How to Tune Your Home Theater Using a Sound Meter

Written by david lipscomb Google
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How to Tune Your Home Theater Using a Sound Meter
An SPL meter to calibrate volume on home theatre speakers is an essential piece of equipment. (sound image by Svetlana Kashkina from Fotolia.com)

It is nearly impossible to calibrate speaker levels accurately by ear. Therefore, it is the opinion of Steve LaMer and other industry experts that you should consider a sound pressure level meter (or SPL meter) mandatory equipment when it comes to calibrating speaker levels. Receivers have internal test tones, consisting of white or pink noise, designed to allow a baseline reference for you and your trusty meter to accurately calibrate relative volume. Mounted on a tripod, and in a relatively quiet room, the SPL meter is surprisingly effective for such an inexpensive piece of equipment.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sound pressure level meter
  • Camera tripod
  • A/V receiver

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Instructions

    Sound Off

  1. 1

    Locate the primary listening location in the space. Extend the camera tripod, and thread the SPL meter to the top plate. Aim the SPL meter's microphone at the ceiling, at as close to ear height as possible.

  2. 2

    Set the meter's switches to slow response, C-weighting. Set the dial to 70 decibels.

  3. 3

    Turn on the A/V receiver, and use the unit's remote to navigate to the test tone screen in the internal set-up menu.

  4. 4

    Begin the test tone sweep. For best results, set the sweep to "Manual" to allow user switching from speaker to speaker. Use the remote to adjust individual speaker volumes so that the needle on the SPL meter is pointing to "0," or straight up. Calibrate the subwoofer to 10 decibels higher than this point.

  5. 5

    Save the settings in the receiver if necessary. Exit the set-up menu.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the calibrator is behind the SPL meter during the process. Not only is it easier to see the meter's readout, but this prevents interference from a randomly moving object between the speakers and the SPL meter.
  • Perform the level adjustment only after the relative speaker distances have been set in the receiver's set-up menu.

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