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Would a sub added to playbase solve the dialogue issue in movies?

  • 9 September 2021
  • 16 replies
  • 119 views

Hi there,

Just got a playbase from a friend and added two play 1 I already have as surround. The sound is great on Music, YouTube, TV news, but it performs really bad on dialogue/quiet scenes in movies (from Netflix) with dd 5.1. Disappointed.

The sound level on dialogue /quiet scenes is simple too low compared with action scenes, it is really hard to understand and the overall experience is very bad if I have to constantly adjust volume. What more interesting is, the dialogue in an action/loud scenes is fairly clear and loud, I don’t know why.

As for speech enhancement, it did little help, although night mode do increased dialogue level and lowered loud sound, but the sound feels too “thin” for me and not very pleasing, I don’t want to use it except for late night.

Did some researches from the community, found no answers to this question: Would a sub added to Playbase solve the dialogue issue in movies?   

I live in an apartment, for now I think the bass from Playbase itself is good enough for me, so I wouldn’t want to add a sub simply to improve the power of bass, but I wonder, would it increase the dialogue level due to now it is a full 5.1 system, no need to downmixing from source anymore? If so, I might consider add a sub.

Any insights would be much appreciated!

I connect the Playbase with my Sony Bravia TV, set digital audio output as Audio 1, choose “compressed” in Dolby Dynamic Range, did Trueplay a few times, and EQ settings are:

 

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Best answer by melvimbe 9 September 2021, 16:11

I doubt you would find much difference in the dialog.  It is true though that after you add the sub, the playbase will stop player those lower notes and dedicate resources to the higher frequencies, but I’m not aware that dialog would be played at a higher volume as a result.

I do notice from your settings that you have specified that your surround speakers are 10 ft/3 meters behind your main seating area.  That’s going to result in your surrounds playing rather loud to accommodate for the distance. Might be worth adjusting the TV level down to. I am guessing at this, but perhaps you’re adjusting the volume based on what you’re hearing from surrounds instead of the playbase.  You’re hearing dialog better during action scenes if some of the dialog is coming through surrounds at that time. 

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I doubt you would find much difference in the dialog.  It is true though that after you add the sub, the playbase will stop player those lower notes and dedicate resources to the higher frequencies, but I’m not aware that dialog would be played at a higher volume as a result.

I do notice from your settings that you have specified that your surround speakers are 10 ft/3 meters behind your main seating area.  That’s going to result in your surrounds playing rather loud to accommodate for the distance. Might be worth adjusting the TV level down to. I am guessing at this, but perhaps you’re adjusting the volume based on what you’re hearing from surrounds instead of the playbase.  You’re hearing dialog better during action scenes if some of the dialog is coming through surrounds at that time. 

I doubt you would find much difference in the dialog.  It is true though that after you add the sub, the playbase will stop player those lower notes and dedicate resources to the higher frequencies, but I’m not aware that dialog would be played at a higher volume as a result.

I do notice from your settings that you have specified that your surround speakers are 10 ft/3 meters behind your main seating area.  That’s going to result in your surrounds playing rather loud to accommodate for the distance. Might be worth adjusting the TV level down to. I am guessing at this, but perhaps you’re adjusting the volume based on what you’re hearing from surrounds instead of the playbase.  You’re hearing dialog better during action scenes if some of the dialog is coming through surrounds at that time. 

 

Thanks for clarifying the sub’s issue, I guess it would not be the key to increase dialogue level here.

As for the distance of surround speakers, it has been set by Trueplay and it is now greyed out I couldn’t adjust it if keeping Trueplay on...Good point on surrounds level though, but I didn’t feel much improvement on dialogue even I turned TV level down to -10 and it starts to lose all surround sound. During action scenes, I reckon dialogue is still coming from Playbase, there’re just some loud sound effects (gun shots, swords etc) on surrounds, it might because of different mixing techniques used in action scenes?    

Odd that you can’t adjust the speaker distant.  I see nothing that says it can only be done during trueplay, and seem to recall making changes.  I can’t look at this myself right now as I’m not at home.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4804?language=en_US

 

 

 

 

Adding SUB would improve the clarity of the midrange because PLAYBASE has a simpler task, but adding  SUB will not result in higher dialog levels. Sensitivity to this “improvement” varies wildly from individual to individual. 

Try using the system without Trueplay and also repeat the Trueplay being careful to accurately locate your listening position.

a lot of people have been asking for center channel adjustment (you can find forum topics on it).

 

sonos has simply said it is under consideration but no time line given  so it may never come. 

Odd that you can’t adjust the speaker distant.  I see nothing that says it can only be done during trueplay, and seem to recall making changes.  I can’t look at this myself right now as I’m not at home.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4804?language=en_US

 

 

 

 

I tried to disable Trueplay and adjust the distance of surrounds, and then turned back on Trueplay, now it is 2-10 feet. Guess it works this way?

 

Adding SUB would improve the clarity of the midrange because PLAYBASE has a simpler task, but adding  SUB will not result in higher dialog levels. Sensitivity to this “improvement” varies wildly from individual to individual. 

Try using the system without Trueplay and also repeat the Trueplay being careful to accurately locate your listening position.

 

Yeah, I tried Trueplay with different methods: walk around the whole living room; walk just the TV area; walk just the seating position, but it made no difference to me… 

Another mystery to me is, if me keep turning on Trueplay, would it gradually improve the overall experience? If so, I’d keep it on for while

a lot of people have been asking for center channel adjustment (you can find forum topics on it).

 

sonos has simply said it is under consideration but no time line given  so it may never come. 

 

Yep I have seen lots of them as well. Hopefully they will add this adjustment, I think it’s kind of like an essential feature for home theater 

The challenge is that every sound designer has a differing level for dialog in every single show. If you’re sensitive to that, you’d be making adjustments constantly. 

The challenge is that every sound designer has a differing level for dialog in every single show. If you’re sensitive to that, you’d be making adjustments constantly. 

 

This is true... the funny thing is, when I rewatched The Lord of the Rings on the Sonos system, I found that the sound of Orc’s breathing and growling is much louder than character’s conversation (barely can hear what they are talking about without subtitles) … So bad guys are always supposed to make much louder noise than good guys (human and elves)? :joy:

How certain are you that you’re getting a Dolby Digital signal to the PLAYBASE?

If I were to guess, I would expect that either the PLAYBASE was getting a stereo signal and interpolating the center and surrounds, or there is an issue with the center speaker in it. Have you contacted Sonos directly?

How certain are you that you’re getting a Dolby Digital signal to the PLAYBASE?

If I were to guess, I would expect that either the PLAYBASE was getting a stereo signal and interpolating the center and surrounds, or there is an issue with the center speaker in it. Have you contacted Sonos directly?

 

I’m quite sure because when I play digital TV news, it showed in the app’s control page as below:

 

Whereas if I play movies from Netflix, it is like this:

 

Interestingly, the dialogue level from PCM stereo is actually much better for me compared with DD 5.1 content, I watched trailers of No Time To Die and Matrix 4 from YouTube, which is stereo, and the difference between dialogue and action sound effects is acceptable to me.

I did contact support team before and submitted the diagnostics, they said there’s no issue from their end, I guess this means there’s no hardware problems? They also suggested me to use stereo if I think the dialogue level is too low in DD 5.1…. 

 

a lot of people have been asking for center channel adjustment (you can find forum topics on it).

 

sonos has simply said it is under consideration but no time line given  so it may never come. 

In the meanwhile, short of changing over to a solution with a dedicated centre channel speaker with its own volume control, sub titles is the solution. Since I see many not English movies with English sub titles, this isn't a challenge since I am now used to seeing movies that way.

 

 

Another mystery to me is, if me keep turning on Trueplay, would it gradually improve the overall experience? If so, I’d keep it on for while

Keep it on if you like what it does when it is on; it has no learning ability over time, assuming that is what you are referring to.

If there is anything that will make this seem to be the case, it is that your brain will get used to its adaptation, and make it seem better than it does now. 

 

 

Another mystery to me is, if me keep turning on Trueplay, would it gradually improve the overall experience? If so, I’d keep it on for while

Keep it on if you like what it does when it is on; it has no learning ability over time, assuming that is what you are referring to.

If there is anything that will make this seem to be the case, it is that your brain will get used to its adaptation, and make it seem better than it does now. 

 

Yes, I am referring to the learning ability over time based on particular environment.. so it is not the case, I’ll try manually tweak EQ settings later

Yes, I am referring to the learning ability over time based on particular environment

Trueplay does not have this ability. It is a one time thing, the tuning it does. Which is also why it has to be redone if speaker placement changes.

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