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Setting up that home thread system - calibration, auto-eq, Audyssey etc

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Old 07-01-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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Setting up that home theatre system - calibration, auto-eq, Audyssey etc

This thread will help you get started in setting up your HT system.



- then do some homework on how to set up the system.

Using Audyssey is a simple way to get start BUT it is NOT a substitute for doing your own calibration and getting a SPL meter is essential.

Use the Search Button and Read the Stickies!

My home theatre gear and my blog:


Last edited by petetherock; 07-01-2010 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:56 AM   #2
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Audyssey Multi EQ + Dynamic Eq vs. Multi EQ XT


"Official" Audyssey thread.

Q. What is the deal with these new Audyssey features, Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ?

A. The guys who made it can explain it best. Here are links to Audyssey's explanations of the new technologies:

Audyssey Dynamic Volume:

Audyssey Dynamic EQ:

Note that these technologies are supplements to, not replacements for, the Audyssey MultEQ auto-calibration and room EQ system.

Q. What is Audyssey MultEQ?

A. Audyssey MultEQ is a powerful auto-setup and room calibration program which applies frequency correction to your speakers in an effort to compensate for any acoustical problems inherent to your room.

For more information, please see the Audyssey FAQ on the "official" Audyssey thread:

Also, check out the Audyssey MultEQ product description at the Audyssey website:

Q. I ran Audyssey and my subwoofer level is strange / I ran Audyssey and my speaker levels look really funky... what gives?

A. All of these questions are common Audyssey questions and fully covered in the Audyssey FAQ:

Feel free to simply turn down your subwoofer (either on the sub’s volume control or in the receiver’s channel level settings) if you find it’s too boomy. It won’t screw up Audyssey EQ’ing.

Q. Audyssey set my speakers to "large" and I know they should be "small", will changing this manually screw up Audyssey?

A. No, it won't hurt anything and is actually recommended in many cases. This is well covered in the Audyssey FAQ:

Q. Is the “Night” mode the same thing as “Dynamic Volume”?

A. No, the “Night” button on the remote is for the old-school version of “Night” mode that receivers have had for years, it is nothing more than a simple dynamic range compressor. Denon confusingly left a dedicated “Night” button on the remote, but this button does NOT have anything to do with Dynamic Volume or Audyssey at all.

If you are using the Audyssey Dynamic Volume (and you should, it is a much more sophisticated version of “Night” mode), then you should never touch the “Night” mode button.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:58 AM   #3
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Useful weblinks

These are from DTV forum, and form the basic knowledge for getting your HT right:

Basic Audio Calibration, Audio Calibration for those using a SPL meter


HT basics article, A good background article for newbies



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Old 07-01-2010, 12:01 PM   #4
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Subwoofer setup

Firstly some pointers:

- use the SEARCH button as for other items, much has been written on this.
- ask yourself what you want to do with the sub - HT, music
- room size -- if you ask for help here, give more info Get More Info
- WAF -- can you accomodate a bigger sun which can give you more SPLs like the SVS series.

Most important for new buyers:


If you wish to spend peanuts, you get a monkey of a sub and the sound will NOT be anything like the demo room or the cinema. We all live within our budgets, but I have been there. A cheap sub doesn't do the trick and you end up spending more and discarding the cheap one.

Subs last for quite a well, so it is a decent investment.

In the next link I will post some suggestions.

Some important links:



Subwoofer connection:


CNET tips:

A super collection of subwoofer setup tips:

Basic setup tips 101:


A good FAQ site:

Crawling for bass:


Setup errors:


Multilpe subwoofers:

Something you will defintely need:


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Old 07-01-2010, 12:01 PM   #5
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Subwoofers < $500

I do not have a lot to say for this category simply because I have not seen much worth recommending without the owner coming back and spending more.

2nd hand is the best way at this price range

Brands like Wharfedale, Morduant Short etc carry subs for this range, go to the usual suspects in Adelphi and Sim Lim Square to hear them:


- Anson Audion
- Seng Heng

- Merdeka
- City Electronics
- World of Audio

etc etc
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:02 PM   #6
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Demo discs

Some links to demo scenes and discs:

My fav link:




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Old 07-01-2010, 12:03 PM   #7
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Bass Management and the LFE Channel

A good read on this:


Some points:

Although we would like to have frequency-agile filters, fixed-frequency filters are not all bad. An extensive survey conducted in Europe showed that 80Hz is the best all-around choice for fixed-frequency filters. In the survey, the vast majority of humans began to distinguish subwoofer directionality at a mean frequency of 185 Hz, and 80 Hz was the absolute minimum case below which no one heard directionality. This has led most manufacturers to choose 80 Hz as the frequency for their fixed filters.

Myths and Confusion
Now that we understand a little bit about bass management, it's time to dispel a few myths and examine common areas of confusion that relate to bass management, the LFE channel, and bass reproduction.

1. Low bass is NOT directional. If I had a penny for every time someone has told me they can hear bass directionality down to 20 Hz, I would be writing this article while flying to the French Riviera in my private jet. Yes, we can hear the overtones of bass instruments above 120 Hz, and those overtones should definitely be played by the main speakers correctly located in the room for proper imaging. However, we cannot-I repeat cannot-localize bass below about 80 Hz.

The most important thing we can do with non-directional bass frequencies is to produce them in locations in a room that don't favor strong coupling with standing-wave resonances. These resonances turn a bass punch into an event that takes two seconds to decay-that's bad, that's mushy, that's slow. Attempting to play stereo bass in a listening room without regard to 2-second-long bass resonances, which completely swamp any sense of separation, is pure madness! Of course, that's only my theory; others can draw their own conclusions. This is largely a free world despite what some may want us to think!

2. Full range speakers are NOT an excuse for eliminating bass management. In order to render bass management unnecessary, each full range speaker must have a 15-inch woofer (or dual 12-inch woofers) with 200 watts of power driving it. Anything smaller will simply overload on loud scenes. Also realize that each one of these behemoth speakers must be carefully placed so its interaction with the bass resonances of the room is optimized. Believe me, it's darned near impossible to place seven speakers in a room so that each speaker identically loads bass resonances. The result of improper loading is grossly uneven bass. Some speakers are cranking out thick and inarticulate bass, while others seem downright anemic.

The right way to handle this dual problem is to implement bass management and strategically place subwoofers in the room for optimized resonance loading. Research has shown that some locations in a room yield predictably good results after all is said, done, and installed. One of the best layouts is four subwoofers in a cross pattern (see Fig. 6).

3. The LFE channel is NOT a "subwoofer channel." The LFE signal should be thought of as a path for super-loud bass that would otherwise overload the main channels. Sound designers use this path when the main channels just can't put out enough bass to rock the house. Remember that in movie theaters, the volume control is fixed at a reference level. At that volume setting, the peak sound pressure level from the recorded medium should be 105dB in the listening area. In the mid-frequency range, 105dB is good and loud, but in the deep bass region, it just isn't enough to get the impact we all expect from big A-list titles with he-man characters wielding limitless firepower.

To get real chest-pounding bass, we need to get up to 115dB. The main channels are missing 10dB of headroom, and that's where the LFE channel comes to the rescue. With 10dB of extra headroom, it can really get a person's body bouncing around in the seat. LFE is only used during high-octane action with lots of bass; during the rest of a movie, the LFE channel has no content. The LFE channel may be fed directly to subwoofers in most systems, but there's no directive that it must be. An exceedingly large home theater (dimensions greater than 40 feet) with massive main speakers could theoretically run the LFE channel to those speakers and have no subwoofers at all!

4. There should be ONE, only ONE, and nothing but ONE audio connection between an AV controller and powered subwoofers. Some AV controllers offer an LFE-only output in addition to the subwoofer output, and some subwoofers offer multiple line-level inputs. Controllers with both LFE-only outputs and subwoofer outputs may tempt us to connect a separate subwoofer to each output and run one subwoofer for the LFE channel and another one for summed main-channel bass. This is an exceptionally bad idea in most cases, because we need both subwoofers playing the same thing, working together to cancel bass resonances. The most effective use of two subwoofers is to have them play the sum of the bass from the main channels and the occasional LFE hit. Bass character stays consistent throughout the movie, and the subwoofers are used to their full potential.

This brings us to subwoofers with multiple line-level inputs. The concept of a subwoofer with multiple inputs that have various filtering and summing functions makes no sense in light of our discussion of bass management. In a multichannel audio system with bass management, a subwoofer needs one input, a polarity switch, a power switch, and that's all folks! Those other things-diverse inputs with misleading names, a stereo summing input, a lowpass filter, a volume control, etc.-are only useful in a stereo system without bass management and just add to the cost and complexity of a subwoofer. It is the job of a custom installer or end users to search out the right input for the bass-managed feed from a controller, and that's not always an easy task.

( I have run into situations in which the gain of the subwoofer is such that the bass level setting in the preamp-processor or AV receiver has inadequate range on its own to properly set the subwoofer level. Because of that, I personally prefer to have a level control on a subwoofer.—TJN)

5. There are NO clear rules governing the bandwidth of the LFE channel. The production statutes applied to LFE channels are so varied that determining the upper LFE cutoff frequency for a playback system is often an exercise in futility. Some LFE channels contain no content above 50Hz, while others (usually due to an error in mastering) are full range! The generally accepted safe approach on the playback end is to lowpass-filter the LFE channel at 80 Hz. However, some AV controllers do not apply a lowpass filter to the LFE channel at all, meaning that highly directional bass on some recordings could potentially be produced by the subwoofers. Beware of these controllers, as there is usually no way to add an external lowpass filter without serious repercussions to the main-channel bass.

6. The ratio of the LFE level relative to the level of the bass from main channels should NOT be adjusted in the AV controller. The ratio should be such that LFE signals are 10dB louder than signals of equivalent level in any other channel. A few early DTS music releases contained LFE channels that were 10dB louder than the industry standard. For this reason, some controllers include a DTS music mode that reduces the LFE channel by 10dB. There is no other logical reason to adjust the level of the LFE channel separately from the main channel bass. Doing so irreparably alters the mix intended by the sound engineer.

7. There is NO NEED for an LFE channel in the vast majority of music applications. There continue to be multichannel music recordings released with content in the LFE channel when the bass in the main channels isn't even close to overload. Inexplicably, some music-recording engineers think that they must put something into the LFE channel so that end users will hear sound coming from their subwoofers.

Frankly, that's terrible logic because the subwoofers in bass-managed systems (which represent the overwhelming majority) receive the LFE channel and the sum of the main-channel bass. Users and installers of multichannel systems don't really need to worry about a music recording with an LFE channel as long as they set up their systems correctly with bass management. At times, however, bass-managed playback systems dig up bass that recording engineers didn't hear because their monitoring systems weren't bass-managed and their monitor speakers weren't full-range. This unmonitored bass sounds ultra-funky, and there's absolutely nothing users can do about it without reconfiguring their systems every time they switch discs. It's time for us to lodge some complaints with the production community!

8. Analog signals from a DVD-Audio or SACD player that are input to an AV controller through its multichannel analog inputs may NOT be bass managed inside the AV controller. Unlike a digital input, where the incoming signal is run through bass management (which is always performed in the digital domain) before it is converted to analog, an analog input must feed its signals through the controller's analog-to-digital (A/D) converters before they can be sent to bass management. A/D conversion might be okay for some analog signals, but not those from high-resolution formats like Packed PCM (PPCM) or Direct Stream Digital (DSD).

Thus, most controllers do not convert their multichannel analog inputs to digital, or run them through bass management. This task is left to the disc player, most of which don't have enough DSP horsepower to provide filters as advanced as those in controllers. In fact, some players do not even provide the option of setting all the main speakers to Small-the front speakers are often restricted to Large. Furthermore, the digital-to-analog (D/A) converters on disc players' subwoofer outputs often do not have enough headroom to output bass at sufficiently high levels. The level of the subwoofer output is usually reduced by either 10dB (for a player without bass management) or 15dB (for a player with bass management), with the expectation that the signal will be boosted by the controller. This is all well and good except that many controllers are not set up to apply that boost to their analog subwoofer inputs!

The current solution to both of these problems is to set all the outputs of a disc player to Large and insert an external bass-management device between the player and the controller. (Bass-management devices are available from Outlaw Audio and Miller & Kreisel, among others.) It's not a very appetizing thought, but it's a heck of a lot better than lacking highpass filters for the front speakers or having bass that's 15dB too low!

Fortunately, there is another solution on the horizon. Universal digital interfaces, like FireWire, that can carry PPCM and DSD are appearing on the latest crop of disc players and AV controllers. If the external bass-management box is a turn-off, reach for these new players and controllers, which bass management for PPCM and DSD works just like it does for other digital-audio formats.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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Subwoofer setup

III. Subwoofer Setup
A. Determine the optimal placement of the subwoofer within your room using common accepted practices. (location, location, location)
1. Here are some useful references for subwoofer setup:
a. Audioholics subwoofer placement article:
b. Harman multiple subwoofer placement white paper: http://www.harman.com/wp/pdf/multsubs.pdf
B. Disable the Low-Pass Filter (LPF) on the subwoofer, if allowed.
1. Disabling the LPF will result in more accurate subwoofer distance measurements.
2. If the LPF cannot be disabled, set it to the highest frequency allowed.
C. Ensure the subwoofer(s) are at least 3 – 5 inches (7 – 13 cm) from the wall.
1. Reverberating walls may result in inaccurate subwoofer distance measurements.
D. Set the subwoofer polarization (0 or 180 degrees) using common accepted practices.
1. If you have two subwoofers, ensure their polarization settings are the same.
E. If the subwoofer has a phase control (in addition to the polarization control), set it at “0”
1. Phase controls on subwoofers apply "delay" at one frequency rather than the needed group delay that is frequency independent. So, it is best to just leave them at “0”.
F. If the sub has an EQ system, use it to tame large peaks before calibrating with Audyssey.
1. Narrow peaks or dips in the response below 100 Hz that are 1/3 or 1/6 of an octave wide can be improved—but not eliminated—by Audyssey Mult EQ XT.
a. In these situations, the built-in subwoofer EQ systems might be useful.
2. Velodyne’s SMS and JL Audio’s ARO are two examples of EQ systems.

G. Calibrate the subwoofer volume
1. Set the volume control on the subwoofer at the middle of the adjustment range allowed.
a. Please note this “starting point” may not work with all subwoofers.
2. Place the microphone at the primary listening position (the center of the listening area) and run through the calibration process for the first measurement—until all speakers have been measured once.
3. After the first measurement process is complete, select "Calculate", then "Save" or "Store", then go to "Check Parameters".
a. Audyssey will calculate the speaker distances and trim levels from this first measurement.
b. Each manufacturer has a slightly different interface, so the terminology may not exactly match.
4. Check the subwoofer trim levels in the receiver / processor menu.
a. If the subwoofers trim level is at the maximum limit of the cut or boost adjustment range allowed, you need to adjust the volume control on the subwoofer and repeat step #2. Specific instructions will follow.
b. For example, Denon receivers have a trim adjustment range from -12dB to +12dB.
c. Trim adjustments are a tool used to achieve the goal of producing a specific SPL from each speaker / subwoofer when the system is played at reference level.
5. If the subwoofer trim level is at the maximum boost, turn up the subwoofer volume a bit and repeat step #2
6. If the subwoofer trim level is at the maximum cut, turn down the subwoofer volume a bit and repeat step #2
7. A suggestion for tweakers is to set the subwoofer trim level in the range of ±3 dB.
a. This is only a suggestion for the tweaker who likes to play around.
b. Audyssey’s position is to perform steps 4 to 6 above.

• Note: This process is for checking the trim levels only. After you have completed the subwoofer setup, be sure to start the measurement process over, following the guidance in section V to use all six or eight measurement positions available.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:06 PM   #9
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I notice this is a common question encountered at least once a week, so I decided to compile the knowledge into this thread and whenever some new bro asks, they can be referred to the information the pros here have contributed.

A simple search reveals a good dozen good threads, plus some in the subwoofer section even.

Some notes:

Sats (as they will be shortened to)

- are not value for money (VFM)
- they usually have lousy mids especially the cheaper examples
- will need a subwoofer to fill in, some crossover at 100 Hz but if they can reach 80Hz, thats more ideal as the bass unit will be less localisable
- they can be mounted on walls or stands - I suggest hanging them first before permanently fixing them, so you can figure out the ideal spot
- they can suck up quite a bit of power, many of them being inefficicent so a good amp with at least 70-100 real watts per channel is useful
- not all of them are light so make sure your mounts can take them
- they are better for HT than music

So with so many issues, why buy them??

I ask that of our bros often when they want the cutesy thing. Simple reason - WAF -- wife acceptance factor ---- "I need to blend in with my decor" / "my wife / partner doesn't want the speakers to dominate the room" / "my kids might destroy the speakers"

Well then, that is a choice, and I respect that, but don't ask why they sound worse than someone else's setup for the same money and where the mid went

It is harder but still possible to integrate the sound, a bit more effort and a realistic expectation is needed.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:08 PM   #10
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In this modern age of auto-calibration, we leave much to the amp.

However since satellites cannot go low, and often stop being effectively at higher frequencies, we have to do some homework ourselves (actuall we should anyway, auto-whatever not withstanding).

Most small form satellites crossover - i.e. the frequency at which they need help from the subwoofer, at higher frequencies than the THX bog standard of 80Hz. Sometimes this is 100, 120 or even 200Hz. Individual speakers may also have their own crossover frequencies, eg the centre speaker may be larger and crossover at a lower frequency than the rest - 100 vs 120 for example.

If you have a modern AV amp, it may be able to take care of all this, and comes with built in individual crossover frequency settings. Even this may be insufficent if your satellite speaker is of the miniscule nature.

Then you need to make sure your subwoofer has a crossover frequency or high frequency rolloff dial. This is the frequency adjustment in which the sub hands over the sound to the tiny satellites. Turn it up to get a seamless marriage of sound between the sub and the sats.

You will need a SPL meter, and if you think it is too hard, pay for someone to do it for you.

NOTE: the higher thecrossover freq, the more likely the location of the sub will be localised - i.e. you know where the bass is coming from, instead of being omni-directional.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:13 PM   #11
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Before you post q question

So there is a lot of info here.

Read it, use it and apply it.

Don't wait to be spoon fed, each room is different and you will, should and must try it out on your own room and system. Simply asking for tips without doing your own homework or setup is fruitless.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:14 PM   #12
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Still no clue - Pay Up!

If you do not want to learn, are not willing to read the manual, a simple way is to PAY for someone to do it for you.

There is only so much free advice can do. Much needs to be done on the ground.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:16 PM   #13
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Post Instead Of Sending A Pm

I get too many queries for help via pm.


That way more can benefit and I don't get asked the same question over and over again.

But do your own reading before you post.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:18 PM   #14
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I also get a lot of queries asking for recommendations.

Each person has their own tastes in sound. You need to


No amount of couching surfing will substitute for getting down to a shop and finding out for yourself.

Bring your favorite cds, dvds etc and try it there. Be prepared to mix and match, buy from different shops to get it right.

And REWARD the man who gave you good service instead of just going for price. We are not birds. Don't just aim for cheap cheap...

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Old 07-01-2010, 12:20 PM   #15
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Speaker placement


Here is a list of items you will need to do this correctly:

1 Radio Shack (analog preferred) SPL meter
1 25ft tape measure
1 pen type laser pointer
1 pair of rubber pie shaped door stops (Home Depot)
1 package small square rubber stick-on feet (Home Depot)

Step 1: Center Speaker Positioning
First stick two rubber feet on the bottom front of your center speaker. Then place the pie shaped doorstops under the back of the center so the back is angled down toward the listening position. Next, place the laser pointer on the top of the center speaker pointed at the listening position. Then aim and adjust the beam of the laser pointer so it is just above the ear level at the listening position. Adjust the rubber door stops until the correct height is obtained. This effectively aims the tweeter at the listening position between your ears.

Step 2: Main Speakers Positioning
Position your front main speakers at least a foot off each back and side wall and you are close to the "Golden Triangle Rule" ( Example: speakers 8ft apart from listening position and 8 ft back). Make sure that the speakers are the same distance off the back wall with the tape measure, then place the laser pointer on the inside panel of the speaker enclosure at the height of the tweeter.

With the laser pointer beam active, rotate the speaker inward until the laser pointer beam is about 6" away (outside) from the center of your listening position. This will effectively toe in the speaker to a close position according to the dispersion patterns of your speakers. If your speakers have an unusually wide dispersion pattern, you may wish to experiment with the degree of toe in for optimal performance.

Step 3: Surround Sound Speakers Positioning
Bipolar/Dipole surrounds usually perform best when placed on the side walls directly across or slightly behind the seated listening position and at approximately 18-28" above the seated ear level position.

Quadpolar surrounds, similar to Bipoles, usually perform best when placed on sidewalls, but closer to the backwalls, for rear wall reflection of the side mounted tweeter. Their height should be about 4-6 feet above the seated position, but greater than 1 foot away from the ceiling to not obscure the top mounted woofer.

Direct Radiating surrounds usually perform best when placed behind and slightly higher than the listening position, spread apart the same distance as the mains and slightly toed in.

Step 4: Subwoofer Positioning
Subwoofer placement is adequately covered in our article: Crawling for Bass .

Step 5: Speaker Configuration Set-Up In The A/V Receiver
Enter the setup menu of the Denon AVR-2802, or any modern Surround Sound Receiver, and select all speakers set to small and subwoofer crossover to 80 Hz. Set the crossover on the Subwoofer to its maximum position or if it has a crossover bypass select bypass. Next, use the tape measure to accurately enter the feet or meters your speakers are from the listening position.

Step 6: Checking the Phase of the Speaker System

A) Electrical Phase
Make sure all your speakers are in electrical phase (positive from amp to positive to speaker, negative from amp to negative to speaker). A speaker system out of phase will defeat your calibration and may result in poor imaging, bass response, or both.

B) Acoustical Phase
Next check to see if your main speakers and subwoofer are in acoustical phase by sweeping a test tone from 20Hz to 100Hz using a popular set-up disc such as Avia or THX. Listen for any nulls or bumps in the frequency response. The bass response should sound smooth and uniform throughout the entire swept frequency range. If it doesn't try setting the phase switch on your subwoofer to 180 degrees, or if the phase feature is a rotary dial, rotate it in 20 degree steps and listen for the bass to smooth out between the mains and subwoofer. If this still doesn't solve the problem, set the phase on the subwoofer back to the 0 position, and vary the subwoofer distance in the Receiver set-up menu ± a few feet until it does. You may need to experiment between these suggestions and the placement suggestions for your subwoofer previously mentioned in Step 4. Be patient, it is worth the extra time now as it's a one time investment to ensure great sound.

Step 7 Sound Pressure Level (SPL) Calibration
Place the SPL Meter at the listening position at ear level with the Mic end pointed toward the ceiling. Select "C" weighting, response slow then, turn the dB dial to 70. Activate the internal pink noise generator of your Receiver and select manual test tone. Now adjust each speaker to +75 dB reference. When you are adjusting the surrounds make sure your body is not in a direct path of the speaker and make sure the house is quiet. When doing the calibration, only the test tone should be heard (A/C, ceiling fans, ect. should be turned off). I like to adjust the subwoofer level to + 80dB for wow effect. Your taste may vary.

Step 8 Enjoy!
Put in a good flick with lots of hard simultaneous pans and dialog, and plenty of dynamic swings.
"Contact" Lift off chapter or "The Phantom Menace" Pod race, or "U571" Depth Charges, work well.
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