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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I are getting on in years and it's getting increasingly difficult to understand what characters are saying when background noise is present. We would love to know which A/V Receivers are particularly good at boosting speech frequencies.

Thanks,
John-in-Toronto
 

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I'm not sure if you have an AVR now. If you do, simply boosting the centre channel a few dB may help since this is where most of the dialogue is. Most AVRs/HTiB systems have settings that allow you to lower/raise specific speakers. Raise the centre or lower the others. Also make sure you don't have too much bass on your subwoofer, if applicable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks 57.

Alas, my nice Kenwood amplifier died after only 30 years. Its graphic equalizer let me boost the voice band (200-600 Hz).

My research to date indicates that many Pioneer AVRs feature "Dialog Enhancement" but, so far, I can't find out if any of Future Shop's stock have that.

Perhaps I'll just go back there and push some buttons.
 

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My Denon AVR calls it "Dialog Level", which is simply the Center channel level as mentioned by 57.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks jlet,

Is it possible that a 5.1 TV show assumes a center channel is connected and that the dialog is fed to that? If so, all I need is that speaker and center volume control?
 

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Yes. Most modern 5.1 materials (shows & movies) use the centre channel/speaker for the dialog. Select the AVR you want to buy (like a Pioneer at Future Shop), then download the user manual and search for "dialog" to see how they let you control it. If you plan to change the centre channel volume often, then you want a brand/model that lets you do it without having to go through multiple menus. Some older models may not mention "dialog", but still let you control the volume of each channels (or pair of channels like for the front R/L, rear R/L). My old Sony AVR even had a discrete center volume command which I programmed on my Harmony remote. My new Denon AVR does not, but the feature is just a few clicks away. Beside, I found that leaving the centre volume at 4 dB higher meets my needs.
 

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I forgot to add that even with DD 2.0 materials, you can apply one of the AVR's DSP modes like Dolby Pro Logic II to get a simulated 5.1 sound and the centre channel volume (Dialog) level you chose will apply. However, applying a DSP mode to a DD 2.0 source does not always give good results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the DD 2.0 tip jlet.

I gather the AVR has to connect to the PVR and not the TV to get 5.1.

How do I tell if the source is 2.0 or 5.1 or something else?

Also, what's the best thing to do if I play MP3 music through the USB port?

Is there anything in particular to look for in a new AVR?

Thanks,
John
 

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Here's what to look for in an AVR.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=76082

Most AVRs have an "info" selection which tells you the incoming signal. DD5.1. DD2.0, PCM, etc. Many AVRs also show the incoming signal on the front display, either briefly when the source changes, or all the time - depends on the make/model of the AVR.

As for music, that is personal preference. Some people prefer to listen in "stereo", some like DPLIIMusic, some like "5-ch Stereo" (all channels), some like one of the DSPs like "Rock" or "Stadium", etc. Try them and see what you prefer.
 

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My grandmother is 96 and her hearing isn't so great. We rigged up a pair of speakers right beside the chair she sits in while watching TV and she turns it up fairly loud. I think these are just self-amplified PC type speakers that just connect into the RCA audio out or headphone jacks of the TV - she just watches analog cable using the TV as the tuner. Cheap and easy but it does the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks 57 - that guide is terrific.

And thanks Wayne - I'll keep that trick in mind (if I have one at 96).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Serge at the Empress Ave. Future Shop looked at 57's AVR Wants List and sold me this gear:

Yamaha 500-Watt 5.1 Channel Home Theatre Receiver (RXV375B) $299.99
Energy Veritas V-Mini LCR Centre Channel Speaker (VMINICB) $174.99

He said the speaker was an exceptionally good buy as it's regularly $300.

Should get it hooked up tomorrow - still waiting on the speaker.
 

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Good Luck. You may wish to check out the following:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=40306

I'm confused, do you have a set of speakers for 5.1 surround sound, or just the centre speaker? Having just a centre speaker would allow you to listen to just the dialogue, if you tell the AVR that you have "other" speakers, but if you tell the AVR that you have only a centre, then all the audio will come out there and you'll be no better off. If you tell the AVR you have other speakers, then you'll be missing all of the surround sound, and possibly even dialogue if that dialogue is being sent to a speaker other than the centre - as say when someone enters a room from behind in a movie and they talk from the left rear for example (or right front). This is not typical, but does happen.

Music using just a centre speaker will be quite a disappointment. I hope that you have speakers for 5.1 surround, because if you have purchased an AVR and centre hoping to solve your issue, then I believe you have misinterpreted our recommendations.

Edit: Or 3.0 as mentioned in the post below. Good Suggestion Dr.Dave
 

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You also need to timbre match the center speaker with the front R/L speakers so that an object moving across the front scene sounds the same.
 

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In this particular case (difficulty in hearing dialogue), as long as it is as bright, or brighter than the existing speakers, it should be fine.

Timbre matching is certainly a good idea, but I've yet to hear a centre channel speaker that sounds the same as the other speakers, unless it's an identical speaker. Even then the placement can affect the timbre coming from the speaker, so that if the LF & RF are on stands while the centre is on a cabinet, they will still sound different. The height of the speakers is also important - you don't want the centre significantly higher or lower than the LF & RF, otherwise the panning will also sound weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Works great!

I haven't had a chance to set it up properly yet or listen to a variety of programs, but it is definitely much better at dialog. The Energy center speaker is sweet but so much more efficient than the front side speakers I had to cut its level -8dB. (Sorry for the confusion 57 - I didn't mention I was using old but excellent Tanoy 8s on the sides but no sub or back speakers at all.)

I also listened to some Tchaikovsky from a PC. I sounds fine but I'd like to be able to mix in the center speaker - must read the manual some time.

It seems that many producers funnel dialog to the center channel and leave very little on the sides. That makes following a show far more difficult for viewers without centers. I wonder if any TV sets come with a center speaker.

Thank you all very much!

PS: This thread (Speech Filter) should probably be renamed as "Dialog Hard to Hear".
 

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1. Good For you.
2. Thread title changed.
3. In order to use all speakers, when listening to two-channel input signals like music, try Dolby Pro Logic Music or All-channel Stereo or one of the DSPs - say "Classical".
4. Also, make sure you tell the AVR that you have no rear/surround speakers, otherwise that sound may be "lost". If you tell it you have no surround speakers, that audio will be sent to the LF/RF as appropriate. Not sure if this AVR has YPAO (the automatic speaker setting option with microphone). If it does, then use that to balance the speakers and then tune by ear.
 

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Boosting the center channel is a good option. Note that it may be necessary to do so for each audio mode, DD 5.1, Pro Logic, and 5 channel stereo. DD 5.1 should provide the best results. Pro Logic and 5 channel stereo results will depend on the original material.

If the speakers are set up correctly on the AVR, rear channel content will not be lost, it will simply be on the left and right channels. Some AVRs may attempt to emulate surround sound using 2 or 3 speakers (using SRS or something similar.)
 
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