subwoofer calibration / volume

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Erik.Ha, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Im setting up my new Denon 3803. VERY happy. I have Digital Video Essentials and a sound meter. All my speakers are set to small and x-over is 80hz.

    My problem is, when I get to the powered sub (a Boston 75W)the meter pegs off the scale. The sub is very close to my listening position, where it probably has to stay because of space constraints. I've had to turn the volume on the speaker itself down to the "9 o'clock" position (six o clock = zero) AND turn down the receivers sub channel setting to -11 DB (-12 being OFF) to even get close to the 75DB level of the other channels. (While calibrating it wiggles from 75 to off scale)

    My problem is, 1/4 power on the sub and -11 on the receiver seems way too low. At these levels I don't hear/feel much of anything coming from the sub during normal operation. It almost doesn't seem to be on.

    Prior to setting it up, I was watching some college bowl games, and I could lightly "feel" the thump of the band's drums at halftime- It sounded like I was at the game. Now The bass drums don't seem to be coming out of the sub at all.... Explosions don't rumble, etc...

    Should it be turned down this low?
     
  2. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    If it's calibrated with the rest of the speakers, yes. Most people are suprised the first time they calibrate their speakers with a meter how far off they are. The lower frequencies are definately more culprit to being to "hot" when done be ear. You just have to unlearn how things should sound. I'm not gonna knock your listening habits, but you probably are just used to listening to things with more bass than is natural. If you like this great, set it up the way you like, if not, you'll eventually get used to it, maybe even appreciate over time clearer midrange and high frequency output that this should result in.

    This also gets noticed a lot by people who upgrade a boomy, poorly made subwoofer to a more cleaner accurate one, they say "where'd my bass go?" They miss the sound where all the bass was artificially put out by an inferior sub. After some time they begin to appreciate the clarity and actually improves the impact of the genuine low frequencies that occur in listening material.
     
  3. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    There is a major problem with the DVE subwoofer calibration level. It is encoded way too high, resulting in a test tone that is too loud and causes you to undercalibrate the sub.

    DO NOT use DVE for calibrating your sub. Or, failing that, increase the sub level anywhere from 5-10 dB above what DVE says it "should" be.

    There is a thread on the subject over in the DVD software forum. Email JKP for the latest if the thread is getting stale.
     
  4. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    You could also go to the THX Optimizer calibration tool on a DVD that you most likely should have. (SW I)(SW II)(GlADIATOR)(U-571).. I forget how close it is but it would give you a idea within a db or two just how close you are.

    If I recall correctly Ed, the under calibrating DVE issue on the .1 chan was quit substantial? Maybe as much as -8db? I think I might have picked that up in one of your prior posts?
     
  5. kirtis_mcleskey

    kirtis_mcleskey Stunt Coordinator

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    people always say that about subwoofers

    in a movie theater when you hear bass you dont hear clean good bass, you hear boommy bass, bass that sounds thundering and real, and thats how I have my set up, set up lol

    and I LOVE it
     
  6. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Joe Kane said it can vary from room to room, but it can be anywhere from 5-10 dB. Check the thread for details. In my room, with my sub, it is around 10 dB too hot and does indeed peg the meter.

    I'm having excellent results with Avia running about 86 dB on the meter.
     
  7. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Thank you! I knew there had to be a problem.


    So when I set up the sub should I leave the receiver level at zero and use the sub volume to hit the right level on the meter? or should I put the sub volume in the middle and add +8dbs or so on the receiver? Does it make a difference?
     
  8. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    Try putting the gain on your sub at 35-40% and the gain on your receiver at -5 to -3. I bet this will put you fairly close? Fine tune it from there. Try to stay under 0 on your receiver and under 45% gain on your sub. It should be no problem with your placement.
     
  9. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    But, one could also have good bass from a good subwoofer that puts out 125dB @ 30 Hz and hits them in the chest with action movies. Personally, this is the preferred bass method for me. [​IMG]
     
  10. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Steve:

    I set it up as you said and fine tuned it, and it sounds great.
     
  11. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    [​IMG] Good deal.
     
  12. Alex_P

    Alex_P Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi all!

    I didn't know that DVE sub calibration is off. No wonder all my movies seemed to be lil soft on the bass. I just re-calibrated my sub according to the SWII THX Optimizer calibration tool. It came out that my sub was -8db than it should be... and my 2 surround spks were about +1.5db. I re-adjusted everything and like the sound of these settings now.

    Just too many different type of test tones, confused me... Can anybody confirm that the THX Optimizer is correct? Thanks all...

    Al,
     
  13. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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    Ok here is a stupid question I should probiably know already. Using the OLD VE disk when calibrateing a sub seeing as REF level for LFE is 115db vs 105 for the other channels, should I calibrate the sub to the 75db with the VE test tones or 85db?
     
  14. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    VE is designed for 75dB, as is DVE (putting aside the problem with the .1 channel).

    Avia is designed for 85 dB.

    BGL
     
  15. John S

    John S Producer

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    ven when I do test tone calibrating, I put the sub way hot.
    Just the way I like it I suppose.

    I know and accept it is set way hot.

    Enjoy!!!
     
  16. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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    I originally had the sub at 85db calibrated with the VE. So this was 10db hot. I kind of figured it was the case because I was hearing the sub and not really the LFE effect. Plus at REF-15db the bass sweep in LORT:FOTR early battle scene hurt my ear a bit. Im going to go back tonight and calibrate at 75db (the VE Spec) and see how things turn out.

    P.S. A little off topic, but are there any worthwhile mods for the new DLS 10" Sub from Parts Express?
     
  17. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

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    If I recall correctly the THX Optimizer is off a few db on the center and a db or two light on the R/F? It's been a long time since I have used it. The LFE Channel is fairly close I think??> Maybe a db or two hot.

    The first DLS came with the inside of the enclosure lined/moded. I can't say if this is so with their new offering?
     
  18. Alex_P

    Alex_P Stunt Coordinator

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    As steve post above, I re-calibrated my speakers w/ DVE and the .1 channel using THX optimizer. I couldn't tell much of a different from calibrated 5.1 speakers using THX optimizer only. There's a slice change of 1.5db on the center + front channels. Other than that, everything else is the same. It definitely sound much better from calibrating all speakers using DVE. Thanks all for pointing out the faults of those test tones.

    Al,
     
  19. Jeremy Anderson

    Jeremy Anderson Screenwriter

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    With all this talk of calibration discs, I just want to remind people: Sometimes your receiver's internal tones work better. I know people are going to say "Oh, that doesn't take into account the whole signal chain", etc. but if your receiver/pre-pro is doing the decoding of the digital stream that's a non-issue.

    I used to use Avia to calibrate my speakers, but the result was almost always center and surround heavy. I compared Avia to my receiver's internal tones and found that the mains matched 100%... but that the center and surrounds were slightly different. After calibrating with the internal tones, the resultant sound was far more cohesive with pans and just seemed more balanced. Now, I'm not saying that Avia is INCORRECT in any way... just that it uses a different range of noise than most internal tone generators, and therefore calibrations can differ. Which one is right for your system depends a lot on room acoustics. Also, Avia uses tones in the regular channels for subwoofer calibration, meaning it relies on proper interaction between your speakers and sub across the crossover range. If your room acoustics cause one or more speakers to be slightly out of phase with the subwoofer, then the sub calibration may be off for that speaker. In other words, you may run the tone for the left main and get 85dB and then the center and right could be 83 or 87. It just depends on your setup.

    With the internal tones, you don't have those issues. I'm not saying that internal tones will work for everyone, but I do recommend trying it and comparing the results to Avia or DVE. In my case, I use the internal tones in my Onkyo receiver to calibrate to 75dB for the speakers and 72dB for my SVS, which is EQ'd for flat response +/-3dB independant of the other speakers (using tones in the LFE channel of a DTS cd).
     
  20. Ian Currie

    Ian Currie Stunt Coordinator

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    Can someone explain what the point is of calibrating at 75db?

    Last night I used DVE to calibrate my system (except for subwoofer) and was shocked how loud I had to raise the master volume to get up to 75db. Wayyyy louder than I would watch movies - and I think I watch movies at typical volumes (or maybe even on the loud side).

    Plus, I was confused when the narrator suggested to set the balance of the speakers at a lower volume level, then calibrate at 75db. I can't help but interpret "balance the speakers' as setting their individual volumes. If this is done at a lower level, what's the calibrate step at 75db afterwords - simply check to make sure they're all still the right relative level to each other when the system is turned up loud?

    And if so, I understand the theory that human-ear-perceived volume level of low and high frequencies can change when the volume is raised, but would that actually affect a SPL meter?
     

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