Onkyo TX-NR717 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Used & New from: $445.00
Voice tracks are nearly inaudible . . . sometimes

For me, the Audyssey setup didn't work (speaker detect error after playing test sounds I could hear easily through all speakers) so maybe I wouldn't have this problem if it had worked. I have noticed that when I am watching an NFL game on the local FOX & NBC affiliates, the announcers are nearly inaudible. I have turned the volume up to where the surround sound is like being in the stadium, which is quite impressive. Crowd noise, quarterback calling signals, PA announcer in the stadium, the ref calling penalties, I can hear all that fine. But even with the volume jacked way up, the play-by-play & color announcers are still so muffled I can understand way less than half of what they're saying.

But when I'm watching Golf Channel, for example, there's no problem.

I noticed the last time I watched NOVA off the local PBS affiliate, the narration was nearly unintelligible. Now for a football game, I don't really care. The announcers say mostly inane things that add nothing to my enjoyment of the game so it's pretty much a plus that I can't make out what they're saying. But NOVA is a whole different issue. If you can't make out what the narrator is saying, you might as well not watch. I ended up putting on my headphones & then he was easy to understand. Of course, that's kind of defeating the purpose of having a surround sound system, isn't it?

Anybody got any ideas how to cure this? What might be relevant about my settings that you need to know to figure this out?

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Thanks for all your interest, folks. Some of my system description is buried inside a comment & you may not be seeing it. Under each comment, there is a clickable link labeled "Comment." If there is also a digit showing, as in "Comment (4)" or something like that, that means there are 4 (or however many) comments hiding behind the link & you need to click the link to make them appear.

Anyway, it seems I should repeat here something I said inside one of those comment sequences so everybody can see it easily.

I do not have satellite service.

I do have cable service but it is delivered by a co-ax cable coming out of the wall and plugged directly into the back of my DVD recorder box. No cable box.

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* I HAVE NO CABLE BOX *
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The first volume control on any of this signal path is the Onkyo receiver. So the multiple suggestions y'all have put forward, to adjust the volume on my cable or satellite box, while probably useful to somebody else, simply aren't relevant to me. But I appreciate the spirit of helpfulness I'm finding here.

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Since entries under the Comments are hidden until you click the Comments button, I'll post this here where it's permanently visible.

I've experimented with the Listening Modes now & I've found there's a lot of variation in the formats of the audio track being broadcast by different TV stations. I determine the audio format by pressing the Display button on the Onkyo remote.

For stations with Dolby D 5.1 audio tracks, I have found that the Dolby D EX Listening Mode brings the front center channel up to where the football announcers are at least audible. At the same time, I find I have to crank the volume up past 50 on the receiver to get decent volume overall.

For stations with PCM 2.0 audio tracks, which is what the majority of channels do on my cable system, I have found that the THX Cinema Listening Mode sounds best to my ear. At the same time, I find I have to push the volume back down into the 40 area so it's not ear-splitting.

A number of channels, including my favorite local PBS station, are broadcasting in Dolby D 2.0, which is rather disappointing. Disappointing that it's only 2.0 instead of full 5.1. Punishment for not sending them enough money when they're begging for more, as they seem to be doing more & more these days? Whatever. In any case, I find that this Dolby D 2.0 signal sounds best in PL II x Music. Yes, Music, a Listening Mode you have to select with a different button. As for volume on these channels, there seems to be a large variation. Some of them need volume up over 50 but others don't need any more than 40.

I suppose the takeaway from this for other folks is to observe the audio format of each station since it can vary from station to station. Then adjust the Listening Mode for each audio format. The choices I've made sound good to me. I expect there's a lot of variation out there, variation in speaker brands, variation in speaker configuration, variation in ears, variation in personal taste. What I've chosen for my settings won't necessarily be to your liking. Just experiment until you find what you like. The 717 is extremely flexible & the defaults out of the box may not sound great to you. But don't immediately conclude that the unit is defective. Experiment. And do read the owner's manual (which you may have to download off the Onkyo web site, as I had to). It may take a few re-readings but it does contain all the information you need.

Something really convenient is the way the 717 selects Listening Mode once you've made your choices. When you switch from channel to channel, the receiver detects the audio format & automatically changes the Listening Mode for you. So you can set different Listening Modes for different TV stations & the receiver automatically remembers your choices & switches them as necessary. So cool!
[UPDATED] asked by Wild Willy on December 11, 2012
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Showing 1-6 of 6 answers
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You need to make sure that you are getting the correct signal from your cable or satellite box. A lot of tv programs are broadcast in true surround sound. Because of this, a digital signal needs to come from the tv box either through hdmi,spdf(optical audio cable), or coaxial digital audio. If your receiver says dolby d when playing, it is correct. If it says something like PL II music, it is not. If you are using stereo inputs(red and white) and then forcing the receiver to play all speakers, the voice will probably be low.
Randy answered on December 11, 2012

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You need to make sure that you are getting the correct signal from your cable or satellite box. A lot of tv programs are broadcast in true surround sound. Because of this, a digital signal needs to come from the tv box either through hdmi,spdf(optical audio cable), or coaxial digital audio. If your receiver says dolby d when playing, it is correct. If it says something like PL II music, it is not. If you are using stereo inputs(red and white) and then forcing the receiver to play all speakers, the voice will probably be low.
Randy answered on December 11, 2012

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Check the volume output from the source.
gerard colotti answered on December 11, 2012

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All voice is almost always mixed to your center speaker channel. Have you tried turning the volume up on this speaker? Or hooking up a different speaker that you know is working normally. You may have a damaged voicecoil.
Dan Chemistruck answered on December 11, 2012

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that sounds like its not from the reciever but the tv or cable box, like hooking up your play station , to the tv or amp , picture no sound , till you go into the playstaion settings and set it up right , plus on amp, say its coming from the tv , analog (RCA plug) and in systems, its set up , for digital (hdmi), might do that also. and there are the times you play around with it so much , it hard to remember what you did to undo it , . in your trouble shooting area tell you how to reset to org. specks , with is good to do . once in a blue moon , cleans out all the updates and makes it one update .
Just me answered on December 11, 2012

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0
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that sounds like its not from the reciever but the tv or cable box, like hooking up your play station , to the tv or amp , picture no sound , till you go into the playstaion settings and set it up right , plus on amp, say its coming from the tv , analog (RCA plug) and in systems, its set up , for digital (hdmi), might do that also. and there are the times you play around with it so much , it hard to remember what you did to undo it , . in your trouble shooting area tell you how to reset to org. specks , with is good to do . once in a blue moon , cleans out all the updates and makes it one update .
Just me answered on December 11, 2012
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