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Sound System University

tuning your system

tools for sound vol I
Sound System University
system tuning
Tuning your system to your room With most sound systems the target dB level at the
First the why? The room where your system is located “Listener of Interest” will be between 80-90 dB.
is what I call a fixed equalizer. The materials that make up
your room absorb and reflect frequencies, this is the Use a SPL meter (Sound Pressure Level, radio shack
problem. Your speakers are designed to produce a full has a good digital on e for about $60.00). To set the levels
range of frequencies, but your room is messing with the properly, place your main and channel faders to unity or
dispersion and the whether we hear those frequencies or “0’ indication, set the trim on the channel so the music
not. What needs to happen is the room should be neutral, from the CD is averaging on your meters. With the SPL
or “flat”. In other words your room should allow all meter set on “A” weighting go to furthest seat from the
frequencies to be heard. sound system speakers or your “listening position of
interest” and turn your amps up or down until the SPL
How to fix the problem
meter reads your desired setting. It helps if you have a
This is the procedure: first you set
helper to assist you. To give yourself a little
up a calibrated mic in the room at
headroom in your system set the main fader
listening height ( 20 Hz to 20KHz
to -10. This will give a 100% increase in
freq response) hooked up to an RTA
volume. If you set your system to produce
(“real time analyzer”). Then you run
90dB of sound at a -10 dB on your fader,
“Pink Noise” through your system.
then if you raise your fader up to “0” or
With an equalizer in the signal chain
unity, you will increase the SPL by 10dB
of your system, you adjust the
which is 100% as loud or twice as loud.
equalizer (a 31 band equalizer will
match the bands on the RTA) to get
by Tom Hautka
the analyzer to be flat (all
frequencies equal in volume
energy). a podcast of this operation
will be placed on the site shortly.
Tools needed
An easier way • graphic eq (31 bands or 1/3rd octave)
there is an easier way to perform the above task. Buy • RTA
a DBX Driverack unit. The model depends on the size and • calibrated mic
complexity of your system. The driverack has all the tools • pink noise generator
• SPL meter
to tune your system except the calibrated mic. It also has • Good Music
a few extra goodies like a feedback exterminator and a
compressor along with the RTA, 2 channel 1/3rd octave
EQ, a stereo 3 or 4 way crossover (depending on model),
and pink noise generator. It also has a setup wizard that
will EQ the room for you.

Calibrating the Volume of your system to achieve good

Gain Structure
First we need to determine what level (dB) you want at
the furthest listener, i.e. 70 dB is about the level of normal
speech. The average music level of a loud home stereo is
85-90 dB. A concert can get a lot louder than that.