by Tour2ma
    Damn, what are you... about 3' tall?
    When sitting on my ass watching a movie. ;)

  14. #14

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    dangerboy, I don't know if distortion is the right word. Maybe I should not have said that in my reply. The sounds are not as crisp or clean as they are with two channels. The end result is a sound that one may call distorted, but I don't think the sound out of any one speaker is distorted. I am not positive but if I were to guess it could be that the sounds are not perfectly in synch.

    I disagree with the assessment that it's a receiver horsepower issue. If that were true I think my DVD-A would also have the same problem. But my DVD-A music sounds amazing firing on all channels - much better than stereo.

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