Mayflower London

Calibrating Speakers for Home Cinema

In this blog we explore how the right levels of speaker calibration can be influential in creating a perfectly immersive AV experience to suit any personal preferences. 

Calibrating speakers often makes a huge impact when it comes to enjoying and fully experiencing audio and visual content to its full potential. In this blog we explore how the right levels of speaker calibration can be influential in creating a perfectly immersive AV experience to suit any personal preferences.

Good acoustics means that the individual elements of a song / composition reaches the listener with the exact timing and in the manner intended by the music’s creator, although this occurrence may be dependent on a wide set of variables including the size of the room and the materials the room is made of, not to mention the health of the listeners ears!

To calibrate or not to calibrate, that is the question….

Optimal calibration of speakers can make a marked difference not only depending on your choice of equipment (a setup made up of solely monitor speakers would be calibrated differently from a setup that also integrates a powerful subwoofer) but also when accounting for situational factors such as the size or the acoustics of a room, the level of ambient/background noise, the position of the speakers, or where the listener/viewer is seated. Furthermore, the purpose of the speakers is of course also a key factor, so calibration will also differ depending on whether your speakers are part of your home cinema system, for a music production studio, or even just for enjoying your favourite orchestral concertos or drum and bass mixes.

By calibrating your speakers you are optimising their functionality, something that vastly improves their performance, even if the speakers are not top of the range. To put it into perspective with a car analogy, even a well tuned Vauxhall Corsa can outperform and better a poorly maintained Lamborghini.  

Auto calibrating your speakers

Auto calibration is a popular choice as it means that minimal effort is required to get the right levels whilst taking into account the situational factors as mentioned above. There is an assortment of both hardware and software which is widely available that will perform this task such as Sonos’ Trueplay mobile phone app, although auto calibration systems such as this one will only work specifically with speakers from the same company. Utilising the mobile phone’s microphone to gauge the acoustics of the room, it picks up, measures and analyses how sound reflects off the surfaces and fixtures within the room and then tunes the speaker to produce the best sound possible. THX also have their own mobile app that calibrates both audio and visual output, while systems such as Google Home as well as many home cinema receivers have their own built in calibration technology.

Although auto calibration tends to be the usual preference, manual calibration is sometimes necessary, and generally requires both precise measurements and calculations. For example, when installing a surround sound system, which by nature allows trim adjustment for each channel individually, speakers that are further away from the audience should in most cases be on a louder volume setting than the speakers that are closer, so as to give an even and fully encompassing sound profile. Although this can be done by ear it is usually recommended to use a sound level meter, which are easily acquired and largely inexpensive, and can also be found in the form of a mobile phone app or online.

Mayflower London love to calibrate speakers

This is where Mayflower London’s expert team can be of great assistance. Our team is not only made up of automation specialists, interior designers and electricians, but also of highly qualified sound engineers and sound designers who have years of experience in designing, installing and maintaining state of the art sound systems and home cinema setups. So no matter if you would prefer to take a seat and let the professionals calibrate your speakers to your precise requirements or you would like them to show you how to do it yourself, Mayflower London works with you side by side, assisting you to select the right equipment for your needs and further by designing, supplying, and installing the sound system or home cinema setup of your dreams. 

Calibrate for your own listening pleasure

The main takeaway from all this should be that although the criteria for calibration will differ depending on the equipment being used, the end result should be of a similar nature; an intense and crisp sounding level of bass, precise frequency response, and levels that facilitate crystal clear dialogue. In other words, you should be able to hear a pin drop or the slightest whisper, as well as feeling the full audio force of a world ending explosion. 

Something to consider is that the quality of sound heard is always subjective to the listener, so however pricey your speakers are and however they are calibrated, just make sure that you feel that your favourite movies and music sound great.