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Subwoofer music calibration


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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Randy_Ro

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Posted May 16 2002 - 01:59 PM

When listening to music, do you find the need to run your sub hotter in order to get a satisfactory sound? After calibrating with VE, my receiver subwoofer setting is -15, but when listening to 2 channel stereo music, I find it sounds better if I bump it up to -10. Just curious if anyone else was doing likewise.


RR

#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Sean D

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Posted May 16 2002 - 02:03 PM

What kind of sub are you using Randy?

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Steve_Ma

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Posted May 17 2002 - 12:23 AM

No. Once I finally got my sub calibrated, I stopped messing with it altogether. I don't adjust it up or down for movies or music. I like the idea of hearing what was intended (to the extent my room and system will allow me to, anyway) Posted Image

--Steve

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Richard_s

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Posted May 17 2002 - 02:31 AM

It may depend on the subwoofer. I have the JBL PB12. I use AVIA to set the system up. I use the Radio shack SPL meter.

I find that for HT I like the subwoofer set balanced to the mains and the LFE set to be at the same level as the mains using AVIA and the Radio Shack SPL meter. All matched at reference level. The Radio Shack meter reads low at the low frequencies so this results in the subwoofer actually being around a 4db higher SPL than the Mains.

For Music I find I get a much better blending of the base for instrumentals if I set the subwoofer 4db lower. The Cello and base Guitar are "true" sounding with this setting. If set for HT they appear muffled.

As Steve_MA stated he sets it the same for both. I am trying my system set between the settings I like for music and HT (HT now 2db lower and Music now 2db higher SPL)and I am not sure yet but this sounds quite good for both HT and Music. I need to do a little more critical listening.

#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Miles M

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Posted May 17 2002 - 03:45 AM

RR,
I am with you on this one. I have calibrated my system with the VE disc, very happy with my system for home theater. For music, I usually run the sub 4~5 dB hotter(which by the way is a SVS 20-39CS Plus with samson1000 amp) . I guess maybe we are just used to more bass in music. I am sure many here would say the music I listen to is not a test of a 'true' system, but I think it is what most people listen to nowaday (rock-new and classic, rap, metal, a little new age, some country). I say with rap I tend to really want the thump, which is to say the type of music dictates the type of sound you are looking for: something with bass, you really want to thump. Something like a full orchestra you would want a different sound. So for me, not only do I change the sub setting for theater vs. music viewing, I often change it depending on the music I am listening to(but always within a 0~5db setting over theater).
So bottom line, if you are happy with it that is all that matters and I don't think anyone can say what you are doing is 'wrong'.

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   Steve_Ma

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Posted May 17 2002 - 03:56 AM

I totally agree. Listening and enjoying are far more important than "reference" or any calibration standards.

For me, the main problem was that trying to adjust for movies AND music was a Pandora's Box. Once I started adjusting to taste...I was continually doing it and it began to frustrate me. I soon found myself making adjustments for not just movies vs music, but also for the way certain movies and certain CDs were recorded...Before I knew it, I was getting too far away from any standard and the idea of calibrating meant nothing. Plus, it was a hassel adjusting every time I put in a piece of software.

So, I took measurements, got the flattest response I possibly could. I then locked the ch controls in the AVR and actually taped over the volume and low-pass knobs on the sub (that was also to keep my young daughter from messing with them as well). Now, If a movie or a piece of music sounds good, that's great! If not, that's ok too, but at least I no longer question my setup.

--Steve

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Darrin_R

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Posted May 17 2002 - 04:57 AM

I dont like running it hot for music. If effects the midrange when the subs are running hot.

When I had the subs calibrated, but not EQed, I always seemed to be playing with the settings and ajusting the volume. Now that the subs are EQed I never play with any of the settings. Its been a whole 2 weeks now!Posted Image

#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Randy_Ro

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Posted May 17 2002 - 05:26 AM

Thanks for the replies...lots of good info. I have a SVS 25-31 and am very happy with it. I guess I just have "calibration" fever and am constantly adjusting this and that to get the "perfect" sound. Is there a way to calibrate 2 channel stereo sound? With VE, the adjustments are calibrated using DD so I know I have that calibrated correctly. With music do you just have to use your ears and calibrate to your own taste?


RR

#9 of 20 OFFLINE   ling_w

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Posted May 17 2002 - 06:01 AM

I think it is more important to match the level at the crossover freq for a seamless transistion than go via the pink noise method in Avia or VE. Those freq doesn't take into consideration room peak/dips, sub rolloff, lower crossover freq etc.

If running the sub hot or cold, you would usually get a level mismatch that is not gradual like the bass/treble controls, instead you get a 2 tiered shelf response, which would not sound natural if it occured.


For 2ch sub/speaker matching, I would use spot freq/narrow band warble tone, see where the sub or speaker rolls off and get the -3dB point (-6dB if it is a L-R 24dB/oct crossover.) Then set those 2 levels to be the same and measure again with both speaker and sub on to ensure smooth response. Now use your ears and hear freq sweep to ensure a smooth transisiton, Or try with music that has bass notes in which it moves up and down in that region and listen to see if any of the notes jumps out at you.


If you want to have more bass for music, just turn up the bass knob up. At least that will give you a gradual increase in level.

Personally, if I find the sub to be set hot, nothing sounds natural anymore. Male voice chestiness is emphasized, bass instruments pops out when playing the lower registers but not the higher ones...

#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Steve_Ma

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Posted May 17 2002 - 06:33 AM

If boosting the sub level for music sounds better, then do it, and be happy. However...
Once you are calibrated properly, you do not NEED TO mess around with sub settings for 2ch music vs 5.1 movies unless you want to. Calibration, by it's very nature, brings the sub level "in line" with the main channels. Assuming you don't have custom ch levels or tone controls for various DSP modes, the software and hardware will take care of the sub's level for movies vs music.
http://www.hometheat....pril-2000.html

RE: Ling's comments: I found the stryke disk to be a big help with calibrating up to, through, and beyond the crossover.

--Steve

#11 of 20 OFFLINE   jeff lam

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Posted May 17 2002 - 10:13 AM

But 5.1 has it's own level for callibraion. Do an experiment here. Try running your DVD player to output 2-ch or PCM and calibrate this way letting your receiver do the bass management (I haven't done this but would imagine you get different results). This is how cd's are played through the system, it's much different than a 5.1 source. I personally use my BFD to switch between H/T eq and music EQ. I boost 30Hz with a wide bandwidth for my music preset and use filters to simulate a very sharp crossover slope to get that added punch and kick of the kick drum. This is how music is to be played. What did it sound like at the last concert you went to? Isn't this exactly what we are trying to reproduce? Live sound just like a concert. I run my sub a little different for music and I like it this way, gives you that blow to the chest when the kick drum gets hit.

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Frank_S

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Posted May 17 2002 - 10:47 AM

If your sub is'nt EQ'd to produce the flattest response in your room, you will have a hard time getting positive results listening to music. You also need to blend it with your mains so that all the sub does is extend the lower freq. where your main speakers roll off. If you cross it too high, you will hear boomy bass.

There are a few test CD's on the market that offer sine waves and/or bass warble tones, these used in conjunction with an SPL meter help find the optimum crossover point as well as volume level of your sub. Stereophile has a couple of test CD's on the market with those and other helpful test-tones.

Movie soundtracks are less critical and usually if your sub is calibrated using Avia, you will be fine, IMO Posted Image

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   ling_w

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Posted May 17 2002 - 04:41 PM

Quote:
Movie soundtracks are less critical and usually if your sub is calibrated using Avia, you will be fine, IMO

But this method would not gurantee you a smooth transition between the sub and main speakers because of the reasons I gave. If you calibrate via Avia or VE, your 2ch setting would be off also.

If you calibrate via the 2ch method described, the 5.1 level should be accurate also.

If you want to calibrate with a 5.1 source, get something with a front/center channel spot freq/warble tone and plot across the crossover freq range. The L, C and R channels should all have a smooth transition w/o any shelf effect.

This is assuming you are setting the speakers to small, if they are set to big, there will be no bass rerouting.

#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Tsutsui

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Posted May 17 2002 - 08:36 PM

On my HTPC there is no compromise between music and HT for bass volume. The volume of the sub is FAR overpowering for music if tuned to 5.1. I simply have to walk over to the sub plate amp and turn the knob down for music. I might start adjusting it using the software so it can be more precise though.

#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Mal P

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Posted May 18 2002 - 01:45 AM

I'm not quite sure why you guys are using the reference level for the LFE channel on a film soundtrack to calibrate a sub for music, but whatever takes your fancy Posted Image

Cheers,
Mal

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Steve_Ma

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Posted May 18 2002 - 02:36 AM

I think the point that may be getting missed is that when your speakers are calibrated relative to each other, they are calibrated. Period.
It is then up to the software (the DVD movie or CD) and hardware to determine the bass level relative to the other channels. Check out this article from my last post. In fact, here's a quote:
Quote:
Up until recently, only serious enthusiasts would use an SPL meter to set the levels of their home theater equipment, let alone ask everyone to remember to set the LFE channel differently. For this reason, home Dolby Digital equipment is pre-set to play LFE data 10 dB higher than a main channel (or 10dB higher than the bass from a main channel). It is only necessary to set the subwoofer relative to a main channel and the LFE level will be correct.
Unless there is some funky DSP effects or tone controls engaged, one should be able to switch back and forth between 5.1 movies and 2.1 stereo listening seamlessly and without adjusting bass levels.
Obviously, people often have personal preferences for different levels of bass for one or the other. These preferences, however, should not be confused with accuracy.

--Steve

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Frank_S

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Posted May 18 2002 - 06:45 AM

Quote:
Movie soundtracks are less critical and usually if your sub is calibrated using Avia, you will be fine, IMO

Ling,
Quote:
But this method would not gurantee you a smooth transition between the sub and main speakers because of the reasons I gave. If you calibrate via Avia or VE, your 2ch setting would be off also.

Movies ARE less critical, that's all I'm saying. Did'nt I say?

Quote:
If your sub is'nt EQ'd to produce the flattest response in your room, you will have a hard time getting positive results listening to music. You also need to blend it with your mains so that all the sub does is extend the lower freq. where your main speakers roll off. If you cross it too high, you will hear boomy bass.


#18 of 20 OFFLINE   ling_w

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Posted May 18 2002 - 12:24 PM

Frank,

These people are asking for why music sound different when their sub is calibrated with Avia or VE. I don't deny soundtrack is less critical in terms of level matching, but when they switch to 2ch music, the sub level is all off.

If they follow the 2ch calibration method, they should get good 2ch integration and satisfying LFE.

#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Steve_Ma

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Posted May 18 2002 - 11:27 PM

Quote:
...but when they switch to 2ch music, the sub level is all off.
Ling,
Why would this be the case? I'm not trying to be antagonistic here, but I am under a VERY different impression and I suspect one of us is mistaken Posted Image. I believe that VE and AVIA function like any other test tone with regard to calibration, in that they provide tones to calibrate the sub relative to the other speakers (most importantly the main channels). How the bass or LFE gets played back is dependant on the material (movie or CD) at that point, is it not?

Example: I have calibrated with the VE disk. I have then confirmed (with the stryke tones and the SW from Bruce and Sonny's site), that the LFE out and this calibration method gave me a "flatter response" than using the speaker level connections and the individual tones. I went through this not that long ago specifically because I wanted to optimize my 2CH performance. In the end, it was a great excersize, but just that...excersize.
The internal test tones and VE were just as capable of helping me achieve the best response my room and equipment can give me regardless of the material being reproduced.

--Steve

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   ling_w

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Posted May 19 2002 - 09:51 AM

Steve,

There is a few different things outlined here:

-People like more bass in their movie soundtrack than music
-People like more bass in their music than movie soundtrack
-People calibrate with VE or Avia pink noise and get mismatched bass in 2ch mode

-If you like more bass in your music than LFE, then turn the bass up.
-If you like more bass in your LFE than music, then turn your LFE (not your sub's) level up.
-If they get a mismatched calibration with pink noise in 5.1 mode, then were factors in your environment in which it will skew your result. This is because you are measuring the wide band pink noise of 20-120hz in the sub and 80-20khz in the mains.

-Bass rolloff of the sub will cause you to raise the level for the sub in order to get a proper level reading.
-Bass humps will cause you to decrease the sub's level in order to get a proper level reading.
-Bass depressions will cause you to raise the level for the sub in order to get a proper level reading.
-Main speaker freq resp abberation will cause them to be set either higher or lower in level relative to the sub.
-Bass management's crossover freq that deviates from the std 80hz would cause the bass to be higher or lower than what it should be. This would depend on how the crossover is implemented and if LFE is handled completely by the sub regardless of crossover freq setting.

I guess how close your sub level's adjustment all depends on how many of the above factor caused it to deviate from norm.


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