Lots of mystery and misunderstanding surround target curves and their use. Everyone who’s any good at tuning cars that sound great uses one, even if they don’t know it. Someone who tunes by ear and adjusts and readjusts until he gets to the point at which he’s ready to deliver the car uses one. Someone who uses a microphone and an analyzer uses one, even if they’ve never actually seen one or thought about it.
“What? You’re crazy. I’ve tuned hundreds of cars and I’ve never even seen a target curve!”
Of course you have, whether you know it or not. A target curve is a frequency response graph that depicts the balance between low frequencies, midrange frequencies and high frequencies. That frequency response graph can be measured for every audio system in existence. If you tune by ear and at some point, it just “sounds right”, then you’ve come close to your target, even if you’ve never measured the frequency response with an analyzer.
The reason to use an analyzer isn’t because your ears aren’t good enough (even though they may not be). The reason to use a microphone and an analyzer is to make the tuning process faster and more precise. Think of the target curve as a template. It’s the difference between trying to cut a round hole without a guide and without a template. You may get close - and then have to trim and file and sand and trim and file and sand....
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