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Old 10-26-2009, 12:39 PM   #1
acritzer acritzer is offline
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Just switched up my L/R/C speakers to Polk, CS2 and Monitor 60's. Now I'm trying to decide if I should go out and purchase an SPL meter to calibrate everything.
Are the differences made with this type of calibration very noticeable? I'm a penny pincher, so spending another $50 for a one time use (essentially) doesn't sound that good to me, unless it's likely to make a decent amount of difference in the quality.

Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:20 PM   #2
VinnAY VinnAY is offline
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Does your AVR have a setup mike like Audyssey? If so, I'd pass on a meter. You can always go with your ears and the test tone to get you close enough. I think an SPL meter would be jsut for the folks that have to have it perfect and can justify the $$.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:40 PM   #3
acritzer acritzer is offline
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My receiver has one test tone available. I was also thinking about burning a disc with sample tones to check off of as well. I just wasn't sure how well I could really match stuff up with my ears, compared to a meter.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:50 PM   #4
Halcro 1 Halcro 1 is offline
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Use a SPL meter
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:54 PM   #5
acritzer acritzer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcro 1 View Post
Use a SPL meter
Not that I don't appreciate the advice, but would you mind elaborating some on the benefits/advantages, etc?
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:30 PM   #6
sptrout sptrout is offline
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I agree with the others that you need a SPL meter unless your AVR has an auto-setup mode. Otherwise, you are just setting levels "by ear", which will result in questionable results. I have had a SPL meter for year & years, I do not need it often, but when I do, it is a big help. It is also handy for a quick method of checking system levels if I suspect a problem. The only real issue (and this does not apply to you apparently) is that setting subwoofer levels can be real tricky with a SPL meter, or with about anything else for that matter.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:58 PM   #7
acritzer acritzer is offline
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I do have a sub...and surrounds. It's just that the front three are new.
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:01 PM   #8
blue11 blue11 is offline
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since your receiver does have a test tone, I would reccomend using that to try and calibrate your speakers. if the set up sounds good to you, i wouldn't worry about an SPL too much. Yes, you can calibrate better with an SPL, but if they already sound good, does it really matter to you? How many people would be able to pick up slight differences in db's without an spl? how many of those people would be watching movies with your set up?
Ultimately, you have to be the judge of how your speakers sound to you. Since everyone hears differently, what may sound good to others may not sound good to you.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:00 PM   #9
acritzer acritzer is offline
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Anyone else want to chime in? Seems like opinions are fairly split about the benefit here. Possibly going to stop after work, but would like a bit more input.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue11 View Post
since your receiver does have a test tone, I would reccomend using that to try and calibrate your speakers. if the set up sounds good to you, i wouldn't worry about an SPL too much. Yes, you can calibrate better with an SPL, but if they already sound good, does it really matter to you? How many people would be able to pick up slight differences in db's without an spl? how many of those people would be watching movies with your set up?
Ultimately, you have to be the judge of how your speakers sound to you. Since everyone hears differently, what may sound good to others may not sound good to you.
I agree with you on that but after I picked up one and calibrated it using my Onkyo 606 the speakers were all off by a few db's. After I finished I noticed a huge difference in sound watching blu's. Everything was balanced the way it should be. Now I also noticed when I switched to a Pioneer VSX-21txh reciever that I only had to tweak maybe one or two speakers and not by that much to get them were they need to be.

So i'm not trashing Onkyo or Audessey because it was probably my room dimensions that kinda threw everything off but I'd rather have one to check all my speakers than just trust whatever program the reciever has to calibrate sound. Just my .02 cents anyway.

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Old 10-26-2009, 08:08 PM   #11
kingofgrills kingofgrills is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acritzer View Post
Anyone else want to chime in? Seems like opinions are fairly split about the benefit here. Possibly going to stop after work, but would like a bit more input.
Using an SPL meter can make a significant difference on it's own. I use the YPAO auto calibration program in my Yamaha receiver, and the SPL meter adds additional fine tuning on top. When you get true levelization across all channels with a sound meter, you'll get a much more seamless and enveloping surround field than if you went by ear.

Also, if you ever change or move your setup or furniture, you'll want to adjust with the SPL meter again. You won't just use it once, and you'll have it for years.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:19 PM   #12
DougMac DougMac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acritzer View Post
My receiver has one test tone available. I was also thinking about burning a disc with sample tones to check off of as well. I just wasn't sure how well I could really match stuff up with my ears, compared to a meter.
SPL is pretty much needed to balance your speakers. Is your receiver's test tone just that or is it white/pink noise? White noise is better than a single tone to balance levels.

I disk of sample tones will be of limited use unless you have some way to adjust to compensate for peaks and dips at various frequencies. There's a great sharewhare program at Home Theater Shack called REW (http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/rew-forum/). It allows you to use your SPL meter and a computer to plot your room's frequency response. You can then take various measures to even it up, all of which will cost money. It lets you DIY what Audyssey does automatically. You'll need a parametric equalizer, such as a Behringer Feedback Destroyer to make the adjustments.

I think an SPL meter would be a good investment.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:04 PM   #13
Aerodude73 Aerodude73 is offline
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You WILL use it over time More than once. Buy new furniture, add wall treatments, change speakers, change your AVR, move to a new house or state 1-2+ times, etc. I have Audyssey & personally did not find it did that great a job, so in talking with Numerous people here, I went out & bought the (Digital) SPL Meter from Radioshack. There is somewhere I believe, a Thread on this or related to it (maybe you could PM "Big Daddy" or "Driver King"---they might know to direct you). I at first set all my speakers to 75db's, with my Subs a couple notches higher; but recently I Upped them to 80 with the subs at 82 or 83 each. Now Everything is "dialed in" perfectly, working together as One great sound-stage. Yes it's $50 but what's that: 3 Blurays or 1 decent Bluray Boxset? We've all spent a few hundred (or thousand) on our AVR's & SPeakers & such, so what's $50 to get it all working Together seamlessly? Just my opinion.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:24 PM   #14
Johk Johk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acritzer View Post
I'm a penny pincher, so spending another $50 for a one time use (essentially) doesn't sound that good to me, unless it's likely to make a decent amount of difference in the quality.
On my part, I would say that it's hard to determine the level by ear and you will probably use it more than once (if you move furniture, move the speakers, change speakers/sub, etc. basically anything that affects the room properties).

For a penny pincher, my suggestion would be (if you can) to buy it with a group of people. This will allow you to split the cost and since you don't use it everyday, it's not bad at all. You could always look on ebay (there's one for 21$...).

Anyway, I can only say that on my part I use my SPL meter quite frequently since I always try to optimize my setup and also recently I've been doing some testing for a audio company so the meter is essential on my part. Also SPL meter are quite cheap if you compare them to Color Analyzer (I would love to own one of those).

In the end, if you're serious about HT audio then get a meter, it will be useful:
- to integrate new equipments in your setup;
- to troubleshoot your system;
- to make room measurements to install room treatments;
- to play with your subwoofer placement, phase...

Well now run to the store
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:40 PM   #15
Uniquely Uniquely is offline
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I did my first SPL calibration when I realized there was a 99 cent SPL meter on my iPhone. I will say that it did improve my sound noticably. There just seemed to be a more proper ratio of sounds coming from each speaker.... a more natural flow of effects from one side of the room to the other. I think the ideal method for me is to run the Audyssey calibration on my Onkyo, and then follow that up with tweaking the crossover settings to my liking, and then running the SPL calibration.

I'm not sure that I would have ever seen the value in paying for an SPL meter myself, but for 99 cents it was a no brainer. Now that I have seen the benefit for myself... I would say that a basic SPL is a good investment.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:09 PM   #16
acritzer acritzer is offline
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Well I did go ahead and pick one up from radio shack. After a very quick test run the biggest change in relationships was the surrounds, huge difference there from the front stage. I'm going to continue reading and tweaking.

On another note, are the levels generally the same between multichannel input and digital inputs? Looks like i can change them independently. Also is it better to adjust the levels through the receiver, or through the Blu Ray player? Not sure on this since sometimes I use the optical out for DVDs but the multichannel for blus.
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:02 PM   #17
rded rded is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acritzer View Post
Just switched up my L/R/C speakers to Polk, CS2 and Monitor 60's. Now I'm trying to decide if I should go out and purchase an SPL meter to calibrate everything.
Are the differences made with this type of calibration very noticeable? I'm a penny pincher, so spending another $50 for a one time use (essentially) doesn't sound that good to me, unless it's likely to make a decent amount of difference in the quality.

Thanks.

Acritzer, Congrats on the SPL meter purchase I would categorize the SPL meter to be a "one time use device". Infact, I personally like to re-run the room eq software and recalibrate using the SPL meter every 3-4 months. Changes in temperature can alter the overall sound of your HT room.
To put things into perspective,Let me ask you and some members this: how many Bluray movies do you or most people in this forum actually own? And how many times a year do you actually watch them? Based on my above statement, which one is more useful now; the movies or the SPL meter?
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:10 PM   #18
acritzer acritzer is offline
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I'm going to be in the minority here, I only own 4 blus. We hav been using Netflix for our movies and I have a hard time buying movies outright unless they're among the top of my favorite list.

More spl use questions. Is 75 normally quite loud? I hadto crank my master volume up WAY higher than normal just to hit that point. I know it's all about the relationship between the speakers but I was surprised by the result.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:19 AM   #19
Uniquely Uniquely is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acritzer View Post
Is 75 normally quite loud?
Yeah.... it's really loud.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:54 AM   #20
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For me the SPL meter turned a collection of speakers into a system.
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