Setting sub level with RS SPL meter

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by Tommy Angelo, May 6, 2007.

  1. Tommy Angelo

    Tommy Angelo
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    I'm using a radioshack analogue SPL meter to get the level right for my sub because I don't trust the auto setup on my Denon 3805. After auto setup the sub was reading as about 7db quieter than everything else and there didn't seem to be enough deep bass. I have my SVS PB10 EQ'd through a BFD and have a house curve that makes things a little louder as they get deeper.

    I realise the deeper the frequency the lower the reading on the SPL meter will be and have used the correction values for setting up the BFD but how should I be setting the sub level with white/pink noise?

    Any help will be appreciated,

    Thanks,

    Andrew
     
  2. Pulse1

    Pulse1
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    First of all put the meter at your central listening position at ear height facing straight up toward the ceiling.Then adjust all your speakers to read 75db using the amps internal test tone,Then using the internal test tone for the subwoofer adjust so that it centres at 75db also.You will notice that the subwoofer test tone varies about 4db-5db so u should set the needle to read between 73db and 77db with 75db being the reading inbetween.In otherwords adjust so that the needle bounces between 72-73db and 77-78db :smashin:

    Brian
     
  3. Tommy Angelo

    Tommy Angelo
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    The needle hardly varies at all on my meter when the setting is on "slow" and not much more on "fast" setting. I need to know how much I should correct for when there is no specific frequency to go by because the radio shack SPL meter isn't accurate at low frequencies and the reading gets lower as the frequency drops.
     
  4. Nimby

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    Being horribly pedantic: The subwoofer relative level is a matter of taste.

    It also depends on the quality of the subwoofer.

    The better the sub the more bass you can easily tolerate relative to the speakers. IMO.

    I am often surprised at how high I have my sub relative to the speakers. :devil:

    Have your tried REW? This software allows you to see the level differences between your sub and main speakers. :)
     
  5. Tommy Angelo

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    Yeah I've used REW to EQ the sub but the mains have so many tiny spikes and dips its not easy to see what level it's at. I suppose that's why white or pink noise is good to calibrate to as it gives an average across the range.
     
  6. Member 96948

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    FWIW, I've found that in my room, with my system, with average UK weather conditions, that the RS SPL seems to under read by about 4-5dB. But as Nimby says, it's level is a matter of taste.

    A rough rule of thumb is that if spoken male voices are starting to sound boomy/chesty, then it's probably too high. The BBC news is good for setting this although Fiona Bruce isn't much use in this respect.

    I think REW allows you to switch to 1/3 octave smoothing (as opposed to 1/6) which might provide an easier to read response.

    Russell
     
  7. Nimby

    Nimby
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    Took the words out of my mouth. Should we form a duo? :)

    Smoothing will allow you to see the wood for the trees.

    Get a feel for the average level of speakers and subwoofer.

    Somewhere around +2dB - +5dB of the sub over the speakers sounds good on music to my ears. If your sub and you can stand it, then hotter still for films depending on listening level.

    If you don't listen at high overall levels then you can get away with lots more bass. If you are a reference level fan then ease back on the subwoofer level quite a bit. Remember your favorite settings depending on level.

    At low levels you need more bass to compensate for natural bass deafness of the human ear. At high overall sound levels your ears become ever more sensitive to bass. At about 90dB overall your ears are probably fairly flat in their response to the bass compared to the speakers.

    As you have a BFD and have removed serious spikes form your sub's in-room response you can probably get away with higher sub levels than those who have not equalised their subs. They will have to adjust their sub levels depending on their loudest bass spikes.

    The PB10 is a decent performer so that allows you some extra headroom over lesser subs. Play it by ear. If it sounds right to you then it is right. If you hear a knocking noise from the PB10 then you have definitely overdone it!
     
  8. Tommy Angelo

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    Thanks guys, I should re-EQ the sub anyway because the room has had a bit of a makeover so I'll set the level with 1/3 octave smoothing at the same time. :thumbsup:
     
  9. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    I think the above is a good point. There is probably a window of tolerance which will work, depending on personal taste. However, if you are using something like an 80hz xover voices will start to sound boomy, and lose clarity at a certain point. I think some put so much emphasis on their bass that they forget what a spoken voice is meant to sound like.

    T.
     
  10. Member 96948

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    No. This is an AV forum, not help the aged.:D

    Russell
     
  11. Member 96948

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    This is where I frequently find myself out of step with the bassheads. If it doesn't sound realistic, then you've over done it. Period.

    House/custom curves should cut in below the point where the distortion of voice kicks in, otherwise you're sacrificing the intelligibility of dialogue for the sake of kick in the guts bass. This point varies from room to room and therefore, there's no hard and fast about it.

    The two qualities are not mutually exclusive and one should not be emphasised at the expense of the other. It takes some experimentation, but deep bass that only kicks in when demanded is far more impressive than deep bass, all of the time.

    Listen to the Beebs news and part way through, turn your sub off. If it sounds much clearer, then chances are you've over done it. If it starts to sounds thin and nasal, then it was probably about right. This is obviously very dependent upon the sub/speaker combo in question, but we all know what a human voice sounds like. It's an obvious reference and a useful one.

    It's also affected by the crossover point between sub and speakers. To my mind, it's a good gauge of where your particular package is best crossed over. If voice makes the sub sound aurally locatable, it's a good indication of a crap crosser point, crap sub, or the sub being set to too high a gain. Add this to about a thousand other considerations.:confused:

    Russell
     
  12. Nimby

    Nimby
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    Cheeky sod! I taught you everything you know...

    And you still know ... all! :devil:

    Peaks in a sub's or speaker's response can easily cause your voice "woolliness" at lower levels than with an equalised subwoofer.

    Interestingly (?) the female voice often has higher bass content tha the male. The female voice tending to have richer harmonics than men's. :lesson:

    I heard that on the BBC. :)
     
  13. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    That is just wrong :)


    Are you sure it wasn't your wife? ;)
     
  14. Nimby

    Nimby
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    Nope.
     
  15. Gregory

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    Hmm,

    The female voice content sounded just about credible - maybe at lower individual harmonics or whatever. Enough for me to want to do a quick trawl before discounting. Found an article here that seems to indicate that it is as one would expect - male voices have more bass. Also visible in recording info - see here

    Cheers

    Greg
     
  16. Nimby

    Nimby
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    I didn't believe it at first either. :)

    While the speaking male voice is indeed usually pitched lower, the female spoken voice contains more in the way of subharmonics (i.e: harmonics below the fundamental) not usually present in the male spoken voice.

    I may have read about this in a BBC loudspeaker magazine article, some time ago, suggesting that the BBC LS3/5a was tested on female spoken voice as being more indicative of sound quality. Odd that it should considering that the LS3/5a rolls off at 120Hz!

    I suggest a search for <female voice subharmonics> ;)
     
  17. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Sorry to hijack this thread, but what volume level would/should you typically set on the sub itself?

    I've always set the crossover on the sub somewhere between crossover point in receiver and highest setting. Many things I've read say to set this to highest setting and maybe with sub/sat combo this works best, but generally doesn't for me.

    As for the volume on the sub. I tend to set about half way and then tweak on the receiver.
     
  18. Pulse1

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    You are doing it back to front always set your receiver to 0db first then raise the level/gain control on the subwoofer :smashin: And you are better to set the crossover on the subwoofer to maximum setting that way it wont interfere with the reciever's built in crossovers.

    Brian
     
  19. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Hmm, I'll have a play tonight, but I think the sub will be too in my face if I did that. Maybe it's due to my typical level being somewhere between -15 and -5 db (0db being calibrated to 75db).
     
  20. Pulse1

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    What i mean is 0db for the sub level in the test tone that is in your reciever.In other words set reciever to reference level 0db then for adjusting the subwoofer in the test tone setting make sure that is set at 0db also, then raise the level control on the sub until it reads 75db on your spl meter.Also make sure you have done all the levels and time delay settings for all other speakers as well :thumbsup:

    Brian
     

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