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post #1 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Help for muddy speech

Hello,

This is my first post on this forum, so I hope I have followed all of the posting rules. Sorry my first post is so long, but I have tried to include all of the necessary information.

I would appreciate some help with a problem I am having with dialog intelligibility in my home theater.

I recently bought a Denon X4200W AVR and have calibrated my theater using the Audyssey XT32 that was included with the AVR. The new AVR is used in my theater with a 7.1 setup.

In general, I am enjoying the Denon and have used it for playback of both music and Blu-ray movies. However, I have noticed the vocals in music and the dialog in movies are often slightly muffled and, at times, are difficult to understand with the Audyssey calibration turned on. With Audyssey turned off, the system playback, as a whole, is not as pleasing; but, the dialog clarity improves.

To tackle this problem, I first searched this forum and others for posts dealing with “intelligibility.” The following steps are my take on the advice given to others with this issue.

First, I used this problem as an excuse to buy a new center speaker (an RBH 661C/R). The RBH 661 is recommended by RBH to use with the RBH 61C/R’s I use for front left and right speakers. Overall, the new center speaker sounds better than the one it replaced, but the vocal/dialog issue is still degraded with Audyssey engaged.

I finally decided it was time to break out my UMIK-1 and use REW (Ver. 15.14) to try to find the cause of the intelligibility problem. Details of my test technique are included at the bottom of this post.

This graph is for the center speaker with all other speakers turned off (1/6-Octave smoothing). The purple trace is the recorded response with Audyssey turned on (Dynamic EQ turned off) and the green trace is with the Audyssey turned off.

Help for muddy speech-center-speaker-audessy-off-4_15_2016.jpg

Here is a graph (actually a photo of my plasma TV) presented by the AVR of the Audyssey calibration of the center speaker:

Help for muddy speech-center-speaker-1-1-.jpg


My interpretation of these graphs is that the Audyssey calibration greatly reduced the mode at about 130Hz and smoothed out the null at about 300Hz.

However, the REW graph with Audyssey turned on, compared to the calibration turned off, seems to have significantly reduced the SPL between about 1.3kHz and 2.7kHz. My research found that this band (1.3 to 2.7kHz) is right in the middle of the intelligibility frequency spectrum of the human voice!

In case this will be of value, here is a graph of my left front speaker with Audyssey turned on and off (1/6-octave smoothing; Purple is Audyssey off).

Help for muddy speech-left-speaker-audyssey-off-4_16_2016.jpg

Here is a graph of my right front speaker with Audyssey turned on and off (1/6-Octave smoothing; Green is Audyssey off).

Help for muddy speech-right-front-peaker-audyssey-off-4_16_2016.jpg

So, my first question is if I am analyzing these graphs correctly (i.e., Audyssey’s calibration is degrading the vocals). Or do the graphs show another anomaly that can account for the speech-clarity issue?

If I have found the problem, is there any alternative other than manually EQing the room?

DATA GENERATING TECHNIQUE

I located the UMIK-1 at my primary listening position, a leather reclining chair, using a mic boom and tripod. To reduce some of the reflections from the reclining chair, I covered it with a thick blanket. The mic was positioned pointing toward the ceiling and the calibration file for 90 degrees was used in REW. Each measurement in the graph is the average of 3 mic positions – all at my usual ear level, but the first measurement was located at the center position, then the second measurement was 6 inches to the left (parallel to the head rest) and the third measurement was 6 inches to the right of the center position (also parallel to the head rest). Using REW, I averaged the 3 readings and then displayed them with 1/6-octave smoothing.

Thanks for your help.[/SIZE]
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post #2 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 11:37 AM
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Re: Help for muddy speech

What centre channel are you using? May we see a picture of your center channel speaker location as well as the front of the room? Placement and type of center channel speaker can dramatically change what you hear.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

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Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
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post #3 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Help for muddy speech

I took a few quick photos of the front of my home theater.

These two wide-shots show my RBH SX-61/R left and right speakers, my RBH 661C/R center speaker and two Velodyne DD-18 subwoofers. You can also see the two corner bass traps, and the panels for absorption of reflections. Not shown is the absorption panel mounted on the ceiling between the center speaker and the primary listening position.

Help for muddy speech-photo-front-theater-1-1-.jpg

Help for muddy speech-home-theater-1-1-.jpg


Here is a close-up of the center speaker, under my Panasonic plasma TV, and between my subwoofers. As you can see in the photos, I didn't have much choice in the location of the center speaker.

Help for muddy speech-photo-center-speaker-1-1-.jpg


I hope these are useful.
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post #4 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 02:44 PM
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Re: Help for muddy speech


First, welcome to the Forum!

As I see it, there are two primary issues affecting vocal clarity. One is the loss in the 2 kHz area (as you noted). The other is the roll-out of the high frequencies, where the sibilants are.

For the latter, you might try taking measurements with a 0° calibration file and the mic pointed directly at the speaker. Since you have absorption on the ceiling, it’s possible the lack of overhead reflections arriving at the mic are causing the high end portion of the graph to look worse than it really is.

There are a couple of things you can try. If you’re running Audyssey with the normal recommendation of analyzing multiple positions (i.e. putting the mic in various locations all over the room), try instead analyzing only at the primary listening position, or in locations only a few inches varying from that. Our very own AudiocRaver has performed evaluations and written some pieces showing that single-mic analysis typically gets the best results.

Alternately, bypassing Audyssey for manual EQ is a good option, assuming your receiver has built-in equalization that is flexible enough.

Regards,
Wayne




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post #5 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 08:34 PM
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Re: Help for muddy speech

I agree with Wayne (both of them) with regard to using only measurements at the primary listening position. I would also try moving the center, left, and right speakers out toward the listening position.




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post #6 of 26 Old 04-16-16, 10:23 PM
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Re: Help for muddy speech

+3 I think getting the speakers out into the room would help in a number of ways.


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post #7 of 26 Old 04-17-16, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Re: Help for muddy speech

Thanks for all of the suggestions.

Regarding my procedure for Audyssey measurements, I was fortunate to have read and followed the directions of Wayne Myers (“AudiocRaver”) in making the Audyssey tests in my first post. (I even took his advice and bought a Bosch laser distance meter—a great gadget!) I have reread his extensive posts and followed his procedure in the reconfiguration described below.

The REW measurements and photos I have previously posted were based on the following speaker configuration:

OLD:

Left and Right Front speakers: (1) Distance from front of each tweeter to front wall: 2’ 7”; (2) Distance from front of each tweeter to side wall: 2’4”; (3) Distance from center of Left Front tweeter to Right Front tweeter: 8’6”; (4) Distance from center of tweeter for both Left and Right Front speakers to Primary Listening Position (“PLP”): 8’6”.

Center speaker: (1) Distance from front of tweeter to front wall: 1’10”; (2) Distance from center of tweeter to both side walls: 6’8”; (3) Distance from center of tweeter to Primary Listening Position (“PLP”): 8’1”.

Today, I moved the Left, Center and Right speakers further away from the front wall. I also moved the Left and Right speakers further away from the side walls. Here are their new measurements:

NEW:

Left and Right Front speakers: (1) Distance from front of each tweeter to front wall: 3’ 0”; (2) Distance from front of each tweeter to side wall: 2’9”; (3) Distance from center of Left Front tweeter to Right Front tweeter: 8’1”; (4) Distance from center of tweeter for both Left and Right Front speakers to PLP: 8’1”.

Center speaker: (1) Distance from front of tweeter to front wall: 2’8”; (2) Distance from center of tweeter to both side walls: 6’8”; (3) Distance from center of tweeter to Primary Listening Position (“PLP”): 7’3”.

Here is a graph of the Center speaker in the new position with Audyssey off (green) and on (gold)(The measurement procedure was the same as in my first post:

Help for muddy speech-new-center-audyssey-off-4_17_2016.jpg


Audyssey is clearly decreasing the major excursions from a smooth response, but is still putting a "hole" in the important vocal frequencies.

Here is a graph of the Center speaker in the new position, with the mic aimed at the speaker, with Audyssey on (green)and off (red):

Help for muddy speech-new-center-mic-horiz-aud-off-4_17_2016.jpg

Comparing the traces for the vertical vs the horizontal mic orientation, there seems to be better response in the upper frequencies. Wayne suggests this may be due to the reflection absorption panel attached to the ceiling between the center speaker and the PLP. But, I'm not sure what to make of this -- is the absorption panel helping or hurting?

This is the measured response (mic back to vertical) of the Left speaker with Audyssey on and off:

Help for muddy speech-new-fr-left-aud-off-4_17_2016.jpg

Here is a graph of the response (mic still vertical) of the Right speaker with Audyssey on and off:

Help for muddy speech-new-front-right-audyssey-off-4_17_2016.jpg

This graph is a comparison of the Center speaker's response, with Audyssey ON in both traces, with the difference being the speaker location. Clearly, moving the speaker further into the room has flattened the response in the 200Hz -- 1kHz range and from 2.5 -- 5kHz.

Help for muddy speech-center-new-vs-old-position-4_17_2016.jpg

I welcome additional comments and suggestions. However, it seems moving the front and center speakers further into the room may provide additional improvement.
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post #8 of 26 Old 04-17-16, 08:42 PM
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Have you tried the dialogue enhancing feature on the Denon ?
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post #9 of 26 Old 04-18-16, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Help for muddy speech

Quote:
b bos37 wrote: View Post
Have you tried the dialogue enhancing feature on the Denon ?
Thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, I have tried that feature. According to the menu, it increases the dialogue by 2.5 dB. So, when the enhance feature is engaged, the distorted audio is louder than when it is not engaged. I am able to understand slightly more of the vocals, but the distortion is just louder.

However, I am hopeful about a technique I discovered tonight that is available on my Denon AVR. I can copy the Audyssey EQ settings (or at least the Audyssey level settings) to a manual EQ. Then, I can adjust the manual EQ levels from -6 to +6 (I'm not sure if these numbers are dB or just relative settings). After increasing the levels in the 1.5 to 2.5kHz range, the vocals sound better. Tomorrow, I will run some REW scans with the higher manual EQ levels and see if the measurements correspond to my perception.
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post #10 of 26 Old 04-20-16, 05:05 PM
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Re: Help for muddy speech

If I may chime in on this....other owner of Dennons have had similar complaints on other sites about their center channels as well (as have Marantz owners). Aside from tweaking with EQ (which I am a fan of), you may try adding another speaker from above the screen to have dual center channels. Alternatively, you may want to look at a different center channel altogether that will still blend well with your mains but has a different tweeter design for more intelligible voice output. Both of these solutions worked for me and others facing similar issues. I am now running 2 centers and one of them a different speaker design than the rest. Best of luck and welcome to the Shack.
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