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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:26 pm 
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Hey, first of all, I do not have a high end system in my vehicles--they're both family oriented vehicles with stock decks and only moderately upgraded speakers in the front panels.

So the question, though, is this--The driver sits on the left, so does one set the balance slightly higher to the right to compensate for this? Is this imbalance already taken into consideration at the hardware level (I doubt it, but will throw it out there nonetheless), or are the audio properties of such a relatively small, closed space (your vehicle) such that it really doesn't matter that much?

So for people who take this stuff seriously, what's your take?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:32 pm 
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generally, i leave the balance set to the middle, and set the fader towards the rear a bit so the sound from the front speakers is not drowning out the rear.

play with the settings until you find what sounds the best to you.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:32 pm 
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I've had both elaborate and modest car systems over the years. I set them all biased to the front and to the right to bring the sound to in front of me in the center of the vehicle. Although it's not that common, the best head units / processors I've used also allowed me to adjust time alignment to reinforce the effect. When combined with decent speaker positioning (which is often dictated by the vehicle unfortunately) you can get a very convincing soundstage in front of you.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:11 pm 
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Many years ago I took this very seriously as I had a competition stereo system in my car. This was at a time when it was strictly about sound quality and video wasn't involved. There were two judges one in each seat. They would look for a centred soundstage with width, depth and height just as you would with a home stereo. The rear speakers were just for fill. My car did fairly well coming in first in my class in an IASCA (International Auto Sound Challenge Association) competition in Winnipeg and second in class in a regional competition (Western Canada and Northwest U.S.) in Edmonton. So, today my priority remains the same, a centred soundstage that sounds equally as good from driver and passenger seats. When setting my balance control I would move from seat to seat and find the position that sounds best from both seats.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:37 pm 
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acuratl wrote:
Many years ago I took this very seriously as I had a competition stereo system in my car. This was at a time when it was strictly about sound quality and video wasn't involved. There were two judges one in each seat. They would look for a centred soundstage with width, depth and height just as you would with a home stereo. The rear speakers were just for fill. My car did fairly well coming in first in my class in an IASCA (International Auto Sound Challenge Association) competition in Winnipeg and second in class in a regional competition (Western Canada and Northwest U.S.) in Edmonton. So, today my priority remains the same, a centred soundstage that sounds equally as good from driver and passenger seats. When setting my balance control I would move from seat to seat and find the position that sounds best from both seats.


Gee, it almost as if I wrote this myself LOL. I too have entered a couple IASCA events, I took a second and a third in the 50-100 watt class. (90 watts with Two Punch 45's and an Audio Control EQX). Anyway I agree with everything you said guarding the balance and rear fill. it was all about front the soundstage at the time late (80's early 90's). I pretty much ran with left and right channels centred.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:54 pm 
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I don't disagree with you from an IASCA scoring perspective. I worked in the business in the mid '90's, did both sales and installs, and also judged the IASCA events our company sponsored.

Since the speaker distances are never going to be equal in a car, you can never optimize sound for both driver and passenger; a centered balance control is a compromise for both listeners. If you are trying to win an IASCA contest, compromise is your best option (at least based on the rules back in the day). It doesn't sound like the OP will have a judge in the passenger seat. I still play with car audio, and I always optimize my systems for the driver's position. Now that we have access to good digital processing including time alignment (at least in some of the better decks), the trade-off between listening positions becomes even more pronounced. By delaying the left side speaker arrival times you can create a massive improvement in soundstage for the driver, but it makes things much worse for the passenger.

Ultimately the best choice will be determined if you have a passenger who is fussy about the sound.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:10 pm 
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Hey, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated coming in with this question 'cause I was worried it was a bit dumba$$, but based on the responses, it's obviously a real consideration for people who take car audio seriously. Given the crap stock deck I'm using, I find even one 'notch' to the left or right in balance is so pronounced that it's hard to say that leaning rightwards to achieve overall balance isn't actually backfiring. But alas, I don't see myself going as far as picking up whatever gear is required to adjust time delay. But yeah, I am usually without a judge in the passenger seat :lol: , so I can play with that aspect all i want.
Thanks for the input guys!

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