Center Channel WAY Too Low?

I ran through the Audyssey setup on my Denon AVR-519 using all 6 available mic measurement positions, and it sounds fine except that the center channel is WAY too low.  I can hardly hear the dialogue when watching movies, yet all the other sound effects are LOUD.  I literally have to change the center channel's level to +12dB in order to balance it out, but at the same time the dialogue coming out of the center channel is not crisp and clear.  It's a little too bass heavy and/or lacking in treble.

I've seen some forum posts out there referencing the Audyssey-configured center channel being too low, and sometimes muffled sounding.  Some even suspected it might be a Denon-specific issue, but I never saw a definitive solution.  Any ideas?

 

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23 Comments

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    There are two possible reasons for this:

    1. The center speaker is incorrectly positioned and is not pointing to the listener's ears.  

    2. The tweeter in the center speaker is not connected or not working

    The second reason is the most likely suspect.  Please try to verify that high frequencies are coming from the tweeter.

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    Brandon

    High frequencies are coming from the center tweeter. 

    The center speaker faces the listener, but is parallel to the ground at about chest level when seated.

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    Anders

    Got a brand new AV7005 in my hands and after calibration i have the same result as above, center channel is set at 0dB at it is way too low. Dialogue can't be heard, so increasing to max +12dB is the only way !!!!

    Pretty shure that center speaker is OK since my lexicon MV-5 was not acting like this in sound from center channel.

    Center channel is 4,55m from seat pointing into my chest ( not possible to change ) and that can hardly be the root cause !

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Anders, do the test chirps sound the same from the center channel as they do from the other speakers?

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    Anders

    Chris, yes test sound sounds the same

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi Anders,

    I am not sure what else could be the issue.  Do you have an SPL meter?  Can you measure the SPL of the center channel when Audyssey is finished with the calibration?

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    Brandon

    I suppose It's possible that the source material (movie) is just mixed with LOUD sound effects and quiet dialogue.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    If that is the case, then Dynamic Volume was designed to solve exactly that problem.  Anders: does turning it on improve the situation?

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    Anders

    Chris, I did a new calibration last night ending up in the same endresult. It has nothing to do with source material that has been verified.

    Increasing center level from 0dB to 9dB solves the problem for me, there is than a clear dialogue.

    Okey, I will in the next days measure all channel with a SPL meter after a new calibration for verification.

     

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    Brandon

    Question:

    Is it possible that the issue is due to Audyssey optimizes its adjustments for a 0dB listening level, when in actuality we usually listen at much lower levels?  At a "normal" listening level such as -20dB, could Audyssey's adjustments be sub-optimal for our speaker setup?  Is there a way to tell Audyssey to use the measurements it took and optimize for -15dB?

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi Brandon, no that is not possible.  It's not true that Audyssey optimizes for 0 dB reference.  Dynamic EQ is there for exactly that reason: to make the needed adjustments for lower listening volumes.

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    George Dibble

    Chris,

     

    I'm having a similar issue, although only intermittently.  I have had very little problem with my center channel being too low, but I was just watching a movie (the most recent Star Trek film, for reference), and I noticed that if there was a lot of other sound (music or loud noises), the dialogue in the center channel was far too low.  In quiet scenes, the center channel was fine.  I had Dynamic Volume on "Evening".  Should I try a different setting, turn it off completely, or is there something else at play here?

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi George,

    With Dynamic Volume on you should set the master volume level to the dialog level you prefer.  It will then make sure that nothing will get too loud or too soft.  Typically, the master volume setting is higher than what you may have been used to in the past when you use Dynamic Volume.

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    George Dibble

    Thanks, Chris.  That actually presents me with a bit of a quandry, since for part of the time the dialog was perfect, and at other times (again, during loud parts of the movie) the dialog was far too muted.  If I significantly raise the master volume setting, won't that make everything else far too loud, or am I misunderstanding Dynamic Volume?  Thanks again.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi George, 

    It's possible that the original recording of the content may have muted dialog.  Hard to say as I don't know that specific scene.  But, in general, setting the volume for where you prefer to listen to normal dialog should give you the correct setting for Dynamic Volume.

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    Brad Taylor

    I would try swapping in one of you main speakers for the center.  I am using a vertical center (B&W LCR6) and have done testing with using an identical center to the mains and it makes a HUGE difference in playback.  All three fronts are set at the same levels.  My normal set up has the mains and wides as the same speakers and their setups are all at the same levels.  I would like to find a fifth floor standing speaker to match the other four for a center...

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    Michael Midkiff

    Chris, I am having similar issues as well with dialogue and my center channel when watching movies. I have an Onkyo PR-SC 5508 matched with the Onkyo PA-MC 5500 amp running Def Tech BP 2002TL's as L&R mains and a Def Tech C/L/R 2500 center channel. BluRay movies are played from an Oppo 95. After running the Audyssey set up several times my center channel dialogue output still sounds too low. I have re-measured with an SPL meter, the pink noise out-put is spot on across the board. All calibrations appear to be correct and accurate...distance etc. Speakers are at 80hz and the LPF of the LFE is at 120hz. Dynamic EQ is on. Dynamic volume is off. I know Dynamic Volume fixes this issue, it works just fine and outputs the way it's intended to work however, I should be able to hear my center channel dialogue at a level of -30db with out it being as problematic as it is. All other channels are out-putting beautifully as they should but, the dialogue is being way overpowered. To level this out I have to increase the db levels +6 to +9 over and above the calculated levels. This happens in all modes of Dolby EX, True HD, DTS HD Master Audio, Audyssey DSX etc etc. All of my favorite BluRays play this way - Iron Man, Captain America, Master & Commander, Batman Begins, Red, and I could keep going. The center channel is positioned properly, polarity is correct, and all calculations were done in accordance to the reccomended mic locations. Moreover, I have used 4 different center channel speakers with the same end result.          

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi Michael, it could very well be an acoustical issue in your room that is not correctable without additional treatment (e.g., sitting too close to the back wall where the boomy bass muffles the dialog).  Have you tried any non-bipole speakers as a test?

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    Michael Midkiff

    Hello Chris, thank you for the quick response! My room is not the best acoustically but I do sit right in the middle of the room equal distance between the couch and back wall as the couch and front wall. I have not tried any other speaker types however, a good friend of mine has roughly the same set up / system. He is running an Onkyo 3007 with Def Tech BP 7002's as mains and a Def Tech C/L/R 3000 as his center channel. Our center channels are like day and night in regards to dialogue only. All other information it seems is playing as intended. When listening for example to DTS HD Master Audio the entire sound field is equally distributed across the front as Audyssey intends...a very nice and equal blend. The rub is the dialogue itself is overpowered by all of the other information going on in the movie; be it gunfire, music, explosions and so on. It's as if there is a "hole", for lack of a better term, and yet every other sound is blended perfectly...or so it seems.       

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    The middle of the room (relative to the front and back walls) could definitely have something to do with it.  It's where the room modes exhibit big nulls.  Some can be so deep that they can't be fixed with DSP.  As an experiment I would suggest trying a listening position further back by a few feet.  Then run Audyssey again for that location and see what happens.

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    Michael Midkiff

    Thanks Chris...I will give it a try.

    Cheers!

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    Mark M

    I thought I was the only one.. I just purchased a new surround system. Not as high end as some on here but still enough for me. Marantz 1402 av receiver and Mirage 5.1 surround speaker system with Audyssey settings.

    The mirage uses the same satellite speaker for the center so after finding the center channel too weak I upgraded to their dedicated center speaker hoping it would solve my problem. The sound is "richer' but the dialogue on most movies is still way too low... so I still have the same issue.

    Like previous posts.. all other sound is great. Right now I have my center set at +3 and its still too low on many films. I worry setting it any higher will effect the spacial imaging for sound effects.

    When I do the pink noise the volume on the center channel seems equal to the satellite speakers but not when playing back movies or streaming netflix. 

    This is really frustrating.

    Turning the Dynamic Volume on does really help the dialogue. However, it seems to me and I'm not an expert at all ... that if you are limiting the highs and lows then many of the more subtle and dynamic aspects of a movies audio is going to be "cut off" e.g. special effects.

    Thanks

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    vijaybabu

    Hi

    I am Babu,  new to this forum, still I feel I can solve the 'low sounding center channel' problem to a greater extent. I need to say that I was also a sufferer of the same problem for a very long time and finally with lot  of time, understanding and effort I was able to solve this problem with my setup. 

    First of all, there is a misconception with most of HTU's (home theater users) that the minimum volume of the speakers to be 0 (zero) db, that is true to certain extent, but especially for the front left and right speakers, even a 0db level is too high (if these speakers are floor standers then 0db sounds too high, because they have bigger drivers than the other speakers in the setup) hence, the trick here is to decrease the db level of the left and right speakers to the lowest and increase center speaker db level to a maximum of 3 db and increase the master volume to a level where it sounds best. I would recommend you to follow the instructions given by the equipment manufacturer for setting up the auto eq. Once the auto eq is set, go the menu where you can change the volume settings of each speaker. Here set the left and right speaker to - 3 or - 4 level (if required even lower) and your surround speakers to either a +2 or +3 level (but not more than +4, even - is recommended based on the size of your home theater room ) and now set your center speaker volume to 0 level (with 0 it should sound quite good, but if you want the center speaker to sound more prominent, then increase it by another 1 or 2 db more, i.e 3 db maximum) by doing this your problem will sure to get solved. Meanwhile increase the mater volume level to your choice (depending on the size of your home theater room).

    wishing you all a happy entertainment hours hereafter.

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