Services / Tuning / Mobile Audio Systems

If you’ve heard the Magic Bus since it was finished in April of 2011, you know what I’m capable of achieving. 

Let’s say you have a typical competition system, say a 2.1 configuration with a 3-way front sound stage and a subwoofer. More than likely you’ll have one of the many digital signal processors capable of exercising full control over each of the loudspeakers.

My tuning abilities are derived from a variety of experiences. First, I’ve spent years reading the vast majority of books and papers on loudspeaker design, crossover design, acoustics, mechanisms of human hearing, and acoustical measurements. Second, I listen to live, unamplified music between three and nine hours per week, generally in the front row of small jazz clubs. Third, and perhaps most importantly, I have had the unique and privileged honor to be mentored by Steve McCormack, legendary audio component designer. Steve’s experience helped me learn how to listen to the audio system, recognize a performance deficiency, and know what technical parameter to adjust to correct, or improve, the deficiency. Lastly, I acquired a significant amount of experience tuning not only the Magic Bus, but other mobile audio systems as well. In the case of the Magic Bus, I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of collecting computer-based measurements, developing several proprietary spreadsheets to properly compensate for the head-related transfer function, developing an equalization contour that best represents the sound of live music, and validating the results by critical listening with proprietary compact discs containing special sonic tracks. 

If you want to take your system to its absolute maximum potential, the tuning process takes about 20 to 40 hours over the course of two to four days for each desired listening position. The process involves making objective computer-based measurements along with subjective listening evaluations with specific test compact discs. The process involves determining each loudspeaker Qtc, Fb, F3, adjusting the enclosure stuffing accordingly (where applicable), selecting proper crossover points and slopes, meticulously setting the gains of the individual amplifier channels, determining proper intra- and inter-channel time alignment, and equalizing each loudspeaker system. The entire process requires significant patience and focus because it is rigorous and detailed. I encourage the mobile audio system's owner to assist me in the tuning process, generally by operating the user-interface of the digital signal processor. Many who have endured this process with me were thrilled by the results, and developed a new appreciation for what it takes to truly tune a system well! 

Before I discuss costs, I’d like to discuss a useful perspective. My experience has shown, and many of my satisfied customers agree, that spending about 20-30% of the audio system’s value on tuning makes good sense. Basically, the tuning budget would be on par with some of the more expense components in your audio system, but dramatically less than the entire installation labor cost. Having designed and tuned many systems, I can confidently say that tuning is one of the most important aspects of your install and worthy of a significant portion of your budget. 

The software and hardware Whitledge Designs uses is state-of-the-art, and worth thousands of dollars:
  • MacBook Pro 17” running Mac OS  X Lion (Version 10.7.4), and Parallels Desktop® 7 for Mac running Windows XP SP 3, or Boot Camp running Windows XP SP 3. 
  • Dayton Audio WT3 Woofer Tester
  • Microsoft® Excel® 2008 for Mac (Version 12.3.3)
  • FuzzMeasure Pro (Version 3.2.4)
  • Earthworks M23 calibrated microphone
  • MOTU 4Pre FireWire™ audio interface
  • Custom-made Mogami® microphone cables and source unit input pigtails using Neutrik® connections. 
At the completion of the tuning work, you’ll be provided with all hand-written notes and computer analyses in Adobe Portable Document Format, provided via email or compact disc.

Now let’s talk costs. If I travel to you, the cost will be the total of:

$800/day for tuning
$77-184/day for lodging1
$46-71/day for meals and expenses1
$0.555/mile automobile mileage expense2

If you bring your car to my shop in San Diego you can save a great deal of money by eliminating my travel costs. In this case, the cost will be $800/day.

If you have specific tuning needs, I'd be delighted to tailor a plan specific to your goals and budget. As always, I work to give you maximum value and performance. 

I believe my tuning services can elevate your audio system to its highest potential. My services will give you the competitive advantage you seek. If you are seriously interested, please contact me – I’d be delighted to serve you.

Warmest regards,
Jon R. Whitledge
Whitledge Designs

[1] U.S. G.S.A. FY2011 typical California per diem expense (visit

[2] Standard IRS automobile mileage rate for 2012,,id=250882,00.html
Distance from San Diego to client and back to San Diego, derived from Google Maps.

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