calibrating at 55dB- is that okay?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Mark McConnell, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. Mark McConnell

    Mark McConnell Auditioning

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    I calibrated my 6.1 home theater system at 55dB using my SPL meter and the test tones from my receiver. Does this matter? I'm afraid to turn the volume up so that it reads 75dB on my SPL meter from where I sit because that would be very loud and I don't want to blow my speakers. This is just temporary until I get the Sound & Vision calibration DVD in the mail, but won't those testones be pretty loud too? Can I calibrate lower than 75dB for that disc? I wouldn't ever be listening at Ref level anyway.
     
  2. ScottCHI

    ScottCHI Screenwriter

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    what speakers and pre/pro/amp/receiver?

    how far away are the speakers from your sweet spot?
     
  3. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Mark,

    Don't worry, hardly any "average" home systems are played at Reference Level, but you may be cheating your audio enjoyment by selecting such an artificially low level as 55dB. Let's take a quick tour of where Reference Level derives...

    Based on Dolby Lab standards from the early/mid 1990s developed for in-theater sound systems, the technical standard for auditorium reproduction has become 105dB PEAKS from the main speakers and 115dB PEAKs for Low Frequency Effect (LFE) channel, measured at the theater listener's seat.

    Technically, many home users can hit these levels with regular 100 wpc receivers, capable 12-inch subwoofers and floorstander Mains. People with smaller HTIB speakers probably find they'e not capable of handling these peaks as safely. But you're right, a home living room isnt a theater auditorium and it's TOO LOUD.

    Now the AVIA calibration disc will have us calibrate at a TEST level of 85dB to save our eardrums while setting up; however, the real world DVD audio playback will be the 105/115dB standards.

    So no one says we have to listen at this level. Just set the volume too where you want it. For ex. my Yamaha volume reads -16.5dB at Reference Level, but I listen about 10dB quieter near -26dB.

    Reference in this application is a "scientific" absolute. It's not necessary, but if we all set our rigs to Reference Level, it means we're talking the same language as we chat with others or ask questions to compare our system calibration.

    Once you have your disc, if you feel your speakers need tender care, you can shave say 10dB off the ref. std. by calibrating the spkrs to 75dB (set-up level only). Then you look at the receiver volume level and remember this mark as your maximum or top level.

    G'luck

    bill
     
  4. Mark McConnell

    Mark McConnell Auditioning

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    Thanks, Bill. That helped alot. I have a much better understanding now.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    To add a little to Bill's wonderfully concise summary, consider that the level you were thinking about is getting close (it varies) to the ambient noise levels in your home. Setting it higher allows for more accurate balancing if you will. Then when you listen, just tone it down as Bill and many others do.
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Just to chime in, I personally also find Avia's 85dB to be annoyingly loud at times, so what I did was since 0dB on my Marantz was meant to be reference (works out nicely, at 0dB little or no adjustment to any speaker gets an 85dB tone), I turned down to -10dB and calibrated at 75dB. You could do the same at -20dB and calibrate at 65dB. Once everything is set, crank up to reference level (in my case 0dB), check everything is in fact 85dB, and you're done.

    In practice I never watch a movie at reference, -20dB is about usual and when I "crank it up" at the very most I'm somewhere around -6 to -10dB.

    Chu Gai's point on ambient noise is well taken, hence my suggestion to double-check at whatever your reference level is, for 85dB test tones (on Avia), when you're done.
     
  7. ScottCHI

    ScottCHI Screenwriter

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    the volume levels on receivers aren't "meant" to be representative of anything. it's just a relative scale.

    the SPL you acheive in your room from each speaker when you set your receiver at 0dB is entirely dependent upon the efficiency of the speakers in question, the effects of the room, and most importantly, the speakers' distance from your listening spot.

    0dB on your receiver's scale, just by chance, happens to be reference level in your particular set up.
     
  8. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Well, to be clear, I'd decided that 0dB would be a "good" or "convenient" mark to set as reference, and as it turned out by default the 0dB setting was pretty close (+1 or +2 adjustment needed on the front three, IIRC).

    But you're absolutely right, "reference" is arbitrarily set, just happens that for me 0dB worked fine.

    It's also dependent on how the receiver's manufacturer sets the scale. As I understand it, for instance, Yammies' scales are quite different from Marantz's, so most people find that with minimal boosting, you'd wind up with a so-called reference level at about -20dB, on the Yammie's scale. In contrast, HTiB might literally set 0dB as pretty close to mute, and you'd typically listen at about 25dB, with maybe 30+ as being pretty darn loud.
     
  9. William*E

    William*E Extra

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    Another Question then.....
    I have a Pioneer 814K......

    I've always set

    Left-Right at 5db
    center at 10db
    surround at 10db
    sub at 10db

    and the main level is usuall at 41db (lower the number the higher the volume)

    Now is this okay? Ideal? Now to me it sounds good, but the last thing I want is to damage my equipment because of improper levels.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  10. ScottCHI

    ScottCHI Screenwriter

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  11. William*E

    William*E Extra

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    Because a second, third, fourth, even a fifth opinion is what I'm seeking. It's called deductive reasoning. You get all the answers and you formulate a common answer, but you should know that already.

    Plus my question wasn't answered.
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Is it answered now? If not, what are you unclear about?
     
  13. William*E

    William*E Extra

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    What I'm uclear about is.......by setting all of the INDIVIDUAL speaker settings to MAX (10 db), would I run the risk of FRYING my system....taking consideration of the foremention hardware that I have??

    Left-Right at 5db
    center at 10db
    surround at 10db
    sub at 10db

    and the main level is usuall at 41db (lower the number the higher the volume)


    PIONEER 814K
    2-15" PYLE DRIVER SUBS, DRIVEN BY A PEAVEY 4-C 500 WATT AMP.
    2-15" PEAVEY HC-115 FRONTS....

    thank you!!
     
  14. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    I would set everything 10dB lower and the master volume 10dB higher.

    BTW, calibrating your system is highly recommended. Those numbers you have suggest you have not done it.
     
  15. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Why would you have the individual levels maxed out? Is this via calibration using an SPL and tones or "by ear". Depending on your calibration method, the left front should measure at 75dB (85 if using Avia) at 0dB on the individual level and the others should be adjusted from there. Alternatively, you can calibrate by setting the master volume to 00dB and adjusting the levels to make 00dB reference. Unless your speakers are very inefficient, either method should not require you to max out the individual levels in order to calibrate.

    A few questions:

    Are these levels just set arbitrarily or by ear?

    Are you using an SPL meter and receiver/test disk tones?

    If using tones, are you calibrating to the proper SPL level (75dB for receiver/VE tones, 85dB for Avia)?

    BTW, I've answered this question despite the fact your last post was kind of biting the hand that feeds you. More flies with honey and all . . .
     
  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Others have asked or suggested that you get an SPL meter. It's a good recommendation as trying to do this by ear is near impossible with any degree of accuracy. I know it may sound like you're dropping $20 or whatever they cost for a one shot deal. Consider though that you may move things around, get another system, change your speakers or receiver one day, you'll find that it pays for itself by allowing you to quickly and accurately set your system up.
     

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