How to Calibrate Your Computer’s Speakers Without an Unusual Microphone

Most decent audio receivers come with a tiny microphone that you can use to automatically calibrate your speakers to suit your room settings. Light.

But most people – unlike me – aren’t crazy enough to put computer sound through a receiver just to get that delicious 5.1 surround sound in their computer fanatics’ lairs. If you have a sleeker audio system, you probably just have a 5.1 speaker system that you plug directly into your desktop (or to your laptop via an external sound card). And you probably didn’t take the time to calibrate the sound and get it perfectly balanced for your room. Let’s fix this.

Prepare test signals

Open Fraunhofer’s HTML5 AAC Audio Playback Tests and look for the HE-AAC Channel ID – With H.264 Video option. This video, which identifies your speaking voice – good for troubleshooting and calibration, if you can get enough measurements of the spoken name of the speakers.

Windows users, you can also try using the operating system built-in “ding-ding-ding” test – the speaker of sounds found when you click on the Start button, typing in “Sound”, clicking on the first result, right-clicking on the speaker configuration, selecting “Configure Speakers” and clicking on different dynamics on a convenient graph.

Otherwise, you can check the “HD Audio Test Clips” list on KODI . They’re not perfect – they don’t cause pink noise in individual speakers in sequential order. However, clips such as DTS-HD MA 7.1 ‘Dredd’ Audio Channel Check, downloaded and played through an application such as VLC, can at least help you control the audio levels on your system. Download several clips; we will come back to this a bit later.

If you are a Netflix user, you can also access some of the test patterns directly from the service . Just enter “test” when searching for a movie, select “Test Patterns” and play the first “episode”.

Download the Free Sound Measurement App

There are many apps for both iOS and Android that you can use to get a decent readout – in decibels – of any sounds coming from your computer’s speakers. For Android, consider purchasing the Sound Analyzer app ; for iOS, check out the NIOSH Sound Level Meter . Both are free, and both are good at measuring noise levels using your smartphone’s internal microphone.

While the smartphone app is probably not as accurate as the external microphone, it is good enough for our purposes. (As an added bonus, both of these dedicated apps allow measurements using “C” weighting , which, according to receiver manufacturer Denon, ” best matches the way we hear.

Make sure your system is configured correctly

This is almost a matter of course, but make sure you tune your operating system for your specific speaker configuration – whether you’re using a stereo or quad setup, a 5.1 system, 7.1 surround, and so on.

In Windows, you need to right-click on the speaker icon in the lower-right corner of the Windows 10 taskbar, hover over Speaker Setting, and select a configuration.

On a Mac, click the Spotlight icon in the menu bar, type Audio MIDI Setup , click the first result, select the correct output, and click the Configure Speakers button.

Measure your test tones and adjust levels accordingly

Sit down at your desk, on the couch of your computer, or wherever you usually find it, and place your phone at ear level if you can. Open the sound measurement app. Play a song or video and adjust the volume on your computer so that the sound is as loud as you would normally prefer.

Once you have done this, start playing the test tones through the speakers. Record an approximate dB value for each speaker, and then adjust the levels using your operating system’s controls until they are all roughly the same. This should be obvious on a Mac. On Windows, you will need to right-click the speaker configuration in the Sound window, click Properties, click the Levels tab, and click Balance.

As for your subwoofer – if you have one – you can just go ahead and tune it by ear as your phone won’t be able to help you. It is easy to adjust the physical volume control of the subwoofer if there is one. Otherwise, you can also adjust its levels in your operating system. When in doubt, remember that small matters a lot. All you need is one action-packed movie trailer so you know if you’ve set the disc too high and your room sounds like one of those cars with a subwoofer in the trunk that sometimes fly down your street.

Once you decide that your speaker system is balanced, pick a piece of content that you are familiar with – for example, your favorite movie – and see how it sounds on your newly calibrated system. You can always make minor adjustments if your rear speakers still give you too much (or not enough), or if you prefer a little more dialogue from your center channel, etc. Balanced levels on your speakers are great and all. , but you have to make sure that your speaker setup sounds exactly the way you like it .


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