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Thread: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

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    A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    After attending one of the awesome audio meets hosted by the NCSQ crew this past weekend, become quite evident that I needed a ton of tuning assistance. A lot of great advice was offered by many many wonderful audio junkies - but as with anything, where do you start? There is so much great information being passed around, it's often difficult to figure out where to begin. Notloudenuf reminded me of this wonderful article with great tips and thought I would post them here:

    There are several different methods used to tune eqs. This is the one I use. An RTA is not needed if the steps are done correctly. This method uses crossovers and gain settings as the most important factor in tuning. I think the eq should be last in line when tuning. Remember after each step to write down your settings. If the sound gets worse, then you can go back to the previous step’s settings and start over.


    1. Set all bands flat, as well as the head unit bass and treble.

    2. Turn off the subs. Using music with a good bass line, run the highpass crossover up and down until the midbasses can play as low as possible without any distortion or excessive door panel vibrations.

    3. Unhook the mids and tweeters, allowing only the midbasses to play. Listen to mono pink noise or a well-recorded song with a centered vocalist. Test CDs such as the IASCA test CD or Autosound 2000 Test CD 102 or 103 will work great. Listen to where the centered sounds are coming from. Then reverse the polarity of one midbass (Reverse the speaker wires coming from the passive crossover and going to the speaker, just flip the positive and negative wires. I usually flip the driver’s side speaker.) and re-listen to the test CD. If the sounds are more centered then keep it as is. If the centered sounds are more diffuse and un-locatable, then flip the polarity back to where it was originally.

    4. Then unhook the midbasses and play the mids only and follow the same polarity and listening tests as before. Mark your best settings.

    5. Do the same procedure for the tweeters.

    6. When you have tested for the proper polarity from all three ranges of speakers, hook all of them back up with respect to each set of speaker’s best polarity. You can have any combination of polarity, such as all the midbass and tweeters straight and one midrange reversed.

    7. Now you should have the correct “acoustic” polarity set within each set of speakers. Next is to set the acoustic polarity between the sets of speakers.

    8. Listen to some very familiar music with a good range of sounds. Then flip both midbass’ polarity and listen again. Before you only flipped one midbass, now you are doing both at the same time. For example if the left midbass was reversed and the right was not before, now the left will be not reversed and the right will be. Listen to the music again. If the midbass is more powerful and full then leave the wiring as is. If the midbass sounds weaker and wrong then restore the wiring as before.

    9. Perform the same listening tests while flipping the mids and tweeters, and use the wiring configuration that sounds the best.

    10. If you have went though all these steps adjusting the polarity of the speakers then the system should sound really good without any eq adjustments. You might want to play with the gain adjustments on the crossover and/or amp to better blend all the speakers together.

    11. Now onto the eq! The first eq step is to adjust the tonality. While listening to familiar music, adjust each individual band up and down slowly. When the music sounds better then move to the next band. Adjust the left and right bands equally. (We’ll get to the separate left and right adjustments soon.) It really does not matter if the bands are boosted or cut, just that it makes the sound better. Not every band needs to be adjusted. In fact if you did steps 1 thru 10 correctly you should not have to adjust over half the bands. Having a 1/3 octave eq does not mean you have to adjust every band. It means you have the ability to adjust each band if needed. Watch out for big jumps from band to band, like one band set to +4 and the next band set to –6.

    12. Continue through all the bands, take a break, and do the same procedure over again. But this time the adjustments will be smaller as you get the tonality dialed in. This step might take several days, weeks, or longer.

    13. In tuning you will find some eq bands will raise, lower, move the sound closer, or farther away if adjusted in certain manners. For example, lowering 5 KHz will generally move the soundstage farther away and raising 2 KHz will make the soundstage rise. Each vehicle and system will have different settings that will be the best. The best way to achieve awesome sound is to constantly adjust.

    14. When you are satisfied with the tonality of the system, it is time to start adjusting the left and right channels separately. These adjustments should not affect the tonality, but improve on the imaging and soundstaging. Using the Autosound 2000 Test CD 102 or 103 “My Disk” listen to the individual frequency pink noise tracks. (Test CD103 has the tracks arranged in an easier configuration.) Each frequency band should sound like it is coming from the center of the soundstage. If one band is off to one side, then use each band’s left and right eq controls as a balance control. This is very similar to the head unit’s balance control, only now you are balancing each frequency band by itself. For example if 200 Hz seems to be shifted to the left of center, lower the left 200 Hz band and raise the right 200 Hz band one dB at a time until the band is centered. If a frequency is shifted to the right, lower the band’s right channel and raise the left channel in small amounts.

    15. When you have been through all the bands take a break. Then later go back through each band one by one and make any further needed adjustments until all the frequencies are lined up in the center of the soundstage.

    A Simple Way to Tune.pdf

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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    Still a great way to go all these. . . Years . . . L8r
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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    That must really, really old. It doesn't take in to account time alignment, which affects phase at the crossover regions. Which means if you were a good enough listener to never use an rta (most aren't and event the best still use an rta), you'd be using the eq to make adjustments in that crossover range which sound wrong, but they are wrong because of the phase in that region, which can't really be fixed via eq.
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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    Yes! I was hoping to lure you out with these posts this morning. That was my question too, with time alignment and level matching, would you do that first, then listen for EQ, or do the phase and crossover settings and then tackle time alignment and level matching?

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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    Quote Originally Posted by chithead View Post
    Yes! I was hoping to lure you out with these posts this morning. That was my question too, with time alignment and level matching, would you do that first, then listen for EQ, or do the phase and crossover settings and then tackle time alignment and level matching?
    almost everyone I know does rough eq first (take out big peaks via rta), then crossover, then TA's, then level matches, then gets down to the nitty gritty. that nitty gritty would be tonality eq, maybe minor TA tweaks here and there, the centering method that has been brought up (31 individual band pink noise variety), and so on.

    if at some point along the way you decide to change a crossover points, you'll have to readjust the TA slightly to account for the possible phase shift. But that still falls in to the nitty gritty category. some people take slightly different routes, but end up at the same place rough tune place. Like some will ta first, level match, then rough eq or whatever.
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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have only done T/A alignment and messed with a few different crossover settings.

    So you use the RTA measurements to determine most of the information? As a newbie newb I was under the assumption it's main use was for EQ adjustments, and possibly level matching.

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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    I use it rough in the eq, get a baseline for level matching and then off and on during fine tuning. I've learned various methods by watching others who are far better than I and took from them what works for me. For example, I've spent many hours watching Mark Eldridge tune on my car. He uses the rta a lot in the beginning, then when he is satisfied with that, he gets in and starts listening. a lot. If he hears something off, he'll often bring up the rta and see if it shows up there. If it was say a peak, he'll attempt to bring it down, then get back in and listen. Dips can be tricky because that can be nulls that you can't fix. Sometimes you can hear them either. One of those things where the rta "lies" to you So you ignore them, or if they are in the crossover region you can usually fix them with crossover changes or TA changes. All part of that nitty gritty tuning.

    when it comes to level matching, it's a good start with the rta, but listening is still the best. For that portion i use positional tracks (the ones from EMMA are the best, but IASCAs aren't too bad) and just use the full left and full right. If you don't have anything like that, you can use pink noise and just mute one side or the other as needed. If you get those two right, then the rest (center, lc & rc) will fall in line amplitude wise.

    For me, with the rta, I normalize the volume to 85-90db, mostly because 90db is the iasca standard for judging and turns out to be sufficiently loud for listening anyway. regardless of what you pick, it's a spot that you can easily target on the graph for the basic level matching. Most of the time that will be really, really from the midrange on up close so that when I go to listening the changes are minor. It usually works for midbass, but just be aware that the range under 300hz can do weird things in a car. I've seen rta graphs of left and right where one side was waaaay off from the other but audibly was level. So don't rely entirely on the rta for that stuff.
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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    i'm a bigger fan of andy's tuning guide, which is also relatively straightforward & produces consistent results (so far in my experience) but uses more of the dsp tools we have available. it's a bit long but a good read it does rely on use of an RTA.

    https://testgear.audiofrog.com/ -> "A Straightforward Stereo Tuning Process and Some Notes About Why it Works.pdf"

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    Re: A Simple Way to Tune, Courtesy of cmusic......

    Andy Wehmayer may know slightly or GR@TLEY , more than thee average bear.

    If you do it "Hard Way" you may gain a better understanding of what is involved.
    Last edited by Hic; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:37 AM.
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