Configuring Audyssey – The Right Way

Now available with Secrets of Audyssey: 
Audyssey Curve Editor Tool - Edit the frequency curve in the Audyssey App precisely.

The Backstory

I remember I was 23 and I had just gotten my first job out of uni. I was really interested in home cinema technology and I decided to save up for a top of the line Denon with Audyssey. It was a tank of a machine. 

I came from a bottom of the line Marantz without any room correction so this was super exciting. 

I didn’t upgrade the speakers I had – some bargain priced Celestion that had bi-wire capabilities and a kick-ass sub I still use today for my studio. 

I naively thought that just following the manual and configuring Audyssey once, I would experience perfection. Well, it sounded OK but let’s just say I was slightly underwhelmed considering how much I paid for the receiver. 

So we decided to build a dedicated area with the latest JVC projector, the top of the line Denon I just bought and a new set of M&K speakers with a matching sub. If you’ve been in Home Cinema for any length of time, you know that M&K are considered the Holy Grail of home cinema speakers. As great as they are, I beg to differ but that’s for another article. 

In any case, I set up the Denon again with Audyssey and the results I got were even worse than before. 

So if providing a dedicated space and spending literally 10x as much on speakers didn’t do the trick then what does? 

Well, let’s just say I have spent a lot more time learning about my new found hobby since then so let me fill you in! 

The Fix

Well, there are five things that make a large difference when setting up any room correction system but especially Audyssey:

  1. Speaker positioning and installation
  2. Room treatment
  3. DOs and DON’Ts of microphone placement
  4. Microphone pattern you use to calibrate
  5. How you configure Audyssey after you’ve set it up

Audyssey is incredibly sensitive to all 5 of these setup issues, even more so than other room correction solutions. 

Some people simply give up by disabling Audyssey on certain channels, or above a certain frequency.

Others still try and create their own “house curve” or frequency curve using the Audyssey mobile app. I don’t think any of these solutions are ideal.

So if these are not the solutions, then what is? 

Speaker Positioning and Installation

Two issues need to be taken into account when thinking of speaker installation: speaker positioning and speaker decoupling. 

It is very important that the speakers are pointed at the listeners’ ears or away from it dependent on which speaker position we are talking about and whether the speakers are highly directional or not. 

For front speakers, it is very important that the speakers are pointed at the listeners’ ears. For surround, surround back and ceiling speakers, it isn’t always ideal to do this and is highly dependent on the speaker make / model as well as room size, seating arrangement, etc.

Secondly, it is critical that all speakers are decoupled from the room. It is most critical to do this with the centre speaker and the subwoofer(s). 

If this is not done, Audyssey will spend precious DSP cycles on trying to fix these issues and sometimes make things even worse.

Room Treatment

One of the biggest misconceptions in Home Cinema technology today is that you can solve all room acoustical issues by using sophisticated DSPs. This is incorrect. You can minimize the issues in certain parts of the room but you cannot fully remove the issues – and in certain rooms you will end up creating new ones. 

This is especially true of Audyssey because unlike Pioneer and Yamaha, Audyssey’s algorithm is not nearly as good at taking into account reverberation time and the resulting psycho-acoustical effects within the room. This is why Audyssey can sound harsh or very piercing in the high end. 

I describe this point in a lot of detail in Secrets of Audyssey and show you how to build such room treatment panels cheaply in my Building DIY Room Treatment Guide.

You can also do your own research. What you shouldn’t do however is skip this step and use the forums to find new ways to trick the system to sound decent. But that’s all that does – it will sound decent and not exceptional.

DOs and DON’Ts of Microphone placement

I cover this in my Yamaha Guide as well here and the same things apply but with an even sterner warning: Audyssey is super sensitive to these issues.  

  • Don’t put the microphone on the headrest, sofa or any hard surface.
  • Don’t place it close to walls
  • Don’t put it on your coffee table in front of you unless you plan to listen with your head on the coffee table
  • Do use a camera tripod or even better: a microphone boom stand to hold it. A boom stand decouples the microphone from the room a lot better then any other method and will get you the best results!
  • Do put the microphone at ear height

Mic pattern

Firstly, even if you only have one or two listening positions, you MUST use all positions when calibrating. Otherwise you’re not giving the algorithm enough data to do the calibration and you’re doing the equivalent of simply rolling a dice. 

Secondly, I’ll say this out flat: the mic pattern within the receiver user guides is not ideal. There is no other way to say this. Apologies to Sound United and Audyssey but it’s a large part of the problem. It may work for some mythical “perfect room” scenario but it is not great for the rest.

There are two competing aims when building the correct mic pattern for your use: 

  1. Keeping imaging and impulse response intact as much as possible
  2. Getting a good frequency response in as many seats as possible

These are two competing goals. Normally one needs to be sacrificed to improve the other. This is why it’s so critical to implement good room treatment as that will result in an improvement of both across the listening area. 

But getting back to the mic pattern, a tight mic pattern works much better for Audyssey in my room than a more spread out one. I describe two tight and two spread out patterns in Secrets of Audyssey so you can balance frequency response versus imaging in your setup. However, let me give you some pointers here to allow you to build your own pattern:

  1. The first position must be at the centre of the listening space at ear height – positioned as if the microphone was between your two ears
  2. The next 2 positions should be left and right to the starting position at a distance between 10 and 30 cms. 
  3. The next 2 positions can be in front and behind the starting position at a distance between 5 and 15 cms.
  4. The rest of the positions can be kept close to the primary position or spread out in other seats dependent on whether you value a flatter frequency response across seats or better imaging / impulse response. 
  5. There must be some height variation between the measurements to stop Audyssey from over-compensating. Overcompensation can result in a harsh midrange, shrill highs, sucked out base or too much base.

I myself value imaging much more and since I actually did the hard work of treating the first reflections in the room as well as reducing the reverb time, I tackled frequency response to a point where it is pretty consistent from seat to seat. 

However, in your particular room, you may prefer something entirely different.

Ultimately, my advice is this: don’t just run the setup routine once and forget it. If the sound is not satisfactory, rerun the routine again with a slightly different mic pattern and check results with movie material you are familiar with. I say movie material as music is not recorded to a particular standard – movies are to a point. Let’s stick to that story for simplicity’s sake.

Configure Audyssey after Setup Routine Has Run

  1. Crossovers: I recommend these at 80hz even if the receiver has set them lower. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that Audyssey has more accurate filters for the subwoofers under 80hz and with an ideal setup, you may just get a better response. 
  2. Crossovers should never be lowered however. For example, if the receiver has set them at 120Hz, you should NOT lower them to 80Hz. Instead, you need to review the speaker positions, aiming, room setup, mic positions, etc and re-run the setup routine. This is because no filters are created for anything below this frequency and the speaker is not capable to overcome room issues below this frequency in its current position, setup, etc.
  3. If you have the mobile app, you can disable midrange compensation. However, this step is NOT critical to have a system sounding great. Advanced users only. I would recommend listening with both midrange compensation on and off. If you have the Audyssey App, I provide the Audyssey Curve Editor Excel Tool with Secrets of Audyssey to allow you to precision edit and move midrange compensation as needed for your speakers.
  4. You do need Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume enabled for movies. The reason people tend to think that they need a house curve is because they don’t understand the principles of loudness compensation. Read the linked article to learn more. I say this seriously… if Dynamic EQ and Volume are not sounding great with your setup, you did not set up your speakers, room or the receiver correctly.

A common complaint that people have when enabling Dynamic EQ is that it is too aggressive. There is an offset function within Audyssey that you can use to dial down the effect. Use it!

Dynamic Volume should be set to day / light mode. Again, the issue here is that listening to any material below reference volume means that quiet passages will disappear below the human hearing threshold and loud passages will still be loud. It’s best to use Dynamic Volume to compensate. It will restore the perception of relative scale and actually convey the original intent and scale of the soundtrack better at anything below reference. 

Secrets of Audyssey

If you are serious about Audyssey and home theatre, I would recommend you get the Secrets of Audyssey guide and skip 15 years and hundreds of hours of learning and setup.

Get the Secrets of Audyssey guide!

Also, doing this properly means you don’t resort to disabling such technology in your receiver or indeed doing your own curves in the mobile app which might get you towards a sound you like but takes you away from what the soundtrack is meant to sound like. 

There are psycho-acoustical issues for why Audyssey set up according to the manual will not sound great for 80% of people. I explain these in more detail in the guide.

Audyssey set up correctly does NOT need disabling of Dynamic EQ and Volume, does NOT need custom curves in the mobile app and does NOT need disabling of Audyssey in the high frequencies.

Follow-Up Article

If you found the above article useful, there’s a follow-up article called Achieving Reference Playback with Audyssey, which is also worth reading.

49 thoughts on “Configuring Audyssey – The Right Way

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  1. Just Wow! I have been struggling with so many of these issues seeing so many purist audiophiles say disable everything or it sounds unnatural. I felt guilty about turning on EQ and especially Dynamic volume even though I thought it sounded better so many say it’s artificial and messes with the sound. I loved your explanations and I’m redoing my calibrations today! Thank you so much for all your insight.

    1. I’m really glad you found the article useful. I think you’ll find a lot of other tidbits in Secrets of Audyssey (saw you got a copy).
      Lots of people have improved their setup and have gotten great results using both the this article and the guide.

      I used to be very frustrated with Audyssey and I know many others as well. I spent a good part of a year getting the setup right and experimenting until it all fell into place. Every time I use my home cinema now, I know I get really great sound.

      So I wanted to share my findings as the forums aren’t always covering all the bases. People tend to do very specific research but not cover a topic in its entirety.

      I hope you enjoy your recalibration and get to a really great place with it too! Let us know how you go! 🙂

      1. This is a great explanation of how to make the most out of Audyssey.
        One thing this article is missing though is about the level increase of the surround speakers when using Dynamic EQ.
        Everytime you decrease Main Volume ÷5 dB down from reference (0 dB), the surounds are increased about 1dB.
        I normally listen at ÷ 15dB down from reference, so in my case, the surround speakers are increased about 3 dB. I understand the reason for this as peoples hearing decreases when listening from behind our ears, but this is simply too agressive.
        My surround are somewhat close to where i sit, so to “compensate” and bring back the level balance of my system, I decrease my surrounds 3dB.
        I believe I’ve read an article somewhere that Roland was giving feedback to Audyssey about this some years ago. BUT it has never been fixet. A simple on/off toggle in the Audyssey app would take care of this. Some like the increase in surround level, but a lot of people (myself included) HATE this as it forces us to mnually decrease surround level post Audyssey.

      2. Hi Carsten,
        This is not as simple as that I’m afraid as dependent on the distance and height of the surround channels, different adjustments are needed. It’s not one size fits all. It is discussed in Secrets of Audyssey in more detail.

        May I ask how far away are your surround speakers relative to your front speakers and whether they are at ear height or higher? Thx!

      1. This is an Audyssey article, Michael. The NR7100 runs Dirac Live and the NR6050 likely runs Onkyo’s own EQ solution. I’m afraid neither of them support Audyssey.

      2. Both The NR7100 and the NR6050 have the option of Audyssey Accueq, is that something different?

      3. AccuEQ is different… that’s not Audyssey. That’s Onkyo’s own system.

        If you want Audyssey, you need to buy Denon or Marantz as it is now exclusive to those.

  2. Hi! I’m doing a new calibration today and decided to see if there was any “best practice” on-line. You’re it! What you suggest definitely makes a lot of sense to me. My question is whether the above configuration is equally applicable when running a 2.1 setup for mostly music and some TV?

    I also never really understood if adjustments made in the MultEQ app when transferred to the AVR only apply to Reference or also to Flat?


    1. Hi Stefan,
      About to sleep here but saw your comment pop up. Yes, it certainly applies to 2.1 setups.
      The changes only apply to the Reference curve when done in Mobile app. MultEQ-X PC app can customise both curves. Hope this helps. Off to sleep here. 🙂

      1. Thanks a lot! Just done with measuring, now listening to the result. So far quite impressed! 👍

  3. When Audyssey room corrects is that with mid range compensation on or off or does it not matter?

    Trying to figure out if I should leave it on or off. Here is a shot of one of the speakers. I have 3 Klipsch RP6000F speakers for my LCR and they all look about the same. I can’t attach the scrrenshot though

  4. Hello again Roland, any suggestions to calibrate a Pioneer avr with MCACC? Are you going to make a tutorial about it?

    1. Mmm. That’s a very good question. It’s not on my radar for the next 12 months unless there’s enough interest. But now you got it in my head, I might put something on the radar.
      Which unit do you have?

  5. I live in the city and cannot achieve total silence for Audyssey auto-cal . There is a constant background hum of the city that penetrants everything. I get no errors when I run Audyssey and the results sound fine. Can I safely assume I am still getting a solid calibration despite this issue?

    1. Absolutely, Mike! A constant low-level hum is very easy to discard during measurements. Audyssey does measure this low-level noise and takes it into consideration. It’s only uneven, unpredictable or high level noise which could interfere with measurements.

      1. Thank you so much, I finally feel at peace with my calibration! My rear speakers are rated down to 90Hz but Audyssey will set them at a 70Hz crossover every time I run it. Should I leave them as Audyssey sets them or raise the crossover to 90-100Hz? All other settings look correct.

      2. No worries. You can raise crossover but should never lower them! If you know your speakers are only rated down to 90hz then you could up the crossover to 90.

  6. Great guide Roland. I just did my first tight pattern and added custom dips for the internal crossovers of my fronts at 300 and 3000Hz using your Excel tool and a bunch of copy pasting. A suggestion for Appendix B, step 3, would be to NOT replace ALL instances of customTargetCurvePoints[] in the .ady file, but just replace the ones corresponding to the speakers that you created these custom dips for. You could then replace this with different values for different speakers, depending on their internal crossovers. The individual speakers can easily be identified by looking at the “commandId” in the .ady file. In my case (5 speaker setup), these are “FL”, “C”, “FR”, “SLA”, “SRA”. Note that the “customTargetCurvePoints” part comes before the “commandId”, so that’s something to take into account. Maybe you’ve already seen this in the .ady file and left it out, because it requires some extra precise text editing skills, but it might be worth mentioning for some readers.

    What I still have to figure out is why my FL speaker shows these strange dips between 150 and 250 Hz, that Audyssey can’t compensate for, while the FR doesn’t. What would you try? A wider mic pattern? My options in changing speaker placement and room treatment are quite limited, since it’s a family room. My previous AVR didn’t measure this issue, with the speaker sitting in the same spot, give or take an inch.

    1. Thank you, Ronald. It more has to do with complexity of support on my end… as manual hacking of the file isn’t quite straight-forward. But well done for getting it done and thank you for detailing for others.

      In case someone else is reading this, the supported option is to develop the curve in the excel sheet, transfer it to the Ady file and then use Ratbuddyssey for speaker-specific alterations.

      On your other question. I think it sounds like you may need to give something up – either a perfect family room or perfect frequency response. However, lots of those dips might not be that noticeable… REW has psychoacoustic smoothing option if you wanted to measure and check what is and what isn’t audible.

      Happy Listening 🙂

  7. Hi.
    Very interesting.
    I will re-run the calibration as soon as I get the chance. I have had the microphone on a tripod and have always measured all positions at the same height.
    Wheeling you say:
    There must be some height variation between the measurements to stop Audyssey from over-compensating.

    When the first important measurement is done, should you raise and lower future measurements approx. 5-10 cm? Or how much and should one adjust the height of all measurements after the first one?



    1. Hi Patrick,

      Yes, you can up and lower them by a few cms, upto around 5cm, unless the pattern you are working with doesn’t have height variations or gives you a different instruction. (E.g. Secrets of Audyssey includes quite a few patterns and one of them doesn’t include a height difference as it’s for troubleshooting.)


  8. Thanks for the great guide Roland,

    I am still tinkering with the rew and the right settings but have a problem, maybe u can help me. If i open a .ady file in Ratbuddyssey my speaker configuration is changed and i lose the subwoofer setting(standard or directional) When uploaded the file to my AVC-3800H there is no subwoofer in the speaker configuration anymore and when i enable it Audyssey isn’t working off course.

    Also posted in the avs forum Ratbuddyssey topic but no reply so far, would be great if u could help, i all ready made a lot of progress with your secrets of Audyssey guide.


    1. Hi Manuel,
      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the guide.
      Everyone is just getting their hands on these new lines of AVRs and the tools have not been updated.
      I think you may need to forget Ratbuddyssey for a while. It could take upto a year as some people, including the developer, might skip this new line.
      Apologies, but I don’t have a workaround either at the moment.
      You could try and back the file manually to restore the speaker settings but that might be a bit of a hit and miss. :/

  9. Thank you for this guide! Its highly appreciated as i am struggling to find a good calibration just following the on-screen guide.

    You mention that “it is critical that all speakers are decoupled from the room. It is most critical to do this with the centre speaker and the subwoofer(s).” What exactly
    Do you mean by this? Maybe its just my english, but i cannot wrap my head around what you mean that i should do?

    1. Hi Ivan,
      Really glad the article is helping you – and others out.
      Decoupling means to ensure the resonances created by the sound don’t transfer into surrounding walls, floor, ceiling or furniture.
      This is achieved by putting something else between the speaker and the furniture – my favourite one for the centre channel are little stick-on silicone legs. You can buy these in any hardware store as they are also used for surface protection.
      Another strategy is to pull the centre speaker out as much as possible if it sits within a cabinet. You don’t want the direct sound to be bouncing off the edge or inside of the cabinet.
      You can of course go even further. More strategies are discussed in Secrets of Audyssey, but I hope this points you in the right direction.

  10. I’ve had Denon av in different guises but since finding your article and consequently buying secrets of audyssey my current system has never sounded better, also buying a boom stand was a worthy purchase, I know there’s still work to do which as soon as I’ve read and reread the secrets I’m sure it’ll be worth the effort, thank you for your time and effort in making the guide

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