Optimizing my subwoofer - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 08-14-2014, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Optimizing my subwoofer

I just recently purchased my first 5.1 system, and based on recommendations I got the Outlaw LFM-1 EX for my sub. It's been a couple weeks so far, and overall I'm definitely satisfied but it does lack the "feel it in your chest" punch that I've read some of you are getting. Now, the system is set up in my living room which is 2700 cf and opens into the kitchen so the total space is probably ~5000 cf. That being said, I understand it's possible the space might just be too big for the 1 subwoofer to completely fill up (I've read about terms like headroom which I'm not sure if I understand correctly but I think that just refers to the sub filling up the volume of the room?). Anyway, since I'm such a noob I figure any tips you guys could give on ways to optimize would really help me out, at least until I might be able to convince the wife to allow a 2nd sub in the space

1) Sub placement: Due to WAF, there are really only a couple places in the room where the sub would be deemed acceptable. Right now it's situated in the front right corner of the room. There is a great punch when standing a couple feet away, but in the main sitting space it drops off a decent bit. I've seen people post graphs of how a sub performs at different frequencies from a specific listening position - is this something a beginner could do and is there a post or thread explaining this? I kinda just want to see if my main listening position right now is really bad so I can have some data to show my wife if we need to move it to a less visually pleasing spot

2) Calibration: I have a Yamaha Rx-v677 receiver and ran the YPAO automatic calibration upon setup. I had the Outlaw's volume (or gain? not sure if the terms are interchangeable) set to ~2.5, which I read in a couple Outlaw threads would probably be best. I also had the Outlaw in Max Extension mode, with one port plugged. The YPAO result set the sub to -3 db. It also had the other speakers set as large, which I manually changed to small and then I manually set the crossover at 80 Hz. After that I didn't rerun YPAO but I did manually bump the sub volume up on the receiver to -1 db. After a bit of listening I switched the relative phase to 180, which I think sounded a bit better. Anything I'm missing or did wrong? I've typically been watching movies between -25 and -30 db overall volume on the receiver, which I'd imagine in the scheme of things isn't super loud. If I want to keep the dialogue and right/left speaker effects the same volume, but increase the sub volume so that explosions and such are louder, should I just increase the sub's volume more on the receiver? So say instead of -1 db, increase it into the positive range like +2 or +3 (or even more) db? Am I thinking about that right or would that just mess up the sub or overall sound?

3) Max Output vs. Max Extension: The Outlaw has 2 modes which are fairly self-explanatory. Max Output plays louder but drops off at around 25 Hz, whereas Max Extension goes down to 18 Hz. I'm not familiar enough with movie soundtracks to really know how big of a deal being able to go down to 18 Hz is. My gut says I may want to go with Max Output since the room space is on the larger size, but going along with my calibration question - if I kept it on Max Extension but just turned up the sub volume would that give the louder effect while still being able to hit lower frequencies?

Any advice or tips on what I could be doing better would be greatly appreciated. I've really enjoyed learning more about speakers and subwoofers, but realize that I have a long way to go to approach the knowledge that many of you possess.
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post #2 of 7 Old 08-14-2014, 12:51 PM
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It's critical to have your subwoofer placed where you are getting the most from that single sub at the listening position, and not just a few feet away. The best way to do that is via the subwoofer crawl. Set your sub on top of your couch/chair at the listening position, then run frequency sweeps (not at a loud level) or a piece of music that has long, deep bass notes (this can be loud). Then crawl around the entire room with a dB meter and find those areas where the sub is performing up to your expectations. Then place the sub at the best location and sit at your listening position to confirm that location. Only after you've done that, should you run YPAO.

If you simply cannot place the subwoofer in its optimal sonic location, then try the next best spot. If that too is a no-go, then a second sub will be needed to help smooth the room modes at the listening position. A second sub requires much finer tuning and isn't nearly as easy as just locating a single sub.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 7 Old 08-14-2014, 08:47 PM
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If you don't feel the umph from the sub, take it out of max extension. The room is to large for that and you would need multiples to really gain anything. Headroom is the amount of power you have left in the sub at your listening level. As volume increases, headroom decreases. A second sub doubles the headroom.
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post #4 of 7 Old 08-15-2014, 06:11 AM
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The "punch in the chest" is a function of output and in a larger room at lower volumes you won't get that. As indicated, setting the sub to "max output" mode will help, as will:
- raising the subwoofer level in the AVR's speaker set-up menu; and,
- as you noticed by standing close to the sub, moving the sub nearfield.

If you really want to know what's going on in your room...
- buying a mic (such as the UMIK-1) and downloading free REW room EQ software, or
- buying an "all in one" Dayton OmniMic v2,
...will give you that visual.

You can then use the information to find an optimal location for the sub and to make tweaks on the sub amp and in the AVR.

For further tweaking capabilities, an outboard EQ unit like a miniDSP 2X4 is the next step.
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post #5 of 7 Old 08-15-2014, 12:06 PM
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Nearfield may help feel the punch but, max extension trades off for a lower over spl. Max extension mode is like converting his vented box closer to a sealed box. Sealed box takes more power to achieve less spl in general. He should have all ports open.
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post #6 of 7 Old 08-15-2014, 03:19 PM
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I'ev got 4 15" subs in my ~5000 cu. ft. space and they're still not enough....just sayin'.
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post #7 of 7 Old 08-16-2014, 06:34 AM
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How far is your main listening position (mlp)? If it's more than 10ft chances are nearfield is your solution.
Also you can run your sub hot. You're only running +2 from YPAO setting, many here are running much hotter +8 +9 even +10 so try raising the the gain on the avr until you're happy. I'm not familiar with YPAO but if you can copy the original settings to memory 2 then raise your gains, you'll be able to compare and choose the best one for whatever you're playing music/movie etc...
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