Help needed with my Sony STRDA1200


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Aug 10, 2019
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When running the auto set-up there are 3 Calibration types: Engineer, Full Flat & Front Ref What one should I select for the best sound for watching films? I have a standard 5.1 set-up with my tv placed in the corner of the room.

Andy Clough

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Apr 27, 2004
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Mr G

Here's the response from What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision's deputy editor, Andy Kerr:

There's no hard and fast rule. It depends on speaker system and taste.

Engineer mode attempts to reproduce the acoustics of Sony's own engineering facility in Japan. Team that with a Sony-derived Cinema Studio DSP mode (which mimics the sound of a mastering studio in Sony Pictures Studios) for the full Sony movie experience. It says here.

Full Flat simply trims each speaker to produce as flat a response as possible. Always difficult - and who's to say that a 'flat' response equals an appealing sound? Still, that's what it does. Or tries to do.

Front Reference attempts to tweak the rear speakers to sound as tonally close to the front speakers as possible (useful in systems with mismatched front and rear speakers, or where the fronts are floorstanders, the rears standmounts).

If you've a system with identical satellite speakers front and rear, as most small systems use, the Front Reference mode is unnecessary. That leaves you to choose Full Flat or Engineer, as you prefer.

Andrew Everard

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May 30, 2007
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I'd try all three and see which one sounds best. Front Ref adjusts the sound of the rest of your speakers to match that of the front left/right, for a same 'speakers all round effect', while Full Flat aims to create a flat frequency response from all the speakers. That should be the ideal, in that all you hear is what's on the disc, but I've found this setting to be a bit clinical and - well - flat-sounding.

The Engineer mode adjusts the sound of your system to match that the Sony engineers hear in their listening room back in Japan. And having heard the room in which the company's AV guru and 'Chief Distinguished Engineer', Takashi Kanai, spends most of his working life, and on which this mode is based, I can tell you it sounds very good indeed.

Just to give you some idea how seriously Kanai takes his sound, when Sony moved the AV department from an old low-rise building to many floors up a swish new tower block, Kanai's seemingly chaotic room was documented, and then reconstructed perfectly in the new location. The first time I visited the 'new' room, it was like the old one had been sawn out of its old location and dropped in place in the new one. Weird...

Even more serious, Kanai doesn't travel too much if it involves flying - he's convinced all those changes of pressure affect his hearing.

And what does this guy do in his spare time? He hand-makes Japanese soba noodles...