Subwoofer Level - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-25-2007, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an ICBM so it's easy for me to cut back LFE. But it seems to me when the sub is at the right level for music and general sound, it's up way too high for LFE. For me, not so much a problem. But I was trying to help a friend set up his. What do you folks do? Constantly adjust sub volume? OR is my personal taste for LFE too low?
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-25-2007, 11:14 PM
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Many AVR's and pre/pro's have subwoofer level control in the setup menus. These allow adjustment of individual sub levels for DD, DTS, stereo, etc. material.
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 07:35 AM
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Hi Crescent,

Have you charted your in-room subwoofer frequency response from the listening position? I would guess that you are picking up some significant room/boundary gain in the lower octave (20-40hz). Music and general soundtrack material rarely dip down this low, but the LFE track of many movies regularly delves deeply into this range.

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post #4 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to both!

Rupert, this makes sense. I'll check it out, but my dated Rotel RTC-965 probably doesn't.

Ovalnut, My sub probably only goes down to low 30's. However, I don't know where to get tones of different frequency.
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post #5 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent View Post

However, I don't know where to get tones of different frequency.

Function generator at "programs" section of marchandelec website is free. So is level 1 download from trueaudio website.
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post #6 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 07:33 PM
 
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It says I need 5 posts to be able to type links so this is my 5th.
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post #7 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 07:37 PM
 
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Ah, finally!

Function generator here is free. So is Level 1 from here.
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent View Post

I have an ICBM so it's easy for me to cut back LFE. But it seems to me when the sub is at the right level for music and general sound, it's up way too high for LFE. For me, not so much a problem. But I was trying to help a friend set up his. What do you folks do? Constantly adjust sub volume? OR is my personal taste for LFE too low?

Doesn't the ICBM have separate sub and LFE controls?

Kal Rubinson

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http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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post #9 of 22 Old 02-26-2007, 10:49 PM
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You could have some dips and peaks in the bass, as OvalNut suggested, that make certain material sound good and other material sound very bad.

What kind of music do you listen to where it sounds good, but then too high on movies?

Normally it's the other way around - people turn it up to sound good for movies, then it ends up being too loud or boomy for music.


You can look at the freeware program Room EQ Wizard, which, with an SPL meter and some cables, will let you measure your room's frequency response to see how flat or bumpy it is. Then you'll know what you're dealing with. You can add bass traps, which will make the bass sound cleaner, and an eq (starting from $100) to flatten out the response so every frequency is the same volume. If you have certain frequencies 10~15, even 6dB higher than others, certain material sounds big and booming, and less exciting with other, depending on what frequencies the bass is hitting.
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-27-2007, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, to all again!

Rupert, there are separate sub levels. But I'm running into another issue that I don't trust the test tones. I've tried Avia, DVE and the Rotel tones and they all render somewhat different results. Avia and DVE are close though. Which of the test tones are most reliable?

obiwon, you and Ovalnut are getting far too technical but I'll go that route if I have to. That will take some time so I won't be able to get to it right away.

Kal, I can attenuate with the ICBM. I'm trying to help a friend setup his and it's raising these general questions about sub levels.

cyberbri, I mostly listen to rock. It can be 5.1 or stereo. But I'll listen to almost any kind of music. Bass levels vary quite a bit from source to source. My speakers go pretty low. So, in frustration with these test tones, I match the sub level by listening to the overall bass volume in the main speakers and matching by ear with the sub.
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post #11 of 22 Old 02-27-2007, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent View Post

My speakers go pretty low. So, in frustration with these test tones, I match the sub level by listening to the overall bass volume in the main speakers and matching by ear with the sub.

So, you're not using bass management? Try using it and see if the results are any better. Avia *assumes* that the user is using Bass Management. It's not accurate without it.

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post #12 of 22 Old 02-27-2007, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, but huh?

The Outlaw ICBM manages the crossover points. That is bass management isn't it?
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post #13 of 22 Old 02-27-2007, 06:22 PM
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Are the speakers set to "Small"? I'm not completely familiar with the ICBM, but in most receivers/pre/pro's, setting the speakers to "Small" invokes the crossover. Otherwise, the speakers set to "Large" get a full-range signal. This would make the Avia test tones useless. They *expect* the "Small" setting.

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post #14 of 22 Old 02-27-2007, 06:29 PM
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DVE's LFE/sub tones aren't accurate.

Avia, like craig john says, assumes you're using Bass Management with an 80Hz crossover. The per-channel tones are sent to the channel, and assume the bass is being re-routed to the subwoofer by the receiver.
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post #15 of 22 Old 03-01-2007, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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The ICBM resides between the pre-pro and the amp. The pre-pro is set to large with sub. The ICBM takes care of everything else. I have the fronts crossed over at 40 HZ and the rears at 60 HZ. I know the speaker manufacturer, and have set the ICBM to the next level above the +- 3DB rolloff point. The front LCR drivers/tweeters all match.

My buddy has an AR HC-6 setup. All his speakers match but are crossed over much higher. If I can get the sub level process down on mine, then I'll go setup his.
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post #16 of 22 Old 03-01-2007, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Went to the REQ site and it does seem intriguing. However, this will take some time. How about a good quick fix for now? I've turned up the level on my sub all the way. Now it sounds good on music. Perhaps the ICBM is regulating this and it should have been up all the way to begin with. Now for LFE, please describe for me a "reference" LFE .1 bass sound on a DVD and how it should sound. Please describe as "tight and musical" or "weighty" or "deep and rumbling, but not boomy". I'll cut back the LFE on the outlaw until I approximate that description.
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post #17 of 22 Old 03-01-2007, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent View Post

The ICBM resides between the pre-pro and the amp. The pre-pro is set to large with sub. The ICBM takes care of everything else. I have the fronts crossed over at 40 HZ and the rears at 60 HZ. I know the speaker manufacturer, and have set the ICBM to the next level above the +- 3DB rolloff point. The front LCR drivers/tweeters all match.

My buddy has an AR HC-6 setup. All his speakers match but are crossed over much higher. If I can get the sub level process down on mine, then I'll go setup his.

I'm thinking that the ICBM should probably not be used with Avia, at least not the way you have it set up. Here is an explanation of how Avia should be used to calibrate a subwoofer:
Guy Kuo's Avia Note
Guy Kuo is the *author* of Avia. He states:

Quote:


The setting of speaker size and bass management tremendously affects how bass is handled for each channel. Speakers set to "small" have their low bass routed to the bass output channel (s) which can be either just the subwoofer , the "large" speakers or some combination of subwoofer and large speaker depending on how the receiver is set up.

We highly recommend setting all speakers to "small" because the very very low bass content down to the 20's Hz simply is not as well reproduced by most main speakers as a dedicated sub. Even if one has powered subs inside the main speakers, room placement of those speakers is rarely if ever the best location for bass reproduction. By setting the speakers to "small" you give each speaker a chance to excel in what they do best.

If a speaker is set to "large" its low bass content will not be sent to the subwoofer output. Remember this! AVIA's subwoofer tests are on the main channels. If a particular channel is set to large, then that channel's AVIA test tone is not routed to the subwoofer (just like low bass on that channel is not routed to the subwoofer). This means that the AVIA subwoofer test behaves exactly the same way as live material to be played back on that channel and you can examine that behavior to learn how real material behaves. This also means that playing AVIA subwoofer tests for a channel set to large produces nothing on the sub.

Speakers set to "small" have their low bass routed to either the sub and/or "large" speakers depending on how you have set up the processor to handle bass. AVIA subwoofer tones in channels set "small" behave exactly the way regular bass material in that channel does.

So keep track of how you set your speakers and bass management. AVIA's signals will be routed exactly that way.

It is frequent for people to find that low bass in their various channels is not routed in ways they previously expected. Listen to what the AVIA tones do and you'll discover what is actually happening.

During calibration of your subwoofer level, you usually don't have an ability to independently adjust the strength of bass coming from each main channel. This can mean that you find the SPL reading of subwoofer tests vary depending on which channel is being tested. The most common reason for this is a difference in how the bass is being processed (one channel is large while the other is small). Since you can't independently adjust each, it is reasonable to either average for the front three channels or simply concentrate on getting the front channel right since that one carries the most work in a movie soundtrack.

Craig

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post #18 of 22 Old 03-01-2007, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent View Post

Now for LFE, please describe for me a "reference" LFE .1 bass sound on a DVD and how it should sound. Please describe as "tight and musical" or "weighty" or "deep and rumbling, but not boomy". I'll cut back the LFE on the outlaw until I approximate that description.


Basically, either because of the sub or the room's acoustics, bad bass will be boomy and one-noted. Where bass from a certain frequency range overpowers the bass in other frequencies. All or most bass will sound the same. If you play music with bass, it's hard to tell the difference between bass at different frequencies or notes, or the bass is extremely loud and booming at certain frequencies. It also continues to "ring" and boom after the initial bass hit has stopped.

If you put your head in the corner and play some bass at a spirited level, you'll hear boomy and booming, headache-inducing bass. And if you cup your hands around your ears while listening to music at a spritied level, you get exaggerated highs which can also be headache-inducing. It's like that with the bass too, when the subwoofer is not good, and/or the room's acoustics aren't very good.

Think of the cars that drive around and all you hear is the repeated one-note
"boommmmmmm boommmmmmm."

Tight and musical depends on the subwoofer (quality, design, driver) and the room itself (room acoustics, preferably with room treatments / bass traps). Basically you hear the detail in individual notes and sound effects. Tight is when the bass hits and then stops, and you don't hear booming or ringing or that echo of bass afterwards.

Deep is just the frequency. There's a big difference when you go from a cheap sub that goes to 40Hz, upgrading to a sub that goes to 30Hz, then getting extension to 25Hz, and then 20Hz and below. Watching War of the Worlds or LOTR with a sub that is boomy and goes to 40Hz is worlds apart from watching with a quality sub with flat response that goes to 20Hz.

The lower frequencies work to "pressurize" the air in the room if there is enough force behind them.
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post #19 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thankful to all, once again.

Sub has never sounded sloppy except on bad material. Perhaps I had it down too low though. Here's the deal. Calibrated as best I could last night by ear. I matched the perceived pressure of mid-bass from the center the best I could to the perceived pressure of the sub. So for now, sub level is 2/3. ICBM sub level is flat. LFE is -1 db on the ICBM.

During my experimentation bass levels in different source material varies. Some have anemic bass. Some have way too powerful bass. So my question is, are you going to listen to it if it bugs you even if it is accurate? The bass in Sheryl Crow's C'mon America 2003 seems way too much, but I believe that's how it's recorded. I'm still going to turn down the sub. I love the disc, but I'm gonna turn the sub down.

I'll try REQ when I get some time, but I'm going to try these levels for now. Over thinking this really takes the fun out of listening.
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post #20 of 22 Old 03-10-2008, 11:08 AM
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Hi,

I'm trying to set the subwoofer in my system which isn't near the quality as many of the users here. I usually find myself changing the subwoofer's volume depending on what I listen too. Some classical music sounds good while other classical music sounds like there's too much bass. It happens on movies as well and the only thing makes me change the volume is if I'm not too tired to get up and change it to something I think it should be. My room is somewhat small and I don't have any sound insulation but I really can't put anything on my walls.

Do newer surround systems have built-in auto level check or something? my current receiver will output noise from speaker to speaker but it doesn't really help.
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post #21 of 22 Old 03-10-2008, 11:24 AM
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threevsfive,

You probably have some big peaks and valleys in your bass response. That is why it sounds weak with certain material and strong with other -- it's just that the material has bass at different frequency ranges. That's usually why people tweak the sub level based on listening material.

Lots of receivers now have built-in level matching including subwoofer tones, but not bass/sub eq'ing to flatten response.

Also, room treatment for bass goes in the corners and dramatically reduces the boominess and ringing of the bass, so you hear more of the bass and subwoofer and less of the echoes of the bass muddying it up. An actual eq will help you flatten the response so all bass frequencies are closer in volume to each other so bass sounds good all the time without the need to constantly re-adjust.
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post #22 of 22 Old 03-10-2008, 12:19 PM
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Hi cyberbri,

thanks for the info!
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