The Pianoman

Surround Sound -- Home Theatre

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Had a pair of Wharfedale Glendales in my very early hifi days, not bad.  Currys have never been involved with Wharfedale though, apart from selling a system with Denton speakers in the 70s..

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Sorry to hear Wharfedale went that way.  I still have a couple of Wharfdale Super Lintons.  Vintage about 1965.  They still sound pretty good to these old loppy lugs.

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Had a pair of Wharfdale Kingsdales, big and ugly but boy they sounded good, think the front speakers were Lintons.

 

Used to think I was hifi buff till an old acquaintance introduced me to his gear, he was quite a wealthy successful business man by then, he had some very nice uk made gear, cannot for the life of me remember but maybe Linn ? know the deck was a Linn sondeck  (sp)

 

He never switched the deck off, it was always turning quietly away as he recond it was much better quality sound and no rumbles or whatever as it was warmed up !

Always remember him putting on a Dire Straights album to demo it to me and it blew me away ! my old Pioneer amp was never the same after that experience.

 

His company used to manufacture hifi speaker stands and other hifi equipment stands, they was called Fabriweld and started business in Colwick on Little Tennis St but moved to Harrimans lane dunkirk, I think they still manufacture top gear there now.

 

Sorry to go OT Piano man but a soundbar is the way to go nowadays.

 

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Wharfedale:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wharfedale_(company)

 

International Audio Group:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Audio_Group

 

My speakers are Rogers.  They made their name with a number of designs, including the licensed manufacture of a number of highly regarded BBC designs. Also some original designs by Jim Rogers and a few  highly rated valve amplifiers.  However, Rogers also succumbed and were bought out by a Chinese Co in the late 1990s.

 

I have no space for a soundbar.  In fact I'm not all that bothered about TV sound.  My hi-fi matters, my telly doesn't.  But I bought a Panasonic Soundbase for about 70 quid the other day. (Half price).  It connects easily to my Panasonic flatscreen TV via a HDMI using the 'ARC' input and invokes the Panasonic 'Viera Link', allowing control of the Soundbase (or some of its functions) from the TV remote. 

This little box of tricks is compact and tidy.  It certainly makes a fair stab at emulating 'Cinema Sound' on DVDs and TV broadcast movies, although it does little below 100Hz and seems to achieve it's 'dynamic bass' through quantity rather than quality.  My smallish ( but beautifully formed) hi-fi speakers go deeper when there is bass in the music.

Sadly the thing doesn't improve broadcast TVsound at all.  In fact it makes it worse, by giving dialogue a boxy and detached quality, with boderline speech/video synchronisaion issues too,

I need to decide whether it's worth keeping just for the improvement in DVD/BluRay sound.  Better kit would cost a lot more.  I'd sooner just stick the TV between my hi-fi speakers and integrate TV with Hi-Fi, but Mrs Col won't allow it...  :(

 

Col

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Your last idea of using the tv with the hi-fi speakers would definitely seem to be the best and most economical way to go, Col.  Maybe a diamond necklace would do the trick, but that would be a rather expensive solution. :rolleyes:.  I bought a powered subwoofer recently.  I really like it for the low bass of the organ.  You can feel it.  My poor old loppy lugs don't pick up so much of the higher frequencies these days and I don't think hearing aids can be considered hi-fi.

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DJ360, it took me ages to convince the good wife to have the TV/DVD/Virgin Radio pumped through the HI-FI, now she wouldn't have it any other way!

 

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Good news.  Whilst negotiations are at a delicate stage, I think I may have begun to convince Mrs Col that the TV needs to go between the speakers. That space is currently occupied by a big armchair that nobody ever sits in.  It would just swap places with the TV.  Easy to connect to my LFD amp either via the analogue audio out sockets, or via the digital out, > Benchmark DAC > Amp.

 

I'll keep working on it. It would only be two channel stereo, but I've only got two ears.  .... And I don't really need a 'sub'.  I get bass that's down by -3dB at about 70 Hz, which is deeper than most cheap surround set ups and probably better controlled.

 

Also, the TV would block out less of the light/view than the current chair.

Also, TV would be a bit further away from usual viewing positions.. so in future she probably wouldn't object to one a bit bigger.  Present one is 39" and only just fits its space.

 

We shall see :)

 

Col

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#14

 

The Engineer gave a good summary of typical surround sound set ups and also covered the vexed question of 'music power' v RMS, when describing the power of amplifiers.  You need to go with RMS, as it is a more accurate and truthful measure.

 

However, there is another issue which is often misunderstood.  That is the relationship between amplifier power and speaker volume.

 

"These speakers are 1000 watts", is a meaningless statement.  Two ( main ) figures matter with speakers:

 

1.  Power handling.  This is a guide to how much amplifier power, in watts, the speaker can safely handle.  With most speakers you would probably be brain damaged if you ran them at such a level for any time.  You would also be pushing them towards distortion and eventual destruction.

2.  Sensitivity.  This is a measure of how easy the speaker is to drive, or how loud it goes for a given power input from an amp.  This is usually expressed as dB per 1 watt  (I think it's a bit more complex than that, but dB per watt is close enough to illustrate the point.)

 

So....  in practice, speakers with sensitivities of around 90dB and above are fairly sensitive and will go loud with relatively few watts pumped into them.

85dB or below is seen as pretty insensitive.  Such speakers will need a bit more power from an amp to go loud.

 

Some hi fi buffs like to run low powered triode valve amps, pushing out 20 watts or less, coupled with very sensitive speakers.. often 'horn loaded' designs. These can sound very nice and also go loud.  I once heard the Tannoy 'Westminster Royal' Horn loaded speakers at the Tannoy plant in Glasgow, driven by a low powered amp.  Those things are the size of wardrobes and cost tens of thousands per pair, but it is a truly staggering experience to hear them.

 

Others like to use solid state amps with lots of power and 'grip' to drive relatively insensitive speakers which are often surprisingly small, but can be bullied into performing by gutsy enough amps.

 

Broadly speaking, both ends of the scale have advantages and disadvantages in other ways.

 

My own speakers are pretty insensitive at about 83dB  They also only have a power handling capability of about 70 watts.  This is because they are derived from an original BBC design for a 'near field' studio monitor, designed to allow those in a cramped broadcast studio to hear what was 'going out'.  They go easily loud enough to be uncomfortable in my room, but don't easily distort, so they don't tend to sound too loud until you try to speak to someone.  Much of our perception of 'loud' is really discomfort caused by distortion.

 

For about 20 years I ran these speakers with amplifiers capable of delivering a true 100+ watts, but this didn't harm the speakers because at normal listening levels most systems are only running at a few watts.  The power comes in for big 'transients', deep bass etc. Turning the volume up to max would undoubtedly have been unwise, but I just never did it.

 

Oddly though, most speakers are damaged by driving them with an amplifier that is not powerful enough.  Pushing the amp to its limits to get more volume takes the amp into distortion and this produces signals which speakers ( especially tweeters) are not designed to cope with.  They tend to overheat and die.

 

In hi-fi circles, one approach, is to choose a loudspeaker which suits your preferences, the space you have available, the room, etc, and then find an amplifier which drives it well.

 

Oh.. there's another factor.  All loudpeakers have a rated 'impedance'.  The standards are usually 8 ohms or 4 ohms.  Some amplifiers have different speaker terminals to suit.

 

In practice, the impedance of a given speaker varies according to the frequency of the signal it is handling. This is significant because the lower the impedance, the higher the power required to maintain a given volume.  An ideal amplifier would double its output in response to a halving of impedance, but few if any amps can do this.  An analogy might be blowing into a narrow pipe.  You will meet resistance so feel you are delivering some power.  Now blow into a much bigger diameter pipe.  There is much less resistance (cf. impedance) and you will feel as if you are achieving nothing.

 

My speakers are not very sensitive and don't handle oodles of power, but they do maintain a fairly high (around 6 ohm) impedance across the frequency range.  This makes the task of the amplifier a bit easier.

 

Col

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Hello all you audiophiles who are contributing to this thread.

I am considering purchasing a sound bar to improve the sound quality out of the TV but in reading these threads came across the expression "sound base". From the little research that I have done it appears that the sound bar often needs an additional separate bass speaker and usually sits along the front of the TV below the screen with the bass speaker, separately powered, sitting somewhere close by. I understand that the TV sits atop the sound base and that bass speakers are included. Is the weight of the TV a consideration if it sits on the sound base and is my understanding correct or are the two terms interchangeable? Thanks

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You've got it right Ostalgian.  The Soundbase will have specifications indicating the maximum weight of TV it can safely support.  Also the size of the TV base can be an issue as it may overlap the soundbase, or may be something other than flat.  The one I bought recommends placement on a shelf underneath, or to one side, if neccessary.  That said I've got mine directly underneath the TV and the dialogue seems detached from the video on some programme to me so I wouldn't want to move it away any further.

 

You may also need to consider what audio outputs your TV has and what audio inputs the soundbase/bar has.

 

My TV has HDMI connections.  One of these is what's known as an ARC connection. (Audio Return Channel) and this is what I use to connect the TV to the Soundbase. This then also carries through sound from my Blu Ray Player and Humax recorder when I select them for viewing.

 

There is also an optical (Toslink) Digital Audio Out which would also work into the Optical Digital 'In' on the soundbase, but doesn't allow the use of the Panasonic 'Viera Link' between components, So I'd have to use separate remotes to control TV and Soundbase.

 

There are also a pair of analogue stereo outputs on the TV and a pair of AUX IN on the soundbase. (Normal RCA type interconnects.)  I assume these would connect TV sound in dual mono or stereo to the soundbase but I haven't tried them yet. The ones on the Soundbase are mostly meant to be for attaching other components to the soundbase, as it is assumed you will use HDMI or Digital to connect a TV.

 

When it comes to 'subwoofers'. These can be put anywhere close by within reason.  The argument is that bass tends to be 'non directional' so you don't really hear where it's coming from.  As ever, it's not quite that simple and if you get something which is just pushing out lots of 'upper' bass you may hear where it is.  There is more to subwoofers than just pumping out a continuous 'one note' drone.  ( A close neighbour used to have a cheap but loud one of those and when he played music during the day all I heard all day was this incessant grumbling growl)  A decent 'sub' should only do anything when there is actually bass in the music or speech and should also be capable of starting and stopping smartly rather than waffling on n 'blurring' the sound.  However, cinema sound is a bit different and especially in action films they have a tendency to apply growlings and deep rumblings just for atmosphere. Whether that sounds right to you through whatever device you are using is very much personal taste.

 

Quality sub woofers used by 'audiophiles' to hear the deep bass components of music properly can be very expensive.  Also, setting them up properly so that they integrate seamlessly with the rest of the music output from the main speakers is something of an art.  Most people tend to have them too loud, so that they either dominate the sound, or their 'upper bass' output overlaps with the lowest output from the main speakers, causing a 'hump' which is heard as a 'one note' drone.

 

I've read lots of reviews of  the cheap Soundbase I just bought and they vary from 'fantastic sound!'  To 'very poor'. This is of course partly determined by people's expectations and what sort sound they were already getting from whatever TV they have.  I'm finding mine a very mixed bag.  Works well to give a better apreciation of sound on Blu Ray and DVD.  For 70 quid I may well keep it just for that purpose.  But it is very variable (and not much improvement) on broadcast TV sound, as the dialogue sounds boxy and distant much of the time.

 

As always with audio kit.  If you can get a demonstration before you buy it can save a lot of heartache.

 

Good luck!

 

Col

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Thanks for the advice Col,

We have just moved house and am thinking this as an option instead if the previous 5.1 sound system and the pain of installing and hiding all the speaker cables. WiFi does not seem to work too well in the room for some reason.

I will be connecting it via HDMI cables and use it mainly for Blu-Ray and DVD's.

I will take up your advice and go to a specialist Hi-Fi store where I can get a demo and model for model they are not that much more expensive that the large retailers.

Do sound bars in front of the TV block the signal of the remote as I cannot seem to find one that has a lower profile than the distance between the unit that the TV is on and the bottom of the TV screen?

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You are right on with your comments about the subwoofer, Col. I have mine set at a very low level now.  I set it too high at first and things just vibrated.  Not a natural music sound at all.  As you probably know sub bass of a 32 foot organ stop can probably run around 16 Hz.  More felt than heard.  The sub woofer is probably not making it that low, but it does a pretty good job.  I put it on the floor behind a chair.  Works great.

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1 hour ago, Oztalgian said:

 5.1 sound system and the pain of installing and hiding all the speaker cables.

 

Do sound bars in front of the TV block the signal of the remote as I cannot seem to find one that has a lower profile than the distance between the unit that the TV is on and the bottom of the TV screen?

Same opinion. Speakers and cables everywhere.

 

The red tit on my TV is also very low down.

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I'm not sure about the blocking of the remote.  I suppose it depends on the TV.  I forgot to mention that my soundbase has also a wi-fi connection.  I don't need to use it so haven't really looked into it.

 

As for the 5.1 set ups.  They can be very good indeed, but you need the right kit and ideally a large room, or better still a dedicated 'home theatre' room.

We sold both two channel stereo kit and surround sound when I worked briefly for Audio Excellence in Preston.  We put together a fabulous Demo system in our home theatre room.  Instead of using one of those massive all singing all dancing multi channel 'receivers', we used a separate 5.1 decoder by Cyrus. A DVD drive by Cyrus.

We added 6 mono amps from Cyrus.  1 each for the front and rear speakers, 2 for the centre dialogue speaker.  Then not one REL powered sub, but two, because we could. Speakers were Linn Keilidhs for the front and a smaller Linn model for rear.  Possibly Kans, can't recall.  Also a Linn Centre 'dialogue' speaker. Video came from a posh projector (Can't remember the make) and a remotely operated retractable screen. 

 

Total retail would I suppose have been around £15k+ at the time. 18 years ago. 

 

For all but the biggest rooms now, I suppose flat tellies have replaced Screen/projector set ups.

 

At the other end of the scale, I was recently given a 5.1 cheapo set up.  The speakers all worked, but were tat.  The control and amplification came from a DVD player with a built in 5.1 amp.  It wouldn't power up.  I binned the lot.

 

The real classy 'Home Theatre' business seems to have separated off into a whole new industry called 'Custom Install'  Those people will, for a price, wire out your entire home with integrated multi-room audio and video stuff, also integrated with remote lighting and heating control.  They will distribute TV and Radio broadcast, Internet, streaming etc., with the whole lot.  It is mind blowing what some people now have, but you need the house and the cash.  It's also probably best done at the build stage.

 

Have a look here.. and drool...  http://www.insideci.co.uk/

 

Col

 

 

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I may be a bit behind the times, Col, but I wouldn't rule out the old projector /screen system yet.  I use a Panasonic projector with a 12 foot screen.  It's about the most cinema like experience you can probably get in the home.  My system is certainly not state of the art.  The projector is at least seven years old, but still puts out an excellent 1080i picture.  Needs a blacked out room for best effect, but can be acceptable with the curtains drawn.  I mounted the pull down screen on the wall between the speakers.  Projector is about sixteen feet away on the same wall as all the electronics.  Thus easy to feed any signal I want into it.  I am pretty happy with it.  Always hanging my nose over a newer fancier projector, but for the amount I watch it I can't really justify it.  Maybe when the bulb goes.  Bulbs are VERY expensive almost cheaper to buy a new projector and get all the newer features.

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Sounds like you have a bit more space than most of us over here Loppy!  A 12 foot screen would be instant divorce in my house!

Col 

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#42  Col.  We do generally have a bit more square footage than an equivalent English house.  Apart from bedrooms and bathrooms we have a living room.  Sort of like a front room used to be in the UK plus another room at the back often just referred to as a family room. Approx' 18 * 20.  This can be used for anything.  We spend most of our indoor time in there.  There is enough room for the organ and electronic piano. Stereo system and projector.  So I suppose we could call it a music room / cinema.   The Yanks have always been inclined to bigger lots and more floor space.  House prices in the South tend to be lower for the average house which helps you get a bit more space for your money.  We are only average,  certainly not wealthy.  If we were I'd buy a new car rather than trying to fix my old banger.  I've often wished I could uproot this house and take it to Canada it would be worth about four times as much.

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