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  Setting Speaker Levels

02/01/05

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Setting Speaker Levels

The most important part of a Home Theater Setup is the speaker levels. This is critical to the systems ability to reproduce a movies sound effects in the way the sound engineers recorded it. If your speaker levels are not even, it won't give you the Theater effect of being in the middle of the action. You'll need just a couple of things to set the levels, first is a sound pressure meter and secondly, a pink noise generator. (Most decoders have a pink noise generator built in) You can pick up the sound pressure meter at a local Radio Shack for about $35.00. This is a compact battery powered unit with a built in mic and sound pressure level meter built in. If you really want your system the best it can be, I highly recommend the Video Essentials disk. Set the meter weighting switch to C,  the response switch to slow, and the Range wheel switch to 70. Start the test tone generator in your processor and hold the meter microphone up in your preferred listening chair. Kneel down as low as you can so you do not block the sound waves from reaching the mic, and hold it as far away from you as possible. Set the volume on the processor so the meter reeds 5 on the meter. (Or 75db) When set, let the sound move to all speakers and adjust the individual speaker volume to 5 on the meter, or as close as you can get it to 75 dB. Once completed and all levels are as close to 75 dB as you can get them, change Range wheel  to 80. Set  the sub-woofer channel to 5 or 85db as required by Dolby Digital specs. If your using the Video Essentials disk, just place the disk in your DVD player and follow the on-screen directions . This process takes about 20 to 30 minutes so take your time and you'll see it was worth the effort! Once all the levels have been set, your ready to try it out!

Why Video Essentials?

Well, first let me tell you that I was skeptical at first on purchasing this disk because I thought I didn't need it. Boy was I wrong! It takes you through the whole system step by step, explaining the reasons for the adjustments as you go. First is a quick setup test to insure your speakers are set up properly and in phase. Second is the detailed instructions on tweaking speaker levels directly from your DVD or Laser Disk player. This is where my surprise came in. I adjusted my system with the pink noise generator on the Sony SDP EP9ES first. Then I utilized the VE disk and found my levels were a little off. Probably due to a mis-adjustment in the output signal of my Sony DVP S3000 DVD player. I re-adjusted the speaker levels and quickly had the system back in shape in no time. This disk also takes you through a series of tests for your television to insure it is set up and is displaying the picture properly. In my testing, I found  my audio gear was not balanced correctly from the signal point, and the good news was my 4 year old Hitachi 50" projection television was almost perfect! Again, there are detailed instructions on what to do and how to do it on screen! The whole process was complete in about 45 minutes. Below is a picture of the disk and a link to Joe Kane's site!  

Good Luck and I know you'll hear a difference!

 

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