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HOME THEATRE AUDIO CALIBRATION

A Review By: Alphonso Soosay

home theatre audio calibrationHome Theater audio calibration is the most important requirement of any realistic home-theater setup, and individuals tend to give a motion picture complex mark when they watch it with good balanced surround sound audio system than with simple stereo. So fine-tuning the audio listening environment in your family room or living room will produce a much more immersive home theater viewing experience.  But how do you bring together your audio system to achieve the best sound? Best sound meaning that it sounds as good as your local cinema. The secret lies in understanding your room acoustic issues. Fifteen years ago, I attended a THX certification training course. Most of the lecture theatre time was devoted not to the home theatre equipment’s, but to the understanding of room acoustics. Which I found was very important. Once you have some ideas about “Room Acoustics”, you can then start improving the quality of your surround-sound audio system in your own home.  A standard audio calibration system to look out for is the Audyssey Multi-EQ system.

Note the calibration microphone cable, attached to the “setup microphone” jack. When you plug the microphone into the jack specifically designed for it on the receiver, the calibration software tools start up automatically.  At this point you just follow the instructions on your HDTV screen, one step at a time. The first step is to place the microphone at the number one listening location, your sweet spot, at approximately the height of the listener’s ear.

With an automatic calibration tool, you follow the prompts until you launch the setup application. You may want to leave the room at this point if you have sensitive ears. The receiver generates a set of sweep tones, one speaker at a time. The sweeps happen very fast, so you hear them as a series of loud whooping (pink-noise) sounds. The microphone captures the tones, and feeds them back to the receiver’s software. After all of the speakers have completed their tests, the digital signal processor inside the system’s processor spends some time analyzing the data. Eventually, at the other end, the system runs through the crossover frequency for the sub-woofer and calculates the distance from the speaker to your listening position.

Many home theatre receivers allow you to repeat the testing for more than one listening position. Doing this is worthwhile, because it enables you to fine-tune speaker distance and delay settings.  At the end of this calibration process, you unplug the microphone from the amplifier; and if you like, you can come to an end here. Audyssey and similar automated calibration commonly produce a calibration that most individuals find good enough for their home theatre room. You yourself will notice that the surround sound balance and sound-stage imaging often improves to your surprise and the sub-woofer levels sound in general sounds in the approved manner.

Note: more details in “Home Theater” Guide by: Alphonso SOOSAY

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