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Balance Control

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Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:54 pm

Hi all,

Not sure if this sounds crazy but is it possible to buy a hardware balance controller?

Given the fact that my room isn't symmetrical (physically/acoustically) and my AE22's don't have a gain controls if I pop something right down the middle it basically isn't! If I flip sides the phantom image moves around..

Tell me if you think I'm mad..

Regards,

Si
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Re: Balance Control

Postby resistorman » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:12 pm

I don’t see why not. It’s not a standard part of monitor controller devices, so you might have to knock one together yourself.
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Re: Balance Control

Postby blinddrew » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:12 pm

You've just spent a chunk of time sticking rockwool around a room, of course you're mad. ;)

But as to this specific problem, can't you just put a corrective eq on the master bus and flick it off when you switch to headphones?
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:31 pm

Thanks for coming back all.

Again this might sound crazy but I'd rather pay a few quid and have everything setup so that all I have to do is move the knob on my output selector! Perhaps it's just me but I want the minimum of things to do so that nothing gets in the way of what I'm doing if you know what I mean?

To illustrate I invested in a Mixcube some time ago. But as I only had L & R outputs on my interface I had it plugged into the channel 3 (and then had to mute the main outs in the interface software, select mono on the master etc. so that I could use it) - the long and short is I just didn't use the Mixcube as often as I should.

Having spent so much time/effort/money getting to this point, it's a near to perfect as I'm going to get (given physical and budgetary constraints) other than this.

BTW I don't regret a penny/hour spent on doing this - best money I've every spent as the difference between what I had before and the performance of my room now is so profound it's laughable. Bit like going from an old B&W cathode ray TV to a 4K OLED. Ironically it's the time-domain response that has amazed me most... just incredible..

Regards,

Si
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:21 pm

Grappa wrote:Not sure if this sounds crazy but is it possible to buy a hardware balance controller?

I've never seen one as a standalone unit, and I rarely see the facility in monitor controllers (other than high end units like Grace Design m903 and m905). It really should be a standard feature of every monitor controller -- it certainly used to be on BBC-designed consoles, but it doesn't seem to be recognised as a core function by most modern manufacturers, sadly!

Image offsets can be due to local reflection and room symmetry issues. The ideal solution is obviously to sort that out... but where that's just not possible a balance control can resolve the problem, as you suggest. In a fixed installation, it can usually be taken care of by adjusting the input sensitivity of one speaker... but it seems you don't have that option.

I'd suggest your best bet is to insert a stereo balance plugin into your DAW's monitor chain output, or maybe find a way of tweaking the level of your monitor outputs in your interface control software.

H
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:38 pm

Hugh,

Thanks for coming back.

Just reviewed the Focusrite software and it looks like I can split the main stereo outputs on my interface controller and then level compensate on one side there. Save as my default preset and away we go!

Many thanks,

Simon
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:45 pm

:thumbup: If it needs more than about 2-3dB shift towards one side or the other it would be worth rethinking the room!

H
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:47 pm

Thanks Hugh.

Sadly rethinking the room means a very difficult conversation with the wife :headbang:

Regards,

Simon
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:52 pm

:lol:
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Re: Balance Control

Postby ef37a » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:18 am

If you wanted a hardware solution you could find the dB difference you need in software then buy an XLR line attenuator and mod the resistors to suit.

Or you could build the whole thing in a tin and have a defeat switch.

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Re: Balance Control

Postby resistorman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:42 pm

ef37a wrote:If you wanted a hardware solution you could find the dB difference you need in software then buy an XLR line attenuator and mod the resistors to suit.

Or you could build the whole thing in a tin and have a defeat switch.

Dave.
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Working with one side is a clever idea! You could also just put a pot in a box for the “loud” one.
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Re: Balance Control

Postby ef37a » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:33 pm

resistorman wrote:
ef37a wrote:If you wanted a hardware solution you could find the dB difference you need in software then buy an XLR line attenuator and mod the resistors to suit.

Or you could build the whole thing in a tin and have a defeat switch.

Dave.
.
Working with one side is a clever idea! You could also just put a pot in a box for the “loud” one.
Bit more complicated than that I think. Balanced feed? You could have two series 'legs' then a shunt pot but 'tis getting messy!

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Re: Balance Control

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:34 pm

Except that it would need to be a ganged pot and configured to attenuate a balanced signal, in this case.

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Re: Balance Control

Postby Folderol » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:49 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Except that it would need to be a ganged pot and configured to attenuate a balanced signal, in this case.

H
Ouch! :shh:
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:57 pm

All,

Thanks for this but it's getting way beyond my sphere of expertise!

I think I may just buy a Grace Designs unit as it seems the easiest solution and man do they look pretty - not a shabby performer judging by Hugh's review either... :P

On a more serious note I like the idea of a line attenuator - I discovered an issue with using my 'software' solution as I'm actually coming out of the main out's of the Focusrite into a Hosa switcher and then into my monitors, cube and cans so any change in there will impact on everything!

I note that on Canford's site they have these but list impedance and DB values. Couple of questions;

1. Is the impedance important (apologies if this is stupid but I have no idea)
2. Where can I find a formula to calculate required resistance to deliver the attenuation level I need?

Many thanks,

Simon
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:18 pm

It's frustrating that the AE22 only has a crude switched input sensitivity control rather than a continuously variable one...

The Canford-style in-line attenuators aren't suitable for your purposes. The attenuation is much too high, and the impedance far too low.

If you search online for 'balanced audio attenuators' you will find various calculators that provide the appropriate resistance values for given input and output impedances.... but I don't really recommend that route!

If you can't reorganise your interface outputs to provide a suitably attenuated signal to one side to correct the imbalance, I think I would be inclined to just put up with it and slide the chair a bit to one side to compensate!

The bottom line is that you have a compromised monitoring environment -- which is not that unusual in a home studio -- and it's probably not worth introducing more compromises or great expense (in a Grace Design monitor controller) to try and make it a bit better...

When it comes to making pan decisions, learn to cross-check on a stereo vectorscope (goniometer) display -- there are plenty of plugins with that facility.

H
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:52 pm

Thanks Hugh..

I'll learn to work around it!

Appreciate the input from all..

Regards,

Simon
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Re: Balance Control

Postby resistorman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:10 pm

If you are a DIY kind of person, a search for “balanced stepped attenuators “ gives up some interesting results. This device looked promising;

http://glass-ware.stores.yahoo.net/baat.html
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:37 am

Could you just explain for me exactly what you've done so far. You say you've 'flipped the sides' and the image moves around, which I presume means the output signals?

Have you actually tries swapping the speakers over just to confirm that it is the speakers that have different volumes and it's not down to their position in the room? I know the AE22s are handed, but just for comparison?

My net PC has very badly situated speakers as it's in a small room with limited positioning choices and they are just for uncritical listening; one's in a corner and the other's about dead centre of the room quite close to the wall. I did a test sweep the other day and whilst they sound reasonably balanced to me with general music, it was amazing how much the sine wave sound focus moved around at different frequencies and it wasn't until it got to around 3kHz and above that it settled down.

So if you haven't done it, maybe it's worth doing a frequency sweep just to make sure that it's still not the room affecting the stereo positioning, rather than a slight difference in speaker amp gain. If it is, then a balance control isn't going to be a total solution.
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Re: Balance Control

Postby Grappa » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:59 am

Wonks,

Thanks for coming back to me.

I do have a bit of an unbalanced room which will be contributing no doubt..

I'm going to rip it apart this weekend and measure the each monitor individual using my standard pink noise 'monitor level setting' file and SPL meter. Once I know exactly what this looks like then I will work out from there..

I'll feedback.

Regards,

Simon
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