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Self Tuning / calibrating receivers?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeShea

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Posted April 01 2003 - 07:47 AM

I heard of a receiver that was able to self calibrate itself. You held the remote and / or an attached microphone in your primary seating position and it self tuned the speakers for an equal frequency response across all of the main speakers.

Has anyone seen this feature in other receivers? Does it actually tune the full frequency range of a speaker setup?

It would seem to me that with the right set of speakers you could have a perfect 20hz to 20khz system in just about any room if the system could tune it correctly. It could beat the hell out of a SPL meter.

Has anyone heard any more info on this?

Mike
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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Jonathan M

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Posted April 01 2003 - 08:19 AM

Hi Mike To my knowledge, Pioneer has a system that EQ's for room correction. I very much doubt, however that it is a true wide band equalization. I have not tested this, though. Also, H/K has the ezset remote which calibrates automatically - the remote contains an mic. This is only useful for calibration though. In my opinion, true flat 20-20kHz response can only be achieved with digital filters, as all other filters introduce too much in the way of delays and phase problems. I expect it won't be long until this is achievable for relatively low cost. (It is possible now, but still quite expensive to implement.) I'm sure Pioneer owners will be able to better comment on the system they use.
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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted April 01 2003 - 01:04 PM

I have a Pioneer VSX45TX with the auto calibration feature. It automatically sets speaker distances and levels and does a 5 band equalization. I have no problem doing speaker distance settings and setting speaker levels manually--I've done it many times over the years. I have owned a Sony ES receiver with a manually adjustable eq, adjustable separately for each speaker, and played with it for hours. The Pioneer did a better job by itself in 6 minutes than I could do in several hours with test discs and a sound meter. I don't believe for a minute that I have perfectly flat response from 20-20k hz, but I do know I have a much better sounding system than I could ever achieve with manual adjustment. My room setup is far from ideal from an acoustical standpoint, but the Pioneer has done a great job of compensating for less than ideal speaker placement. The best way I can describe it is to say that after doing the auto-adjustment on the Pioneer, it sounds like I got a whole new set of better speakers. I don't want another receiver without this feature.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted April 01 2003 - 04:40 PM

There is a really nice Meridian system that does this.

It does a full equalization with a mic at the listening position. It's a fully-digital central unit that can address and equalize each DRIVER in every speaker. The speakers are fed with digital signals and each driver has a separate D/A circuit and mono-block amp.

It's a great system, but for $12,000 it had better be.Posted Image

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted April 02 2003 - 01:35 AM

I own a Pioneer Elite 47TX, and my experience with the MCACC auto-calibration feature is very similar to Steve's description above. The 47TX also has a 5 band EQ (I believe the flagship 49TX is 7 band, and allows for manual tweaking of the EQ settings after auto-calibration). The MCACC feature sets up two different equalization curves -- one that attempts to match your center/surround speakers to your front speakers (FRONT CH ALIGN), and another with a pre-defined curve that it matches all speakers to (ALL CH ALIGN). In my case, I preferred the front speaker matching (FRONT ALIGN). It provided a better timbre-matched blend that compensated for speaker placement issues I was experiencing. It certainly did a better job than I could have performed manually with the receiver's equalizer.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeShea

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Posted April 02 2003 - 07:25 AM

Ok, here's a tough question. I have a Yamaha DSP-A1 integrated amp from way back (about five years old). It's a great receiver, tons of power, but it doesn't have EX / ES processing or this self tuning feature. Hearing that it has a five / seven band equalization feature in it makes me wonder whether my system would improve with this feature. The price isn't bad at all, I would just have to find out what I can do with the DSP-A1. Does this feature warrant an upgrade?
Mike Shea
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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted April 02 2003 - 09:19 AM

Mike, That's a tough question, as the DSP-A1 is a great piece of equipment indeed. If you want to go to an EX-ES setup, I could strongly recommend one of the new Elites, but if you're going to stick to 5.1 and the auto-calibration is the only incentive, I'd call it a toss-up. I couldn't venture an opinion on whether it would be worthwhile for you to switch from the Yammie to one of the Pioneers. I'd recommend getting a Pioneer from a store that will let you return it if you aren't happier with it than you are with the Yamaha, try it out for a week or so and then make a decision. The DSP-A1 is well known as a fine piece, I don't think you'd have any problem finding a buyer for it if you like the Pioneer better.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeShea

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Posted April 02 2003 - 10:23 AM

Another question. I imagine a system set up with the auto calibration is pretty accurate but wouldn't the difference in DVD players end up skewing it a little anyway? I know reference tones are drastically different when using a receiver vs using a DVD.
Mike Shea
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#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Mike Fenech

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Posted April 02 2003 - 02:06 PM

Mike, One could easily run through a DVD setup disc after an auto calibration as a sanity check. I would think some Elite receiver owner would have confirmed this by now.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted April 03 2003 - 11:31 AM

[quote] Does this feature (self tuning) warrant an upgrade? [quote]
Heck no! That A1 is a flagship receiver, well respected for it's amp section. Dont give it up just for this.

Even the receivers that do self-calibration dont do all that great of a job. A copy of Avia or Video Essentials and a $40 Radio Shack SPL meter actually does a superior adjustment.

Dont be afraid to do this. This link to our Primer is a great place to start: HT Means Accuracy and Calibration

This is a lot cheaper and a lot more satisfying.

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   MikeShea

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Posted April 03 2003 - 01:38 PM

Thanks for the advise. I have the upgrade bug but I think the DSP-A1 will do me a few more years of service =) It is a hell of an amp.
Mike Shea
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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted April 03 2003 - 02:14 PM

Pioneer's MCACC auto-calibration feature did as good a job of speaker level matching as I could accomplish manually with a SPL meter and Avia (I did check it afterwards). The real benefit, though, is in the equalization settings if you have some issues with frequency response in your room. This cannot be accomplished with just a copy of Avia and a SPL meter. I do agree, though, that it is not worth upgrading from a flagship receiver just for this function. In fact, when I upgraded to my Elite receiver from a Sony DA50ES, it was for many other reasons, and the MCACC was just a curiousity on the feature list. I did not realize how useful the MCACC feature could be until I tried it out in my room.

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted April 03 2003 - 02:28 PM

I think I was trying to say in my last post that MCACC alone is not a reason to switch from a flagship reciever like the Yamaha DSP-A1, unless one had other reasons like a desire to go to a 6.1 or 7.1 system. I too double checked with AVIA and the RS meter after doing the auto calibration. I found that speaker distances and levels were spot-on. The receiver calibrates itself so 0db on the master volume control gives 85db from AVIA test tones at the listening position (assuming that's where you place the microphone). The receiver's own test tones also produce 85db at a master volume setting of 0 db. I looked up the error correction for low bass frequencies on the RS meter, and the reciever was more accurate than the uncorrected meter. I strongly disagree that one can get just as good speaker response with a meter and AVIA. One can get accurate levels for each speaker at the listening position that way, I've done so with 2 Yamaha and one Sony receiver. What I could not do is manually adjust the EQ to compensate for room acoustics with anything close to the results I got with MCACC. The reciever gives you the option of turning off the MCACC's eq settings, leaving the rest of the calibration (distances and levels) intact--doesn't sound nearly as good. The MCACC is set up to duplicate the sound at Air Studios in London, where LOTR was mixed.
Steve S.
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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted April 04 2003 - 01:34 AM

[quote] The MCACC is set up to duplicate the sound at Air Studios in London, where LOTR was mixed. [quote]
On my Elite 47TX, this corresponds to the ALL CH ALIGN setting. There is also a FRONT CH ALIGN setting, which instead matches your center/surround speakers to your main left/right speakers. For my setup, I prefer this latter setting. I'm not sure if these two options are available with the 45TX. If they are, Steve, you may want to toggle between them to see which you prefer.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted April 04 2003 - 12:06 PM

The 45 also lets you toggle between all channel and front channel align. I like front channel align for PLII music but like all channel align for most newer action type movies with lots of surround effects. For older classic films, serious dramas, and lots of regular tv shows the front align seems more "appropriate" somehow. just my personal preference. I've also noticed that in many cases I like 2 channel movies better in PLII Music than in PLII Cinema.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.




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