SMD CC-1 and DD-1 Review
This weekend I was able to to use the SMD Distortion Detector and Crossover Calibrator to set up my system. Here's my experience with it.
Physically, these are nice enough. The silicone gloves makes holding onto the units easy and comfortable. They aren't heavy, which makes me wonder why they couldn't be made slightly smaller. But they aren't awkwardly large.
My only dislike of the physical aspects are that the RCA input is recessed into the body of the unit. This makes using many brands of RCA's impossible to plug directly into it(when setting/testing head units and processors), requiring an adapter.
The directions that accompany both units are well written and clear. Even the noobiest of noobs would be able to use these tools if they follow the directions properly.
Using the DD-1
First, as per the directions, I tested my head unit, a Kenwood Excelon x-994. I used the 1khz and 40hz @0db/octave tracks on the provided test disc. When I played each track on each of my front, rear, and subwoofer outputs, I discovered the following:
All four front and rear channels could be at full volume (35/35) at 1khz without any distortion. With the 40hz tone, the instrument detected distortion at 34/35.
I then tested the subwoofer channels(obviously only the 40hz track was used for this), with the Sub level set at +15dB. Distortion was detected at volume level 29/35. I know that the sub level on this particular deck is an attenuation level control, and not bass boost, so I was not expecting this.
I then decided to try a different route... I played the 40hz tone at volume level 34/35(since that was the max volume that my other channels could play at, without distortion) and adjusted the subwoofer channel gain until zero distortion was detected. This occured with it set at +1db. This completed the testing of my deck. This was all very easy, and I was now all set to match the amp gains to it.
I then set my amps gains following the directions provided. I had set them by ear, rather conservatively I might add, prior. I used the maximum sound quality tracks, which are 1khz and 40 hz @ -5db/octave. I used the 40hz track to set the gain on my sub amp, a MB Quart ONX.2000D, first. Overall, the position of the dial wasn't changed much. I believe it went up a hair or so. However, since the subwoofer gain on the deck had been moved down, I think its safe to say I had it set too high.
I then set the gains on my four channel, a Kenwood Excelon XR-4S, using the 1khz@-5db track. I had previously set the gains by ear with the decks front outputs HPF crossed at 70hz@-24db. The gains on the amp went up substantially after tuning. When turning up the amp before, my speakers distorted, so it never reached its potential output. I did have to raise the HPF a little bit(to 90hz) after tuning, but with the extra volume its not all that noticable. At the low and mid volume range the front stage now sounds well matched to the sub stage, where as previously I had to turn it up rather far to get it to match the lows. I have lost a bit of the low end I was getting out of the mids with lower gain/lower crossover, but the fullness of the sound at any volume makes up for it, in my opinion. Honestly, it just looks like I need more capable mids if I want to crossover at 60-70 hz up front. I would probably have never turned the gain up this far had it not been for the DD-1, thus never truly getting out of this amp all that it has to offer in power.
Using the CC-1
First, a little background on the situation... I am using a combination of my my XR-4S and X-994 to run my component speakers active. The mids are band-passed using the HPF on the deck, and the LPF on the amplifier. The tweeters are crossed over using the HPF on the amplifier. Unfortunately for me, the amplifiers crossover section covers a HUGE swath of frequencies(2.5khz-10khz using the high-range setting) with one itty-bitty little dial for each bank of channels. I had previously set the crossovers by setting each dial using the printed numbers next to it as a guide. I have adjusted them frequently and tried everything to make it sound right, without success. The problem was that I was setting the crossovers dials in the same corresponding spot. I would aim to set them both for 3khz, 3.5khz, 4... etc. They are adjustable -12db/octave crossovers, and setting them the same was resulting in a lot of overlap and/or and unwanted frequencies being played. It sounded messy, even though it would get loud, and I did not know how to get it right. Finding out that the dials needed to be in different spots was a good thing, in that I now knew what I needed to do, and a bad thing, since I didn't know how to accomplish it. This is where the CC-1 comes in to play..
The CC-1 comes with two disks with plenty of frequencies to adjust to. It is specifically made to remedy the problem that I was having. All I had to do was pop the disk in and set to repeat the frequency track that that I wanted my tweeters and mids to crossover at, and then hook the CC-1 up to my amp. I chose 3.1khz as the crossover point. I would prefer a lower frequency than that, but I fear for the life of my tweeters, lol. The light on the CC-1, that lets you know if it's set too high or low, will switch from one to the other quickly when you reach the crossover point that you're shooting for. I like the fact that there's extremely little "play" when you reach your setting. That tells me that it's pinpointing it to a very specific frequency.
The CC-1 also did a very effective, and fast, job setting my infrasonic filter on my sub amp. Pop the disc in, turn to the desired track, and hook it up to your amp. Turn the dial until it's calibrated. Done. Doesn't get much easier, and its accurate.
The unit is also designed to gain-match strapped amps, but I could not test that function.
I know this is relative to how often it is used, but in my case, I would consider these tools to be worth their asking price. Using them is a simple, easy, and effective way to set crossovers and gains. My car sounds much better with the gains and crossovers set correctly. It's truly a night and day difference. I rented these particular tools from @jockhater2 ;, but I am most certainly going to be purchasing both of them in the future. I highly recommend the CC-1 to any one thats running speakers in an active set-up off of their amp. I am aware of peoples opinions of Steve Meade, and I really don't have much of an opinion of him either way(I know next to nothing about him), but the company that he had make these did a fantastic job.