Recommendations for improving visceral impact?

Hi!  I recently upgraded the majority of components in my system, and am happy with how it's going. I'm very happy with the detail, musicality, and separation of instruments. However, I think it's still lacking in visceral impact and also (particularly in two-channel listening) spatial imaging (both left/right and depth).

Our primary use is home theater - so improving impact is more important to me than improving imaging. 

Here's my setup - would love any recommendations for ways to improve... 

  • Left & Right: B&W 803S
  • Center: B&W Nautilus HTM1
  • Rears: B&W 301
  • Sub: Monoprice 10" Monolith
  • Preamp: Marantz AV8802A (with upgraded fuse)
  • Amp: Rotel RMB-1585
  • Amp/Preamp Interconnects: Bluejeans RCA

The room is approximately 18' deep by 20' wide. I've added GIK acoustic panels around the room, as much as possible based on room layout and aesthetics. 

Unfortunately the couch is against the wall, which I'm guessing isn't helping... but there's no other option for placement. I've also tinkered with speaker placement as much as possible; the B&W's like to be quite far apart, and I'm maxed out on width at this point.

I'm using the Audyssey room correction -- it's necessary since the front left speaker is a few inches from the left side wall and a corner, and is incredibly boomy without it.

I'd prefer not to change out any components at this point, so my thinking is that the interconnects between the Marantz and the Rotel, and perhaps from changing power cords and/or adding a power conditioner, could be the way to improve here.

Thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!  

Do you use a Schumann Resonator?
Do you use an air ionizer in the room?

If you have carpet on the floors, do you vacuum
it before critical listening?
Do you treat cables, components, speaker cabinets,
and walls with anti-static spray, applied with a moistened cloth?
(Also great to spray on carpet, before vacuuming!)

Do you use a Walker Talisman?

What you aren't saying may be more important than
the information you are sharing... a different perspective
is sometimes all it takes.
Check out the GIK bass and soffit traps, they will help room correction work better.

Set your main speakers to small.

Turn off room correction. Put your sub in your listening location, then walk around possible placement locations until you hear the best bass. Put your sub there. Re-apply room correction.

Thanks Erik.  I do have a couple of the GIK Bass traps (just two, one in the corner near the sub, the other in the opposite corner). And I don't think I can add any more traps or panels if I want to preserve my marriage....

Interesting idea to set the main speakers to small.

The sub is in pretty much the only place I can put it -- though I've done the 'crawl' and I think it may be in the best location already anyway.

Perhaps I'm using the term "visceral impact" incorrectly. It's not so much the "boom" at the very low end... it's more about the fact that the system feels a bit recessive overall, or not as "forward" as I'd like. Said another way, it doesn't make me want to _move_. 

Replace those B&W with super large JBLs - done.

And yep, after a bit more Googling, I see that I definitely used the wrong term. I'm looking to help improve presence, and help the system feel a bit more forward.
I certainly agree with all the recommendations noted thus far. I know you said you were happy with your current gear, but looking at your system, I can't help but think your current Sub is the weak link here. If tweaking the room acoustics doesn't get you where you want I would seriously consider replacing your current sub with something like a REL t9i, or better yet a pair, would certainly get you closer to the visceral impact your looking at. RELs will also give you better imaging, depth of sound stage,a and will help with the "there-ness" you're looking for. 
I agree with birdfan.
Multiple subs would contribute to a more even distribution of bass impact, as well as more bass volume.
Thanks all. Reading a bit more about "forwardness" and "presence" it seems more like the 1khz to 3khz range tends to be related to what I’m talking about.

So I really don’t think the issue is <60hz... and therefore probably not a subwoofer issue. (and unfortunately I also don’t have the space for a second sub, nor a larger sub...the Monolith 10" is already quite a beast!)

Your main speakers lack impact/presence for two channel, right?  Too far apart is no good.  Placement/distance to seating area next big thing.  Can you use XLR’s?  If so, try some good musical cables like MIT or Audioquest.  Actually, the speaker cables will make the biggest difference and MIT technology really shines in that area.  Best bang for buck in an unbelievable power cord bargain/performance is the Anticables Reference at $330!!  Absolutely stunning.
Vacuum your carpet before critical listening? really we are going there now. Next we will have threads on what vacuum sounds the best.
I thought you couldn't hear anything in a vacuum. 😄
(Couldn't resist).

As for the OP's dilemma, if only you could just sit closer and move those speakers closer together.

All the best,
glennewdick, if you can't hear a difference,
then there is no difference.  simple as that.

suggestion: don't do it.
All speakers should be set to Small if your sub is competent.

it seems more like the 1khz to 3khz range tends to be related to what I’m talking about.

Audyssey’s default adds a 3dB dip at 2kHz, so that’s likely the issue (it also lowers bass). Buy their $20 app and correct the response by turning off Midrange Compensation (MRC) and adding back in the bass. So, it should go from these presets to something more like this (tweak with it).
Well that's quite interesting, @mzkmxcv!

It looks like the Audyssey app doesn't work with the AV8802A though. :(

(Anyone know otherwise?)


Yours has the older version, which has Audyssey Pro; which was basically a more advanced version of the $20 app, but costs $200 for the Pro kit :( and I don’t even know if you can still buy it.

My Denon also is too old for Audyssey’s app, but I have a measurement mic so I manually adjusted the built-in 8 or 10 band EQ for each speaker instead, as I disliked that dip.
Maybe I'll just tinker with the EQ manually, too... Looks like I might be able to "curve copy" to use the Audyssey EQ results as a starting point?

I also emailed Marantz to see if they had any suggestions on further apps/adjustments.  Thanks!
Heard back from Marantz. Nice that they replied quickly, but otherwise no luck.

"Unfortunately, no. The 8802A didn't have the proper hardware to support that App. As far as any other Audyssey Apps for older models, I don't know of any.

"There may be some 3rd party Apps to calibrate for room correction, but it wouldn't work in conjunction with the Audyssey software built into the AV."
Yeah, curve copy, boost 2kHz by 3dB (or to taste), boost 500Hz by like 2dB, boost 250Hz by like 3dB, boost 125Hz by like 4dB, boost 63Hz by like 7dB.
Treble is also a little off, drop 4kHz down by like -3dB, 8kHz is sorta where it should be, 16kHz should be boosted by like 3dB.

Harman’s target curve is for like a young-ish male, older people or people with more music exposure may want slightly different results:
Here are their latest findings (to my knowledge) on average preferred levels across different people categories.
I think you are referring to dynamics? There are many ways to improve on this,  but it would mean upgrading some components.

Check phase to start.   Is impact with a good recording better with or worse with one set of speaker connections reversed?   If not then everything is in phase.
could you incorporate some of the Mini Dsp units?
I could point to several things, but don’t want to come across as offensive...

Your overall system is good, but I have to question the sub...With ALL the choices out there, this seems like an area where you made a serious compromise, based on the rest of the equipment you have.

I would also highly recommend looking at the Anthem AVM60 which has ARC (Anthem Room Correction). Not sure where you’re located at, but I know a dealer in Minneapolis where the salesperson owned a Marantz Receiver and replaced it with an Anthem and said it was Stunningly Better the moment he switched it out. Their processor and Receivers are impressively great for the money.

With the B&W’s you have, they have the ability to show off everything in front of them and would allow you to be able to take the front end a fairly LONG way before they would get in the way of what you hear out of the electronics. Like the Rotel Amps - they’re nice, but you can put higher end amps on there (Anthem, Ayre, Bryston, Levinson, Krell, etc.) and the B&W’s will show you whether the change you made was right or not. The biggest thing you’ll get from your speakers with better electronics is the sense of space coming from them, and at lower volume. When you turn it up, they will seem bigger and you’ll notice right away that presence you’re looking for, which will finally come out. Right now, you’re choking that a bit with the Marantz, and ultimately with the Rotel Amp. I’d be glad to help if needed.

I will agree with each of cbrents73 comments, but with different reasons. 

awilder - sorry man, I think we may have accidentally put you down the wrong road.  However, I will say that we did mention the Marantz was voiced warm.  I think the biggest restriction for "visceral impact" is the Marantz processor.  I know you previously had a Denon receiver (with the Rotel amp) and, while the Denon receiver had problems, I believe you had much more "emotional engagement" and "visceral impact" with the Denon receiver.  The Marantz is very nice and fixed a lot of the problems that the Denon had with the sound, but the warm voicing and roll-off of highs just removed a lot of the clarity and excitement and "visceral impact".  Just my opinion.   Going with an Anthem AVM 60 is probably one of the better choices in the price range and it will bring back a whole heck of a lot of resolution and clarity and excitement.
I don't agree that your "choking with the Rotel amp".  You can definitely get a better amp, but at 2 or 3 times the cost, lol.
As far as the subwoofer goes, yes, you can definitely get a better subwoofer, but things do get expensive.  For now, I think the subwofer should be a "second" priority and I would wait until I had the rest of the "visceral" issue figured out.  The Monoprice sub is likely a very loose and messy sounding sub, but it will give you the bass effect that's required during movies.  A much better subwoofer will be tighter and cleaner sounding, but still give an excellent low bass (such as a more expensive SVS sub, or even a pair of subs which is even better).
Hey everyone, thanks for reviving this thread. :)  Been busy with work and haven't had much time to spend on this hobby recently... 

I did spend some time tweaking the Audyssey curve, based on @mzkmxcv's advice... though I found that I didn't need to bump things up as significantly has he suggested.  Doing this definitely helped improve the feeling of "punchiness" in the system, though it seems at a little loss of clarity... 

I can say that the sub definitely is not the issue here -- it's not the very low end that feels like it's lacking impact. I should not have said "visceral impact"... it's not about feeling my guts shake, rather, I want more emotional engagement and excitement.

I'll see if I can find an Anthem dealer locally who will let me demo an AVM60... I really need to start listening to stuff before I buy it!  ;)
awilder, that is no where near enough subwoofer for that room. Who recommended that? You need at least two 12 "subs or four of the ones you have. I have a 16 X 30' room and use four 12" subs with 2000 watts each. They should have room control then put the mic at your listening position to calibrate. The subs should go right up against a wall evenly spaced with two of them in corners. That will take care of the primary reflection. If you could put bass traps in the rear corners that would help.
Cross over higher 100 - 130 Hz and don't be afraid to turn it up a little. Calibrate the volume listening to a good jazz group  Like Dave Holland's.
Listen to the acoustic bass. the volume should stay 0the same all the way down and you should feel it. Listen to the bass drum. You should feel the thud. Movies and electric music are not good to set volume as they can sound just about like anything.