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Thread: Setting your stereo/amp controls
01-05-2010, 04:55 PM #6
Setting your stereo/amp controls
Phil's opinion, (and somewhat lengthy explanation):
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...
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!