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Room measurements using pink noise
post Jan 15 2013, 11:54
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I was browsing around and found this bit of information which I don't quite understand, so anyone who is well versed in acoustics can perhaps set a few things straight :

Accurate room measurement is complex in that you need.
1: A way to record what is going on in a room.
2: Away to create the sound in a room that 1 will measure.

Currently 1 is reasonably easy and cost effective to achieve as there are a number of accurate (or accurate enough) systems available that do much of the number crunching in software.

The most common way to achieve 2 is to use the loudspeakers already in the room and this while convenient, leads to inaccuracies in measurements.

The reasons for this are as follows.

To accurately excite all the modes in a room you need a source that is broadband and truly omnidirectional.
While most decent speakers can be broadband -but often are a little deficient at low frequencies-, few if any are truly omnidirectional.
This means that when using a speaker as an audio source in room measurement, you are in reality only measuring the combined response of your speaker and the room. The in room measurement of Bi or Di polar speakers that had the same frequency response would be totally different.

Ideally you want a sound source that as already mentioned is truly omnidirectional as this will excite all room modes equally. Any one who hasever looked at polar plots of speakers will know that even the best claimed omni speakers rarely are truly omnidirectional.

A gun shot on the other offers typically a wide bandwidth, is omnidirectional and has the added benefit of being loud. Loud enough so that true reverberation time and modal measurements can be made.

It has even been suggested, for those that don't want to fire their magnums in their listening rooms, that something as simple as a hand drill could be used as a sound source. These are cheap, the results are repeatable and will certainly put a lot less stress on a system than trying to belt out Pink noise at high SPL.

I thought pink noise was the standard method of measuring speakers in a room. He seems to be saying that a gunshot rather than pink noise is preferable as the levels are higher, or at least that's what I think he's saying. Is this guy completely on crack or does he have a point?
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post Jan 15 2013, 19:33
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Typically, you want to measure the speakers and room together since the speakers are usually used to reproduce music in the room. Of course the location of speakers (or other sound source) and listening position are very important. If you move something, the results will change.

Typically, pink noise or a frequency-sweep is used to measure the frequency response of the speakers in the room.

In theory, you can use an impulse to measure the frequency characteristics and in real life it's how you measure the reverb in a room. In fact, a convolution reverb does just that... You supply an impluse from your favorite concert hall and you can digitally reproduce the sound of the hall on your recording.

Other than for measuring reverb time or simulating room reverb, I'm not sure how useful impulse measurements are for measuring frequency response. (Sometimes, I clap my hands to get a sense how "live" or "dead" a room is.) But, I'm sure lots of different kinds of measurements are made at various listening positons when building concert halls and theaters. And, I'm sure the final tweaks are done by ear with "real" sound sound or real music!

In the real-physical world, ideal impulses (infinite amplitude and zero time-duration) do not exist. I don't know how well a gunshot represents an impulse and I actually don't know how it's most-commonly done, but here's Wikipedia. I would guess that the sound characteristics of the particular gunshot (or whatever) have to be subtracted-out of the results.

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