AV Receiver Sound Problems

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By: Curt (Sanford, FL)

My receiver just went out. Something internal causing just static? It is a Samsung that I just bought about a year ago from Circuit City as they were closing. Won’t make that mistake again as you are stuck with it.

Anyway, this is the second surround unit I have owned and the main reason for buying the Samsung was to link it to my new Samsung LCD and Blu-ray with HDMI capability.

Since whatever happened to it seems terminal, I am going to go out and buy another soon, but I want to find two main features this time if they exist. Or maybe I need to know a better way to set the modes.

1st thing and most important is, how can you get the sound to balance in a way that you can hear the words of what is being said clearly and above both music and sound effects?

You see I am a bit hard of hearing and have to turn up the volume more than normal. The problem is when a sound effect session or a cut to music occurs it blows you out of your seat as those seem to be twice as loud as the people talking. This seems to be a constant issue with TV, and especially bad with DVD’s, but when you go to the movies it is not as bad.

I know you can turn up the center speaker more than the others and that helps some but there are still limits.

Is there something special that can be done to solve this or is there a particular brand and model of unit that filters this problem better? Any help here would be great!

2nd issue is can anything be done to control the ridiculous volume increase when a commercial comes on?

This has gotten so annoying especially when I run the volume a little higher than others do. I have to sit around with my finger on the volume button of the remote.

Batteries don’t last long like that!

Again, thanks for any help, sorry this is so long.

Comments for AV Receiver Sound Problems:


Your issues are common for many people – and the biggest problem is it will vary from source to source depending on what you are watching.

Although there isn’t a perfect ‘fix all’ for this, there are a couple of things to think about. You may find one, or all, of these, helps to make it better in your room.

  1. Most AV receivers have a setting which compresses the audio output. This means it levels out the loud and quiet bits and reduces the difference between them. For example, in a Yamaha receiver, this is called the ‘night listening mode’. The problem with movies is they are mixed to sound good at quite high volumes – but at low volumes, you will hear the effects more than the voices. Many people won’t be able to listen to movies at high volumes in their homes at all, so you can leave it on all the time if you like.
  2. If your receiver doesn’t have a ‘night’ mode, then some DVD and Blu-ray players do something similar. For example, Sony Blu-ray players have an ‘Audio DRC’ setting which compresses the audio output to reduce the dynamic range of the soundtrack. Most makes should have something similar.
  3. You’ve already mentioned turning up the volume of the center speaker, which is another good way to balance out the difference between voices and sound effects. However, if your receiver also allows you to filter the audio frequencies of each speaker, then you can try taking some off the bass out of your center speaker (below 150 Hz) and boosting the mid-frequencies a bit (around 4-5 kHz). This can make the voices sound a bit clearer.
  4. Try taking out some of the low bass (below 100 Hz) from the whole system. Or alternatively turn the volume of the subwoofer down a bit. Most of the effects that obscure the voices and make the room shake will be the low bass frequencies.
  5. If you are watching a TV show that is coming through in stereo only – make sure you switch the listening mode on the receiver to Pro Logic II (or DTS Neo:6). This will spread the effects around the surround speakers and leave the voices in the center speaker. A stereo movie soundtrack can sound a bit ‘crowded’ with everything happening at the same time.

Try some of these and see if you can make it a bit better.

As for the TV adverts, most these days are heavily compressed and limited so that they sound as loud and ‘in-your-face’ as possible. Unfortunately, the TV show isn’t mixed like this so there is a huge difference in volume between the two.

I just hit the ‘mute’ button as soon as the adverts start. If they’re going to annoy me with the volume of their adverts, then I just won’t listen to them at all!

All the best.

Paul (Site Editor)

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About The Author

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.

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