Things to look out for when doing your Audyssey calibration

So there was a recent firmware update for my Marantz SR 7010  (http://peteswrite.blogspot.sg/2015/10/marantz-sr7010-review.html). I after doing this, I decided to take the opportunity to re-do the Audyssey calibration, and see how things sound. I have also recently reduced the toe-in on my Dynaudio C1s and moved the rear surround Usher on the right side to a more central position so the two rears are more equal in distance.

So I went through the pre-cal checklist:

- using the stock mic
- get a mic stand
(this is easier to use than a tripod, and you are free from the vibrations that may affect readings if the tripod rests on the sofa, plus it's easier to move too)
- keep the room quiet - turn off the aircon, do it on a quiet day
- keep the front three speaker tweeters as close as possible
- check the other speaker positions
- place the mic stand at the right height: ear level when seated
(if you recline that chair, make sure the stand is at the height of your ears when reclined) - more on this later
- turn both subs on

So once the mic is plugged in, and things are set up I walk quietly with my remote to the adjacent room and start the process. This usually takes 10-20 mins, and you have to walk back to shift the mic around.

I usually do it in a tight grid around the main listening position. Some websites have even advocated moving the mic up and down a little, but I did not.
Remember the first position is the all important position, which not only assess the volumes, but also the speaker positions, phase, delay, crossover and more.

So it proceeds quite smoothly, and I check my settings.

As usual, the Audyssey sets my main and centre speaker to 'large' but it's better to use them as 'small' and direct the bass to my E112s. I set the crossover at 60 Hz for all three, and the rest of the surrounds are crossed at 80, whilst my ceiling Atmos speakers cross at 110Hz.

Now some members leave things as they are, which is ok for those who simply want a no brainer solution, but for the proper immersion experience, this is when the legwork starts.

It's not a good idea to test the internal test tones for more then a test of whether your speakers are all hooked up, instead get a test tones CD / DVD and run that.

Then get a SPL meter and see if the levels match. Now I personally run the centre about 1.5 db hotter, and tone down the surrounds, otherwise they will sound too prominent, which is a problem with the Audyssey idea of a good surround experience.

The distances indicated aren't the actual ones, and sometimes you find one speaker distance to be quite different from the measured one, usually the sub. Don't fret, this is the calculated distance and takes into account the delay that Audyssey sets.

It does not stop here. The final litmus test is to use a familiar sound track, and see if the surround experience cooked up is to your taste. I like to use the "Band of Brothers", which has a nice bullets whizzing by scene in Episode Two. The flight path of the bullets should go from back to front and side to side. The grenade tossed should trace a path from back to the centre.

I recently also added the demo disc of 2016: "13 Hours".
I think most of us will be familiar with the second assault scene, beginning with the shepherd slinging his weapon and the car that appears with someone attempting to throw a home made bomb - Chap 15.
In the build up of tension towards the free for all fight, you can hear ambient sounds from all the surrounds, with the subs adding a low growl of bass that adds to the mood.
During this fight, one of the DS guys is seen running towards the wall, when a "Tango" tosses a bomb over the wall, and you can trace the flight of bomb/grenade from the left surround moving up between the Top Front and Top Rears, progressing towards the centre of the ceiling then dropping down onto the centre speaker. A nice blast follows, but it's the flight path that is amazing.
Then "Oz" cops one round on his helmet and you can trace the bullet flying across, from left to right, utilising the side surrounds, across the centre.
With each round from the M5 and M60, there's a nice thud, and when the "Tangoes" fire their RPGs, the rounds go off with a solid thump that hits your chest and quakes your sofa.


So if it sounds ok, save your settings on the PC too!

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