Testing the car stereo: part 3

Testing the car stereo: part 3

A stereo has to be tested while driving at a range of volumes from soft to loud. The type of road surface can make a huge difference to how the stereo sounds because of transmitted tyre noise. These frequencies can mask parts of the music. This is where your EQ comes in. Some cars have just a simple treble and bass adjustment (a shelf EQ that boosts or cuts above a certain frequency for treble and below a certain frequency for bass); others add a mid-range boost which boosts or cuts in a bell curve around a certain frequency (e.g. 400Hz); and others have a graphic EQ that might give you 7 ‘bands’ (frequency ranges that you can boost or cut). Graphic EQs are best for tuning the car properly as they give more flexibility.

If you’re a passenger, you might hear quite a different sound balance to th driver, but even where you sit in the car as a driver slightly affects what you hear. If you’re a strapping 6-foot-3, you’ll have the seat right back, so will be in a different place relative to the speakers than someone who is 5-foot-nothing and has the seat right forward. This positioning can affect how you perceive cancelled frequencies…but not by much.

I choose driving on the motorway to adjust the stereo, and at a time when it’s not busy because obviously it distracts you a bit from the road. I drive at a constant speed, then fiddle with the EQ so see if it sounds any better with a bit of boost or cut. So, the main thing that’s going to influence how you set up the EQ is your own personal preference. It’s as easy as that!

Next time: what am I listening for?

A stereo has to be tested while driving at a range of volumes from soft to loud. The type of road surface can make a huge difference to how the stereo sounds because of transmitted tyre noise. These frequencies can mask parts of the music. This is where your EQ comes in. Some cars have just a simple treble and bass adjustment (a shelf EQ that boosts or cuts above a certain frequency for treble and below a certain frequency for bass); others add a mid-range boost which boosts or cuts in a bell curve around a certain frequency (e.g. 400Hz); and others have a graphic EQ that might give you 7 ‘bands’ (frequency ranges that you can boost or cut). Graphic EQs are best for tuning the car properly as they give more flexibility.

If you’re a passenger, you might hear quite a different sound balance to th driver, but even where you sit in the car as a driver slightly affects what you hear. If you’re a strapping 6-foot-3, you’ll have the seat right back, so will be in a different place relative to the speakers than someone who is 5-foot-nothing and has the seat right forward. This positioning can affect how you perceive cancelled frequencies…but not by much.

I choose driving on the motorway to adjust the stereo, and at a time when it’s not busy because obviously it distracts you a bit from the road. I drive at a constant speed, then fiddle with the EQ so see if it sounds any better with a bit of boost or cut. So, the main thing that’s going to influence how you set up the EQ is your own personal preference. It’s as easy as that!

Next time: what am I listening for?

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