Everything about Audyssey Calibration that you need to know

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)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why expert recommend 80Hz as the most ideal cross-over?

A: In a nutshell, the human auditory localization worked in mysterious ways…studies shown that anything below 80Hz, the sound will cease to be “directional”, the sound becomes harder to “localize” - i.e. it becomes omni-directional. This is commonly referred to as the low-frequency effect (LFE). What we want to achieve is that the high frequency effect will be directed to the speakers for reproduction - “directional” and the LFE will be reproduced by the subwoofer. Such distribution of high and low frequency will help to alleviate some of the speakers in the LFE reproduction…let’s face it, not all speakers are designed to do both high and low frequency very well…worse is not all our speakers are using the same make and model…dun even make me start with the Re-EQ and timbre-matching as advocated by THX…The best solution is to direct all LFE to subwoofer to prevent what we call, "double-bass’ or “muddy-bass”. Of course, I am discounting on the fact that there are times where properly calibrated (using phase control), one may experience an increase in headroom a smoother response. But this is rarely the case, unless your entire 5.1/7.1 systems are of the SAME BRAND. But we all know that SVS, Rythmik, Ken Kiesel etc made better subwoofer than say a matching one like Monitor Audio 5.1 system in a package.

Q: After calibration, Audyssey “recommends” a 40Hz roll-over for my Mains? I dun understand why is that so IF the above argument holds true?!

A: According to Audyssey, the roll-over at 40hz is actually “determined” by the AVR and not Audyssey. During the calibration process, the test tone generation for each speakers “send back” the information to the AVR to set the speaker roll-over at a certain range…based on the speaker capability. If you based your prediction solely on the “looks” like a tower speaker should have a lower roll-over since it is more capable to reproduce LFE at a certain range, then you might be wrong. I can safely say that we can choose to ignore it…As a general rule of thumb, for full range tower and bookshelf speakers, the ideal roll-over should be pegged at 60Hz - 80Hz while for a satellite speakers, it should have a range of 90Hz - 100Hz or higher.

ii) Ensure that the Low Pass Filter (LPF) is set to the highest. In my Onkyo AVR, the highest LPF is set at 120Hz. You may ask what about the LPF knob or switch at the back of the physical subwoofer itself? What does it do? Well, quite frankly, you need not worry about it…you can literally leave that alone. But just to ensure that the subwoofer will “listen” to the command from the AVR, flip the switch or turn the knob to the highest point and leave it there. The LPF switch at the back of the subwoofer is usually meant for 2.1 speaker setup where the stereo preamp may not have a LPF setting built-in. Most of the AVR these days DOES NOT need that as most have LPF setting built-into it.

iii) Ensure that the bass management is properly set in your AVR. Disable any LFE+Main function if you see this. Ensure you only select LFE Only for the bass management (see above for the rationale)

iv) Leave other settings intact - e.g. speaker levels and distance. Don’t mess with the distance and the speaker levels or you will indirectly screw up other settings like Audyssey Dynamic EQ.

v) Whilst reviewing the post-calibration results, ensure that the subwoofer level DOES NOT exceed +/-6db. A correctly calibrated subwoofer should have very little need for change to the level (SPL)…This is the reason WHY you need to dial in the subwoofer to be at 75db before the commencement of the calibration process - for newer models. For older model AVR, you need can use a SPL meter to measure the subwoofer sound pressure to be at 75db before commencing the calibration process. If you do not have a SPL meter, then you can adjust the gain knob at the back of your subwoofer to somewhere between 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock. So if the trim values showed an extreme negative figure of say -8 or -10. You probably have your subwoofer’s gain knob set too high. Lower it and re-run the calibration.

Q: Why is there such a huge difference in the distance measurement for my subwoofer? Did Audyssey screw up?

A: No. Audyssey did not “screw up”…In fact, Audyssey does not actually “measure” distance in its literal sense…what it does is measuring delay in signal that was send over from the speaker or in this case, the subwoofer to the listening position (where the calibration mic is located). The delay is due to the electrical delay inside the subwoofer. Recall when I mentioned that Audyssey uses correction filters? The use of filters will inevitably cause some “delay” in the signal. Hence a longer distance is used to “compensate” that…so it is perfectly normal to see a distance of say 5.5m away from the listening position when in actual fact, the physical distance is approximately 3.5m away. This helps to ensure that LFE complements ALL OTHER SPEAKERS in the array to ensure sound reaches the ears of the listener ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Q: Why Audyssey sound different at my friend’s place?

A: Audyssey calibration “interacts” closely with your room modes…it is because of the room modes that is causing the difference in sound quality. What Audyssey tries to achieve here is to deliver the same level of auditory experience you hear in a dedicated showroom or perhaps your friend’s setup and deliver it to your home. Whatever settings especially the roll over fq for individual speakers…it is the result of interacting with you room…hence whenever you change some layout in your room such as addition or removal of a piece of furniture or even seating arrangement because you just got yourself a bigger couch…you will need to re-run Audyssey again to ensure optimum sound reproduction for your speakers.

Q: Why do my center channel always sound so soft after calibration? I always have to increase the gain for my center speaker and use dynamic volume (light) to compensate.

A: I am not surprised that you are having this center channel “too-soft” issue…as many home theater enthusiasts have experienced it at some point in time after the calibration. For me, there is NEVER AN ISSUE with the center dialogue. And nope, I did not engage in any Dynamic Volume as it will not yield good results…trust me, I have personally use it one time and abhor it! And you should not use that as far as possible.

For your problem, there are a few things you can try…but before that need to ask you a few questions:

Q1) Are the front left and right speakers the SAME MAKE as your center speaker?

Q2) How did you position your center speaker?

Q3) Did you do a “reference test” using either a SPL meter to measure and ensure that the pink noise (test tone) emanated from the AVR is about the same sound level? Do the “level” (or volume) sound uniform whilst cycling between the front left/right and center speakers?

Recall that I mentioned bringing your speakers at ear-level? This is ESPECIALLY important for the LCR. For the surrounds and surround backs, the concept at ear level need not be followed as after all, there are meant for “surround effects”…for the most part, the main SOUNDSTAGE lies with the LCR (Front left/right and Center speaker). So if you center speaker is pemphasized textlaced too low - say at your chest level, try to use something to elevate the angle to point towards you. If you pay close attention, almost all home theater setup have one or two common things or should I say “sight”…the center speaker is ALWAYS NOT AT THE IDEAL HEIGHT owing to the big TV/Projector screen…nobody want the center speaker to “block” the view, I get it. But that is a compromise here…So you can try out the following:

Solution 1: Elevate the center speaker to point at you.

Solution 2: Move your seating position further away from the screen, so that the center speaker points at you directly. And yes, you have to re-run the calibration again.

Solution 3: If moving your seating position is not possible due to space constraints, perhaps you can consider “elevating” the screen or your TV higher so that you can bring up the center speaker to ear-level. I know you neck is going to be strained…then adjust your recliner chair to a height where you can just lay-back at a comfortable angle. If you dun have a recliner chair, then you should consider getting one.

It is okay to increase the center speaker volume by a few dbs hotter than the rest. Remember getting the LCR right is crucial in a typical 5.1/7.1 setup. Next comes the subwoofer. With these two things solved…I guarantee you will get the best home cinematic experience of your life time.

Extra information for Audyssey users…

Something more to share with Audyssey calibration…Something most of us did not even realize it until now.

# Fact 1: Are you aware that the very FIRST calibration point is the most crucial of all the rest of the calibration points after it? In fact, the first calibration point should ALWAYS be at the “sweet-spot” or least where you will be seated 90% of the time when watching a movie! The rest of the listening points AFTER the 1st point will derive its average from the first point. The first point is vital in the sense that it determines the distance, level, delay and even crossover point. So if you placed your calibration mic at a different (say 2nd or even the 3rd sweet-spot) on a 2 -or 3 seater couch, you may want to re-do your calibration one more time for more accurate readings.

# Fact 2: This is more for knowledge but since I discovered it along the way, I thought I might as well share it here. The frequency knob on your physical subwoofer that has the labelling of 40Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz…120Hz is actually not a crossover. That is merely the Low Pass Lifter frequency (LPF) for the subwoofer to match with a non-Audyssey based AVR or Pre/Pro Amp or even a CD player. To qualify for a “crossover”, it MUST consist of 2 things, a high pass filter and a low pass filter, as the name implies, high frequency channelled to the speakers and low frequency to the subwoofer…the “frequency knob” on the physical subwoofer only allow LPF and does not have a HPF. In other words, if you allow the Audyssey to take over the calibration process, which also mean the crossover settings (this is the recommended way, hence Audyssey wanted end-user to turn the LPF filter to the highest or the crossover switch to “off” position) will be completely taken over by the AVR during the Audyssey calibration.

# Fact 3: Audyssey is NOT the one responsible for setting your speakers to “Full-range” or 'Large" in some context, it is the AVR manufacturer that sets the threshold determining the how well a speaker is able to handle the high and the low frequency. What Audyssey does during the calibration process is to insert correction filters at different frequency spectrums.

# Fact 4: Are you aware that you should NEVER set a crossover point lower than the default crossover after the Audyssey calibration. For instance, after calibration, Audyssey set the two Mains (Left and Right Speakers) to say 70Hz. You should never attempt to lower the crossover to anything lower than 70 - i.e. 60Hz as this will indirectly create a “null” for the speakers. Rule of thumb is, you can increase the crossover higher and not lower, meaning you can set it to 80Hz - 100Hz and the correction filters will still remain valid.

Audyssey House Curve Re-visited…

While I have recently discussed about the benefits of enabling Dynamic EQ (DEQ) in your AVR. For those not using miniDSP or equivalent device to create that “custom” house curve, you can still do so by using the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App (both iOS and Android available). The constant gripe that many Audyssey users faced is the lack of that “gritty” bass slam which occurs in the region of 20Hz to 55Hz thereabouts. Audyssey did a fantastic job in “flattening” the frequency response from 10Hz to 22KHz…sometimes too “good” can be a bad thing as it tends to rob you of the natural “room gain” that your your speakers and subwoofer(s) needed at the modal frequency range. This creates an anaemic bass. We have also learned about the “loudness perception of bass” at the lower spectrum of the frequency range. In gist, the lower the frequency, the more gain in SPL is needed to get the same level of loudness (with 1KHz range as the common baseline).

munson_fletcher_curve

To regain back those “room gain” that Audyssey destroys, we can “replenish” it using a DSP (e.g. miniDSP) or simply use Audyssey’s very own MultEQ Editor app. The issue with the latter is the lack of online tutorial to teach us the basics of how to go about implementing a proper custom house curve and not to mention the endless frustration of using the App on a smaller screen like your smart phone or even a tablet if we are using our fingers to create that custom curve settings. I have recently came across a third party app styled, “Ratbuddyssey App” which is a Windows-based program albeit not perfect but does a few things right - e.g. setting precise Max EQ for the frequency range - e.g. from 20KHz down to say 250Hz/300Hz (Schroeder FR) as well as the ability to exact gains/cuts to the target Audyssey curve (Reference Curve).

This is a short tutorial on how to use the App itself to implement a custom house curve to regain that much-needed “ommph” back in the 20Hz to 55Hz range. This method will kind of “clash” with the DEQ-RLO concept which I have touched on a while ago. As such, we will be disabling DEQ if we wish to implement a custom house curve here. I have found a way to make this work the way I intended. So if you are interested to know how to do it, do stay tuned for the upcoming tutorial in due course…

Building a custom house curve using Ratbuddyssey software

As mentioned earlier in this thread, Audyssey did a rather good job in “flattening” the frequency response from 10Hz all the way to 20,000Hz. Many did not realize that our speakers and subwoofers “interacts with our room” in ways that we may not realize. For instance, you may come across some AV articles that mentioned “room gain” which comes about when sound waves travels and bounce around within the confines of our listening area. Sometimes this so-called “room gains” is needed to in order to “preserve” that “chest slamming” bass that we seek while other times it can also work against us if we fail to “tame” it - i.e. the undesirable effects of boomy and bloasted bass in the frequency range that we wish we can avoid. This is where most EQ in the likes of Audyssey, YPAO, Anthem ARC Genesis etc comes in to eliminate those side-effects of poor room mode. In short, room gain can be an allied to us if we perform Audyssey EQ calibration correctly.

In order for us to get a “custom house curve” that fits our “room mode”, the pre-requisites are to get your speakers and subwoofer placement correct and then perform a proper Audyssey calibration. One misconception - One cannot simply raise the subwoofers by a few dBs and hope to get that “chest-slamming” bass kick. As mentioned in my earlier posts, there are 2 ways to create custom house curves - one way is to get an external DSP like miniDSP which worked in tandem with Room EQ Wizard (REW) but it involves some learning curve to know how to use it. The other way which is much easier is the use of an app called “Audyssey MultEQ Editor” which is available for both iOS and Android users. Besides allowing users to perform Audyssey calibration by syncing the results with the AVR connected via our home Wi-Fi network, it also allows the users to make finer adjustments to the frequency curve (via Curve Editor feature found within the app itself), turn on/off the Mid-Range Compensation (MRC) or even dictates the frequency range for Audyssey EQ filters to be applied. Some speakers tends to perform better with music when there is no EQ filters being applied to a certain frequency range. Some purists even believe that the max frequency range for Audyssey EQ filters to be applied should fall somewhere within the Schroeder frequency which usually falls between 100Hz and 300Hz. In my opinion, a good starting point will be somewhere between 500Hz and 5,000Hz (ARC recommendation).

Of late, I discovered a nifty utility (not perfect though as the creator has no time to iron out some of the kinks but for the most part, the “key” features work so let’s cut him some slack :stuck_out_tongue: ) called Ratbuddyssey which can be downloaded from here: Release graphing release (fixed) · ratbuddy/ratbuddyssey · GitHub. This little utility is a god-send imo. It allows us to make finer changes and adjustments on the original Audyssey calibration file (.ady) and then import back to the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App to be uploaded to our AVR. If you ask anyone what is the biggest gripe using the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App; most will say the App itself requires a larger screen estate like on a tablet to allow them to “see” and make changes to the frequency curve and even then, it is STILL hard to make some changes with precision using just our fingers or even a stylus. This is a real PITA if you ask me!

The Ratbuddyssey utility paired with Audyssey MultEQ Editor App certainly makes life a little easier for me these days since I can implement and test drive all variations of house curves within matters of minutes and that’s what makes it such a joy to use.

Enough said, let’s dive into the tutorial on how to setup a custom house curve using just the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App without the need for miniDSP (assumption made that you have already achieved a somewhat reasonably good frequency curve for your subwoofers AFTER Audyssey calibration and for that I meant you are able to get a reasonably “flat” response curve from 10Hz to 120Hz thereabouts.

Let’s say that we want to boost the modal frequency range (say 20Hz – 50Hz) by +3db for our 2 subwoofer(s). The first thing you need to do is export the Audyssey calibration file (.ady) over to our laptop so that we can use the Ratbuddyssey utility to make finer adjustments to the curve. This is the preferred method over the use of the Curve Editor feature found in the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App. Although you can still use the Curve Editor feature found within the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App to create your custom house curve and it will still work…but you will probably get a headache trying to get the “boost” at the desired frequency center. So do yourself a favor by downloading the Ratduddyssey utility to your laptop/desktop PC before you read on…

How to export the (.ady) file? Simple, use the “Move to” function on the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App and then select the desired (.ady) file and then hit “Send a Copy”. You will see the option that says, “Copy to Drive” as in Google Drive. The (.ady) will now be exported from the App and into your Google Drive folder.

google_drive_library_by_gsm2k-d500d7l.png

Next, go to your laptop/desktop PC and open up a new session on the Ratbuddyssey. Select “File” then “Open” to select the (.ady) file in your Google Drive folder.

Once opened, you will see the interface will be populated with all your associated speakers and subwoofers which resides at the left pane of the utility.

Next, uncheck the DynamicEQ (DEQ) checkbox. Ensure that the Audyssey Curve Type is set to “Flat” (default) instead of “Reference”. An optional setting like MRC (Mid-Range Compensation) can be turned off easily just by unchecking the check box and it will apply to all speakers. Make sure the Custom Speaker Type is set to “Small” for all the speakers (FL,C,FR, SLA,SRA,SBL,SBR etc) and the subwoofer(s) set to “Subwoofer”.

Next, set your Frequency Cut-off range for speakers (Only) to anything between 500Hz and 5,000Hz. I will advise the user to set it at 500Hz as a good starting point and slowly work your way up until you find a good “blend” where your Mains and the subwoofer(s) complements each other in a constructive manner. This is where the crossover points come in. To optimize your Mains crossover to the Subwoofer(s), you can use REW and Umik 1 to help you find the best crossover points (I will not be touching on this in details but I will share what I meant if there is enough interest being generated). Let’s just say that you decide to crossover your Mains at 80Hz (THX Fixed) so anything below 80Hz will go to the subwoofer(s) while anything above 80Hz will go to the Mains. As for subwoofer(s), make sure you restrict the Frequency Cut-off to either 200/250Hz.

The rest of the options remain intact…any changes like increasing the crossover and trim levels can be performed at the App level since it is much easier and intuitive. We mainly used Ratbuddyssey to allow us to make finer adjustments to our curve setting.

Now comes the important bit – i.e. boosting the level (SPL) by +3db (as an example). More often than not, the so-called “mid-bass punch” or “chest-slamusually falls anywhere between 20Hz and 70Hz. Depending on your crossovers between the Mains and the subwoofer(s) which is usually 80Hz for most bookshelf/tower speakers as well as its corresponding SPL levels, somewhere between 65Hz to 70Hz, we will start to see some roll-off if we set our crossovers to the ubiquitous 80Hz. Hence the safest region to implement a boost IMO will be somewhere between 20Hz and 60Hz. There is no right or wrong answer here, simply experiment it to hear for yourself which suits you better in your listening area. The keyword here is “your listening area”, not mine due to the difference in “room gain”.

In my room, I find 20Hz – 50Hz at a 3-4db boost to suit me the best in my listening environment (a typical 4 x 4 room layout). I can increase up to +6db if I truly want to feel more punch with a higher level (SPL). Sometimes, there is no need for you to go all the way to +6db boost if your subwoofer(s) is capable of outputting high levels (SPL) at a low-frequency range. So know your subwoofer’s capability and experiment it for yourself.

How to add the boost to the various frequency range for the subwoofer(s)? For this, you will go to the Target Curve Points panel located just below the Channels panel. Type in the following:

Frequency Center/Boost:
20Hz at +3db
50Hz at +3db
170Hz at 0db

What this does to your target curve can only be viewed after you have exported the modified (.ady) with the custom “house curve” back to the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App. Before we do that, we still need to apply the same amount of boost to the same set of frequency centers (20Hz, 50Hz, 170Hz & 400Hz) for the Mains like so:

Frequency Center/Boost:
20Hz at +3db
50Hz at +3db
170Hz at 0db
400Hz at 0db (assuming we set our Frequency Cut-off range at 500Hz)

Hold on, we are not done yet! Often overlooked by many users is to apply the same amount of boost to the subwoofer trim levels. The reason for that is because of the way the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App works. Let me explain as best as I could here…

When we boost the subwoofer(s) by +3db for frequency range from 20Hz and 50Hz, the Audyssey target curve will do a “self-course correction” by lowering the entire curve by the same amount of boost you applied. Why is this so? The reason behind this is simple. Audyssey is trying to ensure that the overall SPL level for the subwoofer(s) and the rest of the speaker arrays will “sound” the same at a given volume level. In so doing, whatever boost we have applied to the subwoofer(s) will not be translated to the “actual” results since there the boost to the target curve has been “pushed down” (becomes a cut) by Audyssey. In order to overcome this, we have to apply the same amount of boost (in the is case +3db) to the trim levels of our subwoofer(s). So how do we do it? You can either do it at the App level or within the Ratbuddyssey itself. For the latter route, add +3db under the “Custom Level” text field. DO NOT simply at +3db and call it a day. Instead, you will need to add +3db to the original SW level.

For instance, if the initial trim level for your 2 subwoofers as follows:
Subwoofer 1 (SWMIX): -1.0
Subwoofer 2 (SWMIX): -2.0

You will need to add “+3db” to the original trim value which will give you:
Subwoofer 1 (SWMIX): +2.0
Subwoofer 2 (SWMIX): +1.0

That’s it! You are done! Click on “File” and “Save As” and give it a meaningful filename like Audy_DDMMYY_boost3db_DEQ_off.ady (as an example).

Next, export the modified (.ady) file – i.e. Audy_DDMMYY_boost3db_DEQ_off.ady to the same Google Drive folder.

Once the export is completed. Do the following:

  • Select the “” icon to the right of the file
  • Select the “open in” option; it will prepare to export the file
  • Swipe to the right and Select “More
  • Select the “Copy to MultEQ” option
  • The Audyssey MultEQ Editor App will automatically be launched and append the new (.ady) calibration file – i.e. Audy_DDMMYY_boost3db_DEQ_off.ady into the main screen

[skip this step] if you have already add the boost amount on Ratbuddyssey…

If you have not yet added the boost of +3.0db to the trim levels for your subwoofer(s), now is the time to do so by going over to “Speaker Detection Results” option and go to the second tab that allows you to change the Levels (SPL) settings to reflect the same:

Subwoofer 1 (SWMIX): +2.0
Subwoofer 2 (SWMIX): +1.0

Once that is done, import the new modified (.ady) calibration file over to the AVR. You are done!

What’s next?
Play some familiar 2 channel music…set the Sound Mode to “Stereo” or “Direct” and then “Pure Direct” (cut off subwoofers and set the Mains to LARGE), feel and hear the difference that your Mains (after adding a +3db boost to the modal frequency range – i.e. 20Hz and 50Hz), you should “feel” and hear a much more impactful low extension coming from your Mains (especially for those who have a pair of tower-sized speakers or bookshelf speakers that can go down to 40Hz and below).

After the 2 channel test, you can put in a movie like the Opening scene of Edge of Tomorrow or the famous True Legend fight scene that I know many XP members adore…Hear the difference and I can almost guarantee you that you will hear a significant difference in the low-frequency extension that DEQ cannot provide.

Additional tips:
i. Try as many variations in boost as possible using one session and then export the modified (.ady) calibration files to the Google Drive folder to be imported into the Audyssey MultEQ Editor App for A/B comparison.
ii. DO NOT remove the original Audyssey calibration file…
iii. Do A/B comparison between “flat” Audyssey Reference Target Curve and the new custom “Reference Target House Curve”. This will allow for a more objective assessment.

Take your time to slowly digest it…Post any questions if you have any.

A fork version of the Raybudyssey

Another AVSForum member that goes by the moniker (LaserCuruGuy) did some refinement work to the codes and added a reference curve to the Ratbudyssey app. Those interested can download the newer version (with some bugs fixed) here: https://github.com/LaserGuruGuy/ratbuddyssey/releases/tag/0.3.0.3

Audyssey Dynamic EQ, should I enable or disable it?

Here’s my take on DEQ…and don’t worry, I’m not going into all the technical verbiage.

If you are using an external EQ device like miniDSP, I agreed that DEQ “Off” is probably a better option since PEQ has been engaged to help smooth out the bass response (from 20hz - 250hz) with higher filters applied. Anything beyond that, Audyssey should be able to take care of it. Also for those who desired a custom house curve can also do it with ease using miniDSP compared to Audyssey MultEQ XT32 Pro app which is not as robust. The only reason I’ve gotten the app is due to its ability to turn off/on Mid-Range Compensation (MRC) as well as to adjust the frequency range for EQ to be applied. If your speakers are audiophile grade with clear mids and highs and you don’t wish to ruin it, then the app is a must-have.

Back to DEQ, the benefits of having DEQ enabled is to allow listeners whom preferred to listen at a lower volume level (say -30db to -25db below Reference Level) to still able to retain the same SPL for bass. This is important as humans tends to be more sensitive to low frequency (e.g. 30Hz and below) variation. This is why many complain about the “lack of bass” when listening at lower volume. For a well-calibrated HT setup, listening anywhere between -20db and -15db is a norm these days. By enabling DEQ, it helps to compensate the loss in relative SPL on bass when listen at lower volume. Jag had brought up a very good observation, DEQ tends to exaggerate the lower frequency to the extent which “muddle” the bass to a great extent when you listen at lower MV. This is something which unfortunately is true and I really hope Audyssey can improve in that aspect of the DEQ. Having say that, I still believe that sum of its parts is still greater than the whole. If you are able to tame the modal frequency range regardless whether you are using miniDSP or Audyssey’s very own SubHT EQ, you can still benefit from DEQ enabled. You can think of DEQ as a form of Audyssey “house curve” since its objective is the SAME as building a custom “house curve” using the miniDSP - i.e. to restore the SPL of the bass when listening at lower volume - some called it “Loudness Compensation” and in Audyssey’s term is called Dynamic EQ (DEQ).

My recommendation is to ensure that you get your HT setup properly calibrated, especially the subwoofers which produced the bass content. More often than not, it is not DEQ that contribute to the poor muddy or bloated bass but the room mode. This is why a miniDSP can help a long way for HT setup in a less-than-ideal room setup because of the odd room shape and layout etc. If you are blessed with a good room dimension and you follow strictly on the proper speaker/subwoofer placement (using Harman Room Mode Calculator as a basis), you can easily do away with the need to use an external EQ device like miniDSP.

For the surround being tuned “hotter” than the rest of the speakers which makes the surround sounded a bit “overwhelming”…again Audyssey theory is that humans perceive sound differently coming from the front soundstage (LCR) compared to the sides (Surrounds) and the rears (Surround Backs). I agreed that DEQ does make the Surround channels at least 1 - 2db hotter but this can be easily calibrated using test tones from say a Dolby Atmos test tones playback (Note: When you wish to tune your SPL for all your speakers to the same SPL level - e.g. 75db, PLEASE DO NOT use the the test tone emited by the AVR as it is not accurate).

I am able to listen at -25 - 20db below Reference level w/o a hint of boominess…if anything, I need to increase the MV to -15db to get the whole listening experience to a cinematic level. With DEQ turned on, there is lesser need for me to reach out to my remote controller to turn up or down the Master Volume for any content I throw at it. With DEQ disabled, you may need to re-adjust the volume level for some of the media content that is authored differently.

Beware: "DEQ and Trim Levels (doing channel level checks)"

I have went through some of my past email exchanges with former Audyssey Chief Technical Officer Chris pertaining to the DEQ and one important piece of information which I have “missed out” is the correlation between DEQ and trim level adjustments. It turns out that was told that for DEQ to be effective, one should refrain from playing with the trim levels as this will screw-up the DEQ! The reason being DEQ is based on the “finalized” calibration EQ. This is a “target” reference level at which DEQ will rely upon to make adjustments to its frequency (boost or cuts) on a scene-by-scene analysis (dynamically). If we change the trim levels, it will have an impact on the perceptivity of the audio when volume level changes. Hence if you wish to make any kind of adjustments, you should use the Channel Level under the Options for each source - e.g. increase the height/Atmos speakers by 2 - 3db. By and large, the reading from Audyssey is rather accurate which minimize the need for you to make adjustment to the channel trims. If this is the case, I can only assume that it will also apply to the Distance setting where any changes (if any) made AFTER the Audyssey calibration may screw up the phase (time domain) of the speaker and subwoofer(s).

And also another note on the “Channel level” checks, Chris also recommended the use of test tones emitted by the AVR instead of using a test dics (which I have previously recommended)…the reason was the possibility of the difference in dialnorm that a test disc was authored. What I understand is that at ‘0db’ (Reference level), the internal bandwidth limited pink noise emitted will produce a SPL of “75db” at (-30dbfs).

On the part of the Surround channels running “hotter” than the mains, this is an intentional engineering design by Audyssey as their lab studies showed human auditory perception drops drastically when there are sound effects coming from the sides and the rear. As such, the boost in Surround sounds many experienced when DEQ is engaged. If you feel it is too “loud” due to the close proximity of you and one of the side surround speakers, it is advisable to ensure that the Surround speakers are placed further behind your MLP - 110 degrees is a good starting point.

This is something worth noting…

DEQ is not so different from Bass EQ (BEQ) in terms of concept

Let’s dive deeper into the DEQ discussion while we are at it. I’m glad to see more bros here contributing their experience on the use of DEQ along with Audyssey.

If I were to tell you that the underlying objective of DEQ is actually what Bass EQ (BEQ) is trying to achieve all these while? Are you surprise? If we dissect the concepts of DEQ and BEQ, they are probably more similar than you think. While DEQ is a “feature” that works in tandem with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and BEQ can be implemented using an external DSP like miniDSP to “restore” the SPL of the bass at the modal frequency range - e.g. between 20Hz & 50Hz. I have mentioned umpteen times that the human’s auditory perceptivity of bass in the low-frequency range (usually starts from 50Hz and below) is softer when compared to say a 80Hz tone. According to studies, our hearing is most sensitive in the 2KHz to 4KHz range. The critical spectrum of the frequency range for humans to discern equal loudness be it at the higher end or low end falls somewhere between 500Hz & 5KHz. Any frequency range that falls outside of this critical spectrum will require some kind of compensation to be made - i.e. boost the output (SPL) level in order to achieve the “same” level of output.

According to Audyssey, the “target” Reference curve employed by Audyssey followed loosely to the Harman Curve - in its simplest form, it means a gradual roll-off of high frequency towards the end of the frequency spectrum - usually starting from 4KHz all the way till 22KHz. The drop is gradual from anywhere between -2db from 4KHz onwards till 10KHz and steeper roll-off at -6db from 10KHz to 22KHz. Why Harman Curve and not other target curves? Well, according to Audyssey the roll-off is needed in the higher frequency range to avoid ear fatigue especially from a “brighter” speakers in an untreated room - meaning a lot of sound energy (waves) hitting against hard surfaces which makes listening almost unbearable for movies authored at a higher compression rate.

While we now understand the high spectrum of the frequency range and its implications, let us look at what Audyssey Reference Target Curve does to the lower spectrum of the frequency range - i.e. from 250Hz to 20Hz. This is where the contention comes in. Audyssey without DEQ enabled will strive for a “flat” frequency response. This is the reason why when DEQ is turned off, it attenuates (weakens) the bass, thereby making it “less” boomy. For members who did not follow strictly on ideal speaker/subwoofer placement ritual (like using the Harman Room Mode Calculator) may often find their bass to be muddy and bloated when listening at a reasonable Master Volume (MV) and this can be anywhere between -25db and -10db. The issue with DEQ turned off is that, one will feel the urge to increase the gain on your subwoofer(s) or the trim values in your AVR to compensate for the “loss” in bass output in the lower frequency spectrum. The problem with this method is the need for you to constantly fiddle with the gains/trim levels for different kinds of content being thrown at. With an external DSP like miniDSP, one can implement filters at the key modal frequency and apply a custom “house curve” to compensate for the drop in overall bass output (SPL level). That is the reason I have never ever doubted Roni, Jag and a few other members who used miniDSP to fix some of the “undesirable” effects caused by DEQ.

So what exactly caused DEQ to have some form of undesirable “side-effects” when enabled?! If this is a poorly-implemented feature by Audyssey, why then there is a split of 50-50 amongst members when it comes to DEQ? Another problem associated with DEQ. That is when it boosts the bass output at the lower frequency range, DEQ actually implements this “boost” to other channels as well instead of just the (.1 channel) LFE. Furthermore, Audyssey also implemented their very own Loudness Management algorithm on the surrounds and surround back channels by running it at least 1 - 2db hotter when DEQ is engaged. This is to compensate for the “softer” surround effects when we listen to a lower MV below the Reference level. So DEQ introduced 2 types of boost - i.e. boost in low-frequency range to maintain a bass level that plays at the same output as the rest of the speakers and the other is the boost in surrounds levels. These arbitrary “boosts” created by DEQ makes it harder for us to control IF you did not have an ideal HT setup like the good placement of speakers and subwoofers and proper Audyssey calibration. But I wouldn’t throw in the white towel into the ring just yet. The “workaround” could be found in the Reference Offset Levels (RLO).

But before we dive in on the topic of RLO, it is important to realize that both DEQ and Audyssey worked hand-in-hand to create the Harman Target Curve. Since most of us are now aware that DEQ has to be turned on in order to get back the missing or weaker bass output at the lower frequency range. Now that we have a better idea of how the “full effects” of DEQ can render your HT system to sound worse…we can now touch on the RLO in the next post.

Reference Level Offsets (RLOs) working with Audyssey, DEQ and MV

Since there are some undesirable effects associated with the use of DEQ in some cases – e.g. usually in the realm of sub-par bass. Audyssey introduced the Reference Level Offset (RLO). As the name implies, it is the amount of offset or deviation from the Reference level. The DEQ is closely tied to the changes in MV and for RLO to work “as intended”, one will need to enable DEQ right at the start.

What I have gathered from AVSForum is that the RLO settings are applied in 5db increments as depicted below:
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – Default setting
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level)
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level)
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level)

What this simply means is that when you set the RLO at ‘-10db’ and the MV set at -10db, there is virtually no DEQ been engaged. If you set your MV at say -15db (usually that is my maximum listening volume for movies), you can expect DEQ to kick in and adds a bass boost in the low-frequency region anywhere between +1.0db (from 200Hz to 69Hz) and +2.0db (from 70Hz to 20Hz) and a corresponding increase in treble in the high-frequency region between +1.0db and +3.0db (from 10KHz to 22KHz). As mentioned, our hearing degrades as we listen at a lower volume for the lower frequency region (starting from 120Hz down to 20Hz) and high-frequency range from 5KHz and above. Recalled the audible range perceived by humans to be outputting pretty much the “same output (SPL) level” sits between the range of 500Hz and 5KHz. Recalled that I have mentioned earlier that DEQ shared some similar traits as BEQ in the sense that it tries to do 2 things – to restore and balance the SPL output at user’s preferred listening volume (MV) as well as to introduce a house-curve “dynamically” as it analyzes the movie sound mix in advance to determine the optimum bass and treble output. Here’s an overview of what DEQ (when enabled) is doing at various RLO settings:

With MV set at: -25db
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – bass boost of +10.0db
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +8.0db
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +6.0db
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +4.0db

With MV set at: -20db (Common listening level for most of us)
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – bass boost of +8.0db
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +6.0db
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +4.0db
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +2.0db

With MV set at: -15db (Common listening level for most of us)
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – bass boost of +6.0db
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +4.0db
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +2.0db
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level) – no boost in bass (At Reference level)

With MV set at: -10db
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – bass boost of +4.0db
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level) – bass boost of +2.0db
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level) – no boost in bass (At Reference level)
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level) – drop in bass of -2.0db (Listening at above Reference Level – DEQ will compensate by staving off the bass instead) – Not recommended!

With MV set at: -5db
RLO at ‘0’ (Reference level) – bass boost of +2.0db
RLO at ‘-5db’ (Below Reference level) – no boost in bass (At Reference level)
RLO at ‘-10db’ (Below Reference level) – drop in bass of -2.0db (Listening at above Reference Level – DEQ will compensate by staving off the bass instead) – Not recommended!
RLO at ‘-15db’ (Below Reference level) – drop in bass of -4.0db (Listening at above Reference Level – DEQ will compensate by staving off the bass instead) – Not recommended!

Based on the abovementioned combo of MV and RLO settings, we can see what kind of effects it has on the bass. Treble increase from anywhere between +1.0db to a maximum of +3.0db is less “impactful” as Audyssey claims that most listeners are “less sensitive” to high-frequency variations when compared to low frequency and I agreed.

My Settings (as a reference)
I usually listen at MV of between -20db and -15db. I have set a crossover for my speakers (LCR) at 80Hz. I also used Audyssey App to allow Mid-range Compensation (MRC) to do its work for a smoother crossover point between 2KHz and 3KHz and set my RLO at ‘0db’ which translates to some +6db gain in bass at the lower frequency region. My bass is tight and punchy (to my own liking). I have also disengaged Dynamic Volume and instead opted for Dialog Enhancer under the Option setting to kick in at “Medium” setting for clarity in dialog for poorly implemented Dynamic Compression rate (DRC) bluray titles such as the case for the first Iron Man released in bluray (google for more details).

My recommendation is for those facing issues with less than ideal bass performance when DEQ is engaged to try the various RLO settings for a start to see if it improves the overall experience. Start with a “preferred MV” and then adjust the RLO accordingly to suit your needs. This is by no means a solution to better bass but rather an extra setting provided for you to reap the benefits of DEQ while minimizing the undesirable effects that come with it. Take note, proper speaker/subwoofer placement and proper calibration are 2 most important aspects to getting great HT experience.

New Audyssey calibration chat with the chap from Audyssey.

Seems like a new product coming


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