Q:What's a real world ref level in home sound

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Tyrone, Oct 22, 2001.

  1. John Tyrone

    John Tyrone Agent

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    85db reference level is great if your in a big theater, but when your 10ft away it's not realistic. What would be more practical? 70db,60db,50db? I'd like to read what other users set their levels at and what distance away from the speaker placement.
    I'm about 10ft away from the mains and sub and about 4 ft away from the surrounds so I haven't used an spl meter yet to find a comfy db level to leave it at? Going to the Shack today!
    John
     
  2. SamRoza

    SamRoza Stunt Coordinator

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    Most people stick with 75dB, not 85dB.
    I prefer to set it to about 75-80dB.
    Sam
     
  3. Dax Scott

    Dax Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    I like to calibrate to 70dB since that reads at "0" on the SPL meter when it's set to 70dB. I listen to movies at around the same volume, and it's plenty loud for my taste. Doesn't bother my neighbors too much either (I'm in an apartment).
    ------------------
    Dax R. Scott - DVD Addict
    Ask yourself... what would Ditka do?
     
  4. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    Since you should be calibrating "at the seats", distance shouldn't matter. I also find 85db (Avia) very loud, so I go with 75db. Even that gets very loud at times, but my system stays pretty clean, so it's not an "offensive" loud, and dialogue is at a useable level.
     
  5. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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  6. Mike Dr

    Mike Dr Stunt Coordinator

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    I set my system up for 75db and it seems sufficient, although I find that the level changes from dvd to dvd.. for instance, the new Fifth Element Superbits edition is noticeably louder than most other DVD's I have.. and I find THX DVD's a bit lower which is odd (Terminator 2 ultimate DVD and Star Wars Episode I) has anyone else experienced this?
    System was calibrated using RadioShack SPL meter (Slow / C-weighted) and Avia to 75db
    My system is as follows:
    Onkyo S535 DVD player feeding a
    Marantz SR7000 receiver through a BetterCables 1 meter digital coax
    going into Tannoy Saturn S8 L, R and C, Tanoy PS115 sub and Tannoy Mercury M2's in the back
     
  7. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Guys,
    You are overlooking a very imporant fact.
    The AVIA tones are recorded at a different level than most receivers / processors.
    AVIAs tones are recorded at -20dB Full Scale Signal, and most receivers / processors are at -30dB Full Scale Signal.
    The point of this calibration is so that when you set your processor on a relative scale, you will know that you are set so that 0.0dB is reference or a maximum of 105dB at the listening position for mains, and 115dB for the subwoofer.
    Going below that on a relative basis helps out as well.
    Some receievers/processors don't use relative scales, but do have a volume spot called "Ref" or reference level. This is where you would calibrate for AVIAs test tones and then try to hit 85dB.
    What you listen to after the fact for a volume level is your call, but to get expected, predictable results you really should calibrate to reference, then adjust playback volume to suit.
    I personally don't listen at reference level very often myself, and when I do it's to test the capabilities of a piece under review.
    Regards,
    ------------------
    John Kotches
    Contributing Writer
    Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
     
  8. Dax Scott

    Dax Scott Stunt Coordinator

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  9. Rob Robinson

    Rob Robinson Second Unit

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    where is guy?
     
  10. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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  11. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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  12. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Avia itself acknowledges that 85 dB may be uncomfortably loud and says to calibrate at whatever level you want (my interpretation). Should you calibrate at normal listening levels if they are much different from reference?
    Are you saying there's a difference between calibrating:
    MV= 0 (relative)
    speaker levels adjusted for SPL 85 dB
    vs
    MV= -10 dB (relative)
    speaker levels adjusted for SPL 75 dB
    I tend to use the latter.
    IAC, when we watch DVDs at night, volume levels are typically at -15 to -25 dB, depending on what I can get away with before my wife says, "It's too loud!" [​IMG]
    ------------------
    --RR
     
  13. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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    Actually, if you use AVIA to calibrate your system with your volume set to 00 using AVIA's 85dB test tone and then go use Video Essentials 75dB test tone and keep your volume at 00 you'll see that the SPL meter will read 75dB which basically means your calibrating to the same reference with either disc as long as you know that AVIA tones are at 85dB and the VE's are at 75dB.
    What I was trying to say above is you only need to play a soundtrack -10dB lower rather than calibrating -10dB lower unless you like seeing your volume at 00.
    Patrick
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    My DVD Collection
    Patrick The 69th most popular name for boys according to the Social Security Administration.
     
  14. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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  15. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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    Jack,
    Nope, I don't think there is any reason not to do it that way. I was just wondering if there was a technical reason to do it that way.
    Patrick
    ------------------
    My DVD Collection
    Patrick The 69th most popular name for boys according to the Social Security Administration.
     
  16. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    Believe it or not, 85db in a movie theater is as loud as 85db in your home theater.
    If that level sounds uncomfortable, figure out why.
    Higher distortion?
    More reverb/reflection?
    Other than those 2 items, the only possible difference is the larger distance in a real movie theater from speakers to seats (average). That diminishes the higher frequencies somewhat, which when absent at home can sound like harshness. Some equalization could match this or a THX receiver/processor.
    Personally I listen between -5db and reference for just about everything and my room is tiny.
    ------------------
    My Home Theater Page
     
  17. Dax Scott

    Dax Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to clarify a bit, when I say "calibrate" I mean "make all speakers output at the same SPL". I'm not trying to make the calibration point correspond with "0" on my volume knob.
    I suppose that would technically be called "balancing" not "calibrating", but that's not terribly important. I turn the volume up until the left front speaker outputs 70 dB, then match that output for the rest of the speakers by making adjustments as necesary. After that, I set the volume to a comfortable level for each movie, depending on the time of day and type of movie.
     
  18. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    OOC, anyone ever taken their SPL meter to the theater with them to see what SPLs are running?
    I too wondered about the linearity if one calibrates/balances at other than spec.
    ------------------
    --RR
     
  19. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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  20. Jeremy Anderson

    Jeremy Anderson Screenwriter

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    I calibrate to 75db speakers/78db subwoofer (taking into account the -3db inaccuracy of the Radio Shack SPL meter for bass tones) using Avia, because -10db from reference is my usual listening level, and going much higher than that makes it sound way too bright (which may be my Onkyo 595's fault). Besides, I don't know if my 4 little Polk R-10s and CS175i should be anywhere near reference for any movie. Of course... I've never tried it at reference level with Re-EQ engaged... so I may have to try that tonight before I pop in Final Fantasy. THE TWEAKING NEVER ENDS! [​IMG]
     

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