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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Do any of you boost the surround volume to get a little more effect?

My 7.1 setup certainly fills the room with sound, but i feel that the surround back levels are fairly low. If I go back there, I can hear the speakers producing, but not as much when i'm sitting. I've set the distances correctly and used my SPL meter to level every channel off at 75db.

I know its personal preference, but I was thinking of bumping the surround back to 80-85db's and was wondering if anyone else has done the same?

Thanks!

-Andrew
 

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You shouldn't really be able to discern your rear speakers from your front, they should support what's on the screen (unless they're producing effects like a fly-over which moves from rear to front). Set you rear levels with an SPL meter, or autocal with the included mic in your avr.

Also, and I'm not trying to pick a fight here, it's actually not personal preference. Movies are mixed a certain way so if your goal is to get the most accurate movie experience at home, that means setting your speaker levels properly.
 

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It certainly is a personal preference, and I do slightly raise the levels of my rear channels to get more of a "surround" effect, but I listen to a lot of music with my system, and albums vary a lot in how they use the surround and the center channel. Sometimes I have to drop the center channel to avoid an "all in the middle" effect. I usually return to a calibrated setting after doing this because movies can be another story. When you think about it, receivers are adjusting the relative levels of the surround channels to get different "effects" such as "auditorium", "cathedral", etc., so you aren't doing anything "wrong" by making your own decisions in this. Just keep in mind that there's a given calibration for every setup which references the way someone else judged the audio sounds the best, and it should make your system sound similar to others with the same calibration. In practice, this is wishful thinking, it does serve a good purpose, but it's not to be the absolute rule for you and your system. (Disclaimer: This is just my opinion so likewise, I'm not wanting to start any fights in this forum.)
 

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You shouldn't really be able to discern your rear speakers from your front, they should support what's on the screen (unless they're producing effects like a fly-over which moves from rear to front). Set you rear levels with an SPL meter, or autocal with the included mic in your avr.

Also, and I'm not trying to pick a fight here, it's actually not personal preference. Movies are mixed a certain way so if your goal is to get the most accurate movie experience at home, that means setting your speaker levels properly.
How can you say its not a personal choice? Thats like saying your volume has to be "X" and if you like it louder or softer then your wrong.

On topic, sure you can raise your rears if you dont think its enough but 10db is silly, it wont sound right for sure at that level. If you want to give it a extra bump or two thats one thing but dont get carried away, sports and some material will sound extreme and silly. Eugo is correct in that they should not be discernable and correct way to set them is by your SPL meter.
While I would say do what makes you happy I would caution you to not let one or two things you sample determine the overall performaYnce levels...........some is mixed to be very discreet with not much surround info.
I dont know if your new to this or not but having 17 or so years of non stop surround systems in my home I see this alot for new folks into surround. They really get wrapped up in the new sound and want everything to really stand out and in time your likely to come to the conclusion that it sounds best at proper SPL levels.
BUT its your home, system and ears so do what makes you happy!
 

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Well, it's always a personal choice, sure. I mean, you could run mono if a single speaker sounds best to you (and plenty of folks are proponents of mono: Woody Allen, The Founder of ZVox, Beatles Re-releases). However, we have to acknowledge that there are set standards, and if you're preference is to reproduce at home what was heard in the mixing studio/sound stage, then following those standards is part of the process, and setting proper speaker levels is part of that process.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all the replies.

I wouldn't say that i'm new to home theater, but i'm new to getting into detailed calibration.

Definitely exaggerated with the 10db, but it can be fun to overkill some things for a different effect. I don't always need my subwoofer shaking pictures off the wall, and probably isnt how the creators designed it.....but it's fun :)

I will play around with a few DB's here and there, but I probably haven't sampled enough material to make a fair assessment. I'll give it a few more weeks and a dozen movies and take it from there.

Thank you again,

-Andrew
 

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Many of us boost levels somewhat on even the center or the sub. The 75db settings are just a starting point and are not written in stone. Many DVD and BluRay players even have the option to boost the level on the dialog channel. Ive been to many movies in the theaters in the past that the levels were no where near where they should be (to low) and am glad that I now can make it sound just the way I want.
 

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Hi All,

Do any of you boost the surround volume to get a little more effect?

My 7.1 setup certainly fills the room with sound, but i feel that the surround back levels are fairly low. If I go back there, I can hear the speakers producing, but not as much when i'm sitting. I've set the distances correctly and used my SPL meter to level every channel off at 75db.

I know its personal preference, but I was thinking of bumping the surround back to 80-85db's and was wondering if anyone else has done the same?

Thanks!

-Andrew
Most material is for the side surrounds. I must suggest you at least try it with a very high quality master first. The Dark Knight is my preferred video/audio reference film, but there are plenty of others. War movies can be fantastic especially ones with planes. Remember that sound from behind is less intense then sound from the sides.
 

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The rear surrounds are not supposed to be discernible. They are supposed to provide the correct amount of reverberant field in a movie theater who's room acoustics have deadened the room's natural reverberant field. The theater's walls are all treated to deaden reflected sound. Check out the wall materials next time you are in a theater. They are all treated to absorb sound. The theater has no natural reverb. This is in sharp contrast to a music theater where there is a controlled amount of reverb. The surround channels fill in what the room treatments took away.

Now your home theater probably is not treated so drastically. It may not be treated at all. You may be getting a lot of natural reverb from the room. That's why the rear surrounds seem so low: They are low. They are set only to provide a reverberant sound field, which would be rather audible if your room had no natural reverb field. With a natural reverberant field in the room, the rear surrounds are somewhat redundant. You are not going to hear them.
 

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I do on occasion, depening upon the movie boost the rears but sometimes turn them down as the sound is too loud with others. Just depends on the movie. When the kids are in bed i'll usually down all but the center so it just depends on mood, time and movie. Also being that our house is fairly open (basically kitchen, dining, family room.) when i'm roaming around the house and have 5 channel stereo going, the rears will be up abit just to throw the sound around abit more smoothly. Like some others have said, i think it's just preferance, but do agree that some movies are intended to be heard a certain way.
 

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I think it's a legitimate lifestyle choice to raise the surround levels a bit for movies. I wouldn't agree with that for music mixed in surround, though.

I guess I have to come down on on the side that beauty is in the ears of the beholder. Opinions vary about everything. CD vs vinyl, tube vs solid state, stereo vs surround, etc. At the end of the day, you have to go with what gives you a pleasurable experience. Otherwise, what's the point.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you again. These posts all make sense in that I should not be expecting dynamic sound from the rear.

My question then would be...why can't you use a $10 speaker to reproduce these minimal sounds? Does the quality of the surrounds in a 5.1/7.1 setup only come into play during music? Even then, wouldn't purists argue that music should be heard in stereo?
 

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That is all up to the individual to detertime based on what they hear. I have matched mains and center but seperate brand for rears, some swear they all need to match but I challenge most of these people to pick them out in the dark or blind. It has been a misleading demand from many for as long as I can remember, this could and likely is more critical for music based surround but again isnt a make or break rule. Try some cheap speakers and see what you think, while I dont think and never will that rears all have to match the rest there is ofcourse a certain ammount of quality you wont get with cheaper speakers.
Music is an area where as you suggest there are many who feel 2 channel is best way to go, I am one of them but not because it cant be better but because often the mix leaves much to be desired. I have a few SACD and DVDA discs that are awesome yet some have such stupid studio trickory (goofy front to rear and side to side information) that they just are annoying to listen to.

Dont buy the hype, if you cant afford a certain speaker get what makes you happy and ignore the noise from critics, they dont pay your bills or likely will ever visit you to hear them in the first place.
 

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Thank you again. These posts all make sense in that I should not be expecting dynamic sound from the rear.

My question then would be...why can't you use a $10 speaker to reproduce these minimal sounds? Does the quality of the surrounds in a 5.1/7.1 setup only come into play during music? Even then, wouldn't purists argue that music should be heard in stereo?
There seems to be some misunderstanding about what actually is sent to the surround channels. Movies of the 80's and early 90's did not really use the surround channels to there full advantage as few if any movies had more than Dolby prologic. With todays uncompressed formats offering up to 7.1 channels of uncompressed audio this is not the case anymore. The surrounds now get used much more frequently for example when a helicopter fly's by overhead that sound is run from the front speakers all the way through the sides and to the back and is not compressed or band limited in the rear channels you will get full dynamics. There are many movies that without proper speakers on all 7 channels you loose out on just how powerful this can impact the movies overall sound in your home theater.
 

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The other thing is, it depends on how long your room is when it comes to rear speakers..
In a shorter room that only has provision for one row of seats, there isn't much point in having rear speakers as your surrounds should extend the effects back past the position of the side surrounds..

If your room is long enough for two rows of seats or more, then there can be some added benefit by having rear speakers..
 

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Lifting the surround volume above the 75db recommended volume is a personal preference tbh but I do know a lot of people that do it, personally all my levels are set to 75db and sounds god enough to me but there is nothing wrong in going above that, people with subs are always running them hot!
 
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