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Old 3rd April 2012, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default subjective equalization method - bad idea?

So, at the moment, I do not have a measurement electret microphone. Unfortunate, as I really want one, but will have to wait a while, even though they're pretty cheap, as I am flat broke.

I am running ubuntu studio, and have the pulseaudio multiband eq always on.

Now, to even out the sound of my "orcus" fullrange speakers, I have been tweaking the EQ to get it to sound subjectively good for the music I listen to. But I wanted something a little less subjective.

So, I made a "test" file using Audacity to create a bunch of tones, each one at the respective band that the pulseaudio multiband eq uses.

Then, I tweaked the EQ so that each band had the same subjective loudness, to my ears.

Is this an acceptable method? Or do I need to account for the logarithmic perception of human hearing? If so, is there a simple way of doing this? I'm fairly math-savvy, calculus is not a problem, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 3rd April 2012, 07:42 PM   #2
boris81 is offline boris81  United States
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Subjective equalization can work out but measuring is always better.
Some people equalize by ear while listening to frequency sweeps or pink noise.
Honestly, I have trouble using either.
Keep in mind that peaks are more easily heard than dips.

You can try Harman Kardon's How to Listen training software. It helps you develop sensitivity to irregularities in the sound. I'd say spend about an hour with the software (preferably on a good system) and then attempt to do a by ear equalization of your speakers to your favorite music.

I'm not familiar with pulseaudio but it's preferred to use a parametric EQ.
Good luck!
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:24 PM   #3
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If you have a good headphone, you can compare with music (focus on the details) or with pink noise, but all this is really good for going nuts if you don't have the visual from the graphs.
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Old 4th April 2012, 03:15 AM   #4
godfrey is offline godfrey  South Africa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neebster View Post
So, I made a "test" file using Audacity to create a bunch of tones, each one at the respective band that the pulseaudio multiband eq uses.

Then, I tweaked the EQ so that each band had the same subjective loudness, to my ears.
Two points:
Firstly, testing with pure tones can give quire misleading results. It would be better to use narrow band noise. You could probably make suitable test signals by playing pink noise through the equalizer with one band set to max boost, and the rest set to max cut.

Secondly, you need to take account of the ears non-flat frequency response. e.g. See here: Fletcher Munson curves - Wikipedia. Also bear in mind that everybody's ears are a bit different. It would be interesting if you could get a few friends to independantly set the eq according to their ears, then compare the settings.
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Old 4th April 2012, 03:16 PM   #5
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Hmm. After hours of tweaking I am going crazy. I thought I could get a little more objective, but trying to compare my own hearing to the fletcher munson curves would be pointless -- I know for a fact my high-frequency hearing is pretty "shot" from years of shooting guns and loud concerts. Plus, all the equal loudness contour graphs I've found lack the resolution I would need to make fine adjustments based on them.

I think I will just have to accept the "best-sounding-with-the-music-I-listen-to" curves I have established, until I can afford a good measurement mic.

Unless anyone here thinks I could do a decent job with a Shure SM-57.
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Old 4th April 2012, 04:02 PM   #6
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The fletcher-munson or neebster-cyclecamper curves are not an issue as you are setting to 'subjective' loudness which will take that into account. You can probably learn to EQ this way, and become somewhat reproducible. Lordy knows in the old days we'd set up a huge PA with only ears to guide us.

But really now...the Behringer mic and the Dayton are both cheap. There's articles on making your own for almost nothing (Panasonic capsule on the end of a pencil).
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Old 4th April 2012, 04:36 PM   #7
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That Harmon app for hearing training looks cool...I'll definitely try that when I get home (can't install it on work PC).
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Old 5th April 2012, 05:29 AM   #8
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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An uncalibrated generic electret mic capsule (out of a PC microphone, old tape recorder or telephone) would be far better than nothing. Or get a Panasonic electret as used in the "Mighty Mike".
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Old 5th April 2012, 05:50 AM   #9
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Are you listening and enjoying your music or do you want to show someone how well your system is adjusted. It is two very different things. If you do not know how to enjoy music then rather watch TV.
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Nico
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Old 5th April 2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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As much as I enjoy TV, yes, I do listen and enjoy my music, thanks. And my speakers sound pretty good. Just trying to get them dialed in.
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