Request suggestion for speech clarity [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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02-23-2006, 07:09 AM
I use an Onkyo 600 receiver with Cambridge Soundworks center speaker. The clarity of speech is great when TV Logic or another DSP is selected, but when watching a movie in Dolbe Digital, the speech clarity is noticeably reduced to the point that I have to increase the volume and listen carefully. It helps a little if I adjust the bass as low as possible and the treble high as possible. I realize the Soundworks center is on the warm side, but am I missing something in my settings? I borrowed a smaller older Fisher center (plastic) which helped quite a bit, but I'd really like to keep the Soundworks. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

02-23-2006, 07:15 AM
Generally tone controls shouldn't be used to imporve dialogue clarity, at least not in the extreme you are suggesting. Sounds to me like you need to run through some basic setup options.

First, if you don't already have one, an SPL meter is a great tool for level matching the output of all your speakers. Each channel's volume can be set independently. It's imperative that these are as close as possible for a cohesive sound field and balanced dialogue. Our ears are not accurate enough to "guess" at level matching, unfortunately. The delays (or distance of speaker from listening position) should all be set properly as well.

Make sure that the dynamic compression is set to "off" or "none" and that any "night mode" features are disabled. I ran a few weeks with night mode on my receiver before I noticed. I thought it was just the TV feeds sounding a bit crappy.

You might consider setting your speaker size to "small" so that bass is routed to a subwoofer if you have one. This would be better than dialing down the bass to minimum.

Are you speakers placed somewhat according to your manual's suggested placement?

02-23-2006, 07:18 AM
Have you calibrated your sound levels? Does this happen with every movie?

Also, have you tried to aim your center toward your listening position?

The more info you give, the easier it will be for the guys to help.

02-23-2006, 08:13 AM
Thanks for the help, folks. I find the clarity a bit difficult to describe, but speech seems "muffled" or "dark" -- but only on Dolby Digital or Movie Pro Logic. I am using the optical cable. The sound levels have been set only by ear---is that SPL meter an expensive item? The center is aimed directly toward the listening position horizontally, but it is about four feet higher than my head, as are the front surrounds. Speaker size is set to small, and the listening position is 10 feet from the center speaker and fronts.

02-23-2006, 08:37 AM
The four feet higher than your head thing isn't helping, but if it's aimed at your location it shouldn't be causing your dialogue muffling to an extent such drastic tone corrections were required.
Have you checked your DVD player's settings? Sometimes they have "dialogue enhancing" options that do more harm than good. Make sure those are off.
SPL meters are anywhere from $15-$50 for a decent one for home theater purposes. Most people like the Radio Shack meters, $40 or so. A good investment in my opinion.
You can find Extech SPL meters cheap enough on ebay, they'll work too.
With the center speaker set to "small", what is the receiver's crossover at? If it's 100 Hz or higher, it might not hurt to set it to "large". That's well below most vocal ranges, but you never know.

Does DTS dialogue sound right? Have you considered that perhaps this is just the tonal characteristic of your speaker?

02-23-2006, 10:07 AM
Cworthy, here are some articles that may hep your situation. If anything it's good info on setup, placement and calibration.

Article 1 (

Article 2 (

03-10-2006, 10:04 AM
Also, make sure "dialogue normalization" is active in your Dolby Digital set-up menu.

03-10-2006, 11:43 AM
BTW voice reproduction (hz)1) 40 to 125 Sense of power in outstanting bass singers. 2)160 to 250 Voice fundamentals 3) 315 to 500 Important in voice quality. 4)630 to 1k Important for voice naturalness .5) 1.25 to 8k Important for speach intelligibility,accentuation of voice ,clarity of voice.A good centre channel with good range and crossover help.I bought so many and the dif in one at 50hz-20khz range and xover at 4khz and one at 80hz -20khz and xover at 2khz makes alot of changes in the voice.