Ask Secrets – Home Theater Hifi Q&A

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  • A few nice questions…

    If room corrections for Acoustics is important to music and home cinema, where does it sit say in relation to other improvement options such as better power supplies or speaker cables? Which improvement makes the biggest difference and should be first on the list for upgrading?

    If balanced headphone configuration offers the best audio results why don’t manufacturers offer these instead we must rely on after market supply.

    In measuring room Acoustics is it necessary to measure only at the listening positions or multiple points in the room?

    Is it true that carpet and rugs vibrate and transmit esp. high frequency and should be avoided in home music and cinema settings. Have you ever seen a carpeted recording studio?

    Can you tell us more about the new format MQA, actual music or sampler records and player requirements.

    I hope these are of interest. There are loads more I can think of…it’s a start.

  • John E. Johnson, Jr.

    (1) Room acoustics will make more difference than cables.
    (2) I have not heard any difference between balanced and unbalanced headphone amplifiers, switching between balanced and unbalanced in the same amplifier.
    (3) I measure for room acoustics at the prime listening position. Otherwise, you end up with EQ that is not optimal anywhere in the room.
    (4) Carpets absorb a lot of the high frequency content, but not much of the low frequency content. My test lab is carpeted and also has extensive wall and ceiling treatment.
    (5) Your player will have to include MQA (Master Quality Assured) as one of the codecs it will decode.

  • John Johnson

    (1) Room acoustics will make more difference than cables.

    (2) I have not heard any difference between balanced and unbalanced
    headphone amplifiers, switching between balanced and unbalanced in the
    same amplifier.

    (3) I measure for room acoustics at the prime listening position.
    Otherwise, you end up with EQ that is not optimal anywhere in the room.

    (4) Carpets absorb a lot of the high frequency content, but not much of
    the low frequency content. My test lab is carpeted and also has
    extensive wall and ceiling treatment.

    (5) Your player will have to include MQA (Master Quality Assured) as one of the codecs it will decode.

  • John
    Thanks for your replies here.
    I will reply in more depth later on after Eid holidays.
    John Read

  • Allan Graves

    Help! I’m getting a bit lost in surround formats. We currently are putting in a larger home theater – the room is 15′ wide x 20′ long. There will be 2 or 3 rows of seating in the theater. I’d like to use dolby atmos – however, after viewing the 7.2.4 configuration, it appears as if it is mainly used for a single couch.
    1) Most receivers seem to only support the x.x.4 configuration. Should I slide the overhead speakers back so that they are centered over the theater, and not the couches? My ceiling is not very high – about 8′, so there’s not a lot of diffusion.

    2) The 7 part of the equation seems lacking in equality for all seating positions. Looking at the dolby site, there are dozens of additional options for speakers, but it seems like I would just want to replicate the LeftRight Surround to even out the response. Do receivers support this? I see that I can do additional “wide” surround channels, but this doesn’t seem like what I’m looking for (or think I should be looking for…).

    Any thoughts on moving to longer theater rooms with more seating options? Thanks!!

  • John Johnson

    Personally, I would center the ceiling speakers over the rows of couches. As to your second question, automated room correction (EQ, Distance, etc.), some form of which is in most new receivers, can be adjusted for one sitting position, or for several (such as several couches), but in the latter case, it is a compromise. I would decide that based on how often it was more than just my wife and myself watching the movie. If I had guests more than 20% of the time, I would run the room correction with the microphone in the center of each of the couches. If your concern is really just the front left/right, you could purchase two in-wall speakers and place them about four feet in front of the left/right speakers in the wall, facing into the room. Wire them in parallel with your main speakers, but use only 8 ohm speakers for both the front left/right and the additional speakers, and make sure your receiver can handel 4 ohm loads. This would give you a spacious soundstage for the main channels.

  • Thanks very helpful strategic Q&A here.

  • Little Yancey

    Before I realized that this forum existed I shipped this question directly to Dr. Johnson, so please accept apologies for inadvertent dual-tracking. (No answer yet on the other track.)
    Here’s the question: I’ve got a Marantz 7702 pre/pro. I’m happy with it. I also have an Oppo 103. I’m happy with it, too. But I have a feeling that both are processing the video signal, which is something I probably should not be happy with. If that’s the case, which component should do the processing? And how do I block the other component from processing? The Marantz manual is unhelpful on this score and the Oppo techs say to deal with Marantz… So I’m hoping you all can give me a hand with this issue. Many thanks, Steven Simon

  • Allan Graves

    My brother is really getting into the older dvd-a and sacd surround formats for audio releases. There doesn’t appear to be many newer audio releases coming out in surround, even on bluray. Is the surround music release going the way of the dodo? Do you think there will be a resurgence in this area with downloads? Maybe MQA?

  • ariel

    To THX or no THX in this modern time? Is it good to use THX processing for example with TrueHD, DTS HD MASTER, Atmos or is THX processing a thing of the past that while some modern receivers still carry it with todays codecs is it best to leave it OFF?

  • Robert

    While it used to be a very popular
    feature, I am not seeing THX processing included on many of the receivers and
    processors these days. Onkyo still
    includes THX processing on their Atmos receivers, but the processing cannot be
    applied to Dolby TrueHD or to Atmos. THX
    can be combined with DTS Neo:X for both Music and Cinema when using stereo, 5.1
    channel and 7.1 channel sources. If you have a receiver or processor that
    supports THX, give the processing options a try and see what you like best.

  • ariel

    Yes thank you. I have the Onkyo 805. I tried THX and to my ears the highs seem to roll off. It’s not as bright and that part is good.

  • Trevor Jordan

    Is something broke or just hooked up wrong?

    I just moved recently and have hooked my stereo back up a little differently than it was in my last place. Now I am using a CambridgeAudio 640R AVR* and a McIntosh MC2120 2 channel power amp with a pair of *Bi-ampable* Polk Audio RTi10 tower speakers. The speakers consist of a tweeter, a 6 1/2 woofer/mid range and two 7 inch subwoofers. I also utilize an EQ. Before this set up it was exactly same just no Cambridge and wired differently of course, instead I was utilizing my 76′ SX-950. Now I have all kinds of vocals coming through my subs. They are literally trying to run as full range speakers. Right now I have it set up the only way my wires at the moment will allow which is in this order 1)PS4 2)TV 3)EQ 4)Y adapter rca cables out to 5)>Cambridge>tweeter/full range 5)>McIntosh>subwoofers. I know that the EQ will force a change in the subs output especially with the EQ being the last thing the McIntosh saw but it didn’t sound like this when I had the old SilverFace hooked up.

  • Jim Milton

    If nothing has changed except the additional Cambridge AVR, I would start there. Is there a crossover setting in the AVR menu? If so, set it 80Hz as a good starting point. If the AVR doesn’t have a crossover, see if your subwoofer has one and set IT to 80Hz. A low pass filter lets the low (bass) signal pass on to the sub. It sounds likely that this is the problem and why the sub is trying to reproduce a full range signal. Good luck and let us know how you make out. 😉

  • Alex Marder

    I was trying to go through the reviews to try and answer this question but I had difficulty finding the answer.

    I’m putting together my first hi-fi stereo system piece by piece in my 1 bedroom city apartment. I started with an amplifier and two Wharfedale bookshelf speakers. I’m already in love with the sound quality improvement over what I’ve been using the rest of my life. The next piece I’m thinking of adding is a subwoofer. I’m wondering if this is the right move, and if so, are there any subwoofers you recommend for around $200-$300?

    From researching online it seems like I need to spend $500 to get a quality woofer. Would adding a budget woofer be worse than not getting one at all?

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    Hi Alex.
    First I would ask you if you are really sure that you want a subwoofer in a city apartment, especially if you have people living above or below you. If that isn’t an issue, then yes, to obtain a subwoofer of commensurate quality to your speakers you would normally be looking at spending at least $500.00. The most affordable quality subwoofer that I am aware of is the HSU VTF-1 MK3 and that can be had for $399.00.
    Whether it’s the “right” move is going to depend on the type of music you listen to and if you feel that you are missing anything with your current set up. It sounds like you are happy with your current speakers so that’s a good start. A 1 bedroom apartment is not going to require a big sub to energize the room, but it’s going to take some effort to find the best spot for it and then properly blend and integrate it with your speakers. If you get it right, it can be totally worth it.

  • Nigel

    Hi there, I’ve got a bit of a tech issue, that I hope you can solve!! I’m trying to connect my Concept Player MM to my Sprout Pre Amp and play it through my Sonos5 speakers. I can’t seem to get it to play through the speaker. What cables or adapters do I need to come out or into the Spout Pre Amp and do I need any adapter going nto the 3.5mm of the Sonia 5 Speaker??
    Any help would very much appreciated. Thanks Nigel (Not vey technically knowledgeable!!)


    Hi Guys..I have bought a Onkyo TX-NR676E AV Receiver. ( Specs say RMS 165W per channel )

    Have shortlisted the flwg speakers ( all 6 Ohms ) , which pls adv if ( and the best ones – spec wise ) will be compatible with my AVR :

    1. Yamaha SN-777

    2. Jamo S-526

    3. Jamo S-626

    4. JAmo S-628

    5. Polk RTi-A7

    Yamaha says Nominal Input Power 100 W and Maximum Input Power 250W

    Jamo S526 says Power handling Long / Short : 130/180

    Jamo S626 says Power handling Long / Short : 130/210

    Jamo S626 says Power handling Long / Short : 150/240
    I am trying to read a lot of articles on the compatibility between AVR and the speakers , which frankly have left me confused .
    Kindly help in advising basis my above , as to which speakers will be best suited.
    I will be using this 90% music and 10% movies /games tc.

  • Marilyne Haneke

    I’m in Canada and need a new rechargeable battery for Model LRRX-Z
    FCCID 5B7 AAA IC #521 6A-AAA. It for the remote NIMH 2/3 triple AAA
    Does anyone know where to order this from?

  • Shawn Murray

    Want to do something that seems to be out of the ordinary in this day & age… over-the-air 2K/4K to computer monitor from outdoor antenna.

    Got an old Dell UltraSharp U3014 2560 x 1600 30″ LCD computer monitor that I want to use as a TV out in my shop. Inputs are DVI-D, DisplayPort 1.2, or HDMI.

    What I wish to do is connect up to 3 outdoor 4K antennas (coax F) to receive over-the-air broadcasts from multiple directions. I already have a 3-way combiner (Channel Vision HS-3 3-WAY Pcb Based Splitter/combiner) to combine the antennas into one input signal into a converter box. 65 mile 4K outdoor antenna on West side of shop, a 150 mile 4K outdoor antenna on South side of shop, & 75 mile 4K outdoor antenna on East side of shop should pick up the maximum number of stations in my area.

    Keeping in mind, that somewhere down the line (1 – 3 years), I’ll wish to swap out the Dell monitor with a 40″ 4K TV, & be able to receive 4K content over-the-air on it. Where can I find a converter box that is capable of outputting 2K/4K content over HDMI ??? Everything I’m finding only does 1080p like the ViewTV AT-300, but I don’t need digital to analog conversion, only coax F to HDMI conversion.

  • Trevor

    Hey HTHIFI, I’m sure this isn’t this time this topic has been raised but I searched a bit and couldn’t the thread so here I go… Thoughts on using three identical bookshelf speakers across the front of a system versus two bookshelves and a dedicated center (MTM) speaker? I’m moving to a townhouse and am likely purchasing Martin Logan Motion speakers (SVS SB-2000 sub) as the LX-16 sale price is attractive and I’m able to adapt either configuration to my space. Considering using 5 identical speakers or substituting in-ceilings for rears as the sofa will only be about 3′ from the back wall. Thanks.

  • deenie1219

    Does the addition of a powered sub-woofer relieve the power demands on a receiver? It seems that it should but how would the receiver know that it’s being helped by the powered sub?

  • deenie1219

    I’d just invest in Roku box. I think they do local news too.

  • deenie1219

    Check Craig’s List. Sometimes there’s great buys awaiting. Try to get a demo before loading up the sub. A site called “Safe and Sound” also has good buys at times. I got a set of Martin Logan speakers there and it has worked out well.

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    Hey Trevor,
    If you have the space to use 3 identical speakers across the front channels then that could work very well. For bookshelf speakers, like the LX-16, it would be ideal if they were all positioned at the same (ear) level. If you can use two more of the same speakers for the rears, that would probably be best. In-ceiling speakers can work as rears but it can be really hit-and-miss depending on your room layout. If you have to use them, try to get ones that can be aimed towards the main listening area.
    Good luck!

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    Hi deenie1219.
    Adding a powered sub-woofer to your home theater (or even stereo) setup can ease the power demands on your receiver only if it has bass management settings that allow you to filter out (cross over) the bass frequencies from your main speakers and re-route them to your sub-woofer. All home theater receivers, and some stereo ones, have adjustable cross over settings for exactly this purpose. If your main speakers don’t have to reproduce the lowest bass frequencies (which typically demand the most power from an amplifier) then your receiver’s power reserves are taxed less. This also has a secondary benefit of lowering the distortion and increasing the dynamics of your main speakers. It can be a little extra work finding the ideal position for a sub-woofer so that it gives you the best bass response while sonically integrating with your speakers, but it can be worth it if you take the time. If your receiver does not have any bass management capabilities then this is all moot.

  • Trevor

    Thank you Carlo. I have concluded to use 5 LX-16s in my room. The front three will be on 24″ stands and the two “rears” high (more than recommended 2-3 feet, but aimed at listening area) on the side walls about 24″ from the rear wall. Will process with the new V3 NAD T758 (MQA and Direct Live on board), powered by Adcom GFA-7300 and supported by the aforementioned SB-2000 sub. I’m pretty pumped and appreciate your response.

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    My pleasure Trevor. That looks like it’s going to be one heck of a system! Let us know how it all works out once you have it set up and dialed in.
    All the best!

  • Trevor

    Not moving in until May/June, sigh… But I certainly will. Thanks again.

  • deenie1219

    Ok. Thanks for the reply. I will check to see if I’ve set up the receiver (Yamaha A730) to route the low frequencies to the sub out port.

  • Cynthia Johnson-St Denis


  • Andy

    Hi. I have a weird question..? I have a NAD c320 and a NAD c356 and i want to use them as power amplifiers to bi-amp my JBL 707. Can i use the c320 for LF and the 356 for HF? If so, how?? My pre-amp is a Emotiva XSP-1!! Cheers!! 🙂

  • Piero Gabucci

    Hi Andy, interesting idea but….Firstly, both the C320 and the C356 are integrated amps, meaning they have their own preamp section, yet you want to use them just for amps through your Emotiva? I don’t think they offer pre-outs meaning you use them just as amplifiers bypassing the built-in preamp. Secondly, the JBL 707 is not setup for bi-amping, there are only two binding posts on the back and the crossovers are not designed as such. I don’t think you want to tear into the speaker and change anything.

  • Wouter Jeuring

    Hello! I got a Marantz PM200 with some KEF Cadenza speakers. I bought it second hand and had the problem that sound was poor (lots of noise) when I didn’t use loudness.

    I cleaned it and used contact spray to clean all the POT-meters.

    Now I have the problem that one speaker output (I swapped left and right to check if the problem wasn’t with the speakers) gives noise and sometimes turns off. When bass kicks in in some songs, the speaker turns back on, so it looks like a problem with voltage coming through, only high signals will pass?? That’s what I think, but I don’t know a lot about electronics. Can it be a capacitor or a resistor?

    Does anyone know where to look, how to test, or how to fix it? Will it be expensive?

  • Madhu Bhagat

    Hello , I bought a

    Model: V11H799020

    SKU: 5612400 around last year . But my media room was not ready . We just got everything finished and we called a technician to mount and install the Projector . My media room is 17 feet long and we have a 120″ screen.
    But after the install was done , i was not very happy with the screen resolution.
    SO the screen i bought was
    Screens Sable Frame B2, 120-inch Diag. 16:9, Active 3D / 4K Ultra HD
    Fixed Frame Home Theater Projection Projector Screen Kit, SB120WH2

    This i bought from Amazon , as it had very nice review . I am not very happy with the image quality . I am sure there is any way to improve that . Pls help.

  • Chris Eberle

    There are many environmental factors that affect image quality from projectors. First, how much ambient light is present in your room? Regardless of a display’s output and your screen type, the very best picture comes from a completely dark environment. Second, are your projector and screen perfectly parallel? If the technician employed keystone correction, that will reduce resolution. Another adjustment that affects sharpness is the panel alignment feature. While it can help with color fringing, it also reduces resolution. Try turning if off, you won’t lose the adjustments if you decide to turn it back on. Lastly, be sure you’re using the Cinema picture mode, it’s the most accurate preset. You may need to turn the bulb power up to High if your throw distance is long. Good Luck!

  • Johnson Cho

    What is the difference between Onkyo TX-NR676 and TX-NR676E?

  • Div Manula

    Good morning. I have a display TV that some how the hdmi input has been changed. I do not have a remote and when moving to the proper input it is not staying there. What is the trick to change the input?

  • Nikhil Bhadkamkar

    Dear Sirs,

    I have invested in audio equipment piece by piece as follows:

    Marantz CD5005
    Marantz PM5005 – Preamp
    Marantz 1508 AV receiver
    coupled with Polk T50 Series FS Speakers.
    Please do let me know if all gels together and whether it will give me the quality sound that I am looking for??

  • Frank Martens

    My question(s) are addressing the Elac Debut 2.0 Home Theater speaker system as in the article I received today,7 Dec 2018.
    Why the 2 center channel speakers ?
    Where would the placement of the 2 channel speakers be ?
    I understand 2 or more subwoofers.
    I had a 1980s system before the specific Center Channel speaker, I had 1 bookshelf speaker on each side of the TV, worked well and motion was detectible