Balancing mains and sub/s with external Crossover - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 22 Old 06-16-2020, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Balancing mains and sub/s with external Crossover

Any guides on how to set up the system, tones, links, articles, etc. or should this be asked in the Set up or bass forum section?

I’ve set up stereo listening using Home Theater Bypass and am really enjoying it and now want to dial it in as best I can.

Currently I use an Oppo HA-1 as the preamp and I’m already thinking about an upgrade but will work with it for the time being.

For a crossover I use a Bryston 10B-SUB Electronic Crossover in Stereo 2-way summed low pass mode.

It has been so long since I used the crossover in a stereo system, I forget how I set everything up. I remember using a sound meter to set the sub level via tones and still have the sound meter somewhere but can’t find the link or instructions on what tones, level, etc.

My “towers” aren’t really designed to produce much under 70 Hz and are sealed so it should make it pretty easy to balance the mains with the sub/s.

The room is not ideal for acoustics and I am experimenting with different subs, switching some that are currently connected to the surround system and trying them in my stereo via theater by-pass. I also want to try two subs and/or my 18”. I’m finding I rarely use the room as a theater, it’s usually just for music. All my available subs are different sizes and all but one is a sealed design, the outlier has a passive radiator.

For mains I use Vision Signature Speakers, a DIY Kit using ScanSpeak Revelator drivers by North Creek Music, powered by a Bryston 6BSST. Currently I use an Aurasound - 12" NS12-794-4A in 2 cubic foot sealed box powered by a Bryston 7BST and the 10B-Sub using a High Pass at 80 Hz with a 6db slope and low pass at 80 with an 18db slope. I want to add a second sub, my DIY North Creek Music 18" Leviathan in 4 cubic foot sealed box. The Bryston can support two subs and I assume since the subs are different, I should run them summed.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 22 Old 06-16-2020, 10:48 AM
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It depends on how much time (and money) you want to put into this. Ideally you should buy a calibration mic and use a program like REW to learn where your speakers actullay roll off, based on their room position and our room acoustics, which is critical. Simply knowing "they say around 70Hz", or whatever, is only a guideline but it is actually workable to assume your speakers are dead flat without any appreciable drop to say 80Hz, a very common frequency used by the film industry and the THX standard. [Picky people might argue 80Hz is too dangerously close to where you already have reason to believe your speakers start to die off and you should use even higher, but then other problems start to arise such as hearing the location of your sub because you are sending it frequencies higher than "perceptually omni-directional".]

The simplest way to get you at least up and running is to pick 80Hz and then use the Darth Vader test I describe here:

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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Back in the olden days, pre-calibration mics, we used to set subs using the "Darth Vader test". You compare the sound of familiar male voices (like newscasters) with zero sub and then with way too much sub. You then slowly bring down the sub level, bit by bit, until the voice just stops having the Darth Vader effect and you are good to go.

For older customers who didn't know who Darth Vader was (or sounded like) I'd tell them to turn down the level until it no longer sounds like he is speaking into a barrel.
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post #3 of 22 Old 06-16-2020, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
It depends on how much time (and money) you want to put into this. Ideally you should buy a calibration mic and use a program like REW to learn where your speakers actullay roll off, based on their room position and our room acoustics, which is critical. Simply knowing "they say around 70Hz", or whatever, is only a guideline but it is actually workable to assume your speakers are dead flat without any appreciable drop to say 80Hz, a very common frequency used by the film industry and the THX standard. [Picky people might argue 80Hz is too dangerously close to where you already have reason to believe your speakers start to die off and you should use even higher, but then other problems start to arise such as hearing the location of your sub because you are sending it frequencies higher than "perceptually omni-directional".]

The simplest way to get you at least up and running is to pick 80Hz and then use the Darth Vader test I describe here:
Thanks.

Here are details on the speaker design with the expected hyperbole.

https://web.archive.org/web/20030412...VisionInfo.htm

George Short helped me when I first set the system up and possibly James Tanner but that was in the early 2000's. The 10B-Sub crossover allows me to mute the high pass and low pass separately. I seem to remember playing test tones for each and then adjusting the High Pass Level to balance High and Low. I understand high and low levels may not measure the same way but I thought it helped me get everything close. I think I still have the Radio Shack sound meter and probably some test tone CD's, I just don't recall which tones and the steps I used.

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post #4 of 22 Old 06-16-2020, 11:26 AM
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Thanks. Those speakers look good but the bass roll off under lab conditions doesn't speak to what the room and the room placement does. For example, here are 4 different roll offs in the bass response curves (shown in red, green, blue, and black) all from the exact same design but placed in four different room locations.


https://www.prosoundtraining.com/wp-...2783316438.png

You would use a totally different x-over frequency for each color if this was a full range speaker you were trying to mesh with a sub.
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post #5 of 22 Old 06-17-2020, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
[...]bass roll off under lab conditions doesn't speak to what the room and the room placement does. For example, here are 4 different roll offs in the bass response curves (shown in red, green, blue, and black) all from the exact same design but placed in four different room locations.[...]
I second the idea that the best way to do this is with a measurement system. I've used two. (1) REW software is free, and a UMIK-1 to go with it is about $100. (2) The other option (simpler in some ways) is the Dayton OmniMic2 system -- hardware and dedicated software -- for about $300.

Either measurement system will allow you see the actual frequency response of your main speakers and subs -- combined or separately -- when you move your speakers around to get best response. You'll be able to match levels better and find the spots giving smoothest response. Either system will allow you to observe response at the listening position as you vary phase of the subs, an adjustment that can lead to much smoother bass response.

Is it possible to integrate sub/s without measuring? Sure, many audiophiles do it. But it's a lot easier to get good results when you measure.
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post #6 of 22 Old 06-18-2020, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgeHolland View Post
George Short helped me when I first set the system up and possibly James Tanner but that was in the early 2000's. The 10B-Sub crossover allows me to mute the high pass and low pass separately. I seem to remember playing test tones for each and then adjusting the High Pass Level to balance High and Low. I understand high and low levels may not measure the same way but I thought it helped me get everything close. I think I still have the Radio Shack sound meter and probably some test tone CD's, I just don't recall which tones and the steps I used.
We didn't have the testing software available today 15+ years ago. Invest or try to borrow a calibrated mic. RS meters are worthless for this sort of task as they are not calibrated, vary a lot and are best for only a general wideband SPL.
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post #7 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I've ordered a UMIK-1 and suppose I'll try and learn how to use REW. Might also give me some motivation to learn how to tune my car aftermarket audio systems as well.

I am finding conflicting information on weather to use multiple identical subwoofers or multiple subwoofers of different sizes. I'm also reading three subs is a sweet spot.

Assuming I use all sealed design, what is more typical? I assume identical subs would be easier but some like Dr. Geddes may recommend different sizes. I have a lot to choose from and enjoy building DIY subs anyway. Thanks.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-d...l#post30043625
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post #8 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 10:45 AM
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I am finding conflicting information on weather to use multiple identical subwoofers or multiple subwoofers of different sizes. I'm also reading three subs is a sweet spot.
All subwoofers used should ideally be perfect. That is, all go down to 1Hz with no distortion, a dead flat response, fast and tight reproduction, and play at ear deafening levels. As many subs as possible is the ideal so 3 trumps 2 an 31 trumps 30.

Because we live in a sick world where whoever has the most complex system "wins" some people breakdown the sub range reproduction so one group of subs does 1-5Hz, another set does 5-10Hz, another set 10-20Hz, another set 20-40Hz, yet another set does 40-80Hz, for example. Only these people can rationalize that one should look for more than one kind of sub. For them optimal reproduction at the loudest possible levels only for its range of use is what counts.

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I'm also reading three subs is a sweet spot.
The jump as one adds subs is easy to understand:

1 to 2 is the largest change. You have 100% more.
2 to 3 is the next largest change. You have 50% more.
3 to 4 is the next largest after that. You have 33.33% more.
4 to 5 is 25% more. . . .

What does "more" get you?

- flatter tonal balance with less peaks and dips at specific frequencies, AKA "frequency response"
- better seat to seat consistency across the audience
- higher output level
- less distortion because each sub operates at a slightly lower level since it shares the burden with others

"Sweet spot" is a matter of opinion. Single listeners are more likely to be content with 1-2 subs whereas people with a large audience may find the only way to avoid hot spots and lulls for every single audience member is to have 4 or more subs.

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I am finding conflicting information on weather to use multiple identical subwoofers or multiple subwoofers of different sizes. I'm also reading three subs is a sweet spot.

Assuming I use all sealed design, what is more typical? I assume identical subs would be easier but some like Dr. Geddes may recommend different sizes. I have a lot to choose from and enjoy building DIY subs anyway. Thanks.
Unfortunately much of, if not almost all, of the best studies done on optimal subwoofer systems, such as Geddes, were written years ago when computerized EQ wasn't the norm and found on nearly all consumer AVRs and prepros, so they wrote from the perspective that the number one thing we had to conquer was "flat room response". Now in modern times, a decade or more later, we have very sophisticated and intelligent EQ systems which take care of this nicely in seconds. Now the most important thing for consumers is no longer dead flat response (all it has to be is reasonably flat before the computerized EQ makes it even better) but instead the main goal is most even seat to seat sound distribution. This important concept of how times change is lost on so many writing in the sub forums.

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post #9 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 12:37 PM
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Regarding flat response and EQ. EQ lets one get the desired response at the main listening position, at least in many cases (it can't fill deep nulls). However, response elsewhere in the room will vary considerably. More than one sub is a configuration often recommended to get flatter response across a wider area.

I recently read an essay by a theoretician who stated that 2 subs is a good number, and so is 4. He also stated that the way the math works out, 3 is not always as good as 2. I don't claim to understand that, but maybe someone reading this will remember who wrote the essay and find a link to it.

To get better response with multiple subs, it's often said that their positioning should be asymmetrical and they should be run in mono. I use 2, place them symmetrically, and run them in stereo. They do sound better (more solid bass, more spaciousness) than one sub, I think. I have not tried running them in mono -- I got tired of fiddling around.

By extensive trial and error, I found a position where the subs are not subject to a major room null that affects the main speakers. That, to me, is one of the main benefits of subs -- that they can be placed to optimize the bass, while the mains are often place to optimize midrange tonality and imaging.

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post #10 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 12:44 PM
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. I use 2, place them symmetrically, and run them in stereo.
What device/electronic crossover do you use to do stereo subs and does it have a mono (summed) option?
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post #11 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 06:40 PM
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What device/electronic crossover do you use to do stereo subs and does it have a mono (summed) option?
It's an Anthem STR Preamp. (Click SHOW in my signature for the rest of the system.) It does have a mono option. I just have not tried it yet. I did try running the two subs in mono when using a previous device, and there wasn't a significant change in the sound. Though running them in stereo sometimes gives a stronger sense of the recording venue.

I should say, between my age, getting fed up with tech (which I've been using my whole adult life), and the stress associated with COVID-19 prevention, I am less interested in making experiments on the sound than I used to be. My tolerance for listening to the same track over and over (to judge results) is nearing zero. I don't put that forward as a virtue or the reverse. It's just how it is with me these days. Maybe I'm no longer an audiophile.

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post #12 of 22 Old 06-19-2020, 07:09 PM
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It's an Anthem STR Preamp. (Click SHOW in my signature for the rest of the system.) It does have a mono option. I just have not tried it yet. I did try running the two subs in mono when using a previous device, and there wasn't a significant change in the sound. Though running them in stereo sometimes gives a stronger sense of the recording venue.

I should say, between my age, getting fed up with tech (which I've been using my whole adult life), and the stress associated with COVID-19 prevention, I am less interested in making experiments on the sound than I used to be. My tolerance for listening to the same track over and over (to judge results) is nearing zero. I don't put that forward as a virtue or the reverse. It's just how it is with me these days. Maybe I'm no longer an audiophile.
I concur with your owner's manual that if needing to run your crossover at an unusually high frequency to integrate with the front mains, say higher than 80Hz, there may be some limited value in using your subs in stereo, however in most other instances mono would be preferred because otherwise there are scenarios where one subs is attempting to cancel the waves of the other, i.e. they are "fighting each other's work", but in mono they are always working together in phase regardless off signal content.

Most music actually has sub bass content already summed to mono anyways or at least partially blended. (So it rarely matters one way or the other.)

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post #13 of 22 Old 06-20-2020, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
I concur with your owner's manual that if needing to run your crossover at an unusually high frequency to integrate with the front mains, say higher than 80Hz, there may be some limited value in using your subs in stereo, however in most other instances mono would be preferred because otherwise there are scenarios where one subs is attempting to cancel the waves of the other, i.e. they are "fighting each other's work", but in mono they are always working together in phase regardless off signal content.

Most music actually has sub bass content already summed to mono anyways or at least partially blended. (So it rarely matters one way or the other.)
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I am familiar with the points you raised. A few comments--

Although the crossover is at 80 Hz, there is of course considerable output from the subs an octave up or more, frequencies I'd rather not convert to mono. People who know better often forget -- when the subject is subs -- that a crossover is rarely a sharp cutoff, and that even 2 octaves up, there will be audible output.

Regarding the lowest bass: If I listened to dance music with a heavy beat (as in your link), I might prefer subs in mono, but since it's mostly classical music, very often newer recordings, I have no reason to think that would improve the results. I doubt that most of this stuff has the bass mixed to mono, for that matter. At least one writer says: "Most music recordings have been released with stereo bass since 1982."

Because my subs are symmetrically arranged and the phase adjustments are the same, any phase differences reproduced come from the recorded signal, and in my experience this can add to the sense of realistic spaciousness. That argues for running the subs in stereo. And if a recording does have its bass reduced to mono, using symmetrical stereo subs won't likely cause any problems, as you pointed out.

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post #14 of 22 Old 06-20-2020, 01:05 AM
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Regarding the lowest bass: If I listened to dance music with a heavy beat (as in your link), I might prefer subs in mono, but since it's mostly classical music, very often newer recordings, I have no reason to think that would improve the results. I doubt that most of this stuff has the bass mixed to mono, for that matter. At least one writer says: "Most music recordings have been released with stereo bass since 1982."
So I can check it out might you you please provide one of these classical works as an example? Thanks.

You tube is now more friendly to people posting copyright music these days. What they do is is provide a link to the copyright owner and plaster the poster's video with ads but it still plays. Perhaps you could find the music there so we can hear it for free, (fingers crossed)?

The Ken Rockwell link didn't work, by the way, but I've read his post on this before.
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So I can check it out might you you please provide one of these classical works as an example? Thanks.

You tube is now more friendly to people posting copyright music these days. What they do is is provide a link to the copyright owner and plaster the poster's video with ads but it still plays. Perhaps you could find the music there so we can hear it for free, (fingers crossed)?

The Ken Rockwell link didn't work, by the way, but I've read his post on this before.
I fixed the Ken Rockwell link in the original post (and here), for those who are interested in the point of view that stereo subs can add something worth having.

I'll send examples a little later. Of course, my reasoning does not depend on whether low bass is summed to mono on any particular recording. If only a small percentage have stereo bass, which is reproduced more accurately by stereo subs, that's enough reason to keep the signal in stereo.

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I fixed the Ken Rockwell link in the original post (and here), for those who are interested in the point of view that stereo subs can add something worth having.

I'll send examples a little later. Of course, my reasoning does not depend on whether low bass is summed to mono on any particular recording. If only a small percentage have stereo bass, which is reproduced more accurately by stereo subs, that's enough reason.
I look forward to your later example(s). Thanks.

David Ranada once had a list that was circulating around but it has vanished, (as has he almost).
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I look forward to your later example(s). Thanks.

David Ranada once had a list that was circulating around but it has vanished, (as has he almost).
OK, I make no claims that I have perfect or outstanding hearing; only that I find stereo bass more enjoyable. Here's what I can come up with right now.

I use track 7 of the choral disc Innisfree as a demo. There is low bass and a strong sense of ambiance. More importantly, it's a beautiful and moving performance (words by Martin Luther; music by Mendelssohn). Oddly enough, I don't find the rest of the disc nearly as good.



I would be surprised if classical recordings on Telarc or recent ones on BIS had mono bass.

In searching on the topic, I found this (2007) comment on the Steve Hoffman forums, by well-known engineer Doug Sclar:

Quote:
One of the first things I did when involved with a mastering project was to make sure the bass was not summed. As Barry mentioned this is strictly an optional process, but it was probably used more than not. It's a way to get a slightly higher overall level in the cut. Remember that cutting records deals with a lot of compromises. It's amazing that lp's sound as good as they do all things considered, but most agree that they can sound better than cd's where compromises are not as necessary. There are other optional mastering processes that are generally done, but that don't have to be, such as using the acceleration limiters.

I am of the thought that low bass directionality can be determined. I have always been able to tell where a mono subwoofer is located, though obviously many aren't able to do this, or aren't experienced enough to do it. Listen to records with stereo kick drums and see if you can tell that they are split left and right. Granted there are some higher frequencies with the kick drum that may help with localization.

Listen to 'Magic Man' from Heart's first lp where the bass is panned while it is decending in frequency. On a good full range system there can be pinpoint localization of it all the way down.
To which Barry Diamont replied:

Quote:
Amen! Bass localization is difficult when one is doing sine wave testing but music, like real life is comprised of transients, not steady-state sine waves.

Our distant ancestors made use of this localization ability. If you're living out on the serengeti and there is a stampede coming, you'd better be able to tell which direction that rumble is coming from is you're to have a chance at getting out of the way.

As to 2.1 systems with mono "subs", they are a compromise. Often, the .1 is really a woofer. The term "subwoofer" means "below the woofer" and should in my view really be reserved for speakers that reproduce the bottom octave. Most of the boxes (i.e. "boom cubes") sold as "subs" would be lucky to reproduce as low as 40 Hz on a good day with the wind behind them.
;-}

Stereo bass sounds more like "Life" every time. [...]
Of course, with some kinds of music (e.g., EDM), there is no "life," so why not go for whatever gets the impression across?
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OK, I make no claims that I have perfect or outstanding hearing; only that I find stereo bass more enjoyable. Here's what I can come up with right now.

I use track 7 of the choral disc Innisfree as a demo.
Thanks. This cut is called "Verleih' uns Frieden", correct?
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Thanks. This cut is called "Verleih' uns Frieden", correct?
Yes, that's the one.
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"Listen to 'Magic Man' from Heart's first lp where the bass is panned while it is decending in frequency. On a good full range system there can be pinpoint localization of it all the way down." - Doug Sclar
Listen to it Doug? Heck, I've posted versions on Youtube of it, part of a project I never ended up completing but thankfully Youtube now does allow me to post examples like this without getting "cease and desist" warnings and/or booted off their channel:


Keep in mind the spectral display pattern I posted above in the video is denoting frequency, not image placement across the sound stage left to right. Two different things entirely.
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post #21 of 22 Old 06-20-2020, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Thanks. This cut is called "Verleih' uns Frieden", correct?
You tube has it. . . as recorded by a 1980s cellphone, left in a pillow case, under a stream of water from a running faucet:
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post #22 of 22 Old 06-20-2020, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
You tube has it. . . as recorded by a 1980s cellphone, left in a pillow case, under a stream of water from a running faucet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ2oVqb-eZc
I've been surprised at some of the great stuff on YouTube -- but not everything there is great, especially regarding sound.

The actual recording (of Verleih uns Frieden [Grant Us Peace]) is quite striking. I played it for our audio club a couple of years ago, and the audience was quiet afterward. That never happens!

Qobuz has it, if you have access. I don't have Tidal, but I think I found it there, too, for a friend at AXPONA last year.

I'm trying to remember how and why I bought the CD, and I have absolutely no idea.
It is a bitch getting older.

Mike (Portland, Oregon)
Spoiler!

Last edited by Mike in NC; 06-20-2020 at 10:53 PM.
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