Do not underestimate the importance of custom tuning to your ears


Many audiophiles will reject a high end speaker even very expensive ones all because it was too bright, too harsh, not enough bass, imaging problems etc. 

What we must remember is that many of these rejects may in actual fact be great speakers if only they were retuned to the persons ears. 

Custom tuning the crossover can change the brightness, the tweeter level, image depth, and more.

It would not be right to reject a speaker design that is fundamentally correct apart from the way its tuned. 

Some speakers are fundamentally wrong and no amount of retuning will fix them. These are the real rejects and we must not lump good speakers in with these. 

The difficulty is that its not easy to tell which speakers can be retuned and which ones cannot. 

All of this applies when buying a speaker for the first time or upgrading. Many speakers end up being sold all because of retuning issues and room acoustics. 

Custom tuning to your ears is the key. 
kenjit
I use a bent wire coat hangar religiously on both of my ears. I am sure that they are properly tuned at least once a week, whether they need it or not. 
By the way, I have been pondering this, just how many uses could one expect to get before a drier sheet loses its effectiveness? 
Just as recommended, I have all my speakers tuned after each move. They are in C sharp now. I have to watch it when I walk by, don’t want to cut myself ...
Speakers are much like pianos. They require tuning. Retuning may be required when moving the speakers to another location. 
As I listen to a lot of early music, I always tune my speakers to A=422, a bit below the modern standard of A=440.
The last time I was shopping for speakers, I asked the shop keep if he would mind if I took the woofers out in order to access the crossovers, as these were mounted in the bottom of the cabinet. He looked at me quite oddly, and I told him that I needed to proceed to “tuning” said crossovers to rid the speaker of an annoying peak in the upper treble region.


Needless to say, this did not sit well with him, as he thought they were quite good as they came from the factory. Needless to say, a sale was not made, and I went away empty handed. 


Salesman. What are they good for? 
What will you do when your speaker’s out of tune
Will you stand up and throw it away
Lend me your ears we’ll tune them instead
Then all speakers will sound great when they play
frazeur1,

I am tempted, though a bit afraid, to ask you what you do to tune other parts of your anatomy.  As for the speakers you auditioned at the shop, did you ask if you could drill some additional ports to see how that might sound?  

Okay, while I don't think it is practical to expect most people to "tune" their speakers (whatever that might entail), I have done some modifications of my own, such as swapping out the original horn and compression driver with something totally different, and I have added L-Pads to allow for tuning of the levels of my drivers.  
What will you do when your speaker’s out of tune
Will you stand up and throw it away
Lend me your ears we’ll tune them instead
Then all speakers will sound great when they play
Never have I had a tune so quickly come to mind than from reading this.
Thanks for that.

All the best,
Nonoise


djones51,Yes, my speakers are my friends; always ready to provide a little help to get me by.
larryi, now come on, let’s be realistic here, drilling more port holes? I just enlarge the one in the cabinet. One big one is sufficient, and then I use foam, socks, or whatever else might be handy to tune the port to my liking. 

As to the first part, one must do, what one must for the sake of fidelity. I had thought that my outer ear “flaps” were much too large, and creating an imbalance of staging whilst listening to my tuned speakers. Nothing that a sharp set of tin snips couldn’t cure. It only hurt for awhile, but man, the sound I am getting now, unbelievable! 



" Retuning may be required when moving the speakers to another location."

How does one know? What if I moved them from the basement to the dormer? Or, from the floor to a stand or hang them on the wall? Is there a handbook, a website or an app? What am I gonna do? Would I have to un-tune or dis-tune them if I wanted to sell them? How does tuning effect resale value?
@dill

How does one know?Is there a handbook, a website or an app?
By listening obviously. The whole point of retuning is to do it by ear to your satisfaction. Of course theres no handbook. If there was a handbook there would be no need for custom tuning.

The whole problem with existing speakers is that theyve been tuned according to the textbook rather than by ear. Even if it was done by ear it would still be wrong because your ears are different than theirs.

This will not be a problem in the future when we are genetically engineered so all of our ears are the same and only one speaker type will be needed. 
Would I have to un-tune or detune them if I wanted to sell them? 

yes. The tuning process is customized to your ears so it would defeat the purpose if you sold them to another user after they had been tuned to your ears. 
" Of course theres no handbook."

I guess sarcasm is lost on you ... 
I am assuming by the same way that nelson pass retuned the L300 so brilliantly . Not too many people have this level of skill. Its basically eq’ing the speakers internals  to suit your room acoustics if I understand right is what mr. Jit is saying. Unless you happen to be nelson pass you might be better off to by an eq . 
Just a while back, I decided to retune my open baffle speakers. This was not a small feat. First off, the entire cabinet design was off. Second the driver itself was not right. I caught it just in time, and now after the surgery, I have a back loaded horn using a different driver. This ought be enough.
kenjit,
"Speakers are much like pianos. They require tuning. Retuning may be required when moving the speakers to another location."
You do not play piano? Piano, depending on weather, location, playing style, etc, needs tuning throughout the year, not only when moving.

Aside from that, my opinion is that custom tuning the speakers is overrated.
"This will not be a problem in the future when we are genetically engineered so all of our ears are the same and only one speaker type will be needed."
Does anyone here have a monozygotic twin, or two, and is willing to undergo a few simple tests to clarify this hypothesis?
frazeur1,
"I have been pondering this, just how many uses could one expect to get before a drier sheet loses its effectiveness?"
Silly as it may be, I have been pondering if they actually work at all. So I would guess they never lose their ineffectiveness.
Does anyone here have a monozygotic twin, or two, and is willing to undergo a few simple tests to clarify this hypothesis?

Not needed we can create them artificially splitting an embryo.
I am assuming by the same way that nelson pass retuned the L300 so brilliantly .
that was tuned to HIS ears. Why should you expect his modification to suit everybody elses ears? Do we all wear the same size trousers? Are we not all different from each other? Or are you one of those people that think a one size fits all is ok?
Aside from that, my opinion is that custom tuning the speakers is overrated.
In which case you arent an audiophile. 
djones +1 for the old/new song. As was said in the 70’s you can tune a guitar, you can tune a piano.....but you cannot tune a fish, louder(channeling Jim Morison), You Cannot Tuna Fish.


djones51,

"...we can create them artificially splitting an embryo."
If they end up with only one ear each, we will need to limit our research to mono only. Well, now when I think about it, it would not be unfair to keep it that way for monozygotic twins anyway.
kenjit,
"In which case you arent an audiophile."
Not that I feed myself on being an "audiophile", but your statement is a bit erratic.
Kenjit

How do you listen to a professionally made tuning fork? Does the instrument need to be made different for each person? Think of all music instruments that are tuned this way. Your logic indicates that an orchestra needs to be tuned for each player, or the conductor, or maybe to each member of the audience?

How do you create “mass” speakers or a high end speaker that are likely to be tuned in the same way, same output notes, to be suitable for every persons hearing?

Kenjit, You are a closed minded, ignorant stirrer who provides nothing new to this forum, and certainly no help to those using it.

Your logic

Good one. But I think you meant to say, Your "logic"....
Um, isn’t that called an equalizer?
I just recently received my ordered custom made cross overs for a speaker project.  With the Xovers there were 4.7ohm and 5.6 ohm optional resistors included to be use if: "you want to reduce the HF output in one decibel stages"    This would be "tuning" your Xovers .. Ooops to all you naysayers.... !  Rudeness tells a lot about this forums' posters.
When Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear, Evander had to get ONE of his speakers tuned for that out of tune ear. 
Don’t we all do this with cables to an extent? 
asmith99 said: " Rudeness tells a lot about this forums' posters."

By reading ALL the OP's posts, in different threads from day one you will see a pattern has developed and will see why the OP has become a somewhat controversial member.
@kenjit  I think I understand what you are saying.  I have two systems, and it turns out that the speakers in both systems were bought without audition.  I bought one pair (easily shipped monitors, used) as an experiment.  I was very pleased with the speakers, and so a few years later, I bought the monitors big brother (full range floor standing, heavy, a pain to ship) betting on a house sound.  That experiment was not successful.  I did not like the floor standers at all.  After several years of frustration trying to bring some life to the sound,  I rebuilt the crossovers.  That exercise completely transformed the speakers, and I could not be happier with them now.  In my opinion, the modified speakers could easily compete with speakers retailing for 3-4x my investment. Since then I have done a good bit of "room tuning" via standard techniques, bass traps, diffusion/absorbsion, etc, which has further improved the ability of these speakers to perform in my listening room.   So the experiment ended well, but I don't advise this approach.  One simply cannot predict how the experiment will end.

I just finished rebuilding the crossovers in the monitors used in my second system.  This time, the speakers were not transformed to a different animal, rather the change just improved upon the existing strengths of the speakers.  

Having done all of this, I've got two sets of speakers with which I am completely satisfied, so I may be done buying speakers. Were I to buy speakers again, I'd be asking all the right questions about driver selection, crossover design and parts selection, etc.  In other words I'd be asking a lot of questions I almost certainly would not get answers to.  So I would be back to square one.  I probably wouldn't buy speakers again that I couldn't audition, and I certainly wouldn't buy speakers that didn't audition well hoping I might be able to rectify the problem via crossover alteration.  

Sorry your post has provoked so much sarcasm.


I would think changing cables etc. would be considered "a tweak" the OP was suggesting an actual "tuning" procedure much like changing the HF output by decibels.. AND I've been involved in this forum for long enough to understand the animosity towards the OP BUT in this case he had a legitimate idea.  Posting contemptable and outright rude remarks towards him isn't really necessary to show a dislike towards his post.  That's all I have to say about this issue... 
What’s the legitimate idea? We’re not talking about buying custom tuned parts and building you own speakers but that manufacturer’s are somehow suppose to custom tune their speakers to an individual’s "ears". I suppose the customer could travel to the manufacturer and spend hours listening while these custom tuned parts are picked out before buying adding thousands of $$$ to the speaker. If the customer moves the speaker they need to be retuned, I suppose by customer and  speaker going back to the manufacturer  and getting a " tune up". I suggest the OP call a few and run the idea by them see if they are willing and what’s the price. In other words it’s not a legitimate idea but an idea concocted by a nut.
"He ain't got no distractions Can't hear those buzzers and bells, Don't see lights a flashin' Plays by sense of smell."

DeKay
@djones51 

The alternative to custom tuning is mass produced junk. 

If thats what you want then fine. But you will never be satisfied. Why do you think audiophiles keep ugprading speakers? 

Do you upgrade your toilet every six months? Unless its broken no you dont. 

There you go. 


kenjit,

"Do you upgrade your toilet every six months? Unless its broken no you dont."
Over the years, I changed more toilets than speakers.

There you go.

I am not sure what to conclude from that statistics, but it is true.
You want custom  tuned speakers call up the manufacturer you think will do the best job and ask them to build you a pair. I don't  see anyone holding you back.  I don't  change speakers every 6 months but I could go for a custom made toilet. I'll give Kohler a call. 
I fitted threaded rods with washers and nuts through the speaker cabinets at various points lengthwise and crosswire.  The guy from the local piano shop comes every six months with his special wrench key, and gives them a proper tune-up.
@dekay 

Even on my favorite table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
I change the oil every three thousand miles and cross rotate the tires at the same time...... uh oh, thought this was autogon ... hmmm, maybe I should cross rotate the woofers and swap out the tweeters instead.
If you can't do it yourself, you can also get a custom builder to make you bespoke speakers.  There is a dealer in my area that makes custom speakers using both very old (and expensive) drivers and crossover parts, or new (and expensive) replicas of vintage drivers.  The particular drivers chosen by the buyer is based on auditioning different systems.  Likewise wire and crossover components are chosen based on the buyer's preference.  The buyer can also choose seal box, open baffle and bass reflex.  The downside is that a buyer would need both a hefty supply of cash and patience.
kenjit said: "The alternative to custom tuning is mass produced junk.
If thats what you want then fine. But you will never be satisfied. Why do you think audiophiles keep ugprading speakers?
Do you upgrade your toilet every six months? Unless its broken no you dont.

You state this as if they are absolutes, they are not. Your statements are ridiculous. You compare apples & oranges and come to flawed conclusions. I have had 4 different speaker systems in 25 years. Two of those changes where required because of a downsize. Your grouping all audiophiles into a derogatory group, is not appreciated and is getting very tiresome. Why don’t you come up with a way that the audiophile masses can "tune" their speakers to suit their needs. Up until now, you are all talk and no action.
@dill 

kenjit can’t speak of the “trade secret” work that he’s doing.  Easier to complain about how no one publishes proprietary spec white papers to his liking but refuses to publish his own proof when asked for the same transparency.  
Why don’t you come up with a way that the audiophile masses can "tune" their speakers to suit their needs. Up until now, you are all talk and no action.
There doesnt have to be any action from me. This is a discussion forum and Im sharing information. Many audiophiles havent even understood my point about custom tuning. 

The fact is crossover tuning is real. Its done by the manufacturers themselves before it goes on the market.
If you want to retune your crossovers you will need to learn how to modify crossovers. I never said it would be feasible for most audiophiles. All I am saying is, you have two choices. Either custom tuned optimized speakers or mass produced junk. 

The toilet analogy is perfectly relevant. Either a speaker does its job or it doesnt. Its either good or bad. Audiophiles cant even decide when a speaker is good or bad. Theres no room for ambivalence. 
"Audiophiles cant even decide when a speaker is good or bad" 

You see, a statement like this is where you run off the rails. You are making an assumption based on your own thoughts & opinions. It throws everything you say into your "toilet" and leaves you no credibility.