PDA

View Full Version : Setting your stereo/amp controls



philwsailz
01-05-2010, 03:55 PM
Phil's opinion, (and somewhat lengthy explanation):

Nickleback.

They have some of the most energy-dense recordings out there right now. The compression they have used in their recording is pretty musical, but when you look at the music visually as a waveform, you realize how full and dense the signal is; good highs and good lows, with a good spectral balance. You can use any of their higher-energy tracks to really exercise your system and find out where it starts to "let go". It is very similar to using pink noise, only a lot less irritating... :D


Gain Setting: You can use Nickleback tracks to set maxed-out, non-clipped gains for your system, and you will likely not clip the system with any other material, except for those nutty "bass-heavy" tracks similar to those that used to be all the rage at the car stereo contests. You may find that lots of your other music now sound a lot quieter, since it has a less-compressed signal. That is okay. Hang tight for the reasoning...

What you want to try to achieve is to get all your gain stages set to unity gain; the place where every piece of electronics including the head unit, signal processors, amplifiers all clip at or very near the exact same volume level. Unity gain gives you the best total control of your system and the best signal to noise ratio and best headroom.

With your amp gains set too low, the radio will start to clip prior to the amp's clean non-clipped full-power output. Similarly, if you have the amp gains set too high, your amps will start clipping prior to the radio reaching its peak non-clipped output. You want all components to clip at the same time; that statement sounds funny by itself, but makes sense in light of the other two statements. With unity gain, you get all the non-clipped range of the volume control on your head unit, and your amp gains are usually set low enough to not cause engine noise, solenoid pops, and other problems associated with the gains set too high.

I have found that for my gain tuning needs, music from Nickleback has it all, good highs, good lows, good vocals, (i.e. midrange information) all at the same time and in a really dense sonic package that makes it much easier to set all your controls at pretty much the same time.

This is not my only choice of music I use when setting things up. I like to listen to a variety of things, including some recordings I engineered, (I know, or think I still know what they sounded like live) acoustic instruments, (acoustic guitar from Torcuato Mariano) female vocals, (such as Diana Krall) etc. These things give you additional insight into phase, crossover points, tweeter crossover pad settings, (if you have them).

A quick note in closing... When setting up your system, take the time to set your head unit tone controls to ZERO, i.e. no cut and no boost, with loudness controls, (if you have them) set to off. You want to work with the flattest signal as possible coming from your head unit and through your electronics.

I loook forward to hearing what others think!

Have fun with it!
Phil
Kicker

gkyablazin
01-05-2010, 04:46 PM
I am a newb at subs and amps. I recently got installed two kicker 12's cvr's with a 750.1 zx kicker amp. On it there are three dials, bass boost, gain , and frequency. I listen to rap and am wondering what the best place to put these controls at. Also there is a button for input high and low. Please tell me what you recomend I do to get the most out of my system thanks.

philwsailz
01-05-2010, 05:05 PM
GK-

First off, on the end of the amp your input setting should probably be set to LOW. If you have an RCA cable coming from an RCA streo pair on the back of the amp, this is the correct setting.

The other thing to check is the AUTO TURN ON switch. If you have a blue wire coming out of the back of yoyur radio and it is going to the turn-on lead on the amp, you want the AUTO TURN ON switch set to +12V, or its left-most position.

For your controls, with that amp and a pair of CVR122's you want to start with the bass boost no higher than about 9:00 o'clock as shown on a clock dial. Bass boost is not there to be turned way up.

Set the FREQUENCY control to somewhere between 80 Hz and 120 Hz... There is a right way, and a wrong way, and then a way it sounds best to you. The "best to you" sound is often somewhere in between. The FREQUENCY knob controls the crossover, specifically the crossover frequency that the subs play. Set it higher, and the subs will play a broader range of low-frequency material. Set it lower and it will only play lower sounds.

The best FREQUENCY setting will depend on where you have the full range in-boat speakers set. Are they on an amp, and if so what is that crossover frequency? If you can tell us what amp if any, and its settings we can give you a more precise answer. We do not want the subwoofers playing so high as to interfere with the in-boat speakers. Conversely, we want to limit the low-frequency material for the in-boats and let the sub do the lows.

The GAIN control is there to match the amp to the head unit, and to any other amps, for best non-clipping performance, and for best volume control from the head unit. You want the GAIN setting to be as low as possible to avoid noise problems, yet high enough to get full power from the amp. Ideally, your gain(s) will be set so that the amp just goes into clipping at about the same time your head unit goes into clipping.

In general, and very briefly, start with the amp(s) GAIN(s) turned down low. Turn the head unit up until you hear the head unit distorting; on many head units this is about at 3/4 volume. Then turn the head unit down until the distortion goes away. Then turn the GAIN(s) on the amp(s) up until you hear the woofers distorting, then turn the GAIN(s) back down just a little. If you can hear distortion, and can discern the difference between dostorted and non-distorted sounds, this will get you real close to the desired settings.

This is a very quick explanation, as we need to know a lot more... Do you have an amp on your in-boat speakers? How are the woofers mounted? What head unit are you using, etc...

Give us a little more and we can help you out further.

Phil
Kicker

sumansameer
05-06-2010, 07:32 AM
impressive keep it up

RYAN
05-19-2010, 11:44 AM
PHIL-

"Set the FREQUENCY control to somewhere between 80 Hz and 120 Hz... "

I herd my audio guy talking about this, are these normal ranges?

rdlangston13
12-11-2011, 02:44 PM
so if i run all my amps thru a WS420 and i want to set them all up to get clean sound without having to worry about damaging anything would i turn the gain down on all three amps, turn the WS420 volume to 100%, then slowly turn the gain on the amps up one at a time until i hear distortion, and then turn them down just a bit until the distortion goes away?

EarmarkMarine
12-11-2011, 03:40 PM
Yes, its essential that you start back at the HU first. Turning the amplifiers down intially allows you to find the HU maximum gain without exposing the amplifiers. Since the most recent Wetsounds EQ has no input gain, the EQ will be an extension of the HU. Then, if you sense that there is any form of clipping from the EQ, which is unlikely, then turn down from full the master EQ inboat or tower control. Then return to the amplifiers as you described. Wetsounds has a unity gain tuning procedure for the WS420 EQ so that all phases of the signal path reach their full potential simultaneously. Its step by step just like Phil's prescription.

David
Earmark Marine

rdlangston13
12-11-2011, 03:43 PM
Yes, its essential that you start back at the HU first. Turning the amplifiers down intially allows you to find the HU maximum gain without exposing the amplifiers. Since the most recent Wetsounds EQ has no input gain, the EQ will be an extension of the HU. Then, if you sense that there is any form of clipping from the EQ, which is unlikely, then turn down from full the master EQ inboat or tower control. Then return to the amplifiers as you described. Wetsounds has a unity gain tuning procedure for the WS420 EQ so that all phases of the signal path reach their full potential simultaneously. Its step by step just like Phil's prescription.


Earmark Marine

i never use my hu, i just plug my ipod straight into the ws420 input and control volume with the ws 420 knobs

David

EarmarkMarine
12-11-2011, 06:31 PM
Okay then if you are only using the EQ alone then set the dual zone levels on the EQ control panel at full before gaining the amplifier. The ipod shouldn't have enough voltage to drive the EQ into clipping which you can verify in the same manner you would with a HU. Some will set the EQ levels at 90 percent to allow for a little extra gain when using material that is recorded a bit soft or when using another mp3 with less gain. Building in some small amount of flexibility isn't going to hurt your tuning objectives.

David
Earmark Marine

rdlangston13
12-12-2011, 05:13 PM
Okay then if you are only using the EQ alone then set the dual zone levels on the EQ control panel at full before gaining the amplifier. The ipod shouldn't have enough voltage to drive the EQ into clipping which you can verify in the same manner you would with a HU. Some will set the EQ levels at 90 percent to allow for a little extra gain when using material that is recorded a bit soft or when using another mp3 with less gain. Building in some small amount of flexibility isn't going to hurt your tuning objectives.

David
Earmark Marine

awesome! thanks! now to find somewhere where i can do this without pissing everyone off...

bergermaister
12-12-2011, 05:33 PM
now to find somewhere where i can do this without pissing everyone off...
Yeah, I hear that. Plan for December 31st around 11:59pm... :cool:

wolfeman131
12-12-2011, 06:18 PM
now to find somewhere where i can do this without pissing everyone off...

Head down to Cowboy stadium. I bet that place will be deserted now after what happened yesterday.

rdlangston13
12-12-2011, 07:58 PM
Head down to Cowboy stadium. I bet that place will be deserted now after what happened yesterday.

would be a good location if it wasnt a 200 mile tow!

rdlangston13
12-12-2011, 08:04 PM
David,

I am running one set of SXT65Qs on my tower and one set of XM7s. Both off one Harpoon amp. Is there any special procedure I need to do to set my gain on there Harpoon or is it the same? Is it easy to tell when the HLCDs start to distort?

bzubke1
12-13-2011, 01:17 PM
Didn't you have 4 sxt65s on the tower at some point?

rdlangston13
12-13-2011, 07:28 PM
Didn't you have 4 sxt65s on the tower at some point?

I did but i swapped two of my sxts and some money for two xm7s from brian. the sxts sound good but didnt really have the distance i was looking for to jam at wakeboard distance.

EarmarkMarine
12-15-2011, 10:01 AM
rd(David),
Sorry for the delay in answering your question.
In tuning the tower speakers you are generally listening for tell tale signs of the amplifier clipping and not necessarily speaker distortion.
I might describe clipping as when you notice that the volume may continue to increase in treble but the warmth no longer keeps pace, the sound becomes tinny, harsh, edgy or strident. Then back down from that point to where those characteristics have disappeared. Choosing the right program material to expose clipping is helpful. Something dynamic, dense, busy across the entire spectrum but clean. It doesn't have to be your favorites. No dirty downloads. No equalization in any form. Strictly highpass.
Not everyone has developed an ear for what clipping is. You need a good quiet environment. A helper is useful so that you can listen from atop the rear sunpad while the helper gains the amplifier higher and lower.
I've got to keep it fairly simple and generic here. We have a 7-page draft on tuning with another advanced draft for those that have more tolerance for the highly technical. But again, what Phil wrote and what Wetsounds provides is very good advice.

David
Earmark Marine

rdlangston13
12-15-2011, 01:31 PM
rd(David),
Sorry for the delay in answering your question.
In tuning the tower speakers you are generally listening for tell tale signs of the amplifier clipping and not necessarily speaker distortion.
I might describe clipping as when you notice that the volume may continue to increase in treble but the warmth no longer keeps pace, the sound becomes tinny, harsh, edgy or strident. Then back down from that point to where those characteristics have disappeared. Choosing the right program material to expose clipping is helpful. Something dynamic, dense, busy across the entire spectrum but clean. It doesn't have to be your favorites. No dirty downloads. No equalization in any form. Strictly highpass.
Not everyone has developed an ear for what clipping is. You need a good quiet environment. A helper is useful so that you can listen from atop the rear sunpad while the helper gains the amplifier higher and lower.
I've got to keep it fairly simple and generic here. We have a 7-page draft on tuning with another advanced draft for those that have more tolerance for the highly technical. But again, what Phil wrote and what Wetsounds provides is very good advice.

David
Earmark Marine

my hearing is already pretty bad and im really confident im not going to know what to look for. and standing on the sunpad with my xm7s screaming im sure will not help my hearing situation lol

EarmarkMarine
12-15-2011, 02:36 PM
David,
That's unfortunate and I'm sorry for your loss.
Swing it by a stereo shop if you have a local one that's good. They should be able to help for a nominal fee.
If you know someone with a scope then it can be used to visually identify the signs of clipping and remove any subjective perception. Again, a good stereo shop is also likely to have a scope. Once someone with an educated ear qualifies for you what clipping sounds like, you will forever be self-sufficient.

David
Earmark Marine

rdlangston13
12-15-2011, 05:22 PM
David,
That's unfortunate and I'm sorry for your loss.
Swing it by a stereo shop if you have a local one that's good. They should be able to help for a nominal fee.
If you know someone with a scope then it can be used to visually identify the signs of clipping and remove any subjective perception. Again, a good stereo shop is also likely to have a scope. Once someone with an educated ear qualifies for you what clipping sounds like, you will forever be self-sufficient.

David
Earmark Marine

i always thought clipping was when it just totally shut off