Hunter Coaxes REL Theatre Reference from New HT

How to Set Up Your HT's to Deliver Far More


The below text is a transcription of the video.

Howdy, this is John Hunter with REL again. I just wanted to share, we spent a lot of time in the field and we work through a lot of different scenarios when we go out there, we learned so much when we got into store dealers or our customers. And I want to share a tip that I developed just recently. So, these are low level, these new HT mark twos are fantastic. They’re so good, they’re so pretty, and they’re so beautifully built. And you’re gonna be coming in. Let’s say that for example, you’re buying this as an inexpensive, relatively inexpensive, really high value, high output, low level unit, right? You’re doing stereo with this. It is a little different application, right? So, you’ve got left and right mains, everything’s good, right? You’re coming in, you’re using the lower ones or the inputs, everything’s good.

And then you go, ‘oh, wait a minute, I’m watching two and a half hours a night of Netflix with the family. I wonder if I could get this to be that and this’. The answer is, yes. But it’s really recommended you only do this with a stereo pair of these. And the reason is simple. If you have your left and right inputs on a single unit and you go, ‘oh, let me test and see, well, this goes through, so I can just plug the 0.1 in here and do what John said’. The problem with that is if you are using a high quality pre-amplifier, some of those don’t have buffering. Buffering is a special circuit that sort of makes the output of the pre-amplifier immune from other inputs. And if you have one of those, and unfortunately it’s likely to be an expensive one, and you do this with a single HT setup, you could damage your pre-amp.

So, I’m only recommending this for applications where you’re only using, for example, one input for low level and that leaves the other one open for 0.1 LFE. All right, let’s jump in. So, you’ve been using it for two channel and you go, ‘gosh, do I really have to buy another one just to do the 0.1 LFE?’ There’s a way to do this that’s pretty cool, and it sort of takes what we do in our traditional ones where you have a high level, you know, feed coming in left and right mains, and then you go, ‘oh, right, it’s got the 0.1 LFE and it’s got the volume control’. We don’t have that here. There’s no 0.1 LFE separate. These are both either stereo low level inputs or they’re 0.1 LFE. So, we developed this very cool thing. Think of it backwards. The reason we need that 0.1 LFE with its own volume control on our traditional ones is so we can make it louder or softer, right?

Which is the big challenge here. You’re gonna be setting this up for music. It may in fact be set lower in gain than you would ever want the 0.1 to be. So, the trick is you do this; you leave this alone, you dial it in the way that you would normally dial it in. Everything’s fine and happy. You plug in your LFE over here. Alright? And you go, ‘okay, so now I’ve got my left channel coming in here, for example, and I’m gonna use this one instead for the right channel because that’s being taken care of by the other sub. I’m gonna use this one over here for the LFE. How do I adjust that? I wanted it louder’. You’re gonna go into your receiver and you’re going to go into the base management section. So, you go in, pull up the menu, and you go into usually speaker configuration and speaker setup.

In speaker setup, one of the first questions it asks you is, do you have a subwoofer? Yes or no? You say yes, but don’t just list LFE for best performance. We always suggest that you list it as LFE plus mains. That will let you set the crossover in that Denon, Yamaha, Marantz receiver. You can now use all the different four or five choices in the low frequency cutoff for your main speakers. In most cases, I’d strongly suggest you set it to the lowest possible setting. That’s usually 40 hertz. And that’s as deep as you’re gonna be able to get your main speakers in theater. And that’s not a bad thing because it will save your speakers from being damaged if there’s ever a loud sound. So, now you run the LFE. You run the big long cable over and you plug it in and you’re like, ‘okay, but it’s nowhere nearly loud enough’.

Go into the level settings within the menu, and in most cases, you will see that your receiver  has plus or minus 12 decibels. That is a huge amount of variation. So, you take a known good chapter for LFE. What I usually recommend is you turn the system up without the sub plugged in, find a chapter. I’ll give you one, real easy one that everybody’s got. The original Ironman. Go to chapter two. It’s a scene where there’s a missile launch, but I don’t know, roughly a hundred thousand missiles all at the same time. Now there’s a missile launch. There’s great LFE stuff, even just in the racking of the fire direction system and then there’s a huge thump as they leave and then multiple strikes at the same time and a huge deafening explosion at the end of this.

Whole thing only takes three or four minutes. So, you go, ‘okay, now I know where the things are. John said that the LFE really only kicks in when the missile tracking system starts to kick in and the whole thing lasts for maybe 45 seconds’. Great, so now you know what you’re listening for. You took your system up to as loud as you would want to watch. This is really critical. When you’re doing theater, the key to it is know yourself and know your program material. You cannot go into this blind. You have to be honest with yourself. If you would normally turn the scene up to 73 on your receiver, and that’s as loud as you ever listen and that’s the objective to this, then do it. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t set it down to 65 and go, ‘well, that’s really nice’. No, take it all the way up to the maximum we would ever listen to the scene at. Now, plug in the 0.1 and do the same scene again and listen to it and go, ‘oh, I don’t think that’s loud enough for me’. Well, that’s fine. They come out of the box, these receivers are set to zero. So, then go through and start slowly, incrementally taking up that subwoofer output level. I would suggest not turning up more than two clicks the first time. After that, single clicks. Keep running the same loop, same 45 seconds scene. You can back it up in the Blu-ray and make sure that what you’re really hearing is the full composite. You want both the regular subwoofer input and the 0.1 all in at the same time. And you’ll be able to slowly inch up to as much as either your ears or the system can handle, and no further. And now you know you’re set to the absolute max. You’re probably never gonna do any damage to your subwoofer because you’ve intelligently snuck up on the limits of your system and you’ve done it progressively. So, you knew at every point what you were listening for, and you took it right to where it could be and no further.

May 15, 2023 - Posted in: Sound Insights