Question Problems setting initial Sub level in Dirac Live

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
My first post here (though I have been a long time on and off "read only" visitor), so be gentle with me! ;)

I have a new ARCAM AVR550 and am trying to set up Dirac Live for a 5.1 configuration using Dirac V3.0 (I’ve tried 2.5.3 as well) on a Windows 10 laptop using the standard ARCAM “stick” (V2) calibration mic, with the correct mic calibration curve loaded.

I’m having problems setting the level of my Sub Woofer, which is an Acoustic Energy Evo 150W (active), during the initial volume calibration phase. I have no trim levels set in the amp and have the crossover at a standard 80Hz.

The issue seems to be that the calibration mic provided with the ARCAM doesn’t pick up enough of the Sub’s output to get it into the green regions in Dirac. The Dirac instructions tell me to get every speaker to a near identical level, but even with my Sub set to it’s maximum level (something I have *never* had to do before) it registers around 8bd lower than the other speakers and is barely in the green zone in Dirac.

Checking the levels with a separate SPL meter (a proper one, not a ‘phone App) tells me that the sub is actually 26 db higher than the other speakers, not the 8db lower that Dirac tells me it is! So I’m suspicious of the standard mic’s ability to pick up the Sub’s frequency ranges and concerned that the calibration wont be as effective as it should be or that I may damage my sub.

What I really need is to discuss the process with someone who’s familiar with it, to find out things like: Is it normal for the sub to register so low in Dirac? Is it possible to get it “in line” with the other speakers? Is my calibration mic duff? (I suspect not, because if I do the calibration anyway the results sound good.) Would buying a better calibration mic resolve this?

I would be very grateful if anyone with experience of using Dirac to set up a 5.1 system can comment on their experiences in getting the sub calibrated.

Thanks in advance!
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
My first post here (though I have been a long time on and off "read only" visitor), so be gentle with me! ;)

I have a new ARCAM AVR550 and am trying to set up Dirac Live for a 5.1 configuration using Dirac V3.0 (I’ve tried 2.5.3 as well) on a Windows 10 laptop using the standard ARCAM “stick” (V2) calibration mic, with the correct mic calibration curve loaded.

I’m having problems setting the level of my Sub Woofer, which is an Acoustic Energy Evo 150W (active), during the initial volume calibration phase. I have no trim levels set in the amp and have the crossover at a standard 80Hz.

The issue seems to be that the calibration mic provided with the ARCAM doesn’t pick up enough of the Sub’s output to get it into the green regions in Dirac. The Dirac instructions tell me to get every speaker to a near identical level, but even with my Sub set to it’s maximum level (something I have *never* had to do before) it registers around 8bd lower than the other speakers and is barely in the green zone in Dirac.

Checking the levels with a separate SPL meter (a proper one, not a ‘phone App) tells me that the sub is actually 26 db higher than the other speakers, not the 8db lower that Dirac tells me it is! So I’m suspicious of the standard mic’s ability to pick up the Sub’s frequency ranges and concerned that the calibration wont be as effective as it should be or that I may damage my sub.

What I really need is to discuss the process with someone who’s familiar with it, to find out things like: Is it normal for the sub to register so low in Dirac? Is it possible to get it “in line” with the other speakers? Is my calibration mic duff? (I suspect not, because if I do the calibration anyway the results sound good.) Would buying a better calibration mic resolve this?

I would be very grateful if anyone with experience of using Dirac to set up a 5.1 system can comment on their experiences in getting the sub calibrated.

Thanks in advance!
I had similar with the AVR550 and the Arcam mic.
Got round it by doing a combination of Master Volume and mic gain which put the sub into green and then used the individual speaker trim levels to lower the other speakers down to roughly similar dB readings. This was with dual subs which Audyssey on my Marantz had set to around 11 o clock, but with the 550 I had to turn up to between 12.30 to 1pm. Way louder when checked with a SPL meter.
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
I had similar with the AVR550 and the Arcam mic.
Got round it by doing a combination of Master Volume and mic gain which put the sub into green and then used the individual speaker trim levels to lower the other speakers down to roughly similar dB readings. This was with dual subs which Audyssey on my Marantz had set to around 11 o clock, but with the 550 I had to turn up to between 12.30 to 1pm. Way louder when checked with a SPL meter.
Thanks for the reply Doug! Good to know that I'm not on my own at least! I could push the master volume and mic gain a little, but I think I would only get another 1-2 db before hitting maximum trim on the other speakers.

How close to the other speakers were you able to get your subs? As I said in the original post I'm a long way away from matching.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the reply Doug! Good to know that I'm not on my own at least! I could push the master volume and mic gain a little, but I think I would only get another 1-2 db before hitting maximum trim on the other speakers.

How close to the other speakers were you able to get your subs? As I said in the original post I'm a long way away from matching.
Around 4-6dB with one pair of speakers at the max -12db cut (but that was using 2x275W subs running much too hot from where they had been set with Audyssey). As well as matching the levels up, I've also read that just having the speakers in the green is all that is required. Certainly the levels Dirac sets bears no relation to the speaker levels you set when doing the calibration.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Have you tried adjusting the sub level up and the other speakers levels down in the Dirac screen? As per my very quick and dirty screen grab here:
Capture.PNG
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
Have you tried adjusting the sub level up and the other speakers levels down in the Dirac screen? As per my very quick and dirty screen grab here:
View attachment 1324968
Thanks for the reply, Rambles; yes I've been tweaking that ad-nauseum but whatever I do I can't get the sub level (as shown in that dirac screen) any closer than about -10bd to the rest of the speakers.

It's like the mic isn't picking up enough of the sub to calibrate the level properly, because if I use a separate SPL on the Dirac test tones, it shows that my sub is about +22db above the other speakers.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
Sounds like a faulty mic then. You say that your Arcam is new, report it to the dealer and see if they can let you have a replacement one? I use a Umik-1 with my 550, if you fancy a bit of an upgrade?

Thanks again! ...that was my conclusion and I'm in discussion with Richer Sounds about it. It's slightly annoying as I've already sent one unit back because of a loud fan. They're looking to see if they can get me a replacement mic.

Can I ask how close you managed to get your sub(s) to your other speakers and if this changed any when you used the UNIK-1 (I have one on order btw)

Also; when you did your initial set-up did you zero all the trim levels in the Arcam, or pre-set them using an SPL?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I already had a Umik-1 when I got my Arcam, so I have never used the Arcam supplied one.

The way I manage things is to use my Umik-1 (with it's calibration file), together with REW software, to get a very accurate SPL meter. I then calibrate the non Dirac levels so that 60 on the Arcam dial gives 75db for each speaker at the main listening position.

I have already checked that both subs read the same SPL at the main listening position, by turning one off at a time and taking a reading, and adjusting the dials on the subs if necessary. Once they are set - I never touch those dials again! I then watch the first five minutes of Spectre and turn the sub levels up by equal amounts, using the Arcam levels settings, so that I get the right amount of bass for my taste. I also usually add about 3db to the atmos speakers.

With that arrangement, when I run the Dirac calibration all of my speakers hit the green. Post calibration the levels are usually too loud, so I bring all the Dirac levels down by equal amounts, to match the 60 equals 75db of the non Dirac levels. I also add a bit to the subs and atmos speakers for the Dirac levels, again, just my personal taste.

Now, when watching movies / tv, I can switch Dirac on and off and all of the levels are about the same SPL.

Your set-up might be different, as it depends on the size of the room and the sensitivity of your speakers. But that general idea should work okay.
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
I already had a Umik-1 when I got my Arcam, so I have never used the Arcam supplied one.

The way I manage things is to use my Umik-1 (with it's calibration file), together with REW software, to get a very accurate SPL meter. I then calibrate the non Dirac levels so that 60 on the Arcam dial gives 75db for each speaker at the main listening position.

I have already checked that both subs read the same SPL at the main listening position, by turning one off at a time and taking a reading, and adjusting the dials on the subs if necessary. Once they are set - I never touch those dials again! I then watch the first five minutes of Spectre and turn the sub levels up by equal amounts, using the Arcam levels settings, so that I get the right amount of bass for my taste. I also usually add about 3db to the atmos speakers.

With that arrangement, when I run the Dirac calibration all of my speakers hit the green. Post calibration the levels are usually too loud, so I bring all the Dirac levels down by equal amounts, to match the 60 equals 75db of the non Dirac levels. I also add a bit to the subs and atmos speakers for the Dirac levels, again, just my personal taste.

Now, when watching movies / tv, I can switch Dirac on and off and all of the levels are about the same SPL.

Your set-up might be different, as it depends on the size of the room and the sensitivity of your speakers. But that general idea should work okay.
Many thanks once again! That makes sense. When you say "when I run the Dirac calibration all of my speakers hit the green" can I ask how close they are to each other (roughly) in the dirac reported levels? Particularly the subs compared to, say the fronts?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Many thanks once again! That makes sense. When you say "when I run the Dirac calibration all of my speakers hit the green" can I ask how close they are to each other (roughly) in the dirac reported levels? Particularly the subs compared to, say the fronts?
It's been a while since I took new measurements, so I can't recall exactly, they are definitely all in the green, I think the subs are a bit quieter than the mains, but it's never caused me any issues or pauses, I just quickly check all the levels, and move on to the next bit.
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
...a quick update on this, as both acknowledgement for the assistance (thanks!) or for future reference, should anyone else finds themselves in the same position.

My UMIK-1 arrived today. First pass, single sweep and the issue is completely resolved! :eek: I suspected the included ARCAM mic right from the start, but I had no idea just how bad it was.

Okay, I understand that the quality of an included calibration mic is going to be lower than one bought for £100, but the one in with my amp is barely fit for purpose. Not only is the calibration level of the sub improved by around 20db, but the imaging (distance delay and level) on all speakers is vastly improved.

Maybe I got a duff mic, but it makes me weep to think that people could pay £1,600 plus for an amp only for their Dirac to be completely crucified by the mic included with the unit. Shocking.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Crikey, absolutely agreed, that you would expect the supplied mic to at least be able to measure your subs.

Very glad that your issue is now resolved though, I hope you enjoy your Arcam AVR550!
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
Crikey, absolutely agreed, that you would expect the supplied mic to at least be able to measure your subs.

Very glad that your issue is now resolved though, I hope you enjoy your Arcam AVR550!
I thought the sound was quite astonishing, even with the duff mic, but the bass management and imaging was a bit of a mess (!)

...the UMIK has taken it to yet another level. I'm astonished by how good it sounds. :)
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Maybe I got a duff mic, but it makes me weep to think that people could pay £1,600 plus for an amp only for their Dirac to be completely crucified by the mic included with the unit. Shocking.
You should see the pound-shop special that was originally supplied, including with the £4.5k AVR850!

A UMIK or equivalent should have been supplied from day one.
 

Neil Palfreyman

Novice Member
...I honestly wouldn't mind (well, maybe just a bit) if they were up front about it; "the supplied mic is crap, buy one of these..." or even if Richer Sounds and their contacts at ARCAM knew about the issue, but to let me spend a week and a half getting to the bottom of the problem on my own is just unforgivable. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Not all of the mics are faulty but far too many have proved to be, so it is a bit of a lottery. Arcam have repeatedly recommended the use of a better mic than the one included, which is pretty much a confession that theirs aren't fit for purpose.
 

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