Audyssey’s proprietary audio calibration featured in most AVR these days truly brings out the best home cinematic auditory experience…But why are there still a lot of home users complaining about the poor audio performance? Chances are you are not doing it correctly.
This thread is dedicated to those members using Audyssey for the first time AND those that just can’t seem to get it right…
Apart from the obvious that you need to have plug in the microphone (3.5mm) stereo jack into the Setup Mic hole on your Audyssey-built in AVR, you need to ensure the following has to be implemented BEFORE you commence the audio calibration process.
1) Always use the stock microphone from the AVR. Forget about the so-called professional-grade third party SPL microphone that is suppose to be better in taking the “ping” noise blar blar blar…as such you will get a more accurate reading…Well, then you are in for a rude-awakening…believe it or not, the stock microphone has been pre-calibrated in the factory for your specific make and model of the AVR. You can’t just simply swap a Yamaha calibration microphone and use it on Audyssey-built AVR. The readings taken will not be accurate!
2) There is NO NEED for you to meddle with any of your AVR settings in your PRIOR to the calibration! This may not be clear at first for most, even for the experienced users. You might have read or heard from some AV forum or your friends that you SHOULD set your speakers to “SMALL” and cross-over to “THX-80Hz” etc. Now, you will be asking yourself, do I set it BEFORE or AFTER the calibration? The answer is - “AFTER-CALIBRATION”. Even many websites that you visited did not specify this clearly upfront. Well now you know it…All you need to do is to connect the stock Audyssey calibration microphone to the setup mic jack on the AVR and make sure that you are using a camera tripod to ensure that the microphone is properly mounted and firmly planted at your sweet spot - it can be your sofa or recliner.
3) Next adjust the height of the camera tripod to your “normal” seating posture whilst watching a movie. After setting up your mic and adjusted it to appropriate listening height, you will need to ensure that your seat is not too close to the back of the wall. Yes, sadly, if you want accurate readings, you will need to throw away that “WAF” thingy out of the equation. The decision is up to you whether you want to enjoy optimum cinematic sound at your own home or you want to please go for aesthetics…if it is the latter, then I guess you can stop at this stage. The sole reason behind this is to ensure that the SPL reading will not be affected by the room mode anomaly commonly known as the “boundary gain” effect.
4) Optimal speaker placement and positioning is another key element/aspect that you need to ensure BEFORE you start the calibration process. Depending on your room shapes and sizes, as far as possible…try to position the 5.1/7.1 speaker arrays at an equidistant using the sweet-spot of the center point. Yes, you might have read about the THX or even the Dolby Labs proposed layout of the speakers in a home theater environment…I leave it to you to do that to your best of your ability. I do not see the point of asking you to do something that is BEYOND YOUR CONTROL (i.e. shape and size of your room). So in short, try to ensure the speaker arrays form a “circle” that “surrounds” you…common sense, isn’t it?
5) Toe-in your front main left and right speakers at about 30 degrees…DO NOT toe-in too much or else you will limit the “soundstage”…If you dun like arithmetics, then just ensure that the front right and left speakers point at your respective “shoulder-level”…and not your “head”. The surround speakers for a 5.1 layout, preferably should be slightly behind your ears. And if you have a Surround Back channels, then it should be placed “out-of-sight” (common-sense)…if you are able to turn your head at a right-angle and could STILL SEE THE SurrBack speakers, then you should consider placing the SurrBack speakers behind your head (idea is to stay out of sight)…it makes no sense if your Surrounds and SurrBack speakers are placed very near to each other! Then you will have a problem with “localizing” the sounds.
6) After which, ensure that the tweeters of your front main left and right speakers are adjusted (with the help of a speaker stand for bookshelf speakers) are at ear-levels…cannot be too low or too high. In my home theater setup, I have a built-in platform to help me raise my bookshelf speakers at optimal ear-level…so this is something for you to consider especially when you are doing renovation for your home theater room. The center speaker should preferably facing you…if it is placed too low- say at your chest or your tummy level, then you should consider using a door-trap/stopper with an elevated angle to help in “elevating” the speaker drivers to face you. This will make the dialogue more intelligible and ensure more accurate readings.
7) During the calibration, Audyssey will by-pass all the DSP and set the volume level at Reference level (usually at 85db level). So you need not worry about whether or not to reset the previous speaker levels, to bypass Bynamic EQ or Volume feature etc…What happens during the Audyssey calibration process is that it will three set of things…setting proper distance, setting correct amplitude of sound level and applying the appropriate correction filters at each frequency levels. Concurrently making necessary adjustments to the speaker cross-over settings and roll-over frequency for each and every speakers in the array. For the subwoofer, by ensuring that you set the Low-Pass Filter (LPF) to the highest point in your AVR setting helps to ensure that none of the highest frequency will be sent to the subwoofer. What we want is only the low frequency (LFE) to process by the subwoofer.
8) During the calibration, Audyssey allows you to calibrate to as many as up to 8 listening positions in your room to ensure every seat gets its own unique “sweet-spot”…Well, this is easier said than done. If you only have one seat, then it is very easy. But if you have two rows of seats and placed at different locations and worse not at equidistant from the ideal listening layout, then you are going to have a problem. What Audyssey does is do do “averaging” for the various sound spots. And yes, it is a lot of “guess-work” involved with some heavy-duty arithmetic processing by Audyssey here. Over the years, Audyssey “algorithm or crudely put it - guess-work” has gained significant traction and I must say it is pretty darn accurate. As a rule of thumb, try to have at least 5 - 6 listening positions measured to allow the Audyssey to do a more accurate calibration in this aspect. If you only have one “emperor seat”, then minimum of 3 readings should suffice. Just ensure that you turn down any electronics such as Air-conditioning, fan or even your lighting etc off during this process. Make the room as quiet as possible. Audyssey work best when the room is “sufficiently dead”…make a clap around the room (if you have a dedicated HT room) and make sure there isn’t any echo or reverberation.
9) After the calibration process is completed. Unplug the microphone. The post-calibration is what most people missed out. What you need to do after the calibration has completed is to go to the audio/speaker settings of your AVR.
Now you need to ensure the following settings has been set:
i) Set the speaker size to small. If there is no option in your AVR setting to set the speaker size to “small”, just ensure that the individual speaker cross-over hovers between 60Hz - 100Hz or above. Anything less than 60Hz can be labelled as “Large”. The difference between a Large and Small speaker settings is not based on the “looks and built” of the speaker itself but rather how the AVR handles the roll-over of each individual speakers, ensuring the 80Hz and below frequency will be readily re-directed to the subwoofer to reproduce the LFE track of content source. Audyssey, like Dolby Labs recommend that all your speakers to be set at “small” even though you have a very capable tower speakers that are able to handle the LFE very well. So if after the calibration, the cross-over frequency is set to anything less than 60Hz, then it will be sensible for you to adjust the frequency up to 60Hz or higher. I know most enthusiasts will recommend 80Hz to be the ball-park figure to play around with…there is nothing wrong here. Feel free to do just that…BUT please bear in mind that you you should not lower the lower the cross-over frequency lower than your LPF. For instance, if your cross-over for the surround speakers are set at 100Hz. you should not lower it to 80Hz. Instead you should not need to adjust that cross-over setting at all. According to Audyssey, it is perfectly fine to increase the cross-over point but lowering it is not recommended as it will induce what it called, “audio-hole”…in layman terms, there is a “gap” in a particular frequency range that will not be corrected by the correction filters (only present in higher end models with MultEQ XT and MultEQ XT32).
To illustrate this in a more simpler manner,
Cross-over readings after calibration:
Front Left: 40Hz (recommend to adjust upward to 60Hz or higher)
Front Right: 40Hz (recommend to adjust upward to 60Hz or higher)
Center: 70Hz (may remain intact)
Surround Left: 100Hz (do not adjust)
Surround Right: 100Hz (do not adjust)
SurrBack Left: 90Hz (do not adjust)
SurrBack Right: 90Hz (do not adjust)