what is reference level?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ArmenK, Dec 18, 2001.

  1. ArmenK

    ArmenK Stunt Coordinator

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    simple newbie question: what does it mean to listen to your system at "reference level"?
     
  2. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    Nice article.
    short explanation for those who are click-challenged....
    Reference level means 105dB peaks from any single channel, at the seats. Plus, 115dB peaks in the LFE at the seats. So, yes, it's quite loud.
    You can achieve this by using a calibration disc, such as Avia. They have recorded sounds at a predetermined level, like 20 dB below full scale. If your receiver has a volume readout such that you can set it at "00" and when you turn it down you get "-01", "-02" etc, then you just set it at "00" and calibrate to 85dB using an SPL meter.
    Then when you play a movie back and put the volume at "00", you know that you're at "reference" level, and you will be getting 105dB peaks from any given channel, and 115dB peaks in the LFE channel. This is assuming your equipment is up to the task [​IMG]
    A lot of people seem to like 10dB under reference as a listening level for movies. It's loud but not "@##$@& that's loud" [​IMG]
     
  3. ArmenK

    ArmenK Stunt Coordinator

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    cool, thanks alot guys [​IMG]
     
  4. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Isn't ref level the volume level you're supposed to hear in a theater? (unless they dialed it down)

    It's hard to relate to 105/115 dB without a SPL meter to give some perspective. So if the above statement it true, then you have some idea of what ref level actually is.
     
  5. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Second Unit

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    Very nice article! Bookmarked.

    I calibrated my receiver to the Avia test tones, setting the volume knob to zero and adjusting the channel levels to produce 85 dB. When I watch movies I almost never set the volume knob to zero. I have to be in a rare destructive mood or "damn my system kicks ass"-mode to crank it that high. I usually set the volume between -10 and -5. That's the comfort zone for me. Every 3 dB increase translates to double the perceived volume, right? So if I usually watch movies at -6 (pretty freakin' loud already), cranking it up to 0 would be 4 times as loud! Ouch.
     
  6. Adil M

    Adil M Supporting Actor

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    Every 3 dB increase translates to double the perceived volume, right?

    No. They say it's 10 db, but it gets more extreme at really low and high volumes.
     
  7. PhilS

    PhilS Stunt Coordinator

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    I thought reference level was 75 db?
     
  8. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Speakers should be calibrated at 75 dB if using Video Essentials or the internal test tones (for a THX receiver). If using Avia, calibrate at 85 dB. Either of the calibration DVDs will provide instructions for use.
    Then, ref level will be a MAX of 105 dB peak/115 dB LFE at your listening position.
    Or so I understand. [​IMG]
    Brian Florian concludes the article at the above referenced url by saying:
    " The close quarters of home theater, not to mention the limitation of the hardware, can make this a very high level at which to watch a two hour movie. Please use common sense when enjoying your system. Anything above 80 dB can permanently deteriorate your hearing with tinnitus as one of the results."
     
  9. John Purnell

    John Purnell Auditioning

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    85 db? I'm a newbie to this and my Pioneer VSX-35TX reads negative 25 and I think its getting loud. When I do the system set-up the level goes up to "0", each channel is tested (I have 5.1), and I swear the speakers are gonna blow (Boston Accoustics satelites). Do I need to change the reciever back to factory settings and start over or what. The left(back) and right (back) don't really krank the sound out,...yet [​IMG]
     
  10. Jason Wolters

    Jason Wolters Stunt Coordinator

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    :b

    John, This is 85 db on an SPL meter not on your receiver. The settings on the receiver are largely arbitrary and should be mostly ignored. Use your ears as a reference for to loud, and calibrate each speaker to 75 db using a DVD like Avia. 85 db on the avia disc is going to be too much for most rooms. My room is 15 x42' and 75 db is about right.
     
  11. John Purnell

    John Purnell Auditioning

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    Ah ha, thanks. So basically I should get the disc, get everything set-up (TV, audio) and then do system set-up via the Pioneer?.
     
  12. Jason Wolters

    Jason Wolters Stunt Coordinator

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    The Avia disc. Yes this is the place to start. It will make a lot of what you are reading on here come into view. Good Luck.
     

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