If you’re as ancient as I have become (36, HBD to me), you will remember not only the recent “age of auto-tune,” but if you reach way back to the days of compact disc players, you remember a thing called mega bass.
Maybe your personal audio player or boombox called it “ultra bass” or “face-melt mode,” but these EQ (equalization) adjustments were everywhere for a moment in time.
Why? Because the bass on most stuff sucks, especially on small speakers. Bass is hard to do right if you’re not willing to carve out serious floorspace for it.
Those bass boosts were fun at first but ultimately hard to listen to all the time. Same with the simple bass and treble controls in cars and on receivers and other things.
The main issue is the bass boost affects only one broad swath of sound, and the bass/treble approach splits everything we can hear into two large categories.
Well, music is simply much more complicated than that. We’re diving straight into an approach to adjusting the bass performance of our DIY subwoofer project, and we’re going to be a lot more surgical about it than ol’ mega bass.
Last week, I discussed using “pink noise” to measure the bass via a phone-based real-time analyzer app.
The next step is to take a screen shot of that RTA app’s readout when you’re playing the pink noise, for reference. And by the way — if you can turn off the main speakers and let only the subwoofer play the pink noise, you’ll get the most accurate reading (our chief focus here is the area from 20 Hz to about 150 Hz).
Now it is finally time to open the Dayton Audio DSP control software. This program works only on a PC, so that might be a brief issue. If you’re like me and all you have is a Mac, just know that once we use the DSP EQ to fix the bass, we’ll never have to borrow our friend’s old Dell again.
At first glance, the Dayton software is scary. It has a lot of stuff on it we’re not going to use. I’ll guide us through the maze.
The part of the software we’ll use is the PEQ, which stands for parametric equalizer. Parametric means you can get specific and enter exact numbers or “parameters” for the equalization, if you have that ability.
Fortunately, it’s also a GEQ, or graphical equalizer, so we can do much of what we want via drag and click.
Turn on the sub, connect the supplied USB cable to your PC, open the Dayton SPA500DSP GUI software, and look for the green light on the USB Connected button. Head to the PEQ section.
I’ve got to wrap up this segment, but here’s the homework for next week. Try to adjust the PEQ to look opposite of what the measurement RTA app showed you with the pink noise, from 150Hz and down. We’ll fine tune it as our project continues.