Professional Calibration Question

I wanted to get your opinion on my plans for calibration. I'm using a professional installer that uses his "ears" to calibrate". My question is: Can I rely on audiophiles that have "golden" ears to calibrate? Or perhaps, am I better off with using the how-to DVD I bought, AVIA Guide to Home Theater?
While a "pro" may have a good sense of "go / no go", the results that he achieves will not be able to be duplicated by you or anyone else. As such, if you trust him enough to pay him to do this, you should record where all of the settings end up at. Should you loose power or mess with the settings by mistake, you'll at least be able to get back to where you were.

If he does do this for you and you record the settings, you can always try your calibration disc and compare the results. If you like his way better, you can go back to those settings. If you like the results using the calibration disc, use those. At least with the calibration disc handy, you have a means to check / verify your results for consistent results over a wide period of time. Sean
There are a very select few that can do this. There are almost none that can do this in a short time, say one visit to a home. I can certainly set up a room by ear, over the period of a month, but I can get it 95% of the way there by using test equipment. I can find the bass bumps accurately, the resonant peaks, the impulse response and know in a matter of minutes what needs to be done. I can figure most of this out by ear, but it's far more time consuming, because my ear is an estimation at best. However, once you get 95% of the way there through measurement, then you must rely on your ears to get that last 5%. There are some things that test equipment just can't do.

Let's put it another way--go to a high end show. There are a small handful of people that consistently get good sound on day one--with no test equipment. They are manufacturers or high end dealers with many years of experience, and there are only a few. These individuals do one room and it's with equipment they are very familiar with. I go in with test equipment and can get 7 or 8 rooms very very close very fast (within literally hours of the show opening), which is what is needed at a show. The rest of the people are lucky if they have things sounding reasonable by the end of the show.

I will mention one person, there are others, but this one hopefully won't stir up the pot. If it's Jim Smith and he's setting up a pair of Avantgardes for you--you are in good hands. He's been doing this a long time. He knows those speakers and he knows how they interact with the room.

Outside of this level of expertise there are two sources I would consider. One is the disc (and there are others) to assist in calibrating. The other is to seek out an HAA certified calibrator. I've been to their courses and we recommend them for all of our dealers.
I have found that the best way to set up sound in a room is with test equipment, final adjustment done by ear. I start with an odd/even grid of the room and simple masking tape, I then take measurements..fine tune from there. Of course this does not work as well in a non-dedicated room that must also fill other needs for the family.

Calibrating a room by ear IMO is almost impossible. You might be able to get reasonable results from an experienced installer with program material that he recognizes well however, you might ask yourself, if he is a professional installer, why doesn't he have a good spectrum analyzer and test signals? Getting the low end right is very, very difficult.

Heck, I have one by Gold Line specifically for Home Theater that only cost me about $1500.00. Not a bad investment to ensure proper frequency response.

Check out their web site: