Sound Calibration Question...

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by JayKellen, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. JayKellen

    JayKellen Stunt Coordinator

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    I have owned my home theater now for about six months, and I just today stumbled upon yet another piece of equipment people say one MUST have....the Radio Shack SPL meter? (I am not sure if this is the correct name)

    I was told that all sound levels of your speakers should be at the same volume. I at first had my center channel at 8 out of 10, my fronts at 7 and my rears at 10.....I like rear effects the best. I told someone i had these levels as so, and they said the levels should all be at the same, so I changed them all to 10.

    Now, I read that I need this meter, so does this meter basically change these speaker levels (rears might be 8 while the fronts might be 6 etc) or does it change them all to the same level they should be (not necessarily at 10 all the time)

    Is there a level that most of you have your speakers set at that the majority of movies sound great on, or is 10 for all of them too high? I would definitely go buy this meter, but money is tight right now, and I need to know what to do in the meantime to get by. Thanks for any information.
     
  2. Justin_D

    Justin_D Stunt Coordinator

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    The point of an SPL meter is to be used on conjunction w/ a Calibration Disk. You use the meter as the disk instructs you, and adjust the receiver and sub accordingly, creating a more neutral, natural experience.
     
  3. Andy Goldstein

    Andy Goldstein Stunt Coordinator

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    the settings you are talking about are the relative levels between the individual speakers. you can get a rough setting by using the test tones in your receiver. go to the menu for the test tones and set the level for the left front speaker to the middle of the range, typically 0db. cycle to the next speaker (center is usually next) and set the apparent volume so it is the same as the first one. toggle back and forth till it sounds the same as the first one. dont change the setting for the first one. then go to the third speaker (front right, typ.) and adjust it relative to the second one. dont change the second one. go around the room, one pair of speakers at a time. when you get to the last one, the first one should be at the same level. that should get you close.

    have fun!

    ag.
     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I use a SPL meter, and then I bump my rear speakers up about 1 notch because I like the rear effects as well. It's YOUR system - feel free to adjust it to what sounds best to you.
     
  5. Stephen Weller

    Stephen Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    A sound meter is a useful tool to have. I recommend an analog over a digital. I've been using the same one since the late 70's.

    Sit to one side of your "sweet spot" holding the meter at arm's length about where your head will be, and pointing up at the ceiling. With the meter in one hand and your receiver's remote in the other, play the receiver's test tone and adjust all the speakers to within 1 dB of the others. If you move the meter side to side a couple of feet, it will point out acoustic variations like standing waves, too. Get a calibration disk if you want to, but it should only confirm what you just did with what's built into your system.

    I like to bump the rear speakers up a dB or two myself. I guess the novelty of having things sneak up behind me hasn't worn off yet. [​IMG]
     
  6. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    At the very least, I would try to calibrate all your speakers to be at the same level from your listening position, using your receiver's test tones, as others have suggested.

    Using the Avia calibration disk and my ears, I made some adjustments. Eventually, I bought an SPL meter, and I found that I was pretty close, except for the subwoofer (it seems I like my subwoofer to be a little louder than the other speakers).

    I think the best use I found for the sound meter was adjusting the crossover frequencies for my speakers. When I'd listen to the test tones that went from 200 Hz on down, I would think that the sound was dropping out at some points, but the meter would show that they actually were not, and in other cases, the decibels would drop when I didn't discern a drop with my ears. By using the meter, I was able to adjust my receiver's equalizer to get a flatter response curve.
     
  7. David Hoffman

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    As I understand it, our hearing is less sensitive to lower frequencies. That might be why you were boosting the bass more. I saw the same thing after buying an SPL meter...to keep a flat response I had to bring the sub back down.

    Then I raised it a couple notches to compensate for my lack of response at 20-30 Hz (at the expense of making the other sub freqs too loud...alas a compromise).
     

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