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Do You Calibrate Your Sound System?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Dr Griffin, Apr 24, 2016.

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Do You Calibrate Your Sound System

Poll closed Jun 24, 2016.
  1. Yes

    21 vote(s)
    95.5%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  3. I Didn't Know Anything About This

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Message #1 of 29 Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
    Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    I was wondering how many Home Theater Forum members calibrate their sound systems either manually with a Sound Pressure Level Meter (SPL Meter), Real Time Analyzers (RTA) or automatically with built in (to AVRs etc.) Digital Room Correction (DRC) programs. Personally, I've used SPLs, and downloaded RTAs, but haven't used DRC in my system. I have seen DRC used in other systems, but it was a few years ago, and I wasn't too impressed with them, but they may be much better now. I will usually go through the whole RTA procedure a couple times a year, but I will level check the channels frequently with a SPL meter. I'd also like to know how many of you calibrate to the home theater standard of 75 dB pink noise, or do you go with the 85 dB pink noise cinema standard? How many of you also actually set your surround channels to the *recommended -3 dB in relation to the front channels (72 dB in a home theater calibration)? One last question, at what decibel level do you set your subwoofer channel in relation to the other channels in your system?
    I've recently added pro cinema speakers and amplification, and 85 dB (with some peaks at above 110 dB!) is outrageously loud in my room, especially with action type movies. Even at 75 dB I'm getting some peaks above 100 dB.

    Edit: *The older recommendation of setting surround levels -3dB lower than the front speakers was based on the mono surround setup. Discrete channel systems should set all channel levels to the same SPL except for LFE channel, which can be set from 5-10 dB higher.
     
  2. DavidMiller

    DavidMiller Screenwriter

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    For the last couple years I started using the built in calibration in the AVRs. I have been really impressed with the Audyssey Platinum suite that came with the Marantz SR7010. Before that I did it the old fashion way with a SPL meter.
     
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  3. DFurr

    DFurr Supporting Actor
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    My HT has been tuned up only once since I finished it. The Senior Projection and Sound Engineer from Boston Light and Sound was doing a job just south of my home in SoCal. He wanted to come by and check out what I had done and volunteered to do a "tune up" for me. After two computers, mikes and wires running between my Dolby CP650 and his equipment for at least 2 hours, he had my room EQ'ed to perfection! Sounds as good today as it did a year ago. I have changed some seating in the viewing room but I'm not even thinking about trying to touch the system up. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
     
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  4. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    When I did the RTA full cal, I noted changes, and they are usually minute to fairly significant, but never drastic. The difference between my old consumer audio gear and now my pro setup was significant though. I just did my second RTA calibration since I got the pro stuff and there was not much change at all, and the changes were most likely due to a rearrangement of my plasma and some minor wall treatment. When I get the screen and projector setup I expect major changes.
     
  5. DFurr

    DFurr Supporting Actor
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    Yep the screen will surely make a difference. Are you going to be able to hide the speakers behind the screen?
     
  6. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    Yes. I'm planning constant height image 2.76:1 with masking, but it could change as I research. I am also thinking of doubling the size of the room, which would mean taking out a wall. Planning stages, but will decide by the end of the year. If I keep the present layout, the screen would be about 9 ft wide. If I go ahead with the redo, it could be 20 ft wide.
     
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  7. Bobofbone

    Bobofbone Second Unit

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    I used the Audyssey calibration program in the Denon amp in my room, following the instructions. I have dual subwoofers, and used the pink noise in the system to set them to 85db each. After everything was done,i watched "Master and Commander" with the doors closed, at reference volume. It was interesting. The cannon fire and impact from the hits gave a tactile impact through the air, and through the furniture. 2/3's of the way through the movie we stopped raid the 'fridge, and noticed we were both nauseated. I think this was probably from the inner air stimulation from low frequency sound. Great effect. However, even though I like a good sound field, I usually drop the volume of the entire system by 12-15 db. Although if anyone wants to hear what the system can do, I use the first battle from that movie near or at reference volume as a demo.

    I began wondering what I accomplish with the amp's calibration. I'm using Paradigm speakers, that are supposed to be fairly neutral. My room non multiple dimensions to minimize harmonics, one irregular wall with stone, used for mass and to diffuse sound (it looks nice too). The other 3 walls have double dry wall with green glue between, mounted on hat channel on sound isolation clips. All should attenuate sound. I began wondering, with neutral speakers and room that should be good acoustically, what would it sound like with the calibration off? I ran the noise signal and set everything with an SPL meter to 85 db. I played the same sections of several movies flipping back and forth. TO my ear, the non Audyssey setting was much better. Detail, was better. For example, in "the Count of Monte Cristo", during the cave scene, with Audyssey calibration the sound of the water running through and dripping in the cave was muted. With non Audyssey, it was quite clear.

    I may be moving in the near future, and if I do, I'll build another theater. If I stay where I'm at, sooner or later I'll probably put in overhead speakers as part of my system, and upgrade my amp. I'll try the amp's calibration system again, but until then, I'll go with leaving the Audyssey calibration off.
     
  8. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    Precisely why I use a Real Time Analyzer. You can see your problem areas, and there are plenty of suggestions out there to try out if you are new to doing it yourself.
     
  9. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    Does using the "sound meter" that came with my Pioneer receiver count? I used it to "calibrate" the set-up I have, but it was done just once 5 years or more ago. :)
     
  10. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    Is it a Sound Pressure Level Meter?
     
  11. Ken H

    Ken H Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the same experience with my Yamaha RX-V667. The built in YPAO calibration got the speaker size, crossover point, and subsequently the channel levels wrong for the M&K sat/sub system I use.

    With the SPL meter and manual set up, it was much better.
     
  12. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    I use the receiver's auto-calibrat and redo it if I make any significant change to the room (e.g., curtains, stuffed chairs, carpet).
    Then I use an SPL to double check. (I bought the thing before they auto-cal, and dammit I'm going to use the thing.) I usually do the SPL check with just lie music; but if have have an afternoon to kill I use a calibration disk.
     
  13. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    :laugh: +1 :thumbsup:
     
  14. Dave Moritz

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    I calibrated my system manually by ear since I do not have an SPL meter.
     
  15. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    I have two configurations: one for movies and one for multi-channel music. Movies I use the built in calibrator in the Denon. For multi-channel music I use a SPL meter. The reason is for music I use the OPPP DAC while for movies I use the Denon DAC.
     
  16. Dave Moritz

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    I just found a SPL app for my smart phone and ran it on my Galaxy S6 and found that the levels from channel to channel are where they should be.
     
  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    What's the app's name, Dave?
     
  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I used the built-in Audyssey that came with my Onkyo. To be completely honest, I'm much more of a picture guy than a sound guy, and the 5.1 surround from the Onkyo sounds fine to me. Living in an apartment, I can never turn it up loud enough to appreciate what it has to offer.
     
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  19. Dave Moritz

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    SPL Meter by Keuwlsoft and Sound Meter - Dcibel by Melon Soft they are both free.
     
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  20. Message #20 of 29 May 14, 2016
    Last edited: May 14, 2016
    Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    When using an SPL meter with test tones in place of a RTA for 1/3 octave calibration, it's important to use a calibrated microphone for accuracy. I admit I am unfamiiar with the cell phone apps and cell phone microphones, but my guess would be that they are not calibrated to spec. These cell phone apps may very well be somewhat useful for overall channel sound pressure level measurements though.
     

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