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thoughts on software EQing (+ taking room readings with mics)


al128
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Hi there,

 

what are your thoughts on doing a microphone measurement from your listening place of your audio system ... and (after knowing the correction curve of the mic) applying EQ to even things out

 

We all know rooms have tremendous impact and can amplify/swallow frequency bands without problems ... EQing seems like a logical step to counteract this ...

 

 

Here for a couple of Qs that pop up from top of mind

 

How poor (or good) are the standard EQs that come with - say - foobar ...? do they just impact the frequency band they should or will there be any neg. impact to other bands (phase shifts, etc...)

 

are any 3rd party EQ plug ins available that are better?

 

is there any SW available that allows for a reading of your room - identifying any frequ. problems?

 

why is there so (rel.) little info available ... it looks like if you are a REAL audiophile, you have to frown upon EQs ...?

 

has anybody done any longer term listening session (before/after)?

 

 

open minded audiophile wants to know your thoughts in a HOME setting.

 

cheers

al

 

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Just turn your head from left to right and the other way around and listen to whats happening to the sound. Good point.

But it adresses only one part of the question. First of all you have to understand what your room is doing to the sound. I guess you sound engineers pretty much know, whats missing or is too much in what range of the frequency band. I don`t and probably most other audiophiles do not either. We have a feeling of "rightness" (is that the correct english term?). But does this feeling equal a flat frequency response? Probably not. E.g. I had an issue in my listening room and didnt know what was going on until an engineer came in, had a listen for a few seconds, stood up, turned down the volume and clapped his hands. I had an echo. Wow that easy, no measuring. But there is much more to my room. Bass nodes and quite a dip in the mid range (and I thought that where my speakers)... You get the point - either your an experienced or rather well educated listener or you get support from equipment like CARMA (Computer Aided Room Analyzer). You can download this programm for free at

 

http://www.audionet.de/main/elektronik/zubehoer/carma/page.html?L=en

 

Its Java, so its works with mac and pc. I wont go in the details. Although a German company, they have an english site.

 

Did it help me? Yes and no. I already deinstalled the software. Why? It gave me a good feeling to know wheres the problem. Playing around with the positioning of my speakers and the seating position proved to make quite a difference in frequency response. But what exactly was it that I was looking for - bit perfect frequency response ;-) ? and what was the way to go there? In other words, issue is known but not solved.

How many hours did this cost me? Too many up to that point and still not satisfied with the sound.

At that time I stumbled upon "Get better sound" from Jim Smith. Just google him and his book and buy it. Its worth it. (no financial interest on my half). I learned that it is possible to "play the room", that is to position your speakers in the room in a way that they sound the way they should sound. Thats a long story with sensational results on sound quality (much better than all my upgrades I have done).

One chapter ist titled "when equalization can help, and when it can`t". Basically he says Peaks in the frequency band can be reduced by equalizing but Dips cannot be boosted. Dips in the frequency band are a product of cancellations from positive and negative wave fronts in your room. So boosting this dips will only result in even worser sound.

I am lucky, my speakers (ADAM active speakers) have equalization on board and I could reduce bass and hights in a cetain range - bingo. More bass, more articulate mids, sweeter hights and!!! more details. So equlization can help.

Just some thoughts on equalization in the digital domain. I have been reading in this forum quite some time in preparation to jump on an DA (will audition in a couple of weeks, PWT/PWD, QB9, Weiss Minerva and Prism Orpheus - I will report on CA) and you guys are all about "Bit perfect". Equalization just as volume control changes the bits. Of course there are high end solutions like minerva and amarra. But look at the cost. We use software for free or for a few bucks buy Dacs for thousands of dollars and than apply some cheapo EQ (assuming that they cannot be good)? I used to produce electronic dance music (another life) and i had quite a lot of eqs to use with Logic Audio. Each sounded different! To make a long story short,

I think, the way to go is:

1. Analyse Sound (free software = 0$) Assuming you have a decent microphone and AD/DA solution

2. Start playing around with positioning your speakers (time consuming, for some of us this is fun)

3. Listen closely to the changes in sound (if you need help get "Get better sound")

4. "Play the room" and you just might get there

 

or thats the route I went:

Call a professional. With lots of experience and all the right equipment. After placing some Bass Traps, Reflecting and Absorbing materials in my room I couldnt believe how good my system sounded. Cost: 1200 Euros. I would have bought everything right away. But my wife said no. So off he went. I couldnt listen to my system for almost a week, because it sounded so bad after he took everything of the wall.

 

Assuming you already have a good system and have some issues with a room, than you should definitely invest in your room and not in EQ!

Greetings from Germay

Claudius

 

 

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thx, claudius ... that was a very constructive post - something along the line I hoped for ...

 

I will get into the whole matter deeper (the book and SW you mention) ...

 

any other thoughts viable for a home setting?

 

herzlichen dank und lG!

Al

 

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Claudius may have done the best job I've seen in a long time incapturing the thoughts and views of many of us (or at least me). Bruce/Tim I wish I lived on the west coast (rather than western MA), so I could hire one of you (if you were willing) to help in making my room sound reasonably good under the circumstances. Unfortunately, like many, I don't have a pure, dedicated listening room that is totally isolated from the rest of my home. Instead, the living room in our colonial style home is the combined home theater/tv and listening room. It's about 14 x 18 with a 6" wide door behind the listening/viewing coutch. Not the ideal set up dor audio, but the best I can do under the circumstances - and I think I've done an okay job in speaker placement and listening position, but I know that someone with experience in room treatments, etc, could help significantly. I bought my McIntosh/Thiel system MX119/207 SC2.4/SCS3 from a dealer in another location and haven't found a professional nearby who will provide me with help in improving this room. As I plan my computer audio system, I would say that Claudius' advice is most appreciated in my real world situation.

 

MBP13-128gb ssd using VoiceOver to hear the screen, iTunes, Ayre QB-9, McIntosh mx119 & mc207, Thiel CS2.4

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I thinks Ashley James explained the downside to EQs a while ago: because you primarily eq to correct for your room, this deals with reflections which are only part of the sound that hits you. The main part of sound comes directly from the loudspeaker to your ears. Therefore, if you eq to reduce the effects of reflections, you distort the most important part of the sound.

 

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Room treatments now have a high wife acceptance factor. Some are even camouflaged as paintings on the wall. The high-end rooms have the bass traps and other details built into the room where you can't see them.

For the price of a nice amp or speakers, you can outfit your room where you won't be constantly upgrading to reach the holy grail. I notice in the rooms that I visit, a properly treated room will make even modest equipment sound phenomenal.

There are room acousticians all over the country that can help anyone in acheiving great results. If you go to t he Real Traps site, they will map out your room and recommend what you will need.

Don't keep upgrading equipment! It's only a band-aid to cover the sore of an improperly treated room!

 

 

Regards,

 

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Your right Bruce roomtreatments are becoming more attractive.

I was about to let the acoustician build some custom painted treatments. That would have been about 2500 Euros for all the stuff I needed. (Comparison: The Ayre QB 9 costs 2800 Euros in Germany.) WAF was still not high enough. And by the way, I found the non painted solutions with their techi looks more attractive.

 

I very much like your last two sentences. Some experience I made: I bought a new phono preamp and needed a new AC Cable. I auditioned cables in the pricerange up to 1000 Euros and bought the one which sounded the most relaxed (650 Euros, thats about 1000 $). Then I optimized the position of my speakers. Much better sound. One day my dealer called me and told me about some new power cables which he wanted me to test. I picked them up for the weekend, but also took the ones I had with me for the first time. What happened? All of the cables I took with me sounded better than the one I had bought - most of them cheaper. My conclusion: I had tried to "cover the sore of an improperly treated room" with the first cable.

 

Al, you wanted some tips. There are so many, it would take hours to write them down. I can tell you, what worked best for me (this is a tough one, because I am not used to write about this stuff in English). I assume, you allready found your listening place (I hardly know any audiophiles who really have a choice) and have an idea where your speakers should sound OK in the room.

All tips are elephant-free

1. try to get the best bass. Just listen to the bass and dont care about pin point focus etc. I had my speakers placed very wide and found out that moving them closer together (further away from the sidewalls) resulted in better defined bass and more pressure. I started by putting them really close together and moving them further apart. Also try moving the speakers closer and further away from your listening position. Very interesting was the effect of elevating my seating position which showed me just how much echo was in my room. "Why dont your try lieing on the floor while listening to music?" (thats what my wife recommended, when I told her about my findings)

2. Level your speakers ( I have an old wood floor which ist not even!) It was amazing, how much smoother the sound got. (Of course, before I did that, i had the speakers slightly leaning towards me (I didnt notice), so high frequency "hit" me quicker)

3. play with toe in. I realized, that I placed my speakers for pinpoint accuracy not for musical satisfaction (ever had goosbumps while trying to locate the exact position of a snare in the room?) Tilting them a bit further made the overall picture a bit hazier but much warmer and more involving (no idea why that is!).

4. Move your couch table out of the way - marginal improvement

5. Bookshelfs, curtains, pictures, cushions - helped a lot, especially thick curtains

6. Do you have plants? Put them in the corner of your room

...

More? ;-)

 

Rayhil,

thanks a lot

 

Hope this helps

Claudius

 

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Bass standing waves - yes although room treatments can take them down a notch I have yet to find room "panels", corner bean bag triangles, or tube traps that really knocks a bad room node out AND that I could live with looking at. Before everyone jumps on me for that - everyone's sense of aesthetics is different.

 

EQ is given a bad name by people who try to tame the whole frequency spectrum; I think limited eq to bring the room energy down around particular base node, while not ideal is reasonable as long as its implemented in as transparent a method as possible. Although yet another problem with room nodes is that they're strongest in various places in the room. Frequently just moving your chair forward will help. The one thing that has me intriqued about Amarra is its EQ feature but I haven't heard anyone talk about it much - does anyone have any experience or info to shed on that?

 

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