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Speaker positioning and sound leveling (spl meter)

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by AndyTod, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. AndyTod

    AndyTod Member

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    I recently (this weekend) purchased a new home theater system. After setting the system up I have a couple of questions about the positioning of my speakers and if I am leveling them correctly with the Radio Shack SPL meter.

    As it stands now I have the front speaker including the CC about 11 feet from my listening position. The subwoofer is placed in the front left of the room in a corner (wife wants it there). Now the interesting part..due to the layout of my basement I am only able to place my rear speakers (which include and rear CC) at listening level on stands. Currently I have the rear CC placed three behind the couch and the R/L rears placed directly to the side of couch about three feet from main listening area. Would you or anyone for that matter suggest that I aim them away from the listen position or directly at the listening position?

    The next question I have is about leveling the speakers with a sound meter. I have purchased the RS sound mater and placed it on a tripod. From here I a somewhat confused on what to do. In the HT primer section it states to start with the left front and turn the master volume to I obtain a reading of 75 dbs. Is this to loud? From here do I then select each speaker (CC, RF, SRL, etc...) and level them with the individual speaker adjust? When I does this I find that I have to adjust the rear speakers to a very high + setting and then when I play a movie I hear the rear speakers above the front speakers. Am I performing the sound leveling correctly or is this due to placement as mentioned above?

    Thank for the help.
     
  2. JeffTodd

    JeffTodd Well-Known Member

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    Andy,

    Regarding the placement of the rear speakers:
    Are you able to elavate the speakers at all? According to the Dolby site it recommends placing the rear speakers about 3ft above the listening area. In my experience, I used to have some off brand speakers doing surround duty and I had them placed facing up towards the ceiling on some side tables. Recently I purchased new mains and so I was able to place the old mains (JBL S26) in the surround location). I mounted the S26s on the wall facing into the listening area. This has done 2 things for me: 1)now that my surrounds match my mains the sound field is much more equal. and 2) With the speakers being placed up on the wall the sound field is more dispersed and is more dificult to locate the speakers.

    Regarding the SPL meter:
    Are you using a setup disk like Avia or Sound and Vision? You didn't mention using test tones while balancing the speakers. But if you are using test tones and the meter just set the front left at 75dB and then move around the room setting all others equal.
     
  3. AndyTod

    AndyTod Member

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    I am unable to raise the speakers at this point above the listening level. This is due to strange way my basement was layout when the house was built. Do you think pointing them toward the ceiling would work or maybe aiming them toward the front of the room instead of at the listeners?

    As the for the speaker balance I do have the Sound & Vision disk (from Best buy) and it only mentions setting the front volume to a comfortable level and then match them, however I think you answered my question.

    Thanks for your help
     
  4. AndyTod

    AndyTod Member

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    Sorry for the extra reply but if I am able to raise the rear L & R speakers do i need to do the same with the rear CC surround? This I know I would not be able to do.
     
  5. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Well-Known Member

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    i'm no expert, but i would think that it would sound a little odd if you idd not also raise the cnter.

    Maybe you should consider moving your furiture and finding a layout that works better overall.
     
  6. AndyTod

    AndyTod Member

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    I would consider moving things around however I have no way to move my TV and stand. It is only my wife and myself and I can not move them around alone.

    If I raise the rear CC then should I point it down or straight ahead?
     
  7. LeeH

    LeeH Well-Known Member

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    Do you have a wall behind your seeting are? If you do then just aim the l/r surrounds toward the wall and maybe a little to the ceiling. This should cure the problem with hearing the rear over the front speakers also. It creates the same effect as placing the speakers above the listening position.

    If you do not have a wall then try placing them on the floor behind the listening position aimed toward the ceiling. Let me know what you decide...
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    first of all, good job on trying to calibrate your system...it's a hassle now but you'll be well rewarded for your efforts. [​IMG]

    speaker placement
    the front speakers should be level with your ear - specifically the tweeter. the rear's are more subjective. you mentioned that they sounded too loud (could be a calibration issue - more on that later) so you may want to try experimenting with the speakers. try bouncing them off the side or rear walls. i actually fired mine into the ceiling with good results.

    i'm not familiar with a rear center, so i can't really comment on that, but i would think you would want all your rear speakers to be at approx the same height too.

    you have a little more flexibility in how you want to aim the rear tweeters. the more directed they are at the listening position, the more noticeable the rear channel sound will be.

    since you already read the htf primer, you may also want to check out the dolby.com speaker placement article.

    the key is to experiment and find what sounds good to YOU.

    calibration
    the s&v dvd has a section that will "toggle" a test tone to all of your speakers. tbh, i've never really gotten the whole "ref level" thing myself, but i don't really worry about it. what i'm more worried about is making sure the same amount of sound is coming out of all my speakers. here's what i do:
    1. calibrate the left channel first. crank up the receiver volume till the spl reads on the + side. note that as my "reference point"
    2. calibrate each subsequent channel, making sure they match the reference point you noted from the left channel[/list=1] that way, you know your speakers are calibrated to one another.

      let us know if you have any other questions.
     
  9. AndyTod

    AndyTod Member

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    Well I think I have things pretty well under control now. I decided to go with placing the rear speakers so they fire toward the ceiling. After calibration with the S&V disk....what a difference I now hear what I think is surround sound. I have a hard time telling which speaker the sound is coming from. My wife loves it which as we all know is the most important thing [​IMG]. Now on to the calibration of the TV.

    I want to thank everyone for there help and can I say I love this site.
     
  10. ChadLB

    ChadLB Well-Known Member

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    FYI,
    I believe the S&V disc is 85db for calibrating and not 75db. The only thing this changed on my setup is reciever volume going from -32 to -22.....
     

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