Home Theater Room Correction: How To Get the Best Results
Around here we say that room correction is like the cherry on top of the home theater sundae. It can definitely help, but it is not enough all by itself. That’s why it is so important to know how to use your home theater room correction program properly in order to get the best results. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a cherry in a cup. Sure, it is part of a sundae, but it really isn’t dessert. Room correction is the same.
Before you start to run any room correction, you need to get your room ready. Just like building a sundae, you can’t start with the cherry. You need the ice cream. And that ice cream is:
If you haven’t addressed the acoustics in your home theater, room correction will not give you good results. More likely, the correction program will do very little. That is because room correction is trying to get uniform results across an area of your room. Usually the seating area of your couch. If you haven’t addressed the room acoustics, your room correction program will have little to work with.
We’ve address room acoustics before, but let’s review. You want to place room treatments (sound absorbers) on your walls and in the corners (if possible). You’ll want to put down a thick carpet or rug. Basically, we are looking for soft things to absorb the sound as it hits the hard surfaces of your room. This will give your room correction program more to work with. It will also make your speakers sound better!
Author’s Note: The rule of thumb is that you should have 30% of your room covered in absorptive material. You may see that number and think it is impossible and give up. Don’t! Most of us don’t get anywhere near 30% but we try. Do you have carpet on the ground? That’s 17%. Any room treatments you can put up will get you ever closer. With printed art panels getting easier to access, you have more options than ever! Plus, it isn’t that hard to DIY some pretty good looking acoustic panels!
We’ve harped on and on about how to place your speakers. We’ve got guides for just about every configuration (including Dolby Atmos). It is important to properly place your speakers based on the recommendations, but it is more important to understand when to break those rules.
If you want your room correction to have the best results in your home theater, you’ll want to place your speakers carefully. Sure, the guides may tell you that a specific location is “optimal,” but you need to be able to know when they are wrong. Is the speaker located near a boundary? Maybe cheat it away a little bit. Are your front left and right speakers not as wide as your couch? Separate them a little more no matter what the guides say.
Most importantly, subwoofer placement can make a huge difference. Having two subwoofers is the best (gives you more even bass throughout your space), but knowing how to place one correctly is important. Making sure your speakers are placed so that they perform the best they can ensures that your room correction will give you better results in your home theater.
Run and Adjust
Now that the room is prepared, it is time to run your room correction. You’ll want to keep the environment quiet. You’ll also want to set up the room in the best configuration for sound. What do we mean? Well, if you have a door, you’ll want to close it. This will help your subwoofers pressurize the space. It will also keep out exterior noise. Sure, you may use your home theater with the door open most of the time, but you’ll want to run your room correction with the door closed for best results.
Set up your microphone carefully and allow the program to do its thing. It will set the trim level (volume) and distance for each speaker. It will also set the crossover. Take a look at all these settings. Check out the trim settings on each speaker. If they are maxed out in either direction (+/-12dB or +/-10dB depending on the receiver model), it means something is amiss. The speaker is struggling or is mismatched. Also, check out the crossover. If anything is set lower than 80Hz, consider adjusting it up. Don’t worry, we have a guide for that as well.
Examine the Results
Lastly, you’ll want to take a look at the results. Most of the room correction programs put out some sort of graph to tell you what they’ve done. Well, it would be more accurate to say that the graph tells you what the program thinks it has done. If you have Room EQ Wizard and a microphone, you can check. But for most of us, we’ll have to listen.
Room correction can usually be turned on and off easily. Pick some content you are familiar with (or just really like) and flip the room correction on and off. You should hear a difference. Don’t be surprised if the room correction makes it sound softer. This means that it has evened out the response. You will now actually be able to turn the volume up louder without having your speakers distort.
Rince and Repeat
Room correction is not “set it and forget it.” If you make a change to your room, you need to run it again. If you add or subtract speakers, you should run it again. To get the best results for your home theater, you may have to run your room correction more than once. Some extraneous noise or microphone anomaly may have affected the measurement. Don’t be afraid to run it until you are happy with the results.
Do you use your room correction? What did you do to get the best results? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!