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Trying to calibrate volume between two speakers
EagleScout1998
post May 31 2012, 06:40
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Here is my conundrum: I purchased a pair of speakers for my computer. They’re not computer speakers, per se, but that is what I am using them for. Just in case it’s relevant, they’re Paradigm Shift A2. The speakers in my home theater are also Paradigm, which is prompted me to go for these.

They sound marvelous; much better than Bose speakers I’ve been using. The only drawback is that each speaker has its own volume control knob. Since I have two speakers, one for each channel, calibrating the volume between the two is not an easy task. For the most part, I’ve been doing by ear: Playing a FLAC of a mono recording and switching back from right to left, listening for any increase/decrease in volume. It’s not an exact science though.

My smartphone has an app that “listens” to sounds and reports how loud they are (in dB). I am not sure how precise it is, though. When I went to a website that has “pink noise”, I couldn’t get the level to stay constant. But when I have the “pink noise” playing, the level stays within 72-76 db (and that’s for both speakers).

I am also wondering if there may be some sort of device (an external DAC, perhaps) which will allow me to control the volume of both speakers simultaneously. I could use the Windows volume control, but having to move my mouse to click on the taskbar is a bit tedious.

This post has been edited by EagleScout1998: May 31 2012, 06:45
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Kees de Visser
post May 31 2012, 08:37
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IME the "by ear" solution is by far the quickest and easiest and probably accurate enough for the purpose. A more precise method is by using a (good) microphone and measure/adjust the levels.
Since your speakers seem to be small, it might be a solution to put them face to face and feed them a broadband (pink-noise or music) signal, but of opposite phase. If L/R levels are identical, there should be almost no sound audible.
The test isn't perfect, but fast and repeatable. I remember an audio show where KEF used this technique to demonstrate how small the differences between their speakers were.
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slks
post Jun 2 2012, 11:15
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One thing you could consider is getting a keyboard with volume buttons. They are sometimes branded specifically as "multimedia keyboards", although in the past few years it seems like it's hard to find a keyboard WITHOUT such buttons - even the cheapest models available seem to have them now. My keyboard, for example, has volume up/down, stop, pause, and play buttons on it, arranged above the F-keys (F1, F2, ...)

If you get a keyboard like this, you've got a physical button to change your computer's volume, and don't have to pick up the mouse and go messing about in the task bar. Windows 7 automatically detected and made use of the buttons, no drivers or anything required.


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jun 2 2012, 15:11
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QUOTE (EagleScout1998 @ May 31 2012, 01:40) *
Here is my conundrum: I purchased a pair of speakers for my computer. They’re not computer speakers, per se, but that is what I am using them for. Just in case it’s relevant, they’re Paradigm Shift A2. The speakers in my home theater are also Paradigm, which is prompted me to go for these.

They sound marvelous; much better than Bose speakers I’ve been using. The only drawback is that each speaker has its own volume control knob. Since I have two speakers, one for each channel, calibrating the volume between the two is not an easy task. For the most part, I’ve been doing by ear: Playing a FLAC of a mono recording and switching back from right to left, listening for any increase/decrease in volume. It’s not an exact science though.

My smartphone has an app that “listens” to sounds and reports how loud they are (in dB). I am not sure how precise it is, though. When I went to a website that has “pink noise”, I couldn’t get the level to stay constant. But when I have the “pink noise” playing, the level stays within 72-76 db (and that’s for both speakers).


Your smartphone is pretending its a SPL meter. You've already found out why nobody who knows what they are doing trusts SPL meters for things like balancing speakers: There is too much variation in the readings.

The right way to match levels is to presume that the speakers are identical (which of course they usually are in general, but at some detailed level they aren't), play a test toneat say 400 Hz, and measure the AC voltage across the speaker terminals. A cheap digital meter that costs as little as $5 on eBay can do the job, but the $25 ones from a big box home store are actually pretty good.

QUOTE
I am also wondering if there may be some sort of device (an external DAC, perhaps) which will allow me to control the volume of both speakers simultaneously. I could use the Windows volume control, but having to move my mouse to click on the taskbar is a bit tedious.


There are all sorts of external volume controls, some that are mounted inline with a interconnecting cord, and some that are little boxes that stand on their own. If you are plugging your speaekrs into an earphone jack then this one can work:

Headphone volume control

Of if you want something more elegant:

Line elvel volume control
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pawelq
post Jun 2 2012, 21:01
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QUOTE (EagleScout1998 @ May 31 2012, 01:40) *
I am also wondering if there may be some sort of device (an external DAC, perhaps) which will allow me to control the volume of both speakers simultaneously. I could use the Windows volume control, but having to move my mouse to click on the taskbar is a bit tedious.


There are many USB and FireWire soundcards/DACs that we allow you to this. I have M-Audio Fast Track Pro which I chose because it not only has volume control for line -in (I use Adam A7 as computer louspeakers, the too have separate volume controls on each speaker), but a separate vontrol for headphone output.


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Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".
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nevermind
post Jun 3 2012, 01:09
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You could also find a program that maps volume up/down to a hotkey, there are some free ones around. I know I couldn't do much without the keyboard volume (and mute).
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RichDavis
post Feb 1 2014, 20:03
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jun 2 2012, 06:11) *
QUOTE (EagleScout1998 @ May 31 2012, 01:40) *
Here is my conundrum: I purchased a pair of speakers for my computer. They’re not computer speakers, per se, but that is what I am using them for. Just in case it’s relevant, they’re Paradigm Shift A2. The speakers in my home theater are also Paradigm, which is prompted me to go for these.

They sound marvelous; much better than Bose speakers I’ve been using. The only drawback is that each speaker has its own volume control knob. Since I have two speakers, one for each channel, calibrating the volume between the two is not an easy task. For the most part, I’ve been doing by ear: Playing a FLAC of a mono recording and switching back from right to left, listening for any increase/decrease in volume. It’s not an exact science though.

My smartphone has an app that “listens” to sounds and reports how loud they are (in dB). I am not sure how precise it is, though. When I went to a website that has “pink noise”, I couldn’t get the level to stay constant. But when I have the “pink noise” playing, the level stays within 72-76 db (and that’s for both speakers).


Your smartphone is pretending its a SPL meter. You've already found out why nobody who knows what they are doing trusts SPL meters for things like balancing speakers: There is too much variation in the readings.

The right way to match levels is to presume that the speakers are identical (which of course they usually are in general, but at some detailed level they aren't), play a test toneat say 400 Hz, and measure the AC voltage across the speaker terminals. A cheap digital meter that costs as little as $5 on eBay can do the job, but the $25 ones from a big box home store are actually pretty good.

QUOTE
I am also wondering if there may be some sort of device (an external DAC, perhaps) which will allow me to control the volume of both speakers simultaneously. I could use the Windows volume control, but having to move my mouse to click on the taskbar is a bit tedious.


There are all sorts of external volume controls, some that are mounted inline with a interconnecting cord, and some that are little boxes that stand on their own. If you are plugging your speaekrs into an earphone jack then this one can work:

Headphone volume control

Of if you want something more elegant:

Line elvel volume control



What I did is I played Pink Noise from an app called Audiotest (OS X), there are plenty of these apps for both Windows and OS X, but my system is OS X, so that's all I can discuss at this time. I used my iPad as a decibel meter since there are iOS apps like, Decibel 10th, that can give you decibel readings. I measured the distance between the speaker and the microphone to make sure that I'm taking the measurements from the same distance. I got pretty close using this methodology, and it took some time to do this, but it's at least one way to get the volume controls to be as close as possible.

That's the drawback with powered speakers that have their own volume control on each speaker. Some speakers, like the Audioengine 2's have the power amp/pre amp in one speaker and it sends the signal to the other via a speaker cable rather than having RCA connections like the Shift A2s.

Now, I used Transparent The Link RCA interconnects instead of the cheap cables they came with. It made a HUGE difference as the high frequencies were much smoother, and the low end extension was much improved. They are actually quite scary how good those speakers can sound. I'm also using a Meridian Director DAC and listening to a variety of content some of which is 24 bit recordings from HD Tracks. I'm also using Audirvana S/W most of the time as that is better sounding than just using iTunes alone.

For my room (bedroom), I set my DAC s/w to full 0dB, and the speakers I only have them set around the 10 o'clock position because for my room, that's plenty loud for long term listening, anything louder I can't listen to for extended periods of time.

I sent a suggestion to Paradigm that they should have a better volume control knob that was indented in a stepped mode rather than the volume knob they currently have. I may at some point break out a soldering gun and buy a better quality stepped volume control potentiometer and replace the one it has, but I haven't researched that yet.

You might want to submit a suggestion to Paradigm for future products as having a much easier to set volume control on powered speakers is always desirable.
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Kees de Visser
post Feb 2 2014, 18:59
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QUOTE (RichDavis @ Feb 1 2014, 20:03) *
I got pretty close using this methodology, and it took some time to do this, but it's at least one way to get the volume controls to be as close as possible.
The methodology with an out-of-phase signal which I proposed earlier in this (old) thread is much quicker. To make it easier I've uploaded a 30s pink noise file:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=857123
With a bit of training you should be able to do the level matching within 30 seconds smile.gif

Hope this helps.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 7 2014, 12:46
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QUOTE (EagleScout1998 @ May 31 2012, 00:40) *
Here is my conundrum: I purchased a pair of speakers for my computer. They’re not computer speakers, per se, but that is what I am using them for. Just in case it’s relevant, they’re Paradigm Shift A2. The speakers in my home theater are also Paradigm, which is prompted me to go for these.

They sound marvelous; much better than Bose speakers I’ve been using. The only drawback is that each speaker has its own volume control knob.


http://www.parts-express.com/axxess-aalc-2...tm_campaign=pla


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