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How do you calibrate your home audio equipment?
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sebastianalvarez
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Joined: 24/12/2013 06:29:30
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I was wondering how to calibrate my home audio equipment to be within normal parameters when adding filters. Especially when it comes to bass, I have a 12 inch subwoofer that I keep pretty low because I fear it may damage my hard drives (and I think a few died some time ago because of not taming the power of that thing), but I don't want to make a song, set the bass track EQ to a specific level that I find normal and then if I send that to someone it will sound excessive or too low in their equipment.

Now, I'm not a professional and I don't have a studio, or money to buy some expensive tester, but I was wondering if there is a way, either a computer app or something that will at least let me set my receiver's EQ to a curve that when I make a song in Studio One, it will sound more or less decent in somebody else's equipment. I do have some audio test CDs I would have to look for, I think one of them is an old one by Alan Parsons with several tracks and flat sounds on different frequencies, so that would be a start, but I want to know if, save for buying some expensive tester, there is a cheap way to do it.

Thanks
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stratoholic
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I recently purchased a pair ER5s and have been messing with this. Here is the Presonus video that I found to be very informative:

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matthewgorman
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You can get a reference mic usually around $100. There are free wav files of pink noise at you googled disposal. Set up an audio track and drag the pink noise to that, and output that to the mains.. Set up a second track, and plug the reference mic to that, and route that to an output other than main. Choose or create an output that is not actually outputting to a speaker. Put an instance of spectrum meter on each track, and have them both open. Now when you play back, you will see the spectrum on the pink noise, totally flat not influence by the speakers.

Now you can fiddle with the receiver's eq and woofer and try and match up the 2 spectrum meters. You could also insert an eq plug on the main out inserts, and adjust that way. Then every time you monitor through the stereo, put that eq preset on the main to flatten the output.

Not the most elegant, and probably gives some real av folks a rash just reading it, but it is a cheap way to flatten out your system. It will get you closer to what you want, and is better than doing nothing. Same method would work if you were setting up different speaker configs, or studio monitors.
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Tarekith
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Check out the Focusrite VRM, that might help some. Consider maybe losing these sub if it's not helping you out anyway. In my experience, subs cause more problems than they solve if you don't have any bass trapping and have them placed in the wrong location for the room.
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sebastianalvarez
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Tarekith wrote:Check out the Focusrite VRM, that might help some. Consider maybe losing these sub if it's not helping you out anyway. In my experience, subs cause more problems than they solve if you don't have any bass trapping and have them placed in the wrong location for the room.


Thanks, I'll check it out. I would never lose the sub because my speakers are small, not satellites, but still small. Even if I had a studio, I would still have a sub. Maybe I haven't seen a lot of studios, but the ones I've seen seem to only have two 2way or 3 way speakers and no sub, and that's how the low frequencies of most commercial albums suck, because sound engineers don't pay much attention to bass mixing. Usually older albums lack bass and if you set your subwoofer level to where those sound normal, if you play a CD from the last 15 years or so it will blow you like Michael J. Fox on Back To The Future. Besides the volume wars, there seems to be a bass war, where engineers want to put more and more bass into CDs. It's getting so out of hand that the Man Of Steel score, which is excellent, has one track with a mix of low frequencies so bad that about ten or fifteen seconds are horribly distorted, and that's in the CD, you can lower the subwoofer or not use it and you will still hear this weird distortion caused by excessive bass. I have my car's subwoofer amplifier set to where 0 on the CD player will give me normal bass for current commercial albums, and I have 6 levels up or down from there. For most 80's and early 90's albums, I have to set it to 3. With the Man Of Steel CD, I have to set it to -5, that speaks as to how poorly mixed that CD is and that probably they didn't use a subwoofer to test for really low bass levels, not just the lows they get from regular JBL studio monitors. And it doesn't stop there; while some tracks have an excessive amount of lows to where I have to set my subwoofer to a much lower level than normal, some other tracks have the standard level of CDs nowadays, so I have to adjust the subwoofer level per track rather than per CD as is usually the case.
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dr4kan
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sebastianalvarez wrote:Maybe I haven't seen a lot of studios, but the ones I've seen seem to only have two 2way or 3 way speakers and no sub, and that's how the low frequencies of most commercial albums suck, because sound engineers don't pay much attention to bass mixing.


commercial albums are usually big productions, mixed and mastered by top engineers with top class ears and gear. I would not say <<they don't pay too much attention to bass mixing>>, I would rather say that maybe you pay too much attention to it...
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sebastianalvarez
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I would think they are mixed with top gear by top engineers, but many times that doesn't seem to be the case. I may be picky when it comes to sound quality, but so should those top engineers. I'd simply be happy if they would stop trying to put more and more bass into CDs. Every year they try to put more and more bass into CDs. What's the point? Same with the volume wars, what's the point? Just agree to a standard and keep it there. Putting more and more bass into albums is a cheap tactic not so different from TV sets at the store that have artificial saturation and contrast so the picture seems more alive, when if you leave it like that it's going to look like crap at your house in a whole different environment.
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stratoholic
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Bass? I want one of these: http://velodyne.com/subwoofers/digital-drive-plus-series/digital-drive-plus-18.html
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sebastianalvarez
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that won't happen. If I was rich enough to be able to afford that and still have a life, I would give that money to dog and cat rescues. Nobody needs a $5,800 subwoofer at home.
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stratoholic
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sebastianalvarez wrote:


that won't happen. If I was rich enough to be able to afford that and still have a life, I would give that money to dog and cat rescues. Nobody needs a $5,800 subwoofer at home.


You might change your tune after you hear, I mean FEEL, one!!!!!!!!!!!
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jBranam
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simplest way is to create an equilateral triangle (approx. 3 ft each side but can vary slightly) between the two monitors and your ears. keep them at ear height level based on how high you sit. get a decent SPL (sound/Db) meter and place it approx where your ears would be and run a -20 'pink' noise track and adjust each speaker volume using the db meter and set output to approx 75-85db.

and i would agree that subwoofers are nice... but are a major problem setting them up right in the usual home recording setup. most problems come from the woofer sounding through the floor or being too close to walls. (also avoid getting monitors too close to walls due to reflecting sounds) great for referencing but i personally would not use them for accuracy in a home setup.

just my 2 cents...

one thing to note... the triangle of speakers and ears should not be exactly half the height of the room it is in. so if ceiling in room is say 8ft... avoid setting up speakers and ears at exactly 4ft high. many will support this because it can add anomolies... especially from furniture and things in the room.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 16/01/2014 01:25:42

Jay


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sebastianalvarez
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stratoholic wrote:You might change your tune after you hear, I mean FEEL, one!!!!!!!!!!!


Not a chance. I'm more than happy with my BIC America F-12 subwoofer that I can't even use to its fullest or my hard drives would die in two days. They give me excellent bass that I can hear. If it gets to the point where I "feel", which no doubt I could and did with this sub, I'm killing 10 or so hard drives in different computers in the room.

Basically I'm trying to calibrate it to a ballpark, I know it's not professional equipment but I'm not selling recording services, I just want to know if I create a song, if the bass is going to be roughly in the amount it should be according to current standards. It doesn't have to be perfect, because like I said before, not even the pros are consistent when it comes to sound quality.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 16/01/2014 01:26:37

Sebastian

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stratoholic
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^^^ Insane - I love it!
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Rock Johnson
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I'm way low tech compared to everyone else here.

I just played the Appetite for Destruction CD through my system and tweaked the EQ until it sounded "right," then I ran with that.
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Nutti
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I find it interesting whit someone stating that all top engineers fail in what they do...what genere are you thinking of? Alot of music from back in the days for example in the heavy gener are guitarhyped and people wasn't interested in bass. Take metallica and justice for all LP for example and try to hear the bass there...I think it was just the way the artists wanted it to sound back then. In interviews jason has stated that he was never satisfied with the sound since you could hardly ever hear the bass. Now why was that? Simple: Lars and James didn't want the bass to stick out, they just wanted heavy guitars and banging drums
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