“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Most of us will have used or at least heard of this expression coined (allegedly) by Aristotle. The act of tuning and testing DIY speakers is an excellent example that captures the gist of the saying.
You may have bought the best parts for your custom speakers online but they have little value on their own. It’s not until they work together in harmony that you’re really going to reap the benefits.
Read on for all the tuning and testing tips you need for optimum sound from custom speakers.
Understanding the Basics of Speaker Tuning
When you’ve installed the physical components of a sound system properly, it’s time to start the process of “tuning” the system. The goal is for optimum matching with the acoustic characteristics of the space as well as the speakers themselves.
When you don’t properly tune a sound system, you won’t get the full potential from all the components you’ve selected so carefully.
A useful way to look at post-installation tuning is to divide it into two kinds:
- Speaker tuning to maximise the performance of the speakers themselves
- Room tuning to address the acoustic characteristics of the space
Different speaker systems tend to have different phase and frequency characteristics. Speaker processing compensates for these differences. The aim is to produce the most natural reproduction that is possible to achieve.
Effective speaker processing means it is necessary for the characteristics of the speaker systems to get tuned to become exactly mirrored in the processing devices.
Tips for Tuning Your Custom Speakers
Here are a few helpful pointers to achieve the best possible sound from your DIY speakers:
Maximise Your Tweeter Performance
One of the biggest benefits of component speakers is the opportunity to mount the tweeter with a more direct path to your ears. Tweeter mounts or waveguides, for example, let you direct the tweeter’s high frequencies even more accurately.
Before installing your tweeters, try out different mounting angles and tweeter locations. The extra effort spent positioning your component tweeters is quite literally a sound investment. The result will be a more realistic sound quality.
Some tweeters allow for swivelling or pivoting. Careful aiming of the high frequencies can significantly improve the stereo image that your system creates.
Making your DIY speakers online allows you plenty of opportunities to replace specific components to combat underperformance.
Check Your Crossovers
The crossovers in DIY systems often have tweeter-level settings that let you attenuate or give a boost to the tweeter’s output. Before installing the crossovers in a place that might be difficult to get to, try out the different settings.
Listen to music with plenty of high-frequency content. Crank up the volume and finetune the tweeter level so the sound of the music is natural without being too bright.
Adjusting Your Equaliser
EQ is short for equaliser. Its aim is to reproduce sound accurately. To do that you need to make adjustments to the various frequencies so that they all turn out at the same level or perceived loudness level.
There are two parts to an EQ: bandwidth and centre frequency. Bandwidth refers to how narrow the selection is for the adjustments that you wish to make. Centre frequency might sound complicated, but it simply means choosing the specific frequency that you want to adjust.
There are 2 essential ways to tweak sound when learning how to use an EQ. The first is to make the target frequency louder by increasing the level or amplitude of a specific range. We refer to this as boosting. You can also decrease the output of a specific frequency range for anything that you wish to hear less of. We refer to this as cutting.
Replace Faulty or Wornout Parts
If one particular part or component is beyond its optimum lifespan, it will have a negative impact on the rest of the speaker. Always update and replace these with top-quality components with brands such as B&C Speakers and Eighteen Sound.
Tips for Testing Your DIY Speakers
One of the benefits of choosing B&C or Eighteen Sound speakers is that the integral parts within them are second to none. Trust your ears and select settings that sound the best to you. Nothing beats personal taste. What sounds great to one person may not sound so good to the next.
Here are 3 of the best songs for testing DIY speakers suggested by experts:
- Daft Punk – Get Lucky
- Steely Dan – Jack Of Speed
- Crooked Still – Little Sadie
You can also quickly examine speaker wires and connections. Do this by using a 9-volt battery, a multimeter or through manual inspection. Always make sure that your testing is extensive because ignoring particular parts could mean that a faulty component gets missed.
Check for the following during playback when carrying out a quick inspection test on your custom speakers:
- A scraping sound from the speaker’s diaphragm or voice coil
- Fuzziness, popping or hissing sounds
- Irregular movements from the speaker’s diaphragm or voice coil
- A damaged or torn speaker diaphragm or cone
- The smell of burning plastic or metal
- Loose connections between speaker cables
You should replace any damaged or underperforming parts for better quality sound.
Common DIY Speaker Tuning and Testing Mistakes
One of the most common errors users can make is to ignore the environment in which they wish to primarily use their DIY speakers.
The key drivers in this process can alter dramatically according to the size, furnishings and shape of the space or room. Even in our own apartments or houses, the variation in sound between, say, a bathroom or living room can be staggering.
The size of the room and the materials used on the floor, ceiling or walls will all have an impact on the way sound gets reflected within the space. The way these reflections interfere and interact with one another has a significant impact on the sound too.
Another common pitfall we often see is for DIY enthusiasts to repair or reuse worn parts for their custom speakers. Just one underperforming component can affect a speaker’s entire performance.
It’s a false economy to use parts that are beyond their best. Go for new tried and tested components like those we stock and manufactured by experts for B&C Speakers or Eighteen Sound speakers.
Benefit from the Best Possible Speaker Components
We believe in quality above all else. That’s why we’re proud stockists in Australia of B&C and Eighteen Sound speakers. Check out our replacement parts section here.