My cobbled together 5.1 system, looking for suggestions!

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New member
Jan 11, 2021
Columbia, MD
Hi all,

My experience with 5.1 has been mostly limited to listening in my 2008 Acura MSX with ELS Audio. But with the pandemic and all, I just don't really drive much anymore. So I decided to sort of cobble together a basic 5.1 listening setup for my basement. Before anyone accuses me of being cheap...I mean...I might be. :) But I have my first kid on the way, and have dumped like $5000 into my vinyl listening setup, so it just isn't in the cards for me to build another "audiophile" grade 5.1 system in my house right now.

I was going through my stuff to make room in storage for the new family member, and discovered I had an old Polk PSW450 subwoofer and some audio cable. I recently upgraded from Wharfedale bookshelf speakers (Diamond 10.1) to Monitor Audio floorstanders for my vinyl setup, so I have these pretty nice Wharfedales sitting around collecting dust too. I already have a Samsung UHD TV and blu-ray player in the basement. So I figured I just needed a center speaker, some rear channel speakers, and a receiver. I picked up some used stuff online:
  • Denon AVR-1513 (from CL, $100)
  • Wharfedale WH-2 Centre channel speaker (from FB marketplace, $50)
  • Pair of Polk RT15i bookshelf speakers (from CL, $30 for the pair)
I purchased some 14 and 16AWG cable from Amazon to supplement what I had, and hooked everything up!

It's not easy figuring out how to play everything, but it's been educational.
  1. I immediately ran into the common issue that dialogue is pretty impossible to hear in movies, even with DRC enabled on the BR player, so I've had to crank the db level on the center channel speaker. I don't love this as a solution and wouldn't want to mess with the audio mix when I listen to DVD-A and Blu Ray music content, so I wonder if there's another solution.
  2. It's been impossible to figure out how to get the BR player and the receiver to agree on the audio codec...If I tell the BR to send bitstream unprocessed audio (from a source disc using, for example, DTS-HD), the AVR isn't consistently recognizing that it can encode the inbound data into DTS-HD. Supposedly it should recognize that? So I switched the BR player to encode the DTS HD sound and set the AVR to "Direct" to receive it, and that seems to work. Any suggestions here?
  3. My TV doesn't have ARC, so I used a TOSLINK cable to send digital audio from my TV to the receiver for when I stream from Netflix/Amazon or whatever. But that has also been a bit of a crapshoot with the receiver recognizing the audio encoding from streamed sources.
I haven't tried listening to my surround music yet, because I want to get it configured as best I can first. Then I'll have Kraftwerk, Opeth, Steven Wilson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Diana Krall and some other goodies ready to go!

If you read the above and have any suggestions for me, please let me know. I'm new at this and enjoy learning.

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