If you are ready to take your mix to the next level, it is time to EQ your room. This is also a great way to solve feedback problems.
This technique is somewhat of an advanced tip, but I am going to break it down in a way that is easy to understand. Once you have some basic EQ parameters set to compliment your room, it is going to be much easier to create a great mix.
Note: This article is specifically about how to EQ your room using the Behringer X32. If you do not have the X32, check out this article.
To properly tune your room, you will need a reference microphone. The one I use is the DBX RTA Microphone. Reference microphones have a flat frequency response so they can be used to effectively ‘hear the room’ without bias.
If you have an iPad connected to your X32, it is extremely helpful during this process, although not required.
We will be using the main mix EQ to tune the room. So, if you already have EQ parameters set up for your main mix, you will need to level them out.
To do this, press the Main (LR) mix SELECT button and then hit the view button under the equalizer section. Then, set the gain on every EQ parameter to 0.
Keep in mind, you want to make sure the Equalizer is activated because we will be using it later.
There are a few settings I recommend when using the X32s built-in RTA. To do this, press the METERS button next to the X32's screen and page over to the ‘rta’ tab. Use the following settings:
Set up the reference microphone in the middle of your listening area. The microphone should be pointed to the stage, parallel with the ground, and at ear level (~ 5 feet off the ground).
Connect the microphone to an open channel on your X32, select the channel, and use the following settings:
To set the gain on your reference microphone, you first need to generate the noise we will use to tune the room, which is called an oscillator. Here’s how you do it:
Now, select your reference microphone channel and set the gain so that the level meter’s -18dB orange light is mostly solid.
With the oscillator still going, select your reference microphone channel and hit the view button under the Equalizer section. On the X32’s screen, you can now see what the reference mic is hearing.
You want to look for the little yellow bars that are hanging out significantly above the rest. These are the frequency ranges that stick out in your room. EQ should be applied to your Main (LR) mix to cut these frequency ranges and provide a more even frequency response.
If you have an iPad handy, pull it out and navigate to the EQ for your Main (LR) mix. Now you can adjust the Main mix EQ on the iPad while watching the RTA on the X32.
If you don’t have an iPad, you’ll just need to navigate between the reference mic channel and the Main (LR) mix using their SELECT buttons. So, you’ll make an adjustment on your main mix EQ and go back to the reference microphone channel to see if it fixed the problem.
This is the part where you get to have fun, using EQ on the Main (LR) mix to create a more even frequency response, measured by your reference mic. Of course, every room is going to be different, but here are a few guidelines as you set EQ.
Don’t forget, you are adjusting EQ on the main mix, not on the reference microphone. It can be easy to get them mixed up, especially if you are not using an iPad.
Once you feel like you have solved the major EQ problems in your room, play your favorite song through the sound system and toggle the Main (LR) EQ on and off to hear the difference. You’ll also want to try the same thing when the band is playing.
If you are struggling to get it right, level out your Main (LR) EQ and try again. Also, be sure to review the EQ guidelines above to help diagnose any problems.
Note: This technique is a simplified version of 'tuning you room', but should not be confused with hiring a professional to truly tune your room, which involves much more than EQ. If you have the budget to hire a pro, it would be well worth the investment. If not, the technique in this post is a great alternative that will drastically improve your sound.
Thanks for this but I've always wondered. Years ago I would run white-noise and EQ a room but the room dynamics change the minute you put human bodies in the room so how does that impact the effort?
I really wouldn't worry too much about how bodies change the sound of the room when it comes to EQing your room. Bodies do change the sound, but not enough in regards to EQ to worry about. Plus, there is no way to even run a white noise test with bodies in the room...unless you can get enough people to show up and endure the noise. Interesting thought though!
First, to answer your question, the room's dynamics change with bodies in the room because they act as acoustic paneling, absorbing some of the energy the sound produces.
Second, don't use white noise to tune your system. Use pink noise. Pink noise generates every frequency equally while white doesn't. I don't know specifics but white has harsher highs and mid-highs, which will make your mix much darker.
This sounds great, and something I'm looking forward to doing in some less than ideal spaces for school musicals. I may be missing something obvious, but doesn't this process equalize the composite total of the room sound system (PAs and speakers) and the characteristics of the room? In the typical middle school / junior high where I'm doing three musicals this spring the space is either a gymnasium / Gym-Atorium or cafeteria / Caf-Atrorium where there is no sound treatment and reflections seem to be a bigger problem than frequency response. This is the 1st season using the X-32 so everything is new for me. Would you seek and destroy / PEQ notch down resonant frequencies 1st and then do the Room EQ on the Mains? I'll have a separately fed Sub with high frequencies rolled off in the X-32 in two venues. The Caf-Atorium venue has a real stage with a high (and old) cluster above the apron, with additional Main speakers on the wings. This is the best of the 3 venues but is placed in a large circular room with floor to ceiling windows across the back 1/3 of the room. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks
Hey Jim - thanks for the comment. This post is all about using wide filters (not notch filters) to get a more even frequency response in your room. I'd recommend starting here, and then if you still have problems with feedback, use narrow notch filters to fix those areas. Hope that helps!
Thanks a lot for another AWESOME/GREAT/EXTRAORDINARILY and easy/comprehensive video.
Thanks for the kind words, Eduardo! Glad the videos are helping.
Can I use the behringer B -2 pro mic for reference mic
You can, but you'll get skewed results. For best results, use a mic with a flat frequency response.
I would just sound a note of caution - this is, as Kade alludes to, a very simplistic approach to what is quite a complex problem. I would hesitate to even call this 'tuning a room'. I would rather call it 'ringing out a room' to find any really terrible issues - feedback etc. Actually tuning a PA system to match a room is a much more complex and technically challenging process. If you want to learn more I suggest this website... (no affiliation)..https://www.sounddesignlive.com
Thanks for the link, Dave. Agreed, my approach is the simple approach. However, it still makes a big difference. But for those who have the time, going deeper would be even better.
Our main mix consists of matrixes to Amp/Speaker separates Sub(large), Center(small), Main(Large). We should EQ our matrixes separately correct and not the main mix?
Yes. In your case, I recommend putting the EQ on the matrix mixes.
Do you have a reference SPL (C) that we should be aiming at for the pink noise generator? I find that the frequency curves change a lot based on the volume.
It all depends on taste. I like a full low end, so 100Hz and below are usually much higher than the rest of the spectrum when EQing the room. But, you wouldn't do this with EQ. You'd adjust the "feel" by turning the subwoofer up or down. When EQing the room, you are just looking for ranges that are out of line with those around it, and reign them in with EQ. Don't get too detailed with it.