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EQing a Room.. Digital vs Analog EQ
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1st May 2005
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EQing a Room.. Digital vs Analog EQ

My acoustician RTA'd my room and basically, I have a slight dip starting at 400Hz and down. He hooked up a modded Avalon 2055, but said as long as I use a nice clean eq it would be cool. I'm wondering, has anyone used the DBX driverack studio eq or even the Behringer Ultra Curve 2496 eq? Would these digital eqs be a bit cleaner than analog eqs in the same price range (250-550 bucks)? I have the Behringer here and eq'd the low shelf starting at 400Hz on its own 96khz clock (I tried it 44.1 with my Aardsync and felt it had duller hi end) and it sounds pretty good, it was easier to mix hearing the flatter low end response. However, I'm wondering if either the dbx or alesis digital eq or spending good cash on a hi end analog eq would be a better call?
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I would say get used to the dip.
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If you're prepared to spend on a high-end EQ (in this application you really would need a high-end EQ), why not apply the cash to improving the room? If you have access to an acoustician's services, wouldn't it make sense financially?

Room EQ is an absolute last resort - you're putting unnecessary electronics in the path that can / will create other issues.

Was it a certified acoustician who told you to implement an EQ?

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Room eq being last resort is a subjective thing.. my acoustician is a top notch guy.. I've been to 5 million dollar rooms that have eq'd mains and even some neirfields.. My room is very well treated and the simple 2 db dip is very minimal. If you hear the room without eq it sounds fine, it just sounds BETTER when you add in that little 2db of low end. I'm just wondering if the algos and A/D/As in the Behringer are going to be better then an analog eq that may have some mirky IC chips... I've been listening to the Behringer and its not bad at all, but the dbx or alesis digital units might be better, I wonder if anyone has compared. Eventually I'll spend and get the Avalon, that thing was mint.
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Quote:
I've been to 5 million dollar rooms that have eq'd mains and even some neirfields
Where? Did they use DBX, BEHRINGER or Alesis for a 2dB deviation?

I wouldn't call the kind of phase-shift anomalies introduced by EQs "subjective" - they're clearly measurable.

edit: I should update this to say that I'm aware of new monitors with digital compensation built in (digital being potentially less prone to shift than analogue), but these monitors are designed in conjunction with the EQ to minimise shift, rather than adding an external unit.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog
Room eq being last resort is a subjective thing.. my acoustician is a top notch guy.. I've been to 5 million dollar rooms that have eq'd mains and even some neirfields.. My room is very well treated and the simple 2 db dip is very minimal. If you hear the room without eq it sounds fine, it just sounds BETTER when you add in that little 2db of low end. I'm just wondering if the algos and A/D/As in the Behringer are going to be better then an analog eq that may have some mirky IC chips... I've been listening to the Behringer and its not bad at all, but the dbx or alesis digital units might be better, I wonder if anyone has compared. Eventually I'll spend and get the Avalon, that thing was mint.
I am wondering a few things:

Are you going to be EQing a set of far field or near field speakers?

How was the room RTA'd? -- [gear, how many mics, position(s), etc.]

With the '2dB of low end', are you shelving everything below 400Hz or are you doing something else? That is a lot more EQ than you think if you are extending all the way down...

What happens to your mixes when you take them out using this new EQ?

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2nd May 2005
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First off, I've been to countless mastering and mixing rooms with eq'd mains, and sometimes midfield and nearfields. Bob Alach makes a modified Klark Teknik eq that is exactly for this purpose. Room treatments can get you close but sometimes that additional 1 to 2 db can be needed here and there. In my room, below 400 seemed to laterally dip a bit. Using the eq to compensate, things sound more natural, the bass is easier to hear, and of course, things translate WAY better to the outside world. I guess you've kinda answered my question in a way... given that the Behringer unit is digital and is made for this is exact purpose, it will probably have a lot less phase shift then a crappy chip based analog eq. I've been listening to mixes with it all day and as soon as I hit the bypass its like "how did I even mix before?".

But I wonder has anyone compared the dbx and behringer? I know the actual converters on the Behringer ain't half bad, I did an A/B with the Behringer on bypass and then with it not in the chain and while there was a slight difference, it wasn't enough that made me think that the converters alone would cloud the imaging. So now its just down to the eq algo.. I wish I could just use the Waves Linear eq to do this task!! Comments please!
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2nd May 2005
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Depending on the Q or the filter you need, you might modify the input of the amp or the speakers themselves to get a 2 dB bump.

I'd seriously remeasure the room with sine waves (instead of filtered pink noise) and then measure again 6 to 8 inches away before coming to any conclusions about needing this, though.



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or try to get a new nearfield with possible detailed eq adjustments (processed digital before it get analog in the speaker) like the dynaudio AIR series
a friend of mine has them specially measured to his room accoustics and really likes it

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY

Depending on the Q or the filter you need, you might modify the input of the amp or the speakers themselves to get a 2 dB bump.

I'd seriously remeasure the room with sine waves (instead of filtered pink noise) and then measure again 6 to 8 inches away before coming to any conclusions about needing this, though.
tINY

What program do you use for the sinewavs? I'm looking for something ****** proof... I have an ECM 8000 and a very flat response earthworks preamp to use... is there a program that can walk you through it? I made the stupid mistake of eating lunch while my acoustic guy did the measurements, but I do know that he only used pink noise. When you run a sine wave out, doesn't that only have one frequency per time, rather then all of them at the same time? How can you see a frequency chart from sine waves? I'll tell you that the "auto eq" function is a joke on the Behringer, it gave me some wacky eq curve that sounded like ass and actually dropped the low end when I saw with my own eyes, the acousticians software program on his laptop clearly shows the frequency laterally slip down under 400 Hz with a tiny peak at 180Hz.

I have the parametric part of the Behringer with a 2 db shelf at 400 with a 1.5 db drop at 180Hz and my mixes already are translating 110% better, but it would be cool to reproduce the same measuring results as my acoustic guy because I'm moving rooms soon and would like to do measurements myself.
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For some serious room tuning peep these boxes. The Lake Contour is more focused for live sound but will work for a studio. The DEQX seems more suited for studio usage. They are both next level concepts for people that can get out of the dark ages. If you can get over going through the extra digital conversions for monitoring then you're homefree.
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Thanks, I'll check out those programs. Anyone hear of one called ETF??

BTW, I just tried clocking the Behringer to my Aardsync II at 44.1 and wow!! Don't know what I was smoking yesterday, the clocked Behringer sounds WAY better and now the low end is AWESOME in my room, tight and natural. It actually hurts now to bypass the thing. You really have to listen hard for the bottom end. Its only 2 db but it makes a lot of difference. Anyone who already has a good digital clock like and Aardsync or BigBen who wants to eq for cheap, I can now honestly say the Behringer ain't that bad for 250 bucks.
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Extra digital conversions would be a deal-breaker for me. Digital conversions can change balance relationships leading people to change their mix for the worse.

The only time i would eq. a room is if a time-delay measurement technique was used that had identified a speaker design issue at the low-end. Any attempt at correcting "for the room" will again just lead people to change their mix for the worse. We learned this the hard way in the '70s and '80s. It's a lot of what led to people saying "screw the mains" and using NS-10s.
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While I respect the words of Bob Olhsson, I will say that strict A/Bing of the Behringer on Bypass to no Behringer in the chain led me to conclude that the artifacts from the D/A conversion minimally affected the sound, and furthermore, wouldn't have any affect on mixing decisions. Also, with the eq engaged, the sound is just way more natural, the lows are clearer and easier to mix. Mixes that used to sound good in the studio but muddy in the outside world now sound muddy in the studio!! That was great to hear. So then I remastered the mixes to sound good on the new eq'd system and lo and behold.. No more mud in the outside world!!

I should say that when my acoustician measured the room with the eq engaged (it wasn't a Behringer however), the room measured insanely flat for a living room turned to control room.. So I'm happily saving up some money for a hi end analog eq to replace the Behringer some day or maybe even a Z systems digital eq.
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If you really want to measure the room response, you really need a swept sine wave measurement and it needs to be done in several places.

I believe Ethan Winer has some apps on his site somewhere and you can get a good comprehensive package from Liberty audio.

Your acoustician is probably a good salesman. With 1/3 octave pink noise and a matching Graphic EQ, you can get "flat" measurements. But, these don't tell you much about what is going on below about 2kHz. The truth of bass response within about 25 feet of any wall is pretty ugly.



-tINY

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From Ethan Winer's site:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, tuning a control room does not necessarily mean adding an equalizer to the monitor chain. Although control room monitor EQ was common years ago, these days most acousticians reject equalization as a way to achieve a flat low frequency response. The main reason EQ is not useful for correcting the low end in a room is because the response can change a lot depending on where you sit. I've measured changes as large as 15 dB across a physical span of only four inches at 100 Hz. So any EQ correction you apply is valid for a very small area only.
Since every location in the room is different, no single EQ curve can give a flat response everywhere. Even if you hope to correct the response only at the mix position, there's a bigger problem - it's impossible to counter very large cancellations. For example, if acoustic interference causes a 25 dB null at 50 Hz, adding that much boost with an equalizer will cause your power amplifier to clip on loud passages, or will damage your speakers or at least increase their distortion. And at other locations where 50 Hz is already too loud, applying EQ boost will make the problem even worse.

EQ cannot always help at higher frequencies either. If a room has ringing tones that continue after the sound stops, EQ can make the ringing a little softer but it will still be present. The same is true for low frequency reverb and ringing, which obscure clarity as bass notes ring out and overlap into subsequent notes. EQ can help to reduce the most blatant modal peaks, though not peaks created by acoustic interference from a nearby boundary. To reduce modal peaks properly, you need a parametric EQ and also a way to measure the room to a resolution of 1 Hz or finer. Even then, EQ helps only a little because the amount of boost varies around the room. So the best you can hope for is to lower the average level a little at that frequency.
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Thats why I don't rely on eq for my room. I rely on room treatments, and I have lots of them. Before the room treatments were installed, the room was horrendous sounding, I mean really bad. With the room treatments it is like night and day, its a solid sounding room. The eq is just the last added extra umph.. I was lucky to have a top guy in here who was much more then a "salesman" because the sweet spot is rather large and with the slight shelf rise in the lows, things are pretty slammin in here. Eventually I'll get an Avalon 2055 or a Zsys eq, or maybe even just use better A/D D/A for the Behringer.
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I made a comment relating to NS-10s in the post yesterday, but deleted it for fear of extraneous info being obnoxious to the debate...

I have a chart taken from an NS-10 in an anechoic environment - at some points in the mid band it has over 9dB of boost... Have you ever heard of someone utilising EQ to compensate for NS-10s? (I know we're not comparing like with like on the analogy - it's a broad question)

Paterno wrote:
Quote:
Are you going to be EQing a set of far field or near field speakers?

How was the room RTA'd? -- [gear, how many mics, position(s), etc.]

With the '2dB of low end', are you shelving everything below 400Hz or are you doing something else? That is a lot more EQ than you think if you are extending all the way down...


From what I can see, I don't think the above questions have been answered, and they need answering to take things further...

Are we talking about a gradual "shelf" below 400hz, akin to a 1st order shelving filter (that would be unusual), or just a notch?

If the latter is the case I would take Bob O's advice - external EQ will cause more damage than good (as Ethan's article suggests).

George Massenburg makes a comment on his favourite implementation for room graphic EQ here: http://www.prodigy-pro.com/forum/vie...4cad1f67#10570

Cheers,
Justin
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3rd May 2005
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I also une a behringer dcx to controll my monitors . Its importand to feed it the full source and change the overall volume after the dcx . I also changed the stand. opamps whit some fancy ones . To upsample any analog signal to ebu 24/96 befor the dcx is also a good idee.

I also use the behringer DEQ not for the big corrections just the minor +/- 5 db s
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FWIW, I am not a fan of EQing for treatment of room problems. Problems caused by the room should be fixed by treating the room and not by using electronics. Just like you probably shouldn't put your unbroken leg in a cast if you catch the sniffles. Remember that the room affects the accuracy of what you hear coming out of the loudspeakers...and so does an equalizer.

As for testing the room, here's a PDF link that might come in handy. It's a bit lengthy, but I think it might help.
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I've never understood why one would try to correct a problem that lies in the time domain in the frequency/amplitude domain...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Blackwood
I've never understood why one would try to correct a problem that lies in the time domain in the frequency/amplitude domain...
Only because at some point (on the virtual graph) the two will intersect.

I remember watching Bob Hodas tune (what seems to have become) THE mastering room in ATL. We had a nice conversation on this very matter. I asked if he had TEF'd the room, and he explained how the system he was using revealed far more information. I questioned his use of EQ to correct acoustic problems, and he (very politely) 'schooled me' on the hows, whens, and whys...

In short, I too agree with conventional wisdom. You should treat the room, first and foremost. But, there are limits involved, and the ever-present law of diminishing returns. After everything (within reason) has been done to a workspace acoustically, a little 'tweak' can POSSIBLY be exactly what is needed (with minimal negative impact).

That being said, Emptor Caveat:
A RTA will hurt you MUCH more than it can help; They simply are NOT fine enough resolution (Oh Lord, there's THAT word again!) to reveal the whole picture. Too much in-between filters that the RTA can't reveal.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi
Only because at some point (on the virtual graph) the two will intersect.
Not always. In fact, rarely. Can be a band-aid, but IME you're typically better off just learning the room...
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blackcat:
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcatdigi
After everything (within reason) has been done to a workspace acoustically, a little 'tweak' can POSSIBLY be exactly what is needed (with minimal negative impact).
Care must be taken to only use the "tweak" on (a) peaks that are (b) "minimum phase" problems. Nulls cannot reliably be corrected with EQ. Neither can non-minimum phase problems. "Minimum phase" corrections to "flatten" the amplitude (frequency) response will have a corresponding "flattening" effect on the phase response. If you cannot do this - if the problem is "non-minimum phase" - then trying to EQ is a losing battle.



Quote:
That being said, Emptor Caveat:
A RTA will hurt you MUCH more than it can help; They simply are NOT fine enough resolution (Oh Lord, there's THAT word again!) to reveal the whole picture. Too much in-between filters that the RTA can't reveal.
Agreed! thumbsup
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Other than the nulls, almost all audio and acoustic responces are minumum phase (excluding the intricacies of bows against strings and such that aren't the realm of recording or playback). So, using a minimum phase filter to correct it actually works very well.

The problem is the room boundaries. If you do get flat response somewhere in the room, it won't be flat a step or two away. Even the best rooms do this.

To me, EQ makes a lot sense for subwoofers. You can move the subs (like 2 or 4 or them) around the room until the frequency response is near the same for a large area around the control position and then use a couple of parametric filters to flatten the response there. Of course, you might make it sound worse where the "talent" sits in the control room. So use with caution...



-tINY

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tINY,

Yes. What you describe is the spatial response - the third and very often overlooked "response" that needs to be considered. Find the right location in the room - usually not a corner - for something like a sub and the results can typically improve dramatically. I have used the transposition technique of placing the sub at the listening position and crawling around on the floor to ascertain where the low end sounds the best. Wherever that spot is is usually a great place to put the sub!

Others swear by the "x/7" rule. Place mixing location at, say, 2/7 or 3/7 of the way into the room. Use the same rule for speaker placement. These locations can often correspond to spots where the worst modes of the room will not be excited. Which, in turn, results in a smoother LF response.

There's also the "38% rule" for the mix position: Place the mix position 38% of the way into the room and place loudspeakers according to the "golden triangle," but not too close to the walls.

And so on. Bottom line: Treat and place and tweak to taste before ever considering electronic correction. IMHO!
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I hate rules.

But, I like to leverage known behaviors.

The placement of the multiple sub-woofers has some huge benefits in counteracting the prominent room modes. This is easy to model and understand.

The harder part to understand is the effect of the distance to the boundary. If there is low-frequency content that is not at a room-node-frequency, then the reflections off of different walls arrive at you ears with some phase relationship and either add or subtract.

But, you don't hear phase. You hear acoustic power at each frequency. If you can similar response over a fairly wide area, it probably won't be a flat response (in a control room smaller than 1000 square feet anyway).

So, compensating with a couple of parametric channels will make the response more accurate.



-tINY

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4th May 2005
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tINY,

> The problem is the room boundaries. <

Exactly. Modal peaks can be improved with EQ because their frequency does not change as you move around the room. But the amplitude of the peak surely changes, and by a lot. So you still can't use EQ to reduce a modal peak completely. And EQ cannot help nulls or peaks at non-modal frequencies because those are entirely position dependant. Both the level and frequency change as you move.

> EQ makes a lot sense for subwoofers. <

Sure, but while EQ can help to improve the raw low frequency response, it does nothing for modal ringing which is at least as important.

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There has been a lot of good info posted here and there is obviously a debate on whether or not eqing a room is good or not. But let me explain this, I have lots of room treatments in my room and I think its going to be as good as its going to get (remember this is my living room, wasn't built to be a control room!). And it is true that I don't have much knowledge on peaks and nulls and resonant frequencies... but I do know my ears and when I eq that last tweak on the low end, things sound like they "should" and best of all, my mixes are translating better. I even had my old boss who is a pretty well known character here at gearslutz call me up and tell me that after seeing my post he went down to GC and bought the Behringer Ultra Curve as well and did some fine tuning on his monitors as well. He had almost the identical problem that I did (albeit not quite as bad) and was happy with it too.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog
I have lots of room treatments in my room and I think its going to be as good as its going to get (remember this is my living room, wasn't built to be a control room!).... best of all, my mixes are translating better......he went down to GC and bought the Behringer Ultra Curve as well and did some fine tuning on his monitors as well.
It's kind of funny how many times you've explained you have treated your room and you are EQing for the last extra tweeks. This is one of those debates like analog vs. digital or summing vs. ITB. I guess people don't realize that different speakers and amp combos in the same room are just as radical as using an EQ on one set of monitors. Isn't cabinet design, crossovers and ports vs. acoustically sealed, etc. another way of EQing? Isn't turning up the level of your sub like adding low end EQ to your setup? Isn't tissue paper over your NS10 tweeter like dipping a few dB of top end, why is that so different? I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion, I'm just asking? Bottomline his mixes translate, what else matters? If I'm hungry and I have to cook dinner in a microwave I'll do it and in the end I eat without a whole lot of effort and money. It's not the gourmet experience I'd like every meal but I'm fed.



For another can of worms, I know Behringer is known as the copycat design company, does anyone know a more high-end version of this box by another company? I have my monitors translating great in the nearfield posistion, but I would like an alternate set or a digital eq preset that pleases clients sitting on the back wall couch for playback. The bottom-end back there is nuts. I know like most rooms your can't have the same response on both ends of the room, but I would like to have a good response with one or the other individually.

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