For ages, there has been debate raging over whether to use Audyssey’s midrange compensation or not. Midrange compensation could only be disabled using Audyssey Pro on previous generation Marantz and Denon receivers. However, ever since the Audyssey App has appeared on the app stores, it is now possible to enable and disable it to your heart’s contents.
First let’s have a look at what it is and then whether you should have it enabled or disabled.
What is Midrange Compensation?
Midrange compensation is an intentional dip introduced into the frequency curve in the 2kHz (2000Hz) region. Since our ears are extra sensitive in this region to frequency and phase shifts, speaker crossovers between tweeters and midrange drivers can create harshness if this dip is not introduced. This can especially affect voices and therefore can be distracting.
This was originally observed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and therefore it is also called the BBC dip!
Should You Enable or Disable It?
Well, you will find a lot of advice on this on the internet – but mostly to listen to whether it sounds good or not and enable / disable it as desired. While this is sound advice – since some people are more sensitive to this phenomena than others – it could disturb the next person entering your home cinema space.
So is there a more scientific way of understanding whether you should have this enabled? Well, it turns out there is.
When you run Audyssey room calibration from the mobile app, you are able to view the before and after measurement results. As you look at each speaker in turn, if you see a dip in the 2kHz region in the BEFORE measurement results for any of the speakers, you should turn on midrange compensation for those speakers. This is because it is extremely likely that the speaker manufacturer has included such a dip in the response of the speaker for a reason. Disabling midrange compensation for such a speaker – and calibrating it flat – is likely to introduce harshness.
However, if you don’t see such a dip in the BEFORE measurement curves, it is highly likely that disabling it won’t hurt the sound – and the performance of the speaker.
What if Your Driver Crossover is NOT at 2kHz?
In my opinion, it is worth trying to move midrange compensation to the exact region your drivers are crossing over. I also think if you have 3 or 4-way speakers, the midrange compensation might need to be duplicated to the other crossover regions.
Ultimately, the above is again just guidance and it is best to trust your own ears at the end of the day. Some people ARE very sensitive to sound in that region and if you still hear harshness even after following the above advice, you could try turning midrange compensation back on.