(A version of this originally appeared in the Educar Integration and Acoustics group on Facebook.)
Years ago, I tried to quantify the acoustic performance of sound systems with an RTA. I found it difficult.
Sometimes, the OEM systems seemed to measure great, even though they didn't sound good. Other times, our aftermarket systems seemed to sound great, even though the measurements didn't seem to predict that they would.
It was easy to conclude that “measurements don’t reveal much about sound quality”.
Turns out that a more accurate way to say it would have been “my measurements - and my interpretations of them - don’t reveal much about sound quality”.
What were the problems?


I used a 1/3 octave RTA with one mic. 

There were some things we can hear that my measurement tool couldn’t reveal - especially when used with a graphic EQ. After years of using 1/24th-octave RTAs to measure cars, I now have a better understanding of what we can hear and what we can’t. I use 1/3-octave to measure electrical signals all the time, to determine what notes a channel is playing. Other than that, I prefer higher resolution measurements in the low end. I don’t use 1/24th all the time - sometimes, when I’m wanting to decide how important something is to chase, I drop down to 1/12th. In the high end, if I’m using a single-mic system, I ignore narrow-Q issues, because they’re always...

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