Solved! Surround Sound Replacement

Oct 31, 2018
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I have a 17 year old, 5 speaker surround sound system. We are seniors and sit 20 feet from the center line speaker and the background speakers are directly overhead. We can not properly hear what is being said from the TV.
I am thinking of abandoning the center line, left and right speakers and use only the read/ background speakers, even if I have to replace them.
How should the new configueration be wired, will it work? Are there any better suggestions?

Thanks, Lloyd.
 
Before you change anything the first thing to try is to increase the level of the center dialogue speaker in the receiver speaker set up menu. That will help. Many speakers aren't very linear. In this case it means they don't respond well to low volume information. Higher quality speakers have more clarity when played at all volumes. Bad speakers only sound right when you crank the volume. That might be an option on some music but it's not an option in a home theater system. Replacing the center channel speaker with a good one might help.
Most surround systems don't have good sounding rear speakers so using them in stereo may not be that good. If you want to try that you would disconnect the front L/R speakers and connect the wires for the surround speakers to the front speaker terminals. Set the receiver to stereo which will turn off the center channel. Not too hard to try and return to normal if it doesn't help.
If you have a subwoofer it might be muddying the sound if it's set to high in frequency or too loud.
You could leave all the speakers as they are but add a speaker to line level converter to the center channel speaker terminals. Connect a low latency AptX bluetooth transmitter to the converter. Now you can pair a bluetooth speaker or headphones to the center channel for dialogue enhancement. There might be delay problem with bluetooth.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
If you are only using the rear speakers in a surround sound setup you will only get the read audio info which will make things work worse. You can setup a standard stereo setup and then the rear speakers will have the same audio info as the left/right ones.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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Oct 31, 2018
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That is what I thought would happen.
Should I just disconnect the 5 surround speakers and then just hook up the right and left channels to the rear speakers?
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator


You will need to set the surround sound system to stereo mode in the setup.

You will also probably want to move those speakers to be in front of you, but closer. Will be very odd sounding to have the sound come from behind you. I'd leave everything setup the way it is, set the mode to stereo, and move the rear speakers forward so they are in line or just in front with the seating area. if there is no audio or weak audio from the rears, wire them to the front Left/Right hook ups. There is also an issue where speech can be lower from many sources, that is a known issue, and there are actually speaker systems with specific speech modes to make it louder. Some soundbars I know have that option.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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Oct 31, 2018
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Thank you for your responses.
When you say the 'set up' I assume you are talking about the TV.
Yes the rears are VERY weak. I could disconnect the center line, and change the wires for the right and left to the rears without too much problem, and see what it sounds like.
Even though I have an engineering and general contracting background, my wife will probably balk at moving the rears. Also there is no attic, only about 6"s of space, so it's problematic if I can move the rears forward. If I did move them forward should they be replaced with a different type of speaker?
I've heard about small wireless speakers that could sit on the end tables.
are they worth a darn?
 
Before you change anything the first thing to try is to increase the level of the center dialogue speaker in the receiver speaker set up menu. That will help. Many speakers aren't very linear. In this case it means they don't respond well to low volume information. Higher quality speakers have more clarity when played at all volumes. Bad speakers only sound right when you crank the volume. That might be an option on some music but it's not an option in a home theater system. Replacing the center channel speaker with a good one might help.
Most surround systems don't have good sounding rear speakers so using them in stereo may not be that good. If you want to try that you would disconnect the front L/R speakers and connect the wires for the surround speakers to the front speaker terminals. Set the receiver to stereo which will turn off the center channel. Not too hard to try and return to normal if it doesn't help.
If you have a subwoofer it might be muddying the sound if it's set to high in frequency or too loud.
You could leave all the speakers as they are but add a speaker to line level converter to the center channel speaker terminals. Connect a low latency AptX bluetooth transmitter to the converter. Now you can pair a bluetooth speaker or headphones to the center channel for dialogue enhancement. There might be delay problem with bluetooth.
 
Oct 31, 2018
7
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10
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Oct 31, 2018
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Thanks a lot.

I'll disconnect the sub woofer and see what happens. Then I'll try increasing the center line volume.
The rest of what you are trying to help me with sounds a little Greek, and I will have to digest it.
If I really had someone that would come out and do it, I think I would. Not sure that I am all that on board with the Geek Squad.
Thanks again, I may be back.
 
If u want to retain surround, a better L+C+R set may help. At 20 feet, u really need floor standing L+R.

But OK, stereo is good enough for you, just swap the wires, so your rears become the fronts. Give it a shot, see what it does, just matter of swapping 2 cables, and telling your stereo, hey I got only 2 speakers + sub if u want to retain that. I have rears like that in my bedroom except my rears are on my end tables, and with a pair of bose 101, the sound were super directional, and if I don't sit exactly in the middle, the sound will be obviously tilted on side, then I switched to a pair of B&W and those better I can move around more. Nothing to do but try them and see what happens.

If u have bare hard floors, they make stereo sound echo-ey, recommend a rug between stereo and your sitting position.
 
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