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107 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I don't really see this anywhere else here, so I guess I'll start. It'd be useful to have some reference material when attempting to "tune" any audio system. The general consensus I've heard from many shop owners and competitors is that a perfectly flat RTA response isn't necessarily what "sounds good". I guess I'd leave that up for discussion as to what makes sound "good" beyond flat RTA response...

Anyway, I dug up some info on where in the frequency range certain instruments fall to make it easier to adjust an EQ or crossover point:

Here are some other typical frequency ranges:

Thunder - as low as 20 Hz
Piano - 25 Hz to 4,100 Hz
Bass drums - as low as 30 Hz
Bass guitar - 30 Hz to 200 Hz
Bass Tuba - 44-349 Hz
Cello - 66-987 Hz
Guitar - 83-880 Hz
Trombone - 83-493 Hz
French Horn - 110-880 Hz
Trumpet - 165-987 Hz
Clarinet - 165-1567 Hz
Violin - 196-3,136 Hz
Flute - 262-3,349 Hz
Cymbals - up to 15,000 Hz
Squeal of Bats - about 20,000 Hz

The fundamental frequency (F0) for an adult male voice is around 120 Hz (80-200 Hz). A speaker with a bass voice will produce sounds with a F0 of between 75 and 150 Hz.
The typical F0 range for an adult female voice is around 220 Hz (140-500 Hz). A speaker with a soprano voice will produce sounds with a F0 of 400+ Hz.

Please feel free to add... (perhaps this might make a good sticky thread)

Ignorance is Bliss
181 Posts
I think you mean frequency response. RTA is teh average of the power of sound being measured at diffrent octaves. It is true that a flat FR doesn't necessarily sound good, but that can seen in a few ways. It could be the charaterisitc of the speaker, being equalized to get a flat FR which might not sound good if the speaker is poor.

But anyways, when i was shopping for a home audio subwoofer. I was looking at this SVS400 sub that had a complete dead line FR response, but it sounded like crap compared to the B&W and JM lab sub i tried which all had a bump around 50 hz. That spike at 50hz provided the kick in the bass that made music sound better. So yes, having the flat FR does nto mean it'll sound the best. But you dont want large spikes or dips in your response. having a flat response will also give you better sense of imaging too.

my 2 cents

530 Posts
Here some very hepfull tuning info for the less experienced in EQ tuning.


1. Increase to add more fullness to lowest frequency instruments like foot, floor tom, and the bass.
2. Reduce to decrease the "boom" of the bass and will increase overtones and the recognition of bass line in the mix. This is most often used on loud bass lines like rock.

1. Increase to add a harder bass sound to lowest frequency instruments.
2. Increase to add fullness to guitars, snare.
3. Increase to add warmth to piano and horns.
4. Reduce to remove boom on guitars & increase clarity.

1. Increase to add fullness to vocals.
2. Increase to add fullness to snare and guitar ( harder sound ).
3. Reduce to decrease muddiness of vocals or mid-range instruments.
4. Reduce to decrease gong sound of cymbals.

1. Increase to add clarity to bass lines especially when speakers are at low volume.
2. Reduce to decrease "cardboard" sound of lower drums (foot and toms).
3. Reduce to decrease ambiance on cymbals.

1. Increase for clarity and "punch" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove "cheap" sound of guitars.

1. Increase for "clarity" and "pluck" of bass.
2. Reduce to remove dullness of guitars.

1. Increase for more "pluck" of bass.
2. Increase for more attack of electric / acoustic guitar.
3. Increase for more attack on low piano parts.
4. Increase for more clarity / hardness on voice.
5. Reduce to increase breathy, soft sound on background vocals.
6. Reduce to disguise out-of-tune vocals / guitars.

1. Increase for vocal presence.
2. Increase low frequency drum attack ( foot / toms).
3. Increase for more "finger sound" on bass.
4. Increase attack of piano, acoustic guitar and brightness on guitars (especially rock guitars).
5. Reduce to make background parts more distant.
6. Reduce to soften "thin" guitar.

1. Increase to add attack on low frequency drums ( more metallic sound ).
2. Increase to add attack to percussion instruments.
3. Increase on dull singer.
4. Increase for more "finger sound" on acoustic bass.
5. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.
6. Increase to add sharpness to synthesizers, rock guitars, acoustic guitar and piano.

1. Increase to brighten vocals.
2. Increase for "light brightness" in acoustic guitar and piano.
3. Increase for hardness on cymbals.
4. Reduce to decrease "s" sound on singers.

1. Increase to brighten vocals (breath sound).
2. Increase to brighten cymbals, string instruments and flutes.
3. Increase to make sampled synthesizer sound more real.

17,149 Posts
Keep in mind that mathematically a piano does play down to 25Hz but in real life it does not. It is a psychological thing in that your mind is actually hearing the bottom octave because the fundamental note is buried by the partials. The fundamental is just not there because the sound board is too rigid at that freq to reproduce it. This is why pianos are tuned by listening to the partials not the fundamental.

Next semester I plan on working with our experimental music department and putting the fundamental note back in the piano lowest octaves and reproducing it with low-digging subs. It should be interesting, I will let you know of the results and possibly make recordings available.


DIYMA Founder
4,757 Posts
Great post! I'm tempted to copy and move it to the articles section.

140 Posts
Knowing what each instrument 's frequency range is an important part of tunning for sure. But pinpointing problem frequencies is a little more tricky. I find the best way to tune a car is by having access to a good reference source. If you have to, go down to your nearest Hi-Fi shop and listen to some of the speakers they have. Only after hours and hours and hours can you train your ears to decipher what is what.

You also need good source material. I have about a dozen CD's that I take with me to every show I attend (listen to every car you can). Stage height, width, depth, focous, instrument placement relitive to the stage, bla, bla, bla. The list is huge.
And lots of things can effect each frequency. So tunning is a very hard thing to do. Anyone can just listen and say you have too much of this or too little of that. The trick is finding out why you have the problem, and only then you can fix it (or atleast try to).

Here is generally what I do when I tune a car. After I'm satisfied with the speaker placements, which is a whole different topic.

-find crossover frequency that best suits the system
-try different phasing possibilities
-RTA to help find the main frequency trouble spots
-make EQ adjustments (do not add,boost or increase if you can at all help it)
-Then basically start over (but I dont RTA very much).

It's really hard to discribe, you will be going back and fourth between every adjustment you have. Each one you make may or may not effect the sound. You will also end up listening to one side of the car then the other independantly, and tweeters only and woofers only.

One other very important tool everyone will need is a person who is has a well trained ear. Again, if you stuck, try a Hi-Fi shop.

It can actully be pretty fun.

107 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
More info pilfered from ECA post...

The Voice

5kHz- presence
5-10kHz- sibilance (an exaggerated ttsssss sound)
200-250Hz- boominess
120Hz- fullness and body
10-20kHz- air and crispness



4kHz- presence, edge
6kHz- makes the cymbals stand out
10-20kHz- shimmer and 'air'
100kHz- high pass filter can clean up the bottom end
500Hz- cut to reduce low frequency buildup


2.5kHz- slap
60-80Hz- punch
100hZ- body
400-800- makes it sound like a box (sometimes desirable to cut)


100Hz- body
240Hz- fullness
400Hz- boxy
2-2.5kHz- edge
4-5kHz- presence and brightness


100Hz- body
240Hz- fullness
400Hz- box
2kHz- slap
5kHz- attack, edge

Hi-Hat 300Hz- high pass filter to reduce low rumble
5-6kHz- shimmer
200Hz- gong sound
10-20kHz- air

Bass Guitar

50Hz- boominess
80Hz- bottom end
250Hz- body
500Hz- reducing increases note distinction
800Hz- warmth
2.5kHz- slap and string noise
5kHz- harmonics
10kHz- low pass filter to reduce noise

Acoustic Guitar 500Hz- body, fullness
1kHz- presence
2.5kHz- string sound, clarity
4kHz- brightness, clarity
80-120Hz- bass
12-15kHz- harmonics

Electric Guitar

240Hz- body
400-500Hz- body
2.5kHz- cry/sustain
50Hz- high pass filter to cut rumble
5kHz- low pass filter

174 Posts
I found this for reference on DB levels and the threshold of hearing at different frequencies. VERY interesting IMO:

80 - 100dB SPL loud to VERY LOUD
60 - 80dB SPL loud sound needing to speak loudly to be heard.
40 - 60dB SPL average noise level of the world we live and work in.
20 - 40dB SPL quiet ambient background, will allow 60db dynamic range.
0 - 20dB SPL threshold of hearing, dependant on frequency.

0dB SPL (Sound Pressure Level) 0.0002 dynes/cm² (20micro Pascals) at 2KHz
Reference for, threshold of hearing the smallest modulation, of atmospheric pressure.

By paying attention to this graph, it can be seen that at the threshold of hearing, our ears are approx 60db (one million times) more sensitive at 2KHz than at 40Hz. This is the reason a loudness switch is put on most domestic sound equiptment. The loudness switch boosts the bass to compensate for our hearing at low level. But at high power, all frequencies tend to be heard at approx the same level.

After the telephone was invented, it was noticed that a ten times power change (10db) was only heard as doubble or half as loud. A two times power change (3db) is noticeable. Later, these measurements became called the Fletcher-Munson curves. The large energy variations in our inviroment (light, sound, touch, taste, smell, temperature etc) are compressed by our sensory system, in a subjective and complex mannar.

Hearing damage
Hearing damage is specified from 84 dB SPL+ for 4hrs of continuous industrial machine noise.
Time is halved for each 3db increase (87dB/2hrs) (90dB/1hr) etc.

A false belief of many young people is that excessive loud music is not harmfull. Reverberation in venues can hold sound at a continuous level, adding 20-30db more sound energy, similar to machine noise. The distortion of large sound systems exaggerate the problem. Popular music is often over-compressed within a 10db dynamic range. Excessive use of compression to exaggerate loudness is irrisponsible. Over-use of compression to exaggerate loudness also causes music to sound flat and lifeless.

Music can be played at high levels, with less auditory fatigue. But the music must be fully dynamic, minimually compressed, and played through 4 way active, low distortion sound systems. Venues must be acoustically treated and non reverberant.

Also on the same page; this pic shows what fequency each piano note is. This was kind of shown on a picture ealier in the thread, but this one is a little more clear:

17,149 Posts
eficalibrator said:
More info pilfered from ECA post...



4kHz- presence, edge
6kHz- makes the cymbals stand out
10-20kHz- shimmer and 'air'
100kHz- high pass filter can clean up the bottom end
500Hz- cut to reduce low frequency buildup
I always apply a 100KHz high pass, it cleans up the bottom so well you can't even tell the mic is on :)

1,867 Posts
IMO no need to sticky, just search for Tuning, should bring up a huge database.

Taken from pg 4 of recent threads......shocked at hows it on page 4 after 1 day, influx of alot of new people, and new threads lately.

As others mentioned, tuning with a VERY good standard to go by is highly needed in approaching anything near a "perfect", ergo subjective outcome, even using headphones this still isint quite perfect, if there even is one ;)

Should cover majority of the tuning basis.

Finally a worthwhile thread.

Dosent go into staging at all though, which only a good home setup can do, headphones lack this even the best of them, as the sound is propigated in the center of your head, and not out in front of you.
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