subwoofer level question

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by peter_i, Jun 19, 2002.

  1. peter_i

    peter_i Second Unit

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    I originally was using another test disc to balance the levels on my system called The Ultimate DVD Platinum which stated to make sure via a sound meter to up the level on the sub so that it's 2 increments more on the sound meter than the mains. I just got the Sound and Vision Test disc and it said to just do the level via ear. Help! I'm confused. The sub is a different brand than the mains. Is there a standard level say 2 amps more than the mains that the sub should be? I'm using the Radioshack analogue meter. thanks.

    peter.
     
  2. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    I suggest sticking with the new S&V set-up format.

    Set the sub level the same "reference" SPL dB as the mains. The sub calibration gives us the LF to compare.

    Let me review setting the main(s). S&V merely suggests a RS meter level "over 70dB." There are two approaches: you can set the system "reference" at 75dB -- and it doesnt matter where the receiver's volume number ends up -- that rcvr volume number probably will be most people's comfortable room sound level during playback.

    Or, you can set mains/sub to 85dB which is Ovation's Avia standard that matches Dolby Labs reference level. But again, most people wont listen this loud and just turn down the rcvr volume. The effect is the same.

    I dont like how S&V tells how to start out sub amp/ rcvr setting.

    You will want the receiver's sub level setting to fall between its halfway and one-quarter range. For ex. with Yamaha it ranges -20 to 0. Somewhere in the -15 to -12 rnge is optimum: you have room to adjust and aren't maxing it out with potential distortion.

    By the same token, the sub amp level is best at the midway setting or a little higher. This will be a two-handed exercise betw the rcvr and sub amp settings, as you can see.

    To recap, all spkrs are set SMALL in this procedure for bass management that relies on the rcvr's crossover circuit, usually at 80Hz. Sub amp crossover is turned to max clockwise, above 120Hz, to get it out of the way. A sub amp crossover bypass switch does the same thing.

    ....sorry if this is too much information, but hope some helps.

    In the end, if you think the sub sounds weak, you can go back and boost it about 4dB over the mains reference level.
     
  3. peter_i

    peter_i Second Unit

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    thanks Bill, it's a bigger help than S&V's setting recommendation.
     
  4. Michael Lomker

    Michael Lomker Stunt Coordinator

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    Peter,

    When it really comes down to it you should set the sub to a level that it sounds right to you. Unless you intend to listen at reference level (super loud) then you aren't getting "exactly" what the studios intended, anyway.

    I personally like my sub set around 10db lower than my mains because they blend well at that settings. When my sub is turned up to the Video Essentials reference settings it sounds downright boomy and overpowers the mains.

    I'm not sure that adjusting the sub by ear is really bad advice. That is actually what my Arcam manual says to do.
     
  5. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    The only thing that I would add is to make sure that you perform the 5 speaker balance first and then the sub calibration. It is assumed that you have performed the 5 speaker balance prior to sub calibration. During the sub calibration, match the output of the sub tone to the main tone and as Bill recommended, increase sub output up .5-4Dbs if you are not getting the bass you expect.

    If you plan to increase sub output above the output of your mains, I would go up in .5Db increments by adjusting your receiver's sub level. Listen to a variety of music/HT at each increment before increasing any further.

    Some will suggest that you calibrate your sub a few Dbs lower than your mains. I suggest calibrating everything at the same level and then adjust sub output up or down depending on your listening tastes. I have my sub output at 85.5Db and I too used the S&V disc.
     
  6. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    The responders are right on and illustrative of the next stage in calibration after setting up to some standard -- that of personsal ear-taste.
    We don't know where Peter is -- newbie or tweaker with new gear -- and at this initial calibration point it doesn't matter what gear he's using.
    It's said that a lot of people who've set their subs by ear are as much as 10dB above any reference level. A sub is supposed to boom out, right? So setting sub equal to mains is a starting level to get used to the "proper" blend.
    Then if our budding audiophile isn't satisfied with the sub's performance, we can look if he/she is using starter 8in or maybe 10in boxes, and check if the sub is located in the "best" front corner for good room loading.
    Personally, I have one "good" corner that works and have never felt the urge to go to the trouble of using the system of hefting the sub to the listening position then crawling around the room to find the "loudest" or best-sounding position.[​IMG]
     
  7. peter_i

    peter_i Second Unit

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    no, not really newbie or new gearist, just misread some info that I had been told was untrue. Too many indians and not enough chiefs. Too much disinformation, but with everyone's help here, finally gave it another shot and figured it out.
    It's by ear and used the usually halfway level is good.
    Now to try and figure out how to use my crossover and phase on the back of my sub!
    anyone advise me here now? I've got a tin ear, what can I say?
     
  8. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    If you have a tin ear, get an SPL meter [​IMG] Just kidding, but you really should consider calibrating with an SPL meter. Halfway up on many amps is probably too high.
    If you are setting your speakers to small, just turn your crossover knob fully clockwise. This way you bypass the sub's crossover entirely and allow the receiver's crossover to do the work. Most receiver's will crossover everything below 80Hz to the sub when the speakers are set to small.
    Check out your S&V disc for the phase. They recommend that for most systems, you turn the phase completely counterclockwise and leave it there. If you sub and mains seem at all out of sync at this setting, gradually increase the phase until the mains and the sub blend well.
     
  9. Michael Lomker

    Michael Lomker Stunt Coordinator

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    Arron, whether or not bass should "boom" is a matter of contention. I started out in car audio and there are essentially two type of guys, SQ and SPL.

    I was always more interested in sound quality. I've found with the sub set anywhere near the same SPL as my mains that music sounds very unrealistic. I like to listen to jazz and classical and there is only one way that such instruments should sound....and boomy isn't it.

    Much of the soundtrack in movies these days is music. If music doesn't sound correct then I don't see how movies ever would.

    It probably has a lot to do with the acoustics of my room, though.
     
  10. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    Michael,
    Exactly. Personal preference, equipment used, source material, room acoustics, etc., all contribute to where to calibrate. Perhaps if your sub sounds boomy when balanced with your mains, there is something up with your room. Maybe a BFD would help. I have no such problems with boomy, car audio bass with my speakers and sub calibrated at the same level using an SPL meter. Cheers
    [​IMG]
     

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