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Sub 7 setup. Am I doing it right?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Sub 7 setup. Am I doing it right?
Rupert the not so great
Hi,

looking for some insight here. Got myself Adam A3x's and sub7. Loving what I'm hearing but not entirely convinced it's setup right. I'll try my best to explain..

Got my crossover point set to 85hz on the sub and generally don't have the volume past a quarter of the way or else things start to get very rumbly and not in the pleasing way and that seems to be the case with the mastered music that I listen too as well, so i just thought that would be the place for it too sit.

Was wondering if I should have the switch on the sub set to flat or 85hz? When set too flat the monitors are taking more of a hit of the low end as you can imagine and going towards unity gain on my desk the monitors start to clip.
When set to 85hz it's the sub thats taking care of that side of things and I can have my desk set too unity gain without any sort of clipping of my monitors. Which one should I trust? Maybe worth nothing that when the sub isn't turned on at all, my monitors generally clip like fu*k

I've tried cross referencing with similar styles of music and generally the same thing happens except when the sub isn't on my master channel goes a lot closer to unity gain than my own music without the speakers clipping. It definetly depends on the style of music but it's just the case more than often.

I tried my music out in the car stereo and there was just FAR too much low end yet on the sub it sounds extremely good in a nice way. Do you think i'm trying to push too much low end?

Surely if that was the case you would hear it on the sub as well? What do you's think could help me?

If anyone can chime in that would be cool!

Cheers.
BailyDread
it could be that your subwoofer is out of phase w/ your monitors, and you're getting cancellation. this could explain why material sounds good on your monitor + sub setup but sounds way too bassy in your car; you might be compensating for the cancellation in the low freqs by boosting. then when you hear on a system without that cancellation the excessive boosts are apparent as such.

try moving the sub forward or backward relative to the monitors, or if there's a polarity/phase switch on the back, try flipping that. also be aware of the dimensions of your room, and don't have everything crammed against the wall.
Rupert the not so great
Cool - thanks for the reply. I'll try the switch out tomorrow when I next get some time. My room certainly isn't setup properly acoustically but I always thought I knew it well enough. My stereo width seems to be just fine it's just my low end that's the issue.

I guess you wont have a sub 7 but should I be comparing my volume on the sub to where the other tracks I listen too sound best?
What I mean by that is, should I always keep it at the same volume? Theres some amazing music Im listening too that has amazing sounding low end but absolutely nothing on my sub where I have the volume set too. And theres other music thats the same in the club but sounds pumping where I have my volume set on my sub.
seriously, i just don't get it

cheers for your time.
BailyDread
that sounds like problems with your room acoustics reinforcing certain frequencies while canceling others to me. it means you're not getting anywhere close to a flat response,. some music is reinforced while others are not b/c they have different bass. so if your room has a big 8 dB spike at 65 hz and the track happens to use a low C note (65 hz if using A = 440 tuning), that baseline will be boomy bc of the response of your monitoring setup.

so it's difficult to figure out how to get a reference here about what to set the room up as. you might consider room compensation software ike sonarworks reference 4. there are other ones out there too I think.

but I think your best bet is to probably experiment with the positioning of the monitors in the room, and the positioning and polarity of the subwoofer. you might be benefited by isolating the sub and the monitors from the floor/desk. structures have resonances too that can reinforce some freqs.

I might be wrong here... I don't have a sub but this is what I would do. I would also personally use the crossover point and just try to position so everything sounds phase coherent. just because I don't feel 3" speakers should be asked to try to put out anything below 85 hz hihi
Rupert the not so great
Nice. That seems like a well educated answer.

Is your room treated too I take it? Would you say for getting your (bed)room treated well enough it takes a considerable amount of time and money?

I thought that would be best for my monitors too.. I was under the impression sub and monitor system is there because 3" shouldn't go that low, like you said..

Cheers again, I really do appreciate the time.
dubonaire
Room treatment can help to a point but it's probably not going to solve the macro problem you are experiencing. The wavelength of a 20Hz wave is 17 metres. 300 Hz is 1 metre. So you can imagine there can be a lot of resonance and interference nodes in the low end in a small room, even if you have bass traps which are used to reduce room resonances.

You can do something simple like a pink noise sweep and use a free smartphone app to measure the sound level at various points in the room at various frequencies. That's inexact but enough to show you where you are having problems. But just moving around the room you should be able to find the nodes, and try moving the sub to see if you can reduce nodes at your listening position. I presume you aware that placing the sub close to a wall will increase the sound presure level.

The other thing is a sub should not really be noticeable. You should notice when it's not there but not notice it when it is there, if that makes any sense. And that takes a bit of discipline because the automatic thing you want when you have a sub is be kicked in the face with it. But when you only have small mains sub kicking you in the face doesn't make any sense. You can't turn your studio into a nightclub. You are just really filling out and extending the db drop.

I would definitely try reducing the upper frequency level to 70-75 dB.

The bottom line though is setting up subs is really tricky especially in small rooms.
BailyDread
Rupert the not so great wrote:
Nice. That seems like a well educated answer.

Is your room treated too I take it? Would you say for getting your (bed)room treated well enough it takes a considerable amount of time and money?

I thought that would be best for my monitors too.. I was under the impression sub and monitor system is there because 3" shouldn't go that low, like you said..

Cheers again, I really do appreciate the time.


thanks thumbs up my room (a roughly 20' x 25' basement) is not treated other than a small couch being directly behind my listening position a few feet, which absorbs some amount of low frequencies. i do not use a sub, and my monitors (focal alpha 65) are less than perfect. i got a usable listening setup via moving the monitors away from the wall about 2 feet, using monitor stands + isopods isolation, and carefully tweaking the bass and treble controls on the back of the monitors while listening to reference material. unfortunately it is still very very far from ideal, but i do most of my actual mixing decisions (EQ, compression, level choices) on a mono Avantone Mixcube at low volumes, with my head roughly a foot from the speaker. the mixcube is a closed cabinet speaker without a tweeter, and so i am listening to it without the sound bouncing around the room and interfering w/ things. it's kind of like having a magnifying glass for your mix. i only really use the Focals for listening at higher levels and making panning decisions, and even then, i've spent many many hours listening to other people's material i know very well just to train myself on the particular weaknesses of my room. mixing in bad environments can be done, you just have to be strategic about it. you should be able to get a workable setup with your monitors. it won't be ideal and you might have to make compromises on volume levels, but i think it's doable.

apparently it's best to have the monitoring aiming lengthwise (if the room is rectangular), and try to have your listening position at roughly 35% of the length of the room (might be 39% can't remember tbh). if your room is square apparently that is very difficult. you might try putting your monitors diagonally in the room at a 45 degree angle from the corner... maybe that would help w/ reducing some of the modes? honestly just guessing here.
Panason
You didn't mention what size room you have but you may get better results with 5 inch monitors and no sub.

Dubonaire wrote:

The bottom line though is setting up subs is really tricky especially in small rooms.


My own reading around and tests made me conclude it's not worth the hassle in small rooms. A small room /bedroom probably means this is a hobby so there is no need to try to achieve a pro studio sound or pro acoustic space. Once the music is good enough to get out there, you can take it to a studio for mixing/ mastering. For bass heavy music this seems a bit more complicated as you need to be able to hear the bass properly to even write the stuff in the first place...
Quote:
You can't turn your studio into a nightclub.

The realisation of this was a crushing blow to my ambitions! cry
BailyDread
Panason wrote:
A small room /bedroom probably means this is a hobby so there is no need to try to achieve a pro studio sound or pro acoustic space. Once the music is good enough to get out there, you can take it to a studio for mixing/ mastering.


meh the guy is just trying to make the most out of what he has. there's been lots of great, lasting music that was made in small rooms on shoestring budgets, and the artists weren't mere hobbyists. it just takes ingenuity. it's definitely worthwhile to try to get the best sound of whatever equipment you have.
dubonaire
BailyDread wrote:
Panason wrote:
A small room /bedroom probably means this is a hobby so there is no need to try to achieve a pro studio sound or pro acoustic space. Once the music is good enough to get out there, you can take it to a studio for mixing/ mastering.


meh the guy is just trying to make the most out of what he has. there's been lots of great, lasting music that was made in small rooms on shoestring budgets, and the artists weren't mere hobbyists. it just takes ingenuity. it's definitely worthwhile to try to get the best sound of whatever equipment you have.


I agree with this. I think it's all about sound, and you should aim to get the best sound you can afford. I think it makes the process more pleasurable. It probably isn't going to be much help for the OP, but a better route to take would be to use larger monitors and no sub. I think the A3x's are too small for electronic music. If you can extend 10-20 Hz lower with the mains you get low enough that you can get close enough to understand what the bass is doing, You can get used to the roll off which means you can still hear the lower frequencies which have dropped off 6dB lower than that as well. (We actually can't notice 3dB difference well so roll off at 3dB sounds normal.)
Rupert the not so great
Cheers for the reply people.

Yeah, I guess what Im trying to do is achieve the best sound possible. My room is literally just a bed and some music gear, it's a fairly large sized room with a huge bed and 2 tables, one for music gear and the other for when I want to have a mix. I've literally only got around 1.5squareM if that of walking space in my room.

Maybe the sub is a little over kill for the size of my room, it's something I had never really thought about. I loved the sound of it and was under the impression that it really helped me understand what was going on down below and not too push my monitors as much. Guess I was wrong again, low end just seems to be something I can't get my head around. Should I be able to have my monitors (no sub) up at unity gain on my master without them popping etc? What does it ACTUALLY mean when they start too pop? Too much low end or is it just the monitors can't handle that low? I mean, my kicks and bass are always popping my monitors if I have it up at unity gain.. I like too have it loud sometimes just too check this part but maybe if I actually understood what it meant when they did pop i'd treat my kicks and bass differently.. Any ideas?

As far as acoustically treating goes - while muffs was down for the past few days I was doing alot of reading on treating a room but i'm actually not sure where the fluff I start... Do any of you's have a good place that I can sit down and learn? Just bought the masters of acoustics handbook and been reading the SOS articles as well. So I mean i'm just at the beginning but you guys seem like you's have an understanding of what is going on.

As you can see this is very confusing to me... Will acoustically treating my room actually make much of a difference to how I can control my low end?
nostalghia
Re room acoustics/treatment-here's a great site for info:
https://www.gikacoustics.com/acoustic-advice/
Also, you can fill out a form with details on your room dimensions, etc. and get specific advice from GIK Acoustics about recommended treatment products, placement, etc.

However, my gut feeling after reading your post is that your room is probably too small for any feasible "pro" acoustic treatment (but worth seeing what the GIK guys think), and don't think I would have a subwoofer in a room that size. If it's a mostly square room, that doesn't help-plus the bed is already absorbing a lot of high freq reflections, but not in a good way or in best location.

Best bet (as others above suggested) might be just using some high quality monitors with small woofers (5" or so) that still provide decent bass extension and fidelity (Focal Alpha 50 for example), no sub, and stay close to them-listening in a "nearfield" zone will reduce effects of the room acoustics. Or, go with headphones (Beyer, Shure, Sennheiser, etc)-pros and cons, not ideal for mixing everything, but could be only good alternative in your situation.

Whatever way you go, always compare your mix with similar well-produced music played over same system, and be sure to export a file to playback on a regular stereo system in a larger room, a car stereo, boombox, a phone with ear buds-see if it translates on everything else-retaining good balance of low and high freq, minimal distortion (except any that's intentional), sounds good both loud and at soft volume-you get the idea. Don't make final mix decisions in just that one little room.
Rupert the not so great
Yeah makes sense to me as well. I think the sub was a little overkill if i'm honest.

It's not really 'pro' i'm looking for at this stage.. it's more to just get rid of the problems i'm having with my low end.. Maybe it's not even my room, maybe it's just me.. Do you think that making some Bass traps in the corners with dense rockwool would make any difference or is it just a waste of time? Will my bed be acting as a good bass trap even though theres a gap underneath?

Im always looking for the best sound possible in the scenario that i'm in if that makes sense. Im currently using HD650's as my headphones and when I do an A'B comparison from how they sound as to how my monitors sound there is definetely a difference.. Ahhhhhh! fek knows i'm literally so confused..

I struggle with understanding how much low end I should hear through my headphones too.. but I guess that takes time and a certain mindset.

Thanks for the link by the way - much appreciated.
Rupert the not so great
Oh and as far as mixing goes.. I always double check through my laptop. Things generally sound amazing but again.. can never get the low end right. I then try it out in the car and the low end is booming far too much. When I EQ some away the sound is then left very thing and empty down below...
hsosdrum
Quick "inverse-placement" tip for determining subwoofer placement:

1. Place the subwoofer in your listening position (yes, on a sturdy chair or similar object).

2. Play music with strong deep bass content.

3. Stand, kneel or crawl to various locations in the room and carefully listen to the quality and quantity of bass you hear in each location.

4. Determine which location had the overall best bass performance.

5. Place your subwoofer there.

Not 100% guaranteed, but this works way more often than not, and it won't cost you a penny (or other small unit of currency) to try.
dubonaire
Rupert the not so great wrote:
Cheers for the reply people.

Yeah, I guess what Im trying to do is achieve the best sound possible. My room is literally just a bed and some music gear, it's a fairly large sized room with a huge bed and 2 tables, one for music gear and the other for when I want to have a mix. I've literally only got around 1.5squareM if that of walking space in my room.

Maybe the sub is a little over kill for the size of my room, it's something I had never really thought about. I loved the sound of it and was under the impression that it really helped me understand what was going on down below and not too push my monitors as much. Guess I was wrong again, low end just seems to be something I can't get my head around. Should I be able to have my monitors (no sub) up at unity gain on my master without them popping etc? What does it ACTUALLY mean when they start too pop? Too much low end or is it just the monitors can't handle that low? I mean, my kicks and bass are always popping my monitors if I have it up at unity gain.. I like too have it loud sometimes just too check this part but maybe if I actually understood what it meant when they did pop i'd treat my kicks and bass differently.. Any ideas?

As far as acoustically treating goes - while muffs was down for the past few days I was doing alot of reading on treating a room but i'm actually not sure where the fluff I start... Do any of you's have a good place that I can sit down and learn? Just bought the masters of acoustics handbook and been reading the SOS articles as well. So I mean i'm just at the beginning but you guys seem like you's have an understanding of what is going on.

As you can see this is very confusing to me... Will acoustically treating my room actually make much of a difference to how I can control my low end?


I think the green LED goes red when you are overloading these speakers. Does that happen when you hear the pops? If they are being overloaded it doesn't necessarily mean you have too much low end, it means there is too much energy hitting the speakers, however the low end is probably the cause of that. When speakers are overloaded the bad noise is caused by clipping the tops of the sine waves turning them into square waves and that's not good for your speakers. You are basically trying to have the music louder than the speakers can handle. If you use a spectrum analyzer you will be able to see where the energy is. For bass heavy dance music there is always more energy in the bottom end of the spectrum.
Rupert the not so great
hsosdrum wrote:
Quick "inverse-placement" tip for determining subwoofer placement:

1. Place the subwoofer in your listening position (yes, on a sturdy chair or similar object).

2. Play music with strong deep bass content.

3. Stand, kneel or crawl to various locations in the room and carefully listen to the quality and quantity of bass you hear in each location.

4. Determine which location had the overall best bass performance.

5. Place your subwoofer there.

Not 100% guaranteed, but this works way more often than not, and it won't cost you a penny (or other small unit of currency) to try.


Cool, thanks for this. When you say 'best' bass performance what do you mean exactly? My sub is currently placed underneath my listening position and I have noticed when I kneel down things tend to sound a little better. But i'm not sure that actually is the 'correct' or accurate sound. After all I cant be kneeling down to make music all of the time!
Rupert the not so great
Cheers dubonaire - I have never seen a red light on my monitors before. Always been green or one or two times it's been a flashing green ( maybe this is the sign im overloading)

Soo.. just to clarify.. to make sure i've understood this correctly. If say, I have a kick drum pattern going and every time the kicks step the speakers 'pop' it doesn't necessarily mean that theres too much bass it just means it's too low for the monitors to handle? Does that mean, if It's looking like the woofer is too big for my room then I'd maybe be better thinking of getting some larger monitors that can handle a bit more down below?

As far as frequency analysers go - Do you know of one that I can just connect up to one of my bass synths or drum machine and be able to check there and then when it's happening rather than having to use the computer? Im more looking for a stand alone device..

Cheers again! we're not worthy
dubonaire
Rupert the not so great wrote:
Cheers dubonaire - I have never seen a red light on my monitors before. Always been green or one or two times it's been a flashing green ( maybe this is the sign im overloading)

Soo.. just to clarify.. to make sure i've understood this correctly. If say, I have a kick drum pattern going and every time the kicks step the speakers 'pop' it doesn't necessarily mean that theres too much bass it just means it's too low for the monitors to handle? Does that mean, if It's looking like the woofer is too big for my room then I'd maybe be better thinking of getting some larger monitors that can handle a bit more down below?

As far as frequency analysers go - Do you know of one that I can just connect up to one of my bass synths or drum machine and be able to check there and then when it's happening rather than having to use the computer? Im more looking for a stand alone device.

Cheers again! we're not worthy


It doesn't mean it's too low, it means you have to turn the volume down, either at the speaker our coming out of the outputs of your audio interface.

This is just an image I found of the frequency spectrum of a kick and bass track showing how lower frequencies tend to have higher dB:



You can see that the low frequencies have more energy so they are the ones overdriving your monitors.

As to your second question that would be quite expensive. But you can use a sound meter app with a smart phone and see what the frequency spectrum looks like in the room. But it's much easier to use a DAW.

You should still try all the tips to see if you can get your sub working with the monitors well. If you like bass, with small speakers a DAW with a spectrum analyzer is really useful.

The A3X quote 98dB at 1 metre from 100Hz up. So if you try to get more than 98dB for frequencies below 100 Hz you are going to run into clipping problems.

It's actually good practice to monitor at lower levels while mixing.

I found this frequency response image of the A3X:


These don't have sufficient bass extension, so you either have to get your subwoofer working well (hsodrum's suggestion is worth trying) or consider getting speakers that extend at least to 50 Hz. I'm just speculating, but those peaks around 100 Hz possible have to do with port resonance (small speakers like these use ports to increase the low end response.
hsosdrum
Rupert the not so great wrote:
hsosdrum wrote:
Quick "inverse-placement" tip for determining subwoofer placement:

1. Place the subwoofer in your listening position (yes, on a sturdy chair or similar object).

2. Play music with strong deep bass content.

3. Stand, kneel or crawl to various locations in the room and carefully listen to the quality and quantity of bass you hear in each location.

4. Determine which location had the overall best bass performance.

5. Place your subwoofer there.

Not 100% guaranteed, but this works way more often than not, and it won't cost you a penny (or other small unit of currency) to try.


Cool, thanks for this. When you say 'best' bass performance what do you mean exactly? My sub is currently placed underneath my listening position and I have noticed when I kneel down things tend to sound a little better. But i'm not sure that actually is the 'correct' or accurate sound. After all I cant be kneeling down to make music all of the time!

The "best" bass performance is something that old-fart audio geeks (like myself) have been debating for decades. To me it is a balance between:

• How low (in frequency) the system can produce bass

• How natural the bass sounds

• How properly balanced the bass portion of the sound is with the non-bass portion of the sound

• How powerful the bass sounds (too much bass power is just as bad as too little)

What you're listening for when you crawl around is the spot where the elements above seem to be the most balanced with each other. If you can find a spot where everything seems good except for low-frequency extension that may be an acceptable trade-off. What you probably shouldn't trade-off would be the naturalness of the bass and the balance of the bass with the rest of the sound.

Try to recall how bass instruments (and other things that produce bass) sound in the real world, since that's the best yardstick to use when evaluating a loudspeaker's bass performance.

Good luck, and if the sub doesn't work out where you first place it, you can always move it to a different spot.
Soy Sos
The simplest and most natural thing I could suggest is to use reference material from other artists you trust. My commercial studio is also my personal studio off hours. I mix a lot of hip hop, house, reggea and other bass musics. Simply play other music in your space and tune the bass to levels that "feel right" I'm a professional audio engineer of 30 years and it's working fine for me. Also try a mix reference tool like Metric AB, Magic AB or MCompare, it'll save your life. Additionally, find a real, live human person in your area who is an audio engineer/studio tech and hire them to come in and tweek out your space. TBH you sound pretty inexperienced and your system may be set up in a few ways that need refined or corrected. I had friends and colleagues help me out early on and now I do the same for people in my area.
Soy Sos
By the way, your speakers should never be "popping".
You've got something else seriously wrong going in your set up.
You could have some kind of DC going through your audio chain or something else.
Soy Sos
Ya know, sometimes I feel like the thread killer.
You think you're offering some good advice and insights....
.....and then.............
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