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OptEQ: Optimized System Tuning

System design and equalization in a logical, accurate and repeatable process...

By Kent Margraves February 27, 2015

As the name implies, “OptEQ” is an optimized sound system tuning process developed by SynAudCon (Synergetic Audio Concepts), and it was presented to an audience of more than 100 consultants, contractors and end users over the course of two days in early January at the American Airlines Training Center in Ft. Worth. I was fortunate to be one of those attendees.

As usual, the workshop was brilliantly prepared, hosted, and presented. Pat and Brenda Brown of SynAudCon are simply the best in the pro audio business at delivering exceptional education and training in both audio theory and practical application. The course manual, loaded with relevant information, analogies, and useful graphics, is worth the cost of the workshop alone. 

Another highlight was the projection system. In addition to displaying the coarse presentation, also displayed were audio measurements (live and stored) and signal processing interface(s). An atrium adjacent to the classroom housed a variety of loudspeakers utilized for real-time measurement demonstrations.

All attendees were provided with wireless stereo audio delivery (via Shure PSM personal monitor systems) in real time, allowing us to hear the loudspeaker measurements while seeing them displayed on screen (GUI) and also visualized (another screen) via camera.

Thus as measurements were made in the atrium – with manual movement of the measurement microphone position – attendees in the classroom heard the measurement in real time as well as saw the measurement data captured on screen, with the camera link helping us understand where the measurement mic was positioned at each moment.

Primary presenter Pat Brown was joined by two guests that also have decades of experience with optimizing sound systems, John Murray of Optimum System Solutions (Woodland Park, CO) and Deward Timothy of Poll Sound (Salt Lake City). As a result, OptEQ covered a lot of ground, and a lot of it fairly complex. The subject of tuning sound systems is daunting in itself, and presenting it to a roomful of widely experienced and educated practitioners is quite a task. There were numerous lively, spirited discussions.

Attendees of the OptEQ workshop at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, with instructors (left to right) Pat Brown, John Murray and Deward Timothy up front.

It all starts with this sticky question: what is EQ? It’s a commonly and often loosely used term, with several arguable definitions. Pat recently provided some thoughts on the subject (here), and I encourage you to re-read it. For the purposes of this workshop, “EQ” meant the equalization process of adjusting the balance of frequency components of a sound system, and the presenters aimed to explain and demonstrate this as a measurable and repeatable process. 

The workshop began with a series of universal measurement principals including microphone placement, measurement data management and post processing. There was also much on loudspeaker design, boundary affects, and room functions such as room modes (and a lot more). Only then did we get into the actual OptEQ process with demonstrations of equalization and lots of information on filter types and crossovers.

It would take the entire issue of this magazine to detail the presentation, so instead, let’s “unpack” some of the key aspects. Also note that the techniques were demonstrated as platform-independent workflows as opposed to specific measurement platforms, so users can apply the OptEQ process with Rational Acoustics Smaart, Meyer Sound SIM, AFMG SysTune, Gold Line TEF, and so on.


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About Kent

Kent Margraves
Kent Margraves

Kent Margraves began with a B.S. in Music Business and soon migrated to the other end of the spectrum with a serious passion for audio engineering. Over the past 25 years he has spent time as a staff audio director at two mega churches, worked as worship applications specialist at Sennheiser and Avid, and toured as a concert front of house engineer. He currently works with WAVE in North Carolina and can be contacted at [email protected]

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