Onkyo Bass Issues

I have an Onkyo HT-S5400 home theater system.  It sounds great with movies and other material, but has some serious issues with music.  I am playing high quality (320 kbps) MP3 files.  I have tried just about every different setting I can think of, but nothing seems to fix the issue. 

The problem I am having is that the music will sometimes have bass that is flat and low compared to the volume and the rest of the music.  Then, after listening to a few songs, it will kick in like it should be, and start thumping properly.  Or, sometimes it will sound okay, and during some song or other, the bass will suddenly become flat.

I can't figure out what it causing the issue, or what I can do to fix it.

Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks!

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18 Comments

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hi Adam,

    Does your system come with an Audyssey mic to calibrate the room?

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    Adam Dodson

    Thank you very much for the quick response.  I appreciate it.  The system did come with a mic, and I used that for the initial setup.  However, the results were not at all accurate, so I ended up redoing most of them manually.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Let's see if we can figure out why the results were not accurate.  Can you tell me more about what was inaccurate?  

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    Adam Dodson

    Most of the settings were set to very negative numbers so that I had to turn the volume way up, and the speaker distances were pretty far off.  I followed the directions exactly.  So I just redid those settings manually until they met my standards.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Audyssey is setting the system up for Reference.  That means that (1) each speaker has to play at the same level as other speakers and (2) they each have to play at reference level when you turn the volume control to 0 dB. 

    It's very common for trim values to be negative, especially if the listening distance is short.  These are just relative adjustments to achieve the goals above.  There is nothing "inaccurate" about negative settings.  If you turn them up then that simply means that reference listening volume will be at a negative master volume setting.  No difference!

    Which distances were off?  The sub? That's because the filters there are adding delay to the signal and so it needs to be set to a "longer" distance to match the other speakers.  Same for wireless surrounds that add a lot of delay to the signal.

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    Adam Dodson

    The distances were off significantly on all eight speakers. 

    Would any of these settings cause the bass in music (and only music) to go flat and quiet, then suddenly start working properly?

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Hard to believe... The distances are measured from each speaker to the first mic position.  In any case, they have no effect on the bass.  Are any of your speakers set to Full Range?  That's not a good thing if you have a subwoofer.

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    Adam Dodson

    No, they aren't.  And they are set to small.  I can give you all of the settings I have for it now if you want.  But I have tried changing a bunch of different things, and using different settings, but I still have the bass issue, no matter what I seem to try.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    Does your sub have an auto-sleep function?  I wonder if it's not working correctly...

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    Adam Dodson

    Yes, it goes into a low-power mode.  But it's not that there is no bass.  It's just that the bass seems flat and chap, if that makes sense.  Almost like I have a system with a crappy subwoofer.  Then I'll be listening to some music, and two, five, or fifteen songs later, it will suddenly kick in and start thumping.  I have no idea.

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    Chris Kyriakakis

    I am not sure what else to try here.  It sounds like there may be some sort of hardware issue...

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    Adam Dodson

    Well, thank you very much.  I appreciate all of the assistance.  It's not worth sending everything back over.  I think I'll just stick with it.  Movies and television sound amazing, so it's not all that bad. Music is just a bit lackluster, and unreliable. 

    Thanks again!

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    Mark F

    Adam,

    The audessey is not the issue. Calibration is not the issue. My unit does the same thing. I had the retailer send me a new sub to confirm and yes the same issue happens. The bass starts out, just like you described it, "flat and dull", and then sometime later (usually I have to play a bass-heavy MP3 to get the "real" bass to "kick in") the bass levels will suddenly jump to where they are supposed to be.

    People who say it's the sub do so because it's a self powered sub and not controlled by the receiver. This is incorrect. There is a 24db boost/cut feature on the sub out that is controlled by the receiver.

    I know this is supposed to be a bargain unit, but that behavior is unacceptable. Bass is one of the most crucial parts of a good soundstage. I have already contacted Onkyo and I am going to send the receiver in for repair.

    It's a shame, too. I love this system when it operates properly. The reason I'm not returning it is because I already know I want it and I just want to get it working properly.

    Oh yeah, I bought one for my neighbor via Amazon and I tested it out and it did not have the bass issues, and that was hooked up to all my speakers and my sub from my 5400.

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    Adam Dodson

    Mark, unfortunately I think you are correct.  I have tried all different settings, and this happens no matter what.  However, I only notice the issue with music.  It's unfortunate, because music is one of the things I enjoy most out of a good stereo, and this is definitely a good stereo, but for that one issue.  =-(

    I am going to contact Onkyo and see what I can do about it. 

    Thanks for the info!  It's good to know I'm not crazy.  Haha.

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    Mark F

    Adam,

    It's funny, because we both, despite the flaws, love this set so much we just want it to work, lol! This is my first actual A/V receiver (my other 5.1 receiver was audio only), and my first 7.1 setup. It's the best sounding home system I've ever owned.

    The drivers are surprisingly clear and full sounding. I like the real wood cabinets, as they are much better for acoustics than composite material. I also like the fact that the front speakers are much larger (5 1/4" driver vs 3 1/2"), allowing for a better frequency response range on the low side (55hz).

    The sub, while not the most powerful in the universe rocks and I cannot think of any reason why I would want the volume to go any louder than it does in my living room (outside of a sick house party). On a 30hz sine wave it didn't start clipping until about volume 60 with the sub gain set to about 1/3 of the way up and the sub settings on the unit set to zero db.

    I like all the audio options. I like how the unit turns on and off with the TV and switches to the correct input automatically.

    Dolby D EX and DTS HD-master sound ridiculous on this thing. All channel mono also sounds really good on 2 channel stereo signals.

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    Sudhir K

    Adam,

    320 Kbps tracks are sampled and usually the lows are not captured well when a track is sampled. If you want good bass reproduction you need to play FLAC or other lossless files. HDtracks.com sells lossless audio files. You can download a sample album on sign up. You can hear the difference and how good the lows sound on your speakers.

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    Adam Dodson

    Thank you very much for the info.  Yes, I have also tried FLAC files.  Unfortunately, the issue has nothing to do with the quality of the audio files.  I have the same issue with CDs as well.  I have tried the same files in the car, and they sound fine.  When I play them on the fifty-dollar speakers on my computer, they have rich, thumping bass.  When I play them on my stereo system, they sound flat and sad.  There is some sort of issue with the system itself.  I just can't figure out what might be causing it.  It may very well be defective. 

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    Sudhir K

    Adam,

    Try setting the front speakers cutoff frequency for your speakers between 10Hz and 20Hz greater than their rated frequency response at +- 3dB. I've set mine at 50 Hz and I am not getting proper bass for music as well as movies.

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