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  1. #1
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    Onkyo 5.1 Receiver, Shoud I Upgrade?

    To start off, I got all willy-nilly excited about home audio a couple years back and have been learning more and more about it ever since.

    I bought an Onkyo HTIB (HTS-320) shortly after beginning my new obsession, and while the speakers were very dinky (great for the $300 price tag of the system, but dinky nonetheless), the receiver was very very impressive for the price. Here's what the system looked like (the one pictured is a slightly newer model) http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=...ss=Systems&p=i

    Anyways, being a good fledgling-home-audio-enthusiast I got upgraditis about a year later and bought the following speaker system:

    Cen: BIC America DV62clr (38Hz-20kHz, 5-175wpc, 90dB sens, two 6” wrfs, ” twtr)
    L/R: BIC America DV62si (43Hz-20kHz, 5-175wpc, 90dB sens, 6” wfr, ” twtr)
    SL/SR: Also DV62si’s
    Sub: Dayton 12” 300-634 (24-150Hz, 150 watt amplifier)

    These are all the speakers (except the subwoofer, which I didn't buy from BIC). Keep in mind that the bookshelf speakers are about 14" tall: http://www.bicamerica.com/62_cconfig.JPG

    The center cost me $120, DV62si’s were $110/pair, and the sub was $150… so it all cost me about $500 and the sound is unbelievably crisp, clear, and natural.

    Being the first real system I’ve ever had, I didn’t notice the imperfections for quite a few months, but now it’s bothering me and I would like to know what to do to fix it. Here’s the problem:

    I’ve noticed that there is a very noticeable gap between the sub and the speakers. I believe that this is attributed to the inadequate bass output of the speakers. My receiver has a crossover that can be set at 60,80,100,120,150Hz. I keep it at 100Hz because that’s what sounds best to me. At 80Hz the sub sounds tighter and speakers sound fuller, but the gap between the two is more apparent. At 120Hz the sub is just too boomy.

    A few more things about my system:

    16-gauge wire all around w/ simple stripped wire for terminals

    the receiver has 4 subwoofer “modes”:
    1. output low frequencies of all channels to sub (this is what I have it set to)
    2. output low frequencies of center and surrounds to sub
    3. output only the LFE channel of a 5.1 source to sub
    4. subwoofer off

    I can think of two possible solutions to this problem. One, buy a better receiver to match my new speakers. Two, the receiver may have a strange drop-off curve at the set crossover that may interfere with the subwoofers own adjustable crossover (which I have set at max 160Hz so it shouldn’t interfere). I read somewhere that if you run your speakers through the sub (mine has 2 in/out for the left and right channel speakers), it will eliminate the redundant crossovers and allow the speakers to blend better with the sub.

    So, if the answer is 2 (which I’m hoping because it’s basically free), I’ll have to set my receiver to “sub off” and then run only the left and right channels from receiver to sub to speakers while the center, and surrounds will have to produce their own bass. I’m sure that music will sound better…. But will movies suffer? I know that vocals come from the center, other scene sounds and music from the left and right, and ambient/surround effects from the surrounds… but I don’t know how much bass each of them usually handles.

    And, if the answer is 1 (I just need more power to produce bass from the speakers), then here is my first upgrade candidate. http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pn...686388,00.html

    A couple problems with the receiver upgrade though… first of all, the specs on my Onkyo are ridiculously good (even though it only cost me like $150) check them here http://www.shoponkyo.com/detail.cfm?..._id=1&detail=3 Is 100wpc @ 20Hz-20kHz possible for such a cheap receiver. 100wpc, @ 1kHz sure, typical… but 20Hz-20kHz… no way! It states the same figures in my manual too. If the Onkyo really is that powerful, then a bump to 120wpc wouldn’t do much. Also, my Onkyo has a damping factor of 60 which is wicked low (and bad, I think?), whereas the Pioneer spec sheet doesn’t state its damping factor at all. Also, my Onkyo has 0.08% THD whereas Pioneer’s website lists its THD at 0.2% which MUST be mismarked right?

    Everything, everything seems like it’s not marked correctly. Can anybody help me decided which path to take?

    Thanks in Advance!
    -Dan

    P.S. Sorry for the lengthy message, but if I don’t tell you guys everything, I won’t get a satisfactory answer.
    Last edited by djkha0s; 04-20-2006 at 06:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Suspended superpanavision70mm's Avatar
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    All I am going to say is that I never really liked the ONKYO stuff, but have always been satisfied with the Pioneer and especially the Pioneer Elite gear.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I suspect that your issue has nothing to do with the receiver, and more to do with the room acoustics.

    Before you do anything, I would suggest that you first calibrate your levels using a SPL meter (the sub should be set about 4 db higher than the other speakers). Then you should try repositioning the sub and/or the speakers. On paper at least, your speakers should be more than capable of extending far enough into the bass range to handle an 80 Hz crossover point.

    The room boundary effects will reinforce the lows, but the degree to which this reinforcement occurs will vary depending on the placement of the speakers and subwoofer, relative to your seating position. If you detect a gap occurring around 80 Hz, you probably have a cancellation occurring from the bass waves that emanate from the sub. You don't notice that with a higher crossover point because the frequencies around 80 Hz are covered by your main speakers, and from where they are positioned, they might not create that same cancellation effect.

    Your problem can be remedied by repositioning the sub or using bass traps in the corners to reduce the amplitude of the reflected bass waves that collect (and get amplified) in the corners. Keep in mind though that repositioning the sub might simply shift the cancellation into a different part of the bass range and/or create a boomy peak.

    In general, you should redirect all of the bass from the L/C/R/LS/RS speakers into the sub and set the crossover point slightly above the lower limit of your speakers (somewhere around 1/3 of an octave). This will ensure that whatever issues you have with the bass are limited to whatever originates from the subwoofer. By redirecting all of the bass thru the subwoofer output, it allows you to indepenently position the subwoofer where it creates the most even sounding bass. The main speakers are typically positioned along the middle of the front wall, which helps with focusing the stereo image but is not ideal for bass reinforcement. And the lower the frequency, the more effect the room acoustics have. Maximum bass reinforcement occurs in the corners, and that's where you should try putting your subwoofer first. Corner placement though can also create very uneven bass response.

    Option #2 with the speaker level connections is probably not an option because most entry level powered subs do not include a high pass filter with the crossover. This means that the speaker level signal gets passed through at full range, with no filtering done to remove the bass frequencies.

    If you really want to investigate the room-induced effects, you should measure the bass response from your subwoofer using a SPL meter and test tones (or a microphone attached to your computer and real time analysis [RTA] software). This will identify where the peaks and cancellations occur, and allow you to measure the changes that occur when you reposition the sub. If the problems persist from location to location, you should look into either room treatments like corner bass traps, or parametric equalization. The equalization option is probably less expensive than bass traps, and can make bass much fuller sounding by removing the boomy peaks from your bass and allowing you to more accurately set the level without the peaks dictating what you hear.

    P.S. when shopping for a receiver, don't get hung up on the specs. Most comparably priced receivers will offer comparable performance.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-A1030
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Sony UBP-X800
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR44 and WVB
    Logitech Harmony 700
    iPhone 5s/iPad 3
    Linksys WES610



    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by djkha0s
    To start off, I got all willy-nilly excited about home audio a couple years back and have been learning more and more about it ever since.

    I bought an Onkyo HTIB (HTS-320) shortly after beginning my new obsession, and while the speakers were very dinky (great for the $300 price tag of the system, but dinky nonetheless), the receiver was very very impressive for the price. Here's what the system looked like (the one pictured is a slightly newer model) http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=...ss=Systems&p=i

    Anyways, being a good fledgling-home-audio-enthusiast I got upgraditis about a year later and bought the following speaker system:

    Cen: BIC America DV62clr (38Hz-20kHz, 5-175wpc, 90dB sens, two 6” wrfs, ” twtr)
    L/R: BIC America DV62si (43Hz-20kHz, 5-175wpc, 90dB sens, 6” wfr, ” twtr)
    SL/SR: Also DV62si’s
    Sub: Dayton 12” 300-634 (24-150Hz, 150 watt amplifier)

    These are all the speakers (except the subwoofer, which I didn't buy from BIC). Keep in mind that the bookshelf speakers are about 14" tall: http://www.bicamerica.com/62_cconfig.JPG

    The center cost me $120, DV62si’s were $110/pair, and the sub was $150… so it all cost me about $500 and the sound is unbelievably crisp, clear, and natural.

    Being the first real system I’ve ever had, I didn’t notice the imperfections for quite a few months, but now it’s bothering me and I would like to know what to do to fix it. Here’s the problem:

    I’ve noticed that there is a very noticeable gap between the sub and the speakers. I believe that this is attributed to the inadequate bass output of the speakers. My receiver has a crossover that can be set at 60,80,100,120,150Hz. I keep it at 100Hz because that’s what sounds best to me. At 80Hz the sub sounds tighter and speakers sound fuller, but the gap between the two is more apparent. At 120Hz the sub is just too boomy.

    A few more things about my system:

    16-gauge wire all around w/ simple stripped wire for terminals

    the receiver has 4 subwoofer “modes”:
    1. output low frequencies of all channels to sub (this is what I have it set to)
    2. output low frequencies of center and surrounds to sub
    3. output only the LFE channel of a 5.1 source to sub
    4. subwoofer off

    I can think of two possible solutions to this problem. One, buy a better receiver to match my new speakers. Two, the receiver may have a strange drop-off curve at the set crossover that may interfere with the subwoofers own adjustable crossover (which I have set at max 160Hz so it shouldn’t interfere). I read somewhere that if you run your speakers through the sub (mine has 2 in/out for the left and right channel speakers), it will eliminate the redundant crossovers and allow the speakers to blend better with the sub.

    So, if the answer is 2 (which I’m hoping because it’s basically free), I’ll have to set my receiver to “sub off” and then run only the left and right channels from receiver to sub to speakers while the center, and surrounds will have to produce their own bass. I’m sure that music will sound better…. But will movies suffer? I know that vocals come from the center, other scene sounds and music from the left and right, and ambient/surround effects from the surrounds… but I don’t know how much bass each of them usually handles.

    And, if the answer is 1 (I just need more power to produce bass from the speakers), then here is my first upgrade candidate. http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pn...686388,00.html

    A couple problems with the receiver upgrade though… first of all, the specs on my Onkyo are ridiculously good (even though it only cost me like $150) check them here http://www.shoponkyo.com/detail.cfm?..._id=1&detail=3 Is 100wpc @ 20Hz-20kHz possible for such a cheap receiver. 100wpc, @ 1kHz sure, typical… but 20Hz-20kHz… no way! It states the same figures in my manual too. If the Onkyo really is that powerful, then a bump to 120wpc wouldn’t do much. Also, my Onkyo has a damping factor of 60 which is wicked low (and bad, I think?), whereas the Pioneer spec sheet doesn’t state its damping factor at all. Also, my Onkyo has 0.08% THD whereas Pioneer’s website lists its THD at 0.2% which MUST be mismarked right?

    Everything, everything seems like it’s not marked correctly. Can anybody help me decided which path to take?

    Thanks in Advance!
    -Dan

    P.S. Sorry for the lengthy message, but if I don’t tell you guys everything, I won’t get a satisfactory answer.
    You have a nice starter system like I have and we're using the same receivers but I have the 302 with 65 watts per channel and 20Hz-20kHz which I love for its power and simplicity. Take Woochifer's advice before you run out and purchase new stuff thinking that's the solution.
    Last edited by ChrisY; 04-22-2006 at 09:20 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the input Woochifer! I already dropped the crossover to 80Hz and moved my sub away from the corner a bit. It sounded pretty good, but the speakers weren't producing enough bass. I bumped up the bass level from the receiver to the speakers to +10 (I know, I know, sounds crazy... but my speakers are a bit bright), and it sounds pretty good as a whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Option #2 with the speaker level connections is probably not an option because most entry level powered subs do not include a high pass filter with the crossover. This means that the speaker level signal gets passed through at full range, with no filtering done to remove the bass frequencies.
    Regarding this comment, I don't know if you're familiar with this particular sub, but the regular price was $250 and it was from an online retailer which means that if BB or CC was selling it, the markup would bump it to 350 or 400 bucks. This essentially means that, although it's still entry level, it's at the upper end of the spectrum. I consulted the manual and it says the following:

    "Speaker level outputs are used to connect satellite speakers. The satellite outputs have a 6db high pass circuit (125Hz @ 8 ohms)"

    Does that mean that if speaker level inputs were used, the crossover control knob would do nothing with these inputs and the crossover would be hard-set at 125Hz?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    You don't notice that with a higher crossover point because the frequencies around 80 Hz are covered by your main speakers, and from where they are positioned, they might not create that same cancellation effect.
    When my receiver's crossover is set at 100Hz, all speakers (including the mains) are only getting signals > 100Hz, right? In that case, the speakers wouldn't be producing the 80Hz signals, the subwoofer would. Am I misunderstanding?

    Regarding everything else you said about boundary reinforcement and cancellation... I'd still consider myself a noob in regards to the scientific/technical aspects of audio, but my understanding of the situation leads me to ask again: Because of the crossover, isn't cancellation not really an issue? I know that crossovers usually have a soft rolloff between the signals so that both the speakers and the sub get a bit of each other's signals near the crossover point, but is the overlap significant enough to cause cancellation? Is that small overlap what I'm supposed to be trying to "polish up"?

    To me, it sounds like my sub is producing plenty of reasonably clean bass, but my speakers sound like they're lacking. This is my perception, but I could be misreading my situation.

  6. #6
    Suspended superpanavision70mm's Avatar
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    I can state first hand that I did an A/B comparison a few months ago between several Onkyo, Harmon Kardon, and also Pioneer receivers. The winner was the Pioneer THX certified VSX-1015TX model. It's priced around $250-$400 if you search around, which is terrific for such an amazing receiver with 7.1 capabilities. What really made me enjoy this particular receiver was it's ability to play DTS and Dolby very well with great clarity and also plenty of options. The receiver also handled SACD incredibly well with a nice layout in the back for all the wonderful inputs/outputs. I just can't say enough about it...I also hated how complicated it was to do basic functions on the other receivers by comparisons. They were almost as bad as Sony and Yamaha receivers, which I think are the worst in terms of layout and functionality.

  7. #7
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    Listen to wooch he has nailed the biggest part of your problem.Also are you basing your bass output expectations on the frequency range you quote for your bics,if so i think that they are extreamly opptimistic.Don't think they will come anywhere close to those numbers.

    thanks
    bill

  8. #8
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superpanavision70mm
    ...I also hated how complicated it was to do basic functions on the other receivers by comparisons. .
    I own an Onkyo receiver. To perform basic functions is, indeed, a two step process. One must:
    1) Grasp the remote with one hand.
    2) Push the button that corresponds with the desired activity. Fortunately, these functions are denoted by abbreviations and/or numbers.

    Of course its OK to prefer one product over another. We all have differing opinions and that's what makes this fun and informative. But let's be realistic, this shouldn't be too hard unless your missing digits.

  9. #9
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    Ok, I got an update:

    Like I said before, I turned the crossover down to 80Hz and moved my sub about 6 inches away from my wall so that the distance from the side and front walls are unequal (I heard that this helps reduce boominess). Also, I went to my local RatShack and bought this speaker wire. It's a flat 14-gauge wire with a arseload of braided copper inside. I swear, it looks like twice as much as the regular 16-gauge I was using.

    Anyways, I ran that to my main and center speakers and finished to project at about 1am so I couldn't try it out. So, I woke up this morning, took a shower, got some breakfast, and fired up my system. I was freakin shocked. The brightness of my speakers has been toned down and the speakers sound much warmer and fuller. In fact, I had to bring my receiver's bass boost back from +10 to +4!!

    To make a long story short, the sound is much more consistant across the spectrum. My sub has almost "disappeared" as a result of the changes. The sound isn't perfect, but I also have never calibrated any of it with an SPL meter... so I guess that is my last frontier.

    Question: I also bought my old 16-gauge wires from RatShack. Is 16-gauge typically insufficient for 100wpc (if my Onkyo really IS that powerful )?

    P.S. I have one byproduct from the new speaker wires.... it appears that the rewired speakers have less sensitivity now... meaning that I need to turn the volume higher to produce the same level of output that I previously did. It could be that the highs are just not as harsh so it gives the impression of less output but.... is this a typical byproduct of better cable?

    P.S.S. My audio instincts tell me that fatter cable = higher output... so I'm afraid that I may have fell victim to the upgrade-over-compensation where you just upgrade a component and convince yourself that the change sounds better than the original.
    Last edited by djkha0s; 04-22-2006 at 11:24 AM.

  10. #10
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    Just curious, but will any of the receiver on the market calibrate your system for you, or do you always need a SPL meter?

  11. #11
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    jc_ufl,

    some receivers do come with an auto-calibration system. you use the supplied microphone and put it at your sitting position. The receiver then runs through a bunch of test tones etc. for several minutes and sets your system up correctly. Simple right? Although it sounds great, this method might not work correctly (especially if it's a cheaper receiver).

    The receiver that I was looking at buying to replace my Onkyo has this kind of calibration. Here's some info about Pioneer's MCACC system.

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