Have you increased the center level on the fly?
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I too have the Laurier with the bridge. I'd been struggling with a similar problem. I have the ML Logos as my center with Martin Logan CLS's in the front and Aerius's in the rears. Movie dialogue sounded muddy and difficult to understand. I tried a different AV processor but nothing seemed to help.
My problem turned out to be echo waves that were peaking where the wall in back of me hit the ceiling. That wall is about 20 feet high and undamped without any sound treatments, bookcases etc.
I didn't figure the problem out until I stood on a stepladder and started clapping as loud as I could in front of the Logos at varying heights. Lo and behold I got terrible echoing and "ringing" at the wall/ceiling junction when I clapped at the height of the bridge but none when I clapped down at floor height. My problem was solved. Once I moved the Logos onto the floor I could suddenly understand all the movie dialogue I was missing. Later, for asthetic reasons, I may move the Logos back onto the Laurier bridge and invest in quarter round echo busters at the ceiling junction.
Try the clapping test and see if you detect echos at the wall/ceiling junction behind you. Either damp those with room treatments or move the center channel onto the floor.
I hope this might help.
First (and likely not most importantly however) those movies, I remember didn't have the best dialog mixes on DVD. I own SEVEN and do remember that.in
However, as being that many movies(if not most) offer somewhat of a "boxy center channel mix" (due to editting, dubbing, mixing, and remixing, etc), you can expect less than transparent quality comming from the center. That said, if your system balance, your level matching, your speaker placment set up, your overall calibration and frequency response and sub levels and acoustics are all off, you'll have a much COMPOUNDED PROBLEM with DIALOG INTELLIGIBILITY!!!!
MOST PEOPLE, even those using higher end-resolution speakers, get poor results because all the factors mentioned (compounded by POOR SET UP/bad balance and frequency response issues) above add up to too many sonic challenges thrown into the mix! It's WAY TOO EASY TO HAVE BASS TURNED UP TOO HIGH, and/or too BOOMY AND PEAKY, which will inevitably help DROWN OUT THE MIDRANGE AND TREBBLE!...believe it!
MOST PEOPLE have that "UP AND DOWN ON THE VOLUME" PROBLEM,such as you're experiencing! Loud passages have you "cranking down the volume", and soft passages with difficult dialog have you "pushing up the volume". THIS IS MAINLY A "SYSTEM BALANCE PROBLEM"! (the reason system tweaking, calibration, acoustics, flat frequency response and level matching are all critlcal!!!.)
Most people think you just buy expensive gear and it sounds wonderful!...not hardly. That's why you need people who know what they're doing for WORLD CLASS RESULTS...basically, it takes years.
Another reason "Theater speakers" are so effective for, well, home theater! They're made for pressence, dynamics, and dialog intelligibility and detail. They're not made for sounding "pretty and transparent" often!(not of critical importance for movie mixes in the end).
You can however fix much of your issues, and help difficult(yes a bit boxy) dialog problems from your center. Start by checking frequency response(speaker and seating placment factors), speaker levels and matching(between them), acoustics, etc(is your speaker to close to the ground, other reflective reinforcment, boundaries, etc?...also, is there a table or reflective surface between you and the speaker?...if up high, what's the ceiling like?...anything to break up relections up there?)
It's all a BALANCING ACT! Lots of factors influence the results. Get em right, and you'll not care about all the boxy mixing that is inherent in the center!(note: even at movie theaters the dialog is a bit boxy, due to mix).
All great systems/setup's offer very HIGH DIALOG INTELLIGEBILITY! After all, the center is critical for anchoring the movie, indeed! Start with one thing at a time.
Otherwise, your best bet is hiring a pro to get your money's worth out of your investment.
It's been proven a gillion times that you can spend money having a pro do it right, spend less of the gear, and you'll get infinitely better results most often even!
There's no replacment for experience.
P.S.,...the $2500 Logan center is "beamy", (design nature) and you must aim it towards your ears!!!!. If not, comb-filtiering and "roll-off" will further kill your cause!!!!!
I live in FL., so I have a typical FL. style house. our "great room" has a huge sliding glass door onto our patio. The kitchen is directly behind it with a half wall seperating, except where the fridge is, there it is encased by a full wall. The back wall in the kitchen comes to a peak at about 12' feet. I sent in my pictures and information to martinloganowners.com, so I guess they will be showing up there in the next month? I will post here to let you know, so you can take a look.
I have now moved it from the top of the unit to the bridge and I have angled it down toward the listening position even more. I am continuing to play with room equilization. We watched Chronicles of Riddick last night. It was better. I cut back on the volumes of the sides, backs, and sub. I have set the center louder while the rest are softer. I am getting there, but still would be open to whatever else you can think of.
I had the same problem with a set of RBH T-1's, where L/R speakers were wonderfully dynamic and transparent but the center was dull and lifeless, very muddy dialog. My set up was same as yours, with the center on top of a shelf above my TV. The answer for me was a center channel speaker stand, it was expensive ($150), as each speaker weighs 100 lbs, but it holds the speaker angled up towards the sweet spot about 9" off the ground...
My heavens, what a difference!!! Dialog, music, TV soundtrack, it was as though a blanket had been ripped off the speaker, all is now very clear. Before, I had my center 3-5dB hotter than the other channels, now I can hear and appreciate surround effects much better. A couple of sources for the stands are:
Hope this helps,
By placing your speakers near room boundaries (the ceiling and front wall) and objects you've boosted the lower frequencies and introduced early reflections that confuse things. You also have them above furniture and people that will limit the sound bouncing off the back wall.
Using speaker stands a good distance (a couple feet will help but more is better) from anything does wonders for speakers designed for placement in free space. Frequency response is more uniform, the early reflections will be delayed and reduced in level, the ratio of direct to reverberant sound will increase...
I use short Sound Anchors center channel stand about 3' off the screen wall when running a center and have the mains about 4' out from the front wall and 2.5' from the side walls.
Music sounds alright to me. That is why I don't think anything is wrong mechanically.
I think I have a better explanation of what I have and what I am looking for. I was watching Chicken Run DTS ES w/ my 2 year old last night and it came to me.
Dialog will run together--dialog bleeding is what I will call it. It is not distinct what each word says. Often, I can't tell where one word ends and another begins. Maybe even a doppler type effect--waves? I guess it is too soft, or warm even.
I want each word to be crisp and well defined. I guess I want the parameters to be set so that dialog is clinical.
It is hooked up to my B&K 3220 amp with a Analysis Plus Oval 9.
Long story short, even though it was plugged in it wasn't getting juice. I listened to it in 1 speaker mode with it plugged in. I then unplugged it watching the same thing and it sounded the same. I thought, uh oh. I plugged it into another surge protector then...
I saw the light! Maybe heard the light:-O