Car and Boat Audio Calibration

Alpine IVE-W535HD Head Unit


Many of the head units found in high-end car and boat sound systems contain adjustments similar to that found in a surround sound system. To obtain the best sound from these systems all of the parameters must be adjusted properly. They include parameters like fader, balance, subwoofer level, subwoofer crossover frequency/slope, parametric equalizer Q/db/Hz and time correction factors. The subwoofer amplifier may also have settings like gain, low pass filter, phase, subsonic filter and amplifier sensitivity.

The difference in performance between these being set properly for the specific car, boat and speaker system will be great compared to using default values. I recently worked on a car that was setup by a custom car audio shop. The client was disappointed with the performance and contacted me to help with the problem.

Upon inspection it was obvious only the most basic parameters had been set properly. These included the subwoofer amplifier settings, but did not include the parametric equalizer or time correction factors. The improvement from setting these properly was enormous. Corrections to frequency response varied from +6db to -7db depending on the frequency. The resulting sound was much more balanced between bass and treble. It also eliminated a vary harsh treble sound.

The specific change in a given system will differ, but the improvements are there to be had with the proper adjustment of these systems.

W. Jeff Meier

ISF and THX Certified Home Theater Consultant

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