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Figuring out preferred listening levels in relation to Reference (1 Viewer)


Second Unit
Jul 9, 2003
I have an Onkyo 600 receiver and my volume controls are graduated from 0-100 (Not with a minus or plus scale in relation to 0 that some receivers use). I have calibrated my system so that 75 on my volume control is reference (just a coincidence that I used DVE and 75db is there recorded level for calibration). I enjoy reading posts that talk about what Db level in relation to reference is preferred by HTF members watch certain movies at. Is it safe to assume that if I am listening at 60, that I am 15 db below reference, or are these numbers irrelevent with this type of volume graduation.

Also, is there a post somewhere that compares the more popular movies recorded volume level. It would be nice to have a standard, but I know this is not the case. (Attack of the Clones and U571 are recorded much louder than The Phantom Menace and the Matrix for example). If there is not such a list, is there a way to test this using an SPL meter so that I can develop my own list.


John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
Mar 14, 2000

You'd have to ask Onkyo if the steps are in 1dB increments, or you could use your SPL meter and see what each click represents as far as SPL is concerned.

You might find the attenuation isn't uniform across the range, giving you more control over the most used volume levels.


John Garcia

Senior HTF Member
Jun 24, 1999
Real Name
Every movie varies in playback level, and there is no rule of thumb or info that I've ever seen about the SPL level of movies. In fact, SW:EP1 is recorded lower, but you can turn it UP. :D

You'd have to sit and watch the entire movie and datalog the SPL over the whole thing, since PEAKS (loudest portions) are what you are looking for, and the person doing the mix may have kept the overall movie's level low to make sure the peaks did not exceed 115dB.

As long as your levels are matched, and everything sounds good, I'd say just adjust to your personal preference :)


Stunt Coordinator
Jul 26, 2002
The onkyo receiver has an absolute db level. the 0-100 is just that. In one decibel incriments the volume increases until 100db is the average playback level. No one I know wants to listen to their material at this level especially knowing that peak of movie sound tracks actually go a lot higher than the average volume.

So reference on the Onkyo 600 is actually 75db coinciding with the DVE reference level of 75.

I know that there are other possibilities for Onkyo Receivers. You can choose whether you want the Absolute db value or Relative which allows you to set 0 as reference and anything below that negative numbers. ie. if I listen at 15 below reference it would be -15. If you listen at reference it is 0. If you dare go beyond reference it will go into positive numbers +1 through +18 (if I am not mistaken)

I hope I haven't gone and confused you even further!

Jeff W.

Stunt Coordinator
Dec 21, 2003
I have the Onkyo 700. The volume tics do indeed appear to be close if not exactly 1db. However the 700 has 110w/ch whereas the 600 has less (85?) so obviously the 700 is going to play louder at any given volume setting (well, certainly at "100" eh?) so I don't think you can directly reference the volume numbers to decibels, unfortunately.

The 700, and I assume the 600 as well, does not have the option to switch to relative (+/-0db) volume display, which is a pity, my old Onk 575 has this option, I dunno why they got rid of it..

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