Friday, July 22, 2011

5 Things to Enhance your Sound and Clarity

1. Cables: Make sure that the resistance of the speaker wire is not exceeding 5% of the rated impedance of the system. Although there has been a long debate with strong support on both sides of the issues of brand name cables VS. affordable cables; both parties will agree the thickness of the cable absolutely makes a difference. What happens when the resistance gets too high? In simplest terms, there is power lost in the wire and the speaker will not play as loud. Here is a table based on this rating system.

Wire Size
2 ohm load
4 ohm load
6 ohm load
8 ohm load
22 AWG
3 feet max
6 feet max
9 feet max
12 feet max
20 AWG
5 feet max
10 feet max
15 feet max
20 feet max
18 AWG
8 feet max
16 feet max
24 feet max
32 feet max
16 AWG
12 feet max
24 feet max
36 feet max
48 feet max
14 AWG
20 feet max
40 feet max
60 feet**
80 feet**
12 AWG
30 feet max
60 feet**
90 feet**
120  feet**
10 AWG
50 feet max
100 feet**
150 feet**
200 feet**

I might note here that Theater Solutions uses much more conservative numbers and recommends that any run over 40ft. should use 14 AWG. I happen to agree with this approach.

Quality cables and the correct connection in a professional set-up for Live performances is equally as important, whether your in a band on stage, a mobile audio DJ, or solo artist. The longer the run, the more likely you will pick up hums and distortion; avoid these by using thicker cables with XLR connnections. 

2. Your Audio Source: As music has been digitized we continue to remove information making files more manageable for our laptops, ipods, mp3 players, and storage devices. This compressed digital information is great for storage, but lousy for sound quality. Compressing music into small digital files can negatively impact sound quality and many times is the unidentified source of poor audio quality.  However, there are a few things short of buying vinyl records and using a phono player and amplifying an analog signal, to improve your sound quality.

Some die-hard DJs are still lugging around boxes of vinyl, but utilizing a file with a high bit-rate can greatly improve detail and clarity.  Solution; if you have enough storage space on your iPod or computer, try selecting a higher bit rate setting in your music software when ripping tracks from your CDs. If you are downloading music tracks, check to see if the song is available in a higher bit rate. Finally,  purchase a receiver with features that offer the best possible digital to analog upgrading such as features like; ProLogic IIz, Advanced Sound Retrieving and Acoustic Calibration. This is also true for your mixing software, you should look for software that supplies a variety of features for importing audio files and applications for converting and improving sound quality.

3. Add a dedicated Subwoofer: A dedicated subwoofer helps extend your low end and alleviates your mains from reproducing power sucking lows.  This is especially important if you are pushing your mains so hard you experience clipping or farting. A powered subwoofer adds action to a surround system and supports the drums and bass in a live system. This is an element that should be considered a non-negotiable.

4. Dial in your Subwoofer's Settings: If you have a powered subwoofer dialing in the crossover can make a big impact in your overall sound quality. Deep bass can be a dramatic addition to your home theater or assist in delivering the true low end punch of a performance, but if you have set your crossover frequency too low you may leave a low-end hole. If you set it too high it can sound muddy and boomy from phase cancellation. If your mains fall off around around 80Hz then equalize your subwoofer to pick-up from 79Hz and below. The low-pass filter's cutt-off on most subs are not that sharp, so some overlap will occur.

Most modern Home Theater A/V Receivers have delay controls that work similarly to phase controls, and through a microphone that is provided with the unit, and using pink noise testing, the system will automatically adjust the frequency and decibel levels sent to the subwoofer.

Placement of a subwoofer is key to achieving an overall balanced sound and because of the long length of the soundwave, sub frequencies are not easily localized. You might say the sound is non-directional, allowing us to place the sub in corners, behind furniture, or off center stage.  When placing a sub in a room for a home theater, the easiest and usually most efficient is to place the sub in the corner furthest from large room openings. For additional techniques visit:'s Resource Center/Where To?

5. Sonic Maximizers and Signal Processors: I was absolutely amazed at the difference a Sonic Maximizer made in the volume and sound quality of a PA System, when I was introduced to the BBE Sonic Maximizer. One of our technicians performed some A/B testing on several systems, and demonstrated the value of a Signal Processor and/or Sonic Maximizer in a Professional Audio System. We offer a 30-day "No Hassle" Guarantee, just keep your original packaging. If you want to boost the level of volume and clarity in your system, this is a quick and inexpensive addition to any pro audio system.

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