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Author Topic: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?  (Read 2034 times)

Josh Billings

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What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« on: November 08, 2019, 08:57:45 pm »

I'm in the process of dialing in our dance music Sound System, but it sounds way too bright if I have it EQed flat. I'm accustomed to much more sub-bass than mids and highs.

I'm wondering what you guys do when EQing a sound system with a measurement mic? Is there like a standard practice here for prerecorded / DJ music shows?

Josh Billings
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2019, 09:12:30 pm »

I'm in the process of dialing in our dance music Sound System, but it sounds way too bright if I have it EQed flat. I'm accustomed to much more sub-bass than mids and highs.

I'm wondering what you guys do when EQing a sound system with a measurement mic? Is there like a standard practice here for prerecorded / DJ music shows?

Josh Billings
I would start by asking what is your measurement platform?  True dual FFT or RTA?

Is the whole response flat? or flat above a certain point.

If you look at the Fletcher-Munson curves, you will see that it takes a lot more low end to have the same "loudness" as the higher freq.  So there usually needs to be a "haystack" on the bottom.
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Josh Billings

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2019, 09:44:47 pm »

So you think something like this should be the overall goal, especially since it's dance music???

I would start by asking what is your measurement platform?  True dual FFT or RTA?

Is the whole response flat? or flat above a certain point.

If you look at the Fletcher-Munson curves, you will see that it takes a lot more low end to have the same "loudness" as the higher freq.  So there usually needs to be a "haystack" on the bottom.
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duane massey

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2019, 01:08:03 am »

I have NEVER heard a system that was set "flat" via measurements that sounded good. After you get a starting point you should use your own ears and taste to set the system to your own desires. In a dance system you typically don't have the feedback issues that a live system should have, so don't read the graph, close your eyes and make your ears happy.
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Duane Massey
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Russell Ault

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2019, 02:14:56 am »

I'm wondering what you guys do when EQing a sound system with a measurement mic? Is there like a standard practice here for prerecorded / DJ music shows?

Try to think of a sound system like a painter's canvas. A white canvas (i.e. one that reflects all wavelengths of light basically evenly) is typically used because it allows the painter to easily do whatever they want with it. Painting a sunset on a pink canvas might be easier than on a white one, but trying to paint open ocean is going to be harder if your canvas is pink, since you'll end up having to correct for the pink tones in all of the blues you're trying to paint. Using a white canvas means you don't need to know your subject before you buy the canvas.

A sound system that exhibits an equal amplitude per octave (i.e. "flat") response is exactly like the white canvas. By having a clearly-defined neutral starting point you can do anything with it. This is especially useful for sound systems that have to do several different types of shows (e.g. with an equal-amplitude system you don't have to do drastic things on the channel strip to keep your talking head from sounding like a beatboxer).

Of course, very few people want to stare at a white canvas all day. Most live sound systems that are tuned flat will than have some low frequency boost added. Whether this is added in system processing or in the console is a matter of preference and use-case, but I will say that doing this sort of "toning" from the console gives the operator much more flexibility.

Here's what I'd suggest trying: tune your sound system flat (as Ivan said, make sure you're using proper dual-channel FFT measurement software and not just pink noise into an RTA); then, use the EQ for channel the music is coming through to make it sound the way you'd like it to. For dance music I'd guess a low shelf filter at ~80-100 Hz turned waaaay up. This way you're music will sound correct, but you won't spend nearly so much energy fighting to make announcements intelligible.

-Russ
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2019, 03:02:13 am »


If you look at the Fletcher-Munson curves, you will see that it takes a lot more low end to have the same "loudness" as the higher freq.  So there usually needs to be a "haystack" on the bottom.

This feels like a misapplication of FM curves - they tell us about the sensitivity of our hearing vs frequency and SPL, and I can't for a moment see why that ought to factor in to the frequency response of a PA system.

For me, the only curve that sounds good is flat. Anything else is an FX box.

Chris
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Patrick Tracy

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2019, 03:08:46 am »

If you look at the Fletcher-Munson curves, you will see that it takes a lot more low end to have the same "loudness" as the higher freq.  So there usually needs to be a "haystack" on the bottom.

Sort of true if you're running the levels quite low. Loudness curves tell us how we hear at lower SPL relative to a higher SPL reference. Human hearing becomes less sensitive at the low and high ends referred to 1kHz when the levels are lower, though the effect is more pronounced in the LF.

Mike Monte

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2019, 07:03:02 am »

I have NEVER heard a system that was set "flat" via measurements that sounded good. After you get a starting point you should use your own ears and taste to set the system to your own desires. In a dance system you typically don't have the feedback issues that a live system should have, so don't read the graph, close your eyes and make your ears happy.
+1
to add to the above: IMO you'd be best to use your ears and tune the rig to the room when there are people in the room.
Make your ears happy, then the patrons' ears will be happy.



 
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Mark Wilkinson

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2019, 08:07:33 am »

+2 to comments that say a FFT flat line response sounds exceedingly bright....

My sound curve preference.....a starting flat line response that tilts like a see-saw.
Fulcrum is the middle of the 10 octave spectrum, so in the 600-700Hz range.  Tilt to taste, raising the low end, while reducing the high end.
Add some haystack bass for certain types music/sound, if needed.
Simple, repeatable, fits outdoors, and most indoors.  Works 95% of the time for me...
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Keith Broughton

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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 09:14:37 am »


Fulcrum is the middle of the 10 octave spectrum, so in the 600-700Hz range.  Tilt to taste, raising the low end, while reducing the high end.
Add some haystack bass for certain types music/sound, if needed.
Simple, repeatable, fits outdoors, and most indoors.  Works 95% of the time for me...
Pretty much how I "tune" for a starting point.
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Re: What should a Sound System frequency response look like?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 09:14:37 am »


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