# How loud do you go? Decibel Question

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by EGM, Aug 23, 2004.

1. ### EGM Stunt Coordinator

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Here's a question for all you average HT'rs that don't have a dedicated room for home theater, but are rather like me...have your setup in your living room or multipurpose room.

I currently have a Denon 3805 running B&W 602s3s, an LCR60 center and 601s3 for my surrounds. I sit about 15 feet away from my speakers/television.

My previous receiver did not have a digital readout of the volume level, and I now that I have one, I find that I rarely push the volume above -15 for most movies, and even less than that (-20 to -25) for action films. Is this the norm or am I just too sensitive to the volume?

Am I also right in assuming that the volume scale is based on 0 being reference level? If not, than what is the scale based on?

I also realize that this is all based on a number of variables like the size of your room...how far you sit away...yada yada...but I really am just curious and want to see what other people are doing out there...

GM

2. ### Yogi Screenwriter

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Not all movies are recorded at the same level. For example LOTR was recorded loud so on a receiver that was calibrated for reference level at 0db you couldn't watch LOTR at -10db. Also not everyone's room is treated the same way. Some have carpeting/hardwood some have wall curtains some have glass surfaces. Some rooms are live some are dead. IOW there is no single answer to that question as one persons -15db isn't the same as anothers -15db.

My normal movie level is -25 with wife and -15 without wife.

3. ### ChrisWiggles Producer

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Galen, the volume numbers are completely meaningless unless you've calibrated reference to a certain point. You can compare things to where you are in relation to a calibrated reference level (which ideally you would calibrate to 0 on your readout, but it isn't necessary, as long as you know where you are in relation to where it ends up on your dial), but you can't just compare things to your dial readout unless you've calibrated it to something.

It sounds like you've not calibrated, BTW, which is something you absolutely should do.

4. ### EGM Stunt Coordinator

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Chris,

Actually, I belive I have calibrated reference at 0. At least I thought that was what I was doing when I used the 3805's mic in the auto setup. It would stand to reason, as the speakers were adjusted + or - dbs based on their distance and position from the mic, which was setup on a tripod where I wanted the sweetspot to be.

I drew the conclusion of what the scale meant from the instructions included with the receiver.

GM

5. ### Wayne A. Pflughaupt Moderator Moderator

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Wayne
As Yogi noted, the settings you use have no point of reference. Different discs have different volume levels built-in, and your room and speakers have a tremendous influence. For instance, if your room is large you’ll run at a higher level setting than if it’s small. And if you have highly efficient speakers, you’ll run the level setting lower than if your speakers are power hogs.

Really, there is no way to answer your question unless you take a dB reading at your seating position with an SPL meter. That will give us a point of reference with our own systems, and we can tell you if you are listening at low, high or whatever levels.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt

6. ### EGM Stunt Coordinator

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Wayne,

That is a little more helpful...and clearer. So in essence, they are utilizing a measure of power as a parallel to gauge the volume. Throttle up...throttle down.

Since Denon instructs you to set the receiver to 0 prior to running the auto calibration setup with the mic, they are using the maximum dBv as a reference point and not necessarily the reference level. To gauge what the reference level would be, I should pull out my old Rat Shack SPL meter and find out what my decibel level is at different dBv levels.

GM

7. ### Shaun Second Unit

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It seems to me, the easiest way to determine the reciever's reference volume using the auto-calibration feature would be to simply:

1) Set the master volume to 0, run the auto calibration using the MIC placed at the "sweet spot"/main listening position.

2)Once all of the tests have completed, pop in a set-up disc(Avia/Video Essentials) and start playing the channel test tones/pink noise.

3)While playing the tones, adjust the master volume until you hit 85db/75db depending on which set-up disc you use. This would be your "reference" level.

I have the Denon AVR-2805 and have used the auto-calibration feature a couple of times now, each time provided different and less than satisfactory results. The delay setting were set correctly, but the channel levels were all over the place. I'll experiment a couple of more times, but I actually prefer calibrating my system using Avia disc/SPL meter. It provides much more accurate settings.

8. ### ScottAndrew Stunt Coordinator

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I tested once with my meter to see what the maximum sound level was that I could bear in my small living room. Music peaking at 90 decibels was unbearable. I prefer it peaking at 75-80 decibels, no matter how good the music is.

9. ### Shane Martin Producer

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When I watch movies with my friends or myself, I usually crank it to about -5 to 0 depending on the movie. At this level it is loud but not uncomfortably so. I believe alot of people can't turn it up this loud and be comfortable because of some flaws in their system(usually brightness that they realize is there at that high level). Another thing that could be is that they are running out of juice at that level.

Now, if my wife is with me, I'm usually at -20 on average. I creep up towards -10 on some movies depending on the source material.

The #'s I'm quoting are not #'s on my knob but they are #'s based on my calibrated reference level.

If it's loud and uncomfortable then you got problems. That is my motto. Uncomfortable meaning your ears are hurting. For me its pretty loud and sometimes I just turn it down but not because my ears are in pain or the brightness(my system is not bright at all).

10. ### Kevin C Brown Producer

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My HT is referenced, and I usually listen at -10 to -15 dB for movies.

I'm playing some tunes right now, and I was surprised that I'm just barely hitting 75 dB on the Radio Shack meter. And that's pretty loud in that I usually listen at 5 dB lower, so I would say never over 80 dB for music (right on Scott! ). But subjectively speaking, I do listen to movies at a seemingly higher level. But, movies are not at the sustained level as music is, if that makes sense.

Oh yeah, I think I heard once, that with sustained sound over 85 dB, you risk hearing damage.

Now that I'm curious, I'll whip out the meter for the next movie I watch.

p.s. One band that I have a tendency to crank, is Deep Purple. Once ranked by the Guiness Book of World Records as the Loudest Band in the World. Measured at over 120 dB. Whew! Got some Humble Pie on right now.

11. ### Nan H Agent

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after calibrating my system the other day i decided to test it out i put in the matrix, the seen where neo rescues Morpheus and i turned it up, it was really loud then i noticed my setting was only at -24... so i'm wondering how can anybody listen to levels in the -20's or even -10's and what about the volume being at 0, your poor (or rich) ears that's got to hurt. i have ran my level at -10 before but that was for a BBQ at my neighbors house of course no one was home at my house not even my cats and yes it was very loud.

12. ### Pauli Extra

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I listen to music at around 60-65dB peak. In a quiet envireoment, such as my room, there is no need for higher volumes IMHO. Though naturally, sometimes I do crank it up

My Sony STR-DB2000 reaches this level at -43dB. At 0dB (never listen at this level though, +15dB is the highest volume setting), the volume level peaked at 106dB. My speakers have effiency of 84dB/1w/1m.

I usually watch movies at around -20dB volume.

13. ### EGM Stunt Coordinator

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Thanks for all your responses...

I also have to account for the wife factor while watching movies...listenting to music...breathing...you know the drill.

When it comes to watching movies with her, the level never gets above -25 to -20. Of course this differs with each source material, but I always try to sneak the volume up a little bit as the movie progresses...then I get caught.

I am going to measure the dBs this weekend and see exactly where my levels stand.

GM

14. ### John S Producer

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Just keep in mind the cleaner it is, the louder it can go.
This is a simple little understood fact about amplification and sound pressure levels.

110db of clean source, can actually be percieved as a lower volume than say 105db of less clean source.

15. ### Charlie C Stunt Coordinator

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For critical listening and critical enjoyment of my system, I peak over 100 db's

16. ### BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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I usually watch movies on my Dnon 3803 at -5. That equates to about 95-100 average SPL during loud action scenes at my seating position. But I have a pretty dead room.

17. ### Garrett Lundy Producer

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Pioneer VSX D511 reciever:

DVD player connect w/ coax digital: -32 / -42 "hot" DVDs (ex. LOTR)

Dish Network sat. connect w/ optical digital: -50

CD player connect with RCA stero cables: -45

System calibrated with S&V HT tune-up disk to 62db at -32.

18. ### Charlie C Stunt Coordinator

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"62db at -32" Does that mean that at -32, you got an average of 62 db's?

19. ### Shane Martin Producer

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My system is nor bright or distorting at that high levels. My ears don't hurt at all. If it's a really bright soundtrack(a rarity now), I just turn it down. Yes it's loud but not uncomfortably so. That is really the key.

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