HT @ reference level?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Greg Yeatts, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Greg Yeatts

    Greg Yeatts Second Unit

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    How many of you routinely listen to your HT at reference level? If you listen @ below reference level, how many db below reference level do you listen?

    The reason I ask is that if I try to watch a movie @ reference level, everyone in the room but me thinks its too loud.
     
  2. Justin Ward

    Justin Ward Supporting Actor

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    I find reference level to be too loud. Occasionally I may play a quick sound demo at reference but typically I watch between 6 and 13dB below reference.
     
  3. dave alan

    dave alan Second Unit

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    My theater is 2500 Cubes. I sit 11 feet from the speakers which are all equidistant to the listening position. Calibrated using the preamp's pink noise, master volume set at "00", to 75 Db, 'C' weighting, slow.

    That's my 'reference' level, which translates to 100 Dbish at the sweet spot with peaks to 114 Db (on hotrodded LFE soundtracks, the peaks are always the subs, which I don't run hot).

    I have movies and MC audio both leveled to that volume and almost always listen/watch at that level. 1 1/2-2 hours at a time at that level isn't damaging to hearing and isn't uncomfortable at all (to me).

    If a soundtrack goes beyond 100 Db at the LP (LOTR, for ex.), I turn it down a bit.

    Just keep some ear muffs handy for the wimpy guests [​IMG]

    It's an interesting question though, because I never know what 'reference level' translates to for different calibration methods, rooms, volume scales, etc.
     
  4. Craig Woodhall

    Craig Woodhall Supporting Actor

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    i mostly listen at about 10db under reference, i spent a lot on my gear and like to listen and feel it loud. any louder than that and it just gets a little TOO loud though..

    Craig
     
  5. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    Depending on the movie I listen between Reference and 3dB below reference.
     
  6. Allen Ross

    Allen Ross Supporting Actor

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    i listen to my Onkyo STR500 around 70, it doesn't do the -13db reference thing. it does go up to 84 or something, but its just way to loud. plus my listening room is small.
     
  7. Greg Monfort

    Greg Monfort Supporting Actor

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    I listen at reference level, but my system is just idling along at
     
  8. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I imagine what Greg mentions is true of my system. I demo at 5 under and watch at 10-17 under with my midfi system.
     
  9. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Yeah, someone (Mike Strassburg) mentioned that when he finally calibrated his system, he realized that he had been listening "way over" reference level comfortably. The system was Klipsch KLF-30s, I think...

    As for me, I have no theater yet so I can't say anything relative to "reference level." But my perception of loudness varies a good deal with different speakers and amplifiers. Presumably, lower distortion sounds quieter. I am still not sure what level constitutes "low enough" distortion with my system.
     
  10. Doug_H

    Doug_H Supporting Actor

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    My system is cruising at reference which I use for many movies. Action type movies just need to heard and felt. For other movies I generally adjust the volume to a level where dialog is easily heard.
     
  11. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    My system is overkill for my small apartment so I typically listen to movies around 18 db below reference. I like my movies loud (but still sounding natural) but if I were to turn it up anymore it would be loud but not in a good way. Like others have mentioned already when I do a demo for someone I go about 12 db below reference.

    Maybe this will encourage me to get a house since my speakers have enough output for a much bigger space.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Lee Carbray

    Lee Carbray Second Unit

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  13. Joe Spratley

    Joe Spratley Stunt Coordinator

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    What level do you guys think is the low cutoff point where the movie is going to lose its effect? -25, -15 ?
     
  14. Doug_H

    Doug_H Supporting Actor

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  15. Todd_B

    Todd_B Second Unit

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    My theater room is 14x10x8 and we listen to discs anywhere between -18 and -16. Anything more and it really becomes taxing on our ears.

    Todd B
     
  16. John Doran

    John Doran Screenwriter

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    i listen to movies at reference-level every chance i get.

    i think if you have a system of a certain level of quality - one apable of proucing a lot of clean volume - reference level is not only much more tolerable, but (to me, anyway), actually pleasurable.
     
  17. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I value my hearing a lot now than I did in my past, so my level is usually whatever loudness is required for dialogue intelligibility and maybe 1-2 dB higher.
     
  18. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Here's my calibration for HT:

    Master Volume 00

    Avia test tones at 85 dB for all surround speakers at listening position on C-Weighted Slow

    Avia test tone at 88-89 dB for subwoofer at listening position on C-Weighted Slow

    Depending on the disc, I usually run anywhere from -15 to -5 for "comfortably loud" playback.

    While we should all calibrate our systems to the same standard using Avia, VE, S&V, etc. so that we can compare notes on playback, the most important thing to remember is that Reference Level more represents a playback volume than it does an absolute Master Volume setting. Unfortunately, DVDs are mastered all over the board (a variable we cannot control), and a given Master Volume setting will yield wildly different playback volumes on different DVDs. SW-PM and SW-AOTC are perfect examples of this, with AOTC being overall MUCH hotter than PM.

    RL is defined by Dolby Labs as that volume setting which causes 105 dB peaks in any surround channel and 115 dB peaks in the LFE channel. Simultaneous bass peaks in the surround channels and in the LFE channel (rare but possible) can create even higher SPL peaks (upwards of 120 dB). Since SPL peaks are invariably caused by the bass passages, how hot we run our subwoofer can affect our playback volumes considerably. I don't know if Dolby takes this into consideration in the definition of Reference Level. Maybe they require the sub to be calibrated flat - I just don't know.

    Also, we shouldn't forget that any C-Weighted meter will read low on deep bass passages and that the unweighted (i.e., actual) SPL will often be 3-5 dB higher than what the meter is reading. Also, the RS meter reportedly becomes inaccurate on C-Weighted Fast for bass peaks at anything much above 115 dB.

    Although I am a stickler for system calibration to a known standard, in the end I use my ears and my SPL meter, rather than the Master Volume setting, to tell me when I am playing my system at Reference Level.

    Regards,

    Ed
     
  19. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    If I'm alone, 5-10db below reference. With my wife in the room, 15-20db below.
     
  20. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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