Need help with 5.1 setup - Cannot balance Sub/LFE - AVS Forum
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Old 05-21-2007, 07:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,
First and foremost it should be known that while I like to consider myself capable enough around electronics, by and large the entirety of the population of AVS makes me look like a complete noob, and rightfully so... problems like this prove it is true.

My Problem:
I've had a rather mediocre set of 5 speakers for some time, not the best range, clarity, or anything, but I don't expect the best from them, so it works out well.

I recently upgraded from an Onkyo reciever that maxed out at Dolby PLII (with no digital capabilities, rather old model) to a Yamaha HTR-5860. Oh and by recently I mean like last July

A couple months later (we'd be around September '06 now), I picked up a Klipsch Sub-10 as I finally owned my own house and had the opportunity to enjoy a subwoofer for the first time in my setup without driving the neighbors crazy.

The first thing I noticed was how overpowering the bass seemed to be. I'd play with the LFE levels in the receiver, the gain, whatever... but only having very limited knowledge of all of the above, I was never able to make any kind of adjustment that mattered. I just lived with it, and sometimes even had to shut it off if the SO was home.

So this weekend I finally picked up the RadioShack SPL Meter and got my copy of DVE HD in the mail. I figured it was time to do the right thing and fix these problems (especially since I plan on picking up the Ultimate Matrix Collection on HD-DVD).

I went through a lot of the audio calibration, and while I think I have the loudspeakers set fine (they were maintaining a consistent 75dB around the room, I can't get the sub to register any LESS than 89dB at the same master volume.

Now maybe I'm just missing something, but I can't figure out how to get the sub to quiet down some at all. I dropped the LFE Level to -20 (which is the max) on both HP and SP, I droped the SP Level setting for the subwoofer to the minimum, but still... 89-90dB. What can I do?

Any recommendations, or any questions about the setup that I may be able to answer to give a better idea of the problem are welcome and appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
aC
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Old 05-21-2007, 08:05 AM
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aC39,

LFE level has nothing to do with the subwoofer level. The subwoofer can be used for LFE and bass management. LFE is a separate channel and should be set at 0 db for most systems.

The subwoofer level is controlled in the receiver and the subwoofer. The best place to set the subwoofer level is in the subwoofer. It is best to maintain reference voltages from your receiver by keeping it at 0db if possible. Balancing the subwoofer with the other speakers along with bass management is the most challenging and important thing to get correct. I would also not use DVE. The test tones on that disc are not correct. I would use Avia for audio.

The SPL meter approach is also too crude in most cases to do a good job with balancing the subwoofer. The RS meter is also not omni directional which is a problem as well. Your best bet is to balance the levels with the RS meter then by ear for the five channels with band limited pink noise. I would tweak the subwoofer level by ear with music that contains significant bass. The problem with the RS meter for bass are room modes along with meter accuracy. A better approach is a good RTA, microphone and preamp with wideband pink noise and bass management active.
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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I think I understand what you're saying (in regards to Sub vs LFE) and I'm pretty sure I was aware of that, if not passively.

They way I currently have everything set up is as such:

Connection:
Subwoofer Pre-amp out on receiver to Left/LFE input on Subwoofer.

Klipsch Synergy Sub 10 Manual (with input diagram on Pg. 4) - Click Me

Yamaha HTR-5860 Receiver back plate diagram - Click Me

Receiver settings:
Subwoofer SP Level: -10dB
Crossover: 120Hz
LFE Level: -20dB
All loudspeakers set to small
Phase: Normal

Subwoofer settings:
Gain: MIN
LP Crossover: 120Hz
Phase: Normal

Even set like that, the sub is still too loud and overpowering, and I just don't know any other way to limit it. I'm hoping I'm unaware of a setting that will help me here, but if not, what's my only recourse, raising the level of the loudspeakers and using a slightly lower master volume to achieve more balance?
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:59 AM
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It may be necessary to raise the other channel levels if your subwoofer is too high. Setting LFE level to anything other than 0db is usually a mistake. Only the subwoofer level should be changed.
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Old 05-21-2007, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Alright then, I guess what I'll do is reset that to 0db and try to boost the other speakers to get them balanced.

I really just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing something obvious in being able to reduce the subwoofer volume.

Thanks
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Old 05-21-2007, 10:57 AM
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Check your tone control also- the bass section.
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:25 AM
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Have you tried using the reciever's built-in calibration routine/tone?

If nothing else, try it for comparison to the DVE calibration.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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That's what I initially used, and I found it to be much to powerful. I'd say maybe it's just personal preference, and I understand that the SPL meter isn't some magical accurate instrument, but I took 15dB higher of a reading to be pretty high at reference.
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:43 AM
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Dont forget... the sub tone on DVE is incorrect. I forget if its + or - 10.

Like the others said.. leave LFE alone. Doesnt your sub have a volume control on o it?
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:47 AM
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You really cannot calibrate a system by ear. As well, an SPL meter is a pretty poor tool for calibration of subwoofer(s) levels. You really need to use an RTA for a proper job. You may want to hire an HAA Audio Calibrator to sort this out for you.

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Old 05-21-2007, 11:52 AM
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Quote:


You really cannot calibrate a system by ear. As well, an SPL meter is a pretty poor tool for calibration of subwoofer(s) levels. You really need to use an RTA for a proper job. You may want to hire an HAA Audio Calibrator to sort this out for you.

Sure, but he's not trying to EQ the system - yet.

Even with a Rat Shack SPL meter, he should be able to get an initial cal closer than +15dB with the sub level and trims turned down so low, yes?

One thing could be the the seating position is in a really bad spot for a peak.

Do you get the same high SPL reading on the sub if you check around the room?

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shamus1099 View Post

Dont forget... the sub tone on DVE is incorrect. I forget if its + or - 10.

I can never remember either, but it is supposed to be off by 10db on the old disks.

Also, what size are the main speakers? Unless they're really small satellites, with a x-over set at 120Hz, I'm not surprised that the sub is sounding so "big".


Scott
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, and I had the Gain all the way down.

If it's +10, then that would explain something, although even outside of DVE I always found it rather loud regardless.

I'll probably just rely on the built in tones in the receiver.

Also, just to be sure, are the tones wrong in BOTH DVE and DVE HD, or is everyone still talking about the old version.

ssteel01, they're not "small" by any stretch. In fact you can see a pic of them (and the horrible sub placement) here. (a note on the placement, I realize it's bad to be so close to both the speakers and the wall, but room constraints, and girlfriend constraints don't allow for much flexibility there, so I'm working with what I've got). I used to have the crossover much lower, but when doing the frequency test in DVE, I found a HUGE dropoff from <80Hz to about 160Hz. So I figure that's just the speakers lacking the range.

I would probably have set the x-over to 200Hz if the sub went higher than 120Hz, but I figured if I did that, I'd just be cutting off 120-200Hz completely, unless I'm misunderstanding.

I'll see if I can get any ratings on the speakers here at work, but I doubt it, they're quite old JBLs.

EDIT: OK it took some brain diggin, but I managed to remember the model numbers of the speakers.

1 x HLS-Center (80Hz - 20kHz)
2 x HLS-810 front (50Hz - 20kHz)
2 x HLS-610 rear (55Hz - 20kHz)
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Old 05-21-2007, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aC39 View Post

I used to have the crossover much lower, but when doing the frequency test in DVE, I found a HUGE dropoff from <80Hz to about 160Hz. So I figure that's just the speakers lacking the range.

I would probably have set the x-over to 200Hz if the sub went higher than 120Hz, but I figured if I did that, I'd just be cutting off 120-200Hz completely, unless I'm misunderstanding.

If you set the crossover to 200Hz, the sub would be handling all material below 200Hz (plus or minus). You don't want that. It can make the sub sound boomy and frankly, should be causing a null above say maybe 130-150Hz.

Generally, you want to set the crossover at least 5Hz above the lowest frequency that your speakers are able to handle competently. I'm not sure what the "honest" -3db point is for those, but I think you'd be much better off crossing them over around 80Hz.

If there's a huge drop off between 80 and 160, that sounds more like a problem with a null in the room at the listening position. Set the x-over to 80 and mess around with positioning and subwoofer phase. Sometimes even a few inches here or there can make a difference.


Scott
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Old 05-21-2007, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll give that a shot,

Thanks Scott

Also, I'm sure I could find this pretty quickly (and I will look at it now), but what exactly does the phase do on the sub. You seem pretty good at explaining why/how something should work, so I figure why not get the most out of this thread
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Old 05-21-2007, 01:32 PM
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Where do you have your sub positioned in your room? Hopefully not in a corner.

..Doyle

"So many tweeks....So little time!"
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Old 05-21-2007, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoyleS View Post

Where do you have your sub positioned in your room? Hopefully not in a corner.

..Doyle

no not in a corner, but not much better either

Regrettably I don't have the flexibility to go almost anywhere else.

I can show you where it is, but I ask that you try to keep from vomiting in your mouth at the speaker/sub placement

Front shot
Side shot

The room is a mess acoustically, and I realize I'm stuck with that, but I'm trying to make the best out of it that I can.

Also, the wall the sub is against continues on for about the same length you see it going in the direction of the shot, so that side of the room is open.
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Old 05-21-2007, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aC39 View Post

I'll give that a shot,

Thanks Scott

Also, I'm sure I could find this pretty quickly (and I will look at it now), but what exactly does the phase do on the sub. You seem pretty good at explaining why/how something should work, so I figure why not get the most out of this thread

The really short answer is that phase dictates whether or not the sub's woofer and the bass driver(s) of the other speakers are moving in sync with each other or not. When they're in phase, you get a nice smooth bass response (at least theoretically...). When they're out of phase, the bass can get all wonky (non-technical term) and leave you with weird peaks and valleys in frequency response.

Here are some helpful article on subwoofer integration from people much more knowledgeable and much more articulate than myself.


Scott
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:01 PM
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May I suggest three things.

First, that you just may not be used to real low frequency sounds. If JBL claims a 50 Hz low end response and the box is ported the chances are that you unaccustomed to hearing frequencies much below that at roughly equivalent levels.

Try lowering the crossover point. Try lowering the gain control on the sub.

Move the sub away from the wall. You are getting 3 dB or so of boost from the floor-wall "corner". If that doesn't do it for you move the sub to other locations, as mentioned earlier room nodes have a large impact.

If these quick fixes don't work, get and use the free software Room EQ Wizard, read the instructions, download the correction tables for your model SPL meter, and do some analysis of your setup. Room EQ Wiz is also well supported on an AVS thread.

A pro would use more sophisticated tools, but the Wiz and the RS SPL meter do a good job for sub woofer integration.

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Old 05-21-2007, 05:03 PM
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Definetely mess with the phase. Put on a THX disc and do the freq sweep thing. If the phase is incorrect there will be a huge drop out. If you dont notice a difference, set it to 0.
Also... dont forget to set speakers to small, and if there is an option for sub for either LFE + Mains or just LFE, pick LFE.
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Old 05-29-2007, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, just to update the thread and continue troubleshooting, here are the steps I have taken over the weekend (been very busy, haven't barely had time to even be in front of the system )

This is what I have done to achieve more balance.

I have lowered the crossover, as suggested, to 80Hz

I have changed my "reference level" from the typical 0dB, to -6dB, this has allowed me to boost the loudspeakers while keeping the sub output at -10dB. I was able to then still achieve near reference output from the sub with the speakers all balanced at 75dB and the sub clocked in at 79-80dB (although I do understand that using an SPL for the sub is inaccurate, it's still something).

So far in the few short tests I have done, I feel like the sub is a lot more balanced to the other sounds (now that it's not 15dB+ out of balance with the rest of the system). I have NOT, however, had time to really run through any frequency sweeps. So thus far the phase is still normal. I will try to test that tonight and see if swapping the phase helps at all.

I'm assuming it's wise to switch both the sub and the receiver phase if I do so correct? at least that makes sense in my head
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Old 05-29-2007, 10:43 AM
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If you change the phase in the receiver and on the sub, you are back to the same net end result.

Change that setting in one or the other, but not both.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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Old 05-29-2007, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks whoaru... as I said, I will test tonight and come back with results.
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