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Adjusting Subwoofer Distances Post-Audyssey Calibration

Caution: This procedure requires acoustic measurement software and equipment


As noted in the Audyssey Setup Guide, section VI, D. 4.:
For enthusiasts that own equipment and software for measuring room acoustics, there
is another adjustment technique to maximize the subwoofer / satellite speaker blend in
the crossover region. AVS members craig john and Mark Seaton have shown the
validity of adjusting the subwoofer distance settingpost-calibrationhas resulted in
measurable improvement in the subwoofer/satellite blend at the crossover frequency.
This technique typically requires the use of calibrated microphone (not the Audyssey
unit) and measuring software, such as Omnimic, XTZ Room Analyzer, REW, etc... For
more information, see the separate Word document filled with the relevant posts and
measurement graphs.

What is this?
This document includes instructions and some relevant posts from the AVS Forum
Seaton Sound SubMersive 1 and Official Audyssey Thread discussion threads. In
the Submersive 1 thread, there is some minor ancillary discussion after the first posts
below. If you want to read those discussions, just start reading the thread after the
second post below. If you do not, rest assured I have provided you with all the
information and proof this technique works as described. The existence of Audyssey
MultEQ XT32 and Sub EQ HT has not negated the need for this process to gain the
maximum output at the subwoofer/satellite crossover. Craig said it best: Trust, but
verify

The Basic Theory


What Audyssey does, it does well, but there are limits to what it actually measures and
compares. The Audyssey calibration process is not utilized to determine or check the
integration of the speakers at the critical crossover frequency. Audyssey focuses on
response and time domain correction for each speaker in isolation; it does not measure
the combined response of the subwoofer(s) and speakers together. As a result, it is
possible the subwoofer / satellite speaker blend at the selected crossover region is not
optimal after calibrating, as Audyssey cannot correct what it does not measure.
The process described below is used to determine if the frequency response at the
crossover region is optimal. The process basically consists of measuringat the Main
Listening Position (MLP)the combined response of the subwoofer(s) and center
channel together. Any measured dip in the frequency response in the crossover region

is usually caused by phase cancellations, and this is corrected by adjusting the


subwoofer(s) distance and re-measuring until the response improves.

The Measurement Process


1. Turn off or disconnect the subwoofer(s).
2. Send a mono test signal to both Left & Right front speakers.
a. Ensure that Audyssey is turned on, and both Dynamic EQ and Dynamic
Volume are turned off.
b. Set the processor to DPLII Cinema mode, and the signal should route to
your Center channel speaker.
3. Measure the center channel speaker response at the MLP.
4. Turn on or reconnect the subwoofer(s).
5. Turn off or disconnect your Center channel speaker.
6. Measure the subwoofer response at the MLP using the same test signal and
setting noted in step 2.
7. Turn on or reconnect your Center channel speaker.
8. Measure the center channel and subwoofer combined response at the MLP
using the same test signal and setting noted in step 2.
9. Utilizing your measurement software, overlay the measurements taken in steps
3, 6, and 8 utilizing a different color for each measured response.
10. Looking at the combined graph, analyze the measured response in the crossover
region. If the response of center channel and subwoofer combined (#8) is at a
lower level than the other two measurements, there is room for improvement.
Sometimes the combined center channel and subwoofer response (#8) is above both
individual center channel and subwoofer response lines at all frequencies, resulting in a
reasonably smooth transition. Other times, the combined center channel and
subwoofer response dips well below the higher individual center channel and subwoofer
response in the crossover region. In this case, it is a direct result of the relative phase /
timing between the subwoofer and the speakers.
You can take additional measurements at other locations, and the exact combination will
probably change. However, in most rooms a large cancellation will be similar over a
significant area. It is recommended to repeat the combined center channel and
subwoofer response (#8) at a few listening locations to see the similarities and
differences from lateral and fore and aft movements before making adjustments.

There is some concern the adjustments in this technique only have an effect at the MLP.
However, many have found to have benefit over significant area, especially across a
row of seats. How much data you want to examine is up to you.
The steps outlined above only focus on the center channel, which is by far the most
important for home theater. The center channel serves as a clear anchor point from
which to adjust any other distances. The integration of the subwoofer and the center
channel also can affect dialog clarity and sound quality, so it is best to start with the
center channel, and then individually look at each of the left and right channels. Work to
find a balance of the 3 channels given the flexibilities of the system.
As you measure the three front speakers, you will need to make some judgment calls as
to what strikes the best balance for the system and its intended use. When the front
three speakers are identical, there will probably be less variance in the measurements,
and therefore less compromise required. If the center channel speaker has significantly
different low-frequency extension than the left & right speakers, you will probably have
to make the best compromise for the particular system and room.

The Adjustment Process


1. First, write down all of your original subwoofer distance settings.
2. If the measured response of the only the subwoofer(s) (#6) up to the crossover
point is flat, the subwoofer distance settings are correct. Therefore, any
frequency response dip in the center channel and subwoofer combined response
(#8) in the crossover region is due to an interaction between the subwoofer(s)
and center channel speaker.
a. In this case, you need to maintain the same distance difference between
the subwoofers by adjusting the settings of both subwoofers by the same
amount (e.g. increase or decrease both by 1 foot).
b. For example, if the difference between the subwoofer distances is 2.5',
and Audyssey set the subwoofers to 10' & 12.5', increase the sub
distances at increments of 2' (e.g. 12' & 14.5', respectively). Do not
increase more than 8, as wavelength at 75Hz is ~7.5'.
3. If the measured response of the only the subwoofer(s) (#6) up to the crossover
point is not flat, the subwoofer distance settings are not correct.
a. In this case, you do not need to maintain the same distance difference
between the subwoofers, and you can change the individual subwoofer
distance settings to see if you can improve the combined response.
4. Once you have determined which subwoofer distance adjustment methodology
you must follow (#2 or #3 above), change the distance settings of both
subwoofers in 1-foot increments.
a. Typically, increasing the subwoofer distance results in improved response.
b. Decreasing the subwoofer distance settings is an option, as long as this
does not result in distances significantly less than the actual physical
measured distances of the subwoofer(s) from the MLP.
c. Measure the center channel and subwoofer combined response to
determine if the response around the crossover point has improved.
5. Repeat step 4, adjusting the distance settings and measuring the response until
you find the optimal setting.
a. Once you find the best of the 1 incremental settings, start making finer
adjustments to find the best match and smoothest transition.

Additional Theory
One of many reasons this is not a perfect process is that each speaker has a different
group delay behavior, due to the design of the speaker (vented/ported or sealed) and
the crossover, as well as the low-frequency interaction with the room. These factors
make for a rather wide range of possible variables. However, it is much easier to
change the subwoofer distance without collateral effects, as changing just the left, right
or center channel distances will start to impact relative imaging between speakers.
However, these are simple and clear numeric changes, so it's easy for anyone to give a
listen both ways. If it doesn't improve the sound, go back at the original settings. Most
don't switch back after listening when there are notable improvements.
Altering the distances does not alter the subwoofer correction filters calculated by
Audyssey. However, there is some thought that altering the distance settings of multiple
subwoofers could alter the interaction between them, as the Audyssey filters were
calculated based on measuring the combined response of the subwoofers at multiple
measurement locations. However, the measured results speak for themselves.
Included below are posts relevant to this technique, including measurement graphs
posted by the users.