Surround Amplifier: What do you use?

My stereo rigg uses powered monitors. But my surround rigg uses passive monitors fed by a surround receiver. I’m using a hardware set up of a DA-7 desk, which supports 5.1 surround with a Kenwood home theater receiver to feed the monitors. It SHOULD be a simple matter of Nuendo feeds the desk, the desk routes to the receiver and the receiver feeds the monitors. But it’s not working. Each device works as it should independently, but they are not working together.

Nuendo and the desk work together just fine. All the surround signals in Nuendo correspond exactly as they should on the DA-7. The problem comes with the output of the desk to the receiver. The kenwood accepts both optical and analog inputs. Running lightpipe to the optical inputs delivers no sound at all. So I’m running 6 analog lines out to the analog ins of the receiver. This gets me sound but it’s NOT DISCREET. If I pan a signal to the left front speaker I should only hear source in the left front speaker. Instead, I get left front and both surround speakers with more in the left rear than the right rear. If I go to the center speaker, I still get the surrounds. I simply cannot achieve the separation I need with this set up.

I haven’t seen any threads on this (at least not any that got replies) or articles/ads on this setup, so I’m wondering what kind of surround amps you guys are using. I’m willing to run an ITB set up, via patchbay, directly to an independent surround monitoring system, if I have to. But I’m much more comfortable working on a desk. How are you guys routing your signals to the independent monitors? Are you all running powered monitors directly from your desks?

Hello kp,

The optical inputs on a home receiver are AC-3 or optical spdif only, not adat. So optical from your desk won’t work.

If the amp is not providing discreet signals then either your desk is mixing them or the receiver is, and the receiver is the more likely reason. If you want to pursue it, try disconnecting the desk from the receiver then putting one signal into one input of the receiver, with the other five disconnected. This will tell you who’s doing the mixing.


I found it! I am running six discrete analog lines into the receiver, as I had already figured out the digital issue. The missing link was what I just found in the receiver’s manual. There’s this tiny little asterik in the Kenwood manual that refers to another section of the input selector that tells it if the signal is digital or analog. :unamused: Once I switched it to analog, it all worked. :smiley: I have highlighted this note in red!

Thanks so much for your reply and help!

Great, hope things work out well.

If I can add a few other things to look for to be sure you’re betting the best audio through your receiver -

The desk output is probably a balanced signal and the receiver is probably an rca input. Make sure you’re not shorting one side of the balanced signal to ground, a common thing when going into an unbalanced input. If you do it will work, but quite often the shorted-leg side is putting too much signal onto the ground of the receiver, leading to low level crosstalk and distortion. Occasionally the non-shorted leg will be affected when the other leg is shorted. Therefore the wiring should be -

  • in-polarity leg to rca center pin
  • shield to rca shell
  • anti-polarity leg unconnected
    For short cable runs this will not pick up hum.

Another item is signal level - your balanced desk output probably has a reference level of +4dBu, and the receiver’s nominal level is -10dBv. The absolute difference between these levels is approximately 12.6dB. If you’re using only one leg of the balanced signal and the output is not servo-balanced, the actual difference into the receiver will be around 6.6dB. This is fine. The only thing to watch is that you don’t drive the receiver’s inputs too hard.

Also note that most modern receivers have a ridiculous amount of processing in them. There are all kinds of dsp “scenes” that attempt to create, usually badly, a listening environment of some kind. Make sure you go through everything and turn all that stuff off.

Good luck,

Thanks for that helpful and timely info. Once I got it working, the right surround monitor started distorting! It’s been driving me crazy trying to track down the source since the DVD’s play clear as a bell, mono signals sent directly to that speaker in Nuendo play clear as a bell and an isolated stereo send plays just fine. But when I run an entire 5.1 mix through all 5 speakers just the right rear speaker becomes unlistenably distorted no matter how low the volume. Now I’ve got a new place to look.

This is rapidly turning into a situation of just dumping the receiver altogether and pick up 3 more Mackie 824’s or maybe a smaller matched JBL system (assuming I can find one in the $2K or under range)! Thanks a lot!

Yep, that was it! I dropped the over all level of the master out to -10 with a limiter on it and the problem was resolved. I think I’m going to just dump the receiver and pick up a JBL matched set. Anybody heard the 2300 series?