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PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

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PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby ulrichburke » Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:03 pm

Dear Anyone.

So I've got a music mixing teacher saying to me I've got to calibrate my speakers. She sent me to a YouTube video and I really tried to follow it but boy..... What am I not understanding here!?!

Firstly, my computer. Windows XP SP3 using IDT High Definition Audio Codec. I'm sorry it's not a more modern windows but my DAW wouldn't work on anything else, trust me, and I'm having enough of a nightmare understanding this DAW without having to understand a more modern one. So here goes.

He downloaded an app. onto his phone to check speaker levels. I don't have a phone posh enough to do that, so I downloaded something called Praxis which I'm not pretending to understand for one moment but it says it's a sound level meter. He said it should have C-weighting and slow response. I can't find anything called C-weighting on Praxis - whatever the heck that means - but I DID find a response control and put it over halfway, which I presume is pretty slow.

He then said 'calibrate to 80db'. Now the noise of a cruising aeroplane is 85db. So does that mean I've got to have speakers that can go as loud as a cruising aeroplane (almost!) before I can mix stuff? Apart from anything else, I'm in an apartment and what's that level going to do to the neighbours?

He then said 'turn the speakers up till the pink noise level is -20db'. It doesn't matter what I do with the speakers, the reading on Praxis doesn't change. I've got the internal sound on full, the speakers on full and it's still hovering just above -100. What am I not understanding here? The speakers themselves, btw, at this point, are briefly - so I don't get lynched by the neighbours - emitting sounds loud enough for a rock concert - they're GOOD speakers - but the meter's still at just over -100. So I can't go on with the rest of the video because I can't get the meter to go up to -20 which is the first thing he tells me to do.

Then, purely by chance, I read on Google that the correct level for mixing a piece of music should be about conversation level. If it's supposed to be conversation level, why in hells' bells am I following a video that's trying to get me up to aircraft-cruising-speed sound levels!?!

Please, I WANT to do what my teacher says and calibrate everything but I am utterly beyond confused by all of this, I really am!

If anyone's interested, the 5-minute video I've been trying to follow is here.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idGvZnS ... e=youtu.be

And if anyone can explain all this sound calibration business in a way this dummy can UNDERSTAND, especially the bit about 'correct level being conversation level' (Google) vs. 'calibrate your monitors to 80db' (YouTube) I promise they'll have a friend for life cos I am not getting this at all. (Including why the guy on YouTube says the reading will change if you turn your speakers up and, I promise you, the reading stays exactly the same despite any speaker volume knob turning, up OR down, if the speaker volume knob's on zero the Praxis reading's exactly the same as if the speaker volume's on max.)

Yours frustratedly

Chris.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:00 pm

ulrichburke wrote:So I've got a music mixing teacher saying to me I've got to calibrate my speakers.

Good idea!

She sent me to a YouTube video and I really tried to follow it but boy..... What am I not understanding here!?!

Dunno... but this SOS article might help: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/establishing-project-studio-reference-monitoring-levels

I downloaded something called Praxis which I'm not pretending to understand for one moment but it says it's a sound level meter. He said it should have C-weighting and slow response.

A sound level meter for your purpose would indeed require C-weighting and slow averaging, yes.

Sorry, I've not had much experience with Praxis, but it's really not intended for your purpose and is way too complicated for a novice! So I wouldn't recommend it.

If you want a cheap (£25), reliable, easy-to-use sound level meter without all the faff associated with mobile phone apps and their dubious calibrations, I'd highly recommend something like this:

Image

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-905722-Sound-Level-50-126dB/dp/B00VS02UJA/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=analogue+sound+level+meter&qid=1564230990&s=gateway&sr=8-5

Select C weighting and slow average, set the appropriate range, look at the meter! It's that easy! I've used a similar model for decades for studio speaker calibrations all around the world and it's absolutely ideal for the job. I much prefer this kind with an analogue meter -- most seem to have digital displays these days which are much harder to read on noise sources!

He then said 'calibrate to 80db'. Now the noise of a cruising aeroplane is 85db. So does that mean I've got to have speakers that can go as loud as a cruising aeroplane (almost!) before I can mix stuff? Apart from anything else, I'm in an apartment and what's that level going to do to the neighbours?

The 'official standards' usually call for 83 or 85dBC SPL -- but they are intended for use in a very large, professional mix rooms with proper acoustic treatment and huge monitors. Those numbers are way too loud for a small domestic project studio or spare bedroom converted into a mix room!

The article I linked above has a table near the end (page 3) which details far more appropriate acoustic reference levels based on different room volumes. In my small room, I work with a reference level of 75dBC.

He then said 'turn the speakers up till the pink noise level is -20db'....

That article I linked to details the whole process (and the thinking behind the process)... But In brief, the idea is to use a properly calibrated audio file for the pink noise source (because most DAW meters don't read noise properly).

Download the proper test files from here: http://abluesky.com/support/blue-sky-calibration-test-files/

With the monitor controller volume initially turned down low (just to avoid painful noises), place the 1kHz -20dBFS test tone and the 500Hz-2.5kHz pink noise files into the same DAW track, one after the other. (Do not use the 'pink noise full' file -- you tend to get misleading results in your situation. The bandwidth-limited version neatly avoids any issues with bass modes in the room, and with HF reflections from desks and hardware and makes life MUCH easier! The level of the track has already been raised by the appropriate amount to compensate for the reduced bandwidth, so you can use it directly without having to worry about that!)

Pan the track fully over to the left output ONLY -- you only need to calibrate one speaker in a stereo system!

Play the 1kHz tone and, if necessary, adjust the DAW output fader to make sure the output metering in the DAW registers -20dBFS. Don't touch any of the DAW controls again!

Now play the pink noise track. The DAW's output meter should hopefully be around -20dBFS, but don't worry if it isn't spot on, or if it's jumping about! This is your reference test signal at the right level.

Now set your master monitor Volume control to a suitable reference position (ideally a mark you can find again easily, somewhere between the 12 and 3 o'clock positions) and then adjust the sensitivity level control on your left speaker to achieve the desired acoustic level (75dBC or whatever) in your room using the sound level meter.

It helps to have someone else tweak the speaker controls under your direction while you look at the meter -- which you need to point at the ceiling at the spot where your head would normally be when mixing. Failing that, mount the meter on a mic stand in the right position, with the dial facing the speaker so you can see it while you tweak!

Once you're happy, either hit the MONO button on your monitor controller or go back to your DAW and set the track pan to the centre.

Play the pink noise again and now adjust the input sensitivity control of the right-hand speaker to bring the phantom image of the noise signal into the midway point between your two speakers. I find this gives a more accurate result than aligning the right-hand speaker in the way you did the left, because a small alignment discrepancy can leave you with an annoying off-centre image!

... And you're done! :-D

Then, purely by chance, I read on Google that the correct level for mixing a piece of music should be about conversation level.

More good advice! Although most people actually like to mix a tad louder than that.

If it's supposed to be conversation level, why in hells' bells am I following a video that's trying to get me up to aircraft-cruising-speed sound levels!?!

Because it's either someone who doesn't know what they're talking about, or they're not taking into account the practicalities of working in small rooms.

Hope that helps...

H
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:48 pm

ulrichburke wrote:Dear Anyone.

So I've got a music mixing teacher saying to me I've got to calibrate my speakers. She sent me to a YouTube video and I really tried to follow it but boy..... What am I not understanding here!?!

Firstly, my computer. Windows XP SP3 using IDT High Definition Audio Codec. I'm sorry it's not a more modern windows but my DAW wouldn't work on anything else, trust me, and I'm having enough of a nightmare understanding this DAW without having to understand a more modern one. So here goes.

He downloaded an app. onto his phone to check speaker levels. I don't have a phone posh enough to do that, so I downloaded something called Praxis which I'm not pretending to understand for one moment but it says it's a sound level meter. He said it should have C-weighting and slow response. I can't find anything called C-weighting on Praxis - whatever the heck that means - but I DID find a response control and put it over halfway, which I presume is pretty slow.

He then said 'calibrate to 80db'. Now the noise of a cruising aeroplane is 85db. So does that mean I've got to have speakers that can go as loud as a cruising aeroplane (almost!) before I can mix stuff? Apart from anything else, I'm in an apartment and what's that level going to do to the neighbours?

He then said 'turn the speakers up till the pink noise level is -20db'. It doesn't matter what I do with the speakers, the reading on Praxis doesn't change. I've got the internal sound on full, the speakers on full and it's still hovering just above -100. What am I not understanding here? The speakers themselves, btw, at this point, are briefly - so I don't get lynched by the neighbours - emitting sounds loud enough for a rock concert - they're GOOD speakers - but the meter's still at just over -100. So I can't go on with the rest of the video because I can't get the meter to go up to -20 which is the first thing he tells me to do.

Then, purely by chance, I read on Google that the correct level for mixing a piece of music should be about conversation level. If it's supposed to be conversation level, why in hells' bells am I following a video that's trying to get me up to aircraft-cruising-speed sound levels!?!

Please, I WANT to do what my teacher says and calibrate everything but I am utterly beyond confused by all of this, I really am!

If anyone's interested, the 5-minute video I've been trying to follow is here.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idGvZnS ... e=youtu.be

And if anyone can explain all this sound calibration business in a way this dummy can UNDERSTAND, especially the bit about 'correct level being conversation level' (Google) vs. 'calibrate your monitors to 80db' (YouTube) I promise they'll have a friend for life cos I am not getting this at all. (Including why the guy on YouTube says the reading will change if you turn your speakers up and, I promise you, the reading stays exactly the same despite any speaker volume knob turning, up OR down, if the speaker volume knob's on zero the Praxis reading's exactly the same as if the speaker volume's on max.)

Yours frustratedly

Chris.

You need an SPL meter so you can control the loudness and not damage your hearing. Get one with a peak reading ability.

IMHO 80dB is WAY too loud for the norm.
They can EFF the so called 'standards' which are way too loud.
And your so called music teacher too.

80dB should be the occasional peak value you hear.
Or at least that you inflict on others.
Crank it up til you go deaf and have tinnitus if you want but dont do that to my ears please.

Mix at a normal volume in your room for your ears.
Use headphones if it disturbs the neighbors.
Use headphones anyway as they are better than speakers for mixing.

Google for weighting and SPL. C is the conventional whizdumb of the internet. The difference wont matter unless you are at jet engine levels, so C would work fine if you do not have really high SPL numbers.

Slow will let you read the numbers better. Fast weighting will read higher peaks. Using the peak function will read out the max. Some meters have a hold function.

Cell phone SPL can be iffy and depends on the mike as well as the ability of the programmer to meet the standards so the number they show is meaningful.

You really need a new teacher. The 80dB standard is a myth based on incorrect understanding of human hearing curves vs loudness.
It is conventional whizdumb of the internet based on what high school seniors 'know'.

Mix at the level you would play it back at and which is comfortable for you. And ignore that teacher. Get a good book at the library. You will learn more using a book and listening to the results you get when you try the things they suggest.

Hugh will disagree. More people will agree with him than me. But
You need to decide what works for you and your ears in your apartment with your neighbors for yourself.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:19 pm

hobbyist wrote:They can EFF the so called 'standards' which are way too loud.
And your so called music teacher too.

It would be nice if you would dial back the aggression a little bit! I don't mind you questioning dubious advice, but please keep it civil.

Back to the plot... The 'standards' are standards for entirely valid reasons.

The only problem with them is that some people simply don't understand why they are the 'standards' and don't appreciate when they should and shouldn't be applied to specific situations. It would seem that we can include you in that category.

C is the conventional whizdumb of the internet

Again, the standard calls for C-weighting for entirely appropriate reasons. However, if the band-limited pink noise signal is used, as I advised above, the difference in reading between A and C-weighting is relatively small. But in reality, it's an irrelevance as all half-decent sound level meters are equipped with a C-weighting option anyway.

The slow-averaging response option is a more critical factor since noise sources are inherently 'spikey' with a relatively high crest-factor, and so there will be a far more significant difference in readings made on fast and slow settings. The slow option will give a much more stable and consistent value, making it easier and quicker to align on the target SPL.

The 80dB standard is a myth...

Well... the 'standard' doesn't call for 80dB SPL for a start, so there's a myth right there! :lol:

Hugh will disagree

Only when advice given is misleading, incorrect, unsafe, or based entirely on bluster...

H
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:They can EFF the so called 'standards' which are way too loud.
And your so called music teacher too.

It would be nice if you would dial back the aggression a little bit! I don't mind you questioning dubious advice, but please keep it civil.

Back to the plot... The 'standards' are standards for entirely valid reasons.

The only problem with them is that some people simply don't understand why they are the 'standards' and don't appreciate when they should and shouldn't be applied to specific situations. It would seem that we can include you in that category.

C is the conventional whizdumb of the internet

Again, the standard calls for C-weighting for entirely appropriate reasons. However, if the band-limited pink noise signal is used, as I advised above, the difference in reading between A and C-weighting is relatively small. But in reality, it's an irrelevance as all half-decent sound level meters are equipped with a C-weighting option anyway.

The slow-averaging response option is a more critical factor since noise sources are inherently 'spikey' with a relatively high crest-factor, and so there will be a far more significant difference in readings made on fast and slow settings.

The 80dB standard is a myth...

Well... the 'standard' doesn't call for 80dB SPL for a start, so there's a myth right there! :lol:

Hugh will disagree

Only when advice given is misleading, incorrect, unsafe, or based entirely on bluster...

H

I appreciate and respect your views. Even when you are wrong:)
Anything that harms me or my ears will be pushed back against with all possible force.

My ears say that the standard is wrong.
It is WAY too loud.
My ears would hurt if I used that standard.

I have to wear earplugs at the movies because they use even higher SPL levels.

Standards are just that. Standards. There was a reason for them.
But that does not make them correct. Just the 'standard'.
My ears say that they are totally wrong and way too loud for comfort and for many of us also for safety.

Some of us do understand the true reason the standards are wrong.
They used logical fallacies to misuse the fletcher muson curves to come up with an erroneous standard.

I understand all the weightings A B C D Z M K yada yada.
I prefer the weighting that best protects my ears from damage.

Cant say to the UK but here in the colonies I recall seeing a standard for movies was 85dB. There are many standards and they do not all agree exactly. My ears say that movies are at least 85dB average which is why , if I ever go again, I always have earplugs. At a phish concert I also had earphones over the ears and earplugs:)

My advice is not misleading. It is based on optimising safety and comfort not some misguided theoretical idea.
Incorrect only for those who disagree. Correct for those who do.
Totally safe. It is the standard that is dangerous for many of us.
And not based on bluster but rather SYSTEMS THINKING and a desire to protect my hearing from further damage.

Whether you agree or not depends on your ears and what you are trying to achieve. Be careful what you wish for you might get it.
If your ears are not important and you believe louder is better then by all means crank it up and use the loudest standard you can find.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:54 pm

hobbyist wrote:My ears say that the standard is wrong.

I can't help you with your personal hearing issues. All I can say is that the standard is appropriate and employed in most relevant professional settings, all around the world, and has been for a considerable time. It exists purely and simply to ensure common monitoring levels and thus consistency when exchanging materials and projects between studios etc. and it does that very well.

As it happens, I've mixed programmes professionally in post-production rooms calibrated to the 83/85dB SPL standard and I've not found them 'way too loud' at all... Although that same reference level in a smaller, untreated, room would obviously be completely inappropriate. It's also worth noting that the alignment standard is on a par with the volume of a full orchestra in a similar sized space.

I have to wear earplugs at the movies because they use even higher SPL levels.

Cinemas are supposed to comply with the alignment standard -- it is a requirement of Dolby and THX licensing -- but like you I have also experienced some that have been misaligned, for whatever reason. And I've experienced films that have been mixed to be uncomfortably loud too.

But it seems to me that you are confusing or conflating a reference alignment level standard with the average volume/compression/dynamic range of programme mixes. But they are entirely different things. One is a simple engineering standard which is either employed during a mix room's commissioning or not. The other is a user practice which can be abused, or not. Surely it is the practice that should be controlled and improved, rather than changing a carefully derived standard in a futile means of compensation?

Of course, we are all different, with different ears, different perceptions and comfort levels. But it seems a little presumptious to be berate a long-established professional standard purely on an entirely personal preference, and perhaps even more so when the standard in question doesn't actually have any relevance to the original situation being discussed!

I understand all the weightings A B C D Z M K yada yada.

Well... Maybe not K, huh? :lol:

My advice is not misleading.

I didn't say it was, specifically. I was just indicating the conditions under which I voice my disagreement.

I whole-heartedly support the protection of eveyone's hearing.

If your ears are not important and you believe louder is better then by all means crank it up and use the loudest standard you can find.

If you were better acquainted with my contributions to the magazine and the pro-audio world in general you might realise just how embarrassingly wide of the mark that statement is!
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:18 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:My ears say that the standard is wrong.

I can't help you with your personal hearing issues. All I can say is that the standard is appropriate and employed in most relevant professional settings, all around the world, and has been for a considerable time. It exists purely and simply to ensure common monitoring levels and thus consistency when exchanging materials and projects between studios etc. and it does that very well.

As it happens, I've mixed programmes professionally in post-production rooms calibrated to the 83/85dB SPL standard and I've not found them 'way too loud' at all... Although that same reference level in a smaller, untreated, room would obviously be completely inappropriate. It's also worth noting that the alignment standard is on a par with the volume of a full orchestra in a similar sized space.

I have to wear earplugs at the movies because they use even higher SPL levels.

Cinemas are supposed to comply with the alignment standard -- it is a requirement of Dolby and THX licensing -- but like you I have also experienced some that have been misaligned, for whatever reason. And I've experienced films that have been mixed to be uncomfortably loud too.

But it seems to me that you are confusing or conflating a reference alignment level standard with the average volume/compression/dynamic range of programme mixes. But they are entirely different things. One is a simple engineering standard which is either employed during a mix room's commissioning or not. The other is a user practice which can be abused, or not. Surely it is the practice that should be controlled and improved, rather than changing a carefully derived standard in a futile means of compensation?

Of course, we are all different, with different ears, different perceptions and comfort levels. But it seems a little presumptious to be berate a long-established professional standard purely on an entirely personal preference, and perhaps even more so when the standard in question doesn't actually have any relevance to the original situation being discussed!

I understand all the weightings A B C D Z M K yada yada.

Well... Maybe not K, huh? :lol:

My advice is not misleading.

I didn't say it was, specifically. I was just indicating the conditions under which I voice my disagreement.

I whole-heartedly support the protection of eveyone's hearing.

If your ears are not important and you believe louder is better then by all means crank it up and use the loudest standard you can find.

If you were better acquainted with my contributions to the magazine and the pro-audio world in general you might realise just how embarrassingly wide of the mark that statement is!

===========================

The standard may be fine for you. For me it is wrong. And for others who have more sensitive ears than average.

Not really confusing them. I just wont mix at that level. And my ears cannot tolerate those who do , and especially those who push higher.
And that seems to be the norm in USA for radio TV and movies. There is a standard but nobody forcing them to use it. And some streaming services have gone even higher with their own versions.

At least when I playback at home I can turn the knob to the left.
I just wish I didnt have to keep turning it back and forth to even all the different parts out. Commercials I just mute so I dont have to twiddle knobs for them.

Your cinema may follow the rules but its the wild wild west here in the colonies. NPR even went too far the other way. I cant hear the announcers when the music is at a normal level. If I increase the loudness for the announcer I cant take the level of the music. I thought the standard was supposed to keep those at the same levels.

I understood k then and understand it better now. I think one web site that I trusted misled me as to the source of it wrt LUFS. That and I am old so my memory is not always perfect:)

That was a generic you. For those who think louder is better and love that new standard which is still IMHO wrong and too loud.

If you really wanted to protect everyone's hearing then wouldn't you really be saying the standard is too loud. Any fool that wants louder can turn the amplifier knob to the right. There is no advantage to mixing at or for that level.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:38 pm

hobbyist wrote:The standard may be fine for you. For me it is wrong. And for others who have more sensitive ears than average.

It's not about being 'fine' for anyone's ears. It's just an agreed reference level to ensure compatibility between mix rooms and, in the case of the film industry, cinemas/theatres too. And it is entirely fit for purpose.

If you find commercial films are mixed too loud, complain to the production company. It has nothing to do with the RP200 standard and everything to do with the nonsense mantra that 'louder is better' -- I fear volume and sound effects are increasingly used to make up for the plot

I just wont mix at that level.

Has anyone asked you too?

I understood k then and understand it better now.
;) Of course.

There is no advantage to mixing at or for that level.

The intention and benefit of the 83/85 dB SPL standard is consistency between professional facilities and, in theory a controlled and consistent experience in movie theatres. The first is reliably true. The second isn't, for reasons we've already discussed in brief.

I appreciate and understand your personal view as a consumer and hobbiest. I would simply suggest the professional world takes a different view for its own valid reasons, whether you agree with them or not.

But interesting as this all is, none of it helps the OP, other than that we are all agreed the the RP200 standard reference level is wholly inappropriate for a home studio setting.

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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:06 pm

I'm struggling to understand this conversation. As far as I can understand the standards referred to affect, predominantly, those mixing for movies and music albums in large professional recording studio control rooms. Movie theatres are also supposed to adhere to the 85dB standard but I suspect they are a law unto themselves (enough complaints will get the local 'standard' adjusted) so will ignore them.

How loud you or I mix is down to us, I'm a retired live sound guy (semi-pro from my teens, pro for the last 13 years before I retired) and a musician. I have hearing damage from too many too loud gigs. The 'standards' don't affect that so changing them would not have helped me.

Also 85dB is not especially loud (while working live sound 90-100 dB SPL and more at the desk was not unusual).

Now I'm taking recording a little more seriously I just set the volume at what feels comfortable on the day but, when I measure, it's usually around 75 dB SPL ish.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Wonks » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:04 pm

I set up my monitors for an 83dB K-standard and I didn't find it too loud at all. That's full-on pink noise levels, but with good dynamics and much more forgiving source material, the average levels when mixing were far lower than that. Certainly a lot quieter than having a conversation (well, being talked at) with my sister.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:30 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:The standard may be fine for you. For me it is wrong. And for others who have more sensitive ears than average.

It's not about being 'fine' for anyone's ears. It's just an agreed reference level to ensure compatibility between mix rooms and, in the case of the film industry, cinemas/theatres too. And it is entirely fit for purpose.

If you find commercial films are mixed too loud, complain to the production company. It has nothing to do with the RP200 standard and everything to do with the nonsense mantra that 'louder is better' -- I fear volume and sound effects are increasingly used to make up for the plot

I just wont mix at that level.

Has anyone asked you too?

I understood k then and understand it better now.
;) Of course.

There is no advantage to mixing at or for that level.

The intention and benefit of the 83/85 dB SPL standard is consistency between professional facilities and, in theory a controlled and consistent experience in movie theatres. The first is reliably true. The second isn't, for reasons we've already discussed in brief.

I appreciate and understand your personal view as a consumer and hobbiest. I would simply suggest the professional world takes a different view for its own valid reasons, whether you agree with them or not.

But interesting as this all is, none of it helps the OP, other than that we are all agreed the the RP200 standard reference level is wholly inappropriate for a home studio setting.

H


The standard may be good for that. But it has unintended consequences elsewhere.

Complaints to radio/TV/theatres does nothing but waste my time.

I mix for myself. Or friends. They also value their ears.
You can mix just as well at low levels as very high ones.

I expect many people to take a different view. Else we would not have a standard set so loud.

At least we agree on something. I thought you had been saying the standard was good for home use like the OP is apparently doing.
So I stand by my first reply. Dump that teacher and ignore his so called advice.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:35 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I'm struggling to understand this conversation. As far as I can understand the standards referred to affect, predominantly, those mixing for movies and music albums in large professional recording studio control rooms. Movie theatres are also supposed to adhere to the 85dB standard but I suspect they are a law unto themselves (enough complaints will get the local 'standard' adjusted) so will ignore them.

How loud you or I mix is down to us, I'm a retired live sound guy (semi-pro from my teens, pro for the last 13 years before I retired) and a musician. I have hearing damage from too many too loud gigs. The 'standards' don't affect that so changing them would not have helped me.

Also 85dB is not especially loud (while working live sound 90-100 dB SPL and more at the desk was not unusual).

Now I'm taking recording a little more seriously I just set the volume at what feels comfortable on the day but, when I measure, it's usually around 75 dB SPL ish.


The OP was about what a teacher told the OPer to set his monitors to for him to learn mixing. I questioned that advice.

Anyone who listens at 90-100 is ignorant of the danger or wants to destroy his ears.

I do live sound for the church along with others. I wear earplugs almost every Sunday because some of them like it hot and it is less loud in the balcony so they inflict too much on us in the audience.

Movie theatres seem to think louder is better.
They are all way too loud for my ears.
And my former wife's ears. RIP sweetie.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:38 am

Wonks wrote:I set up my monitors for an 83dB K-standard and I didn't find it too loud at all. That's full-on pink noise levels, but with good dynamics and much more forgiving source material, the average levels when mixing were far lower than that. Certainly a lot quieter than having a conversation (well, being talked at) with my sister.


Conversations are typically around 55dB.

83dB is like being screamed at by an army drill sergeant.

Good dynamics are those under 10dB for me.
Mixerman says the average song now how 4dB DR.

I redo my CDs to compress them. Else the loud parts would wake the neighbor's baby and the low parts would be less than the traffic outside is causing.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:48 am

hobbyist wrote:I thought you had been saying the standard was good for home use like the OP is apparently doing.

I'll repeat what I wrote in my original reply for you, with some added emphasis to help:

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The 'official standards' usually call for 83 or 85dBC SPL -- but they are intended for use in a very large, professional mix rooms with proper acoustic treatment and huge monitors. Those numbers are way too loud for a small domestic project studio or spare bedroom converted into a mix room!

The article I linked above has a table near the end (page 3) which details far more appropriate acoustic reference levels based on different room volumes. In my small room, I work with a reference level of 75dBC.

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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:00 am

hobbyist wrote:Conversations are typically around 55dB.

That figure feels rather low to me. I'd suggest a more realistic figure would be around 60-65dB SPL -- that's what we normally worked on as a basis for radio studio conversations at the BBC... And even your beloved sengpeil website reckons 60dB (http://www.sengpielaudio.com/TableOfSoundPressureLevels.htm)

83dB is like being screamed at by an army drill sergeant

A great deal depends on the environment. 83dB SPL in a small, lively room is perceived as being very much louder -- possibly unpleasantly loud -- than 83dB SPL in a large, acoustically-treated control room or cinema. Odd as that may seem...

In a decent professional mix room, my experience is that very few people with normal hearing would complain that 85dB feels too loud, but that most would feel uncomfortable with that same level in a domestic situation.

But as I said earlier, we shouldn't confuse the acoustic reference level with the perceived programme level, because the latter is heavily dependent on its dynamic range.

Of course, the 'standard' 85dB SPL reference was conceived to equate with the average programme level, with a 20dB headroom margin for occasional peaks (which could theoretically therefore reach 105dB SPL). If you're familiar with the Katz metering system you'll recognise that as the K20 format intended for use with naturally dynamic source material.

But for compressed music with low dynamic range, Katz recommends the K14 or K12 options. These maintain the same acoustic reference level, but reduce the headroom margins (and peak level) to compensate for the greater perceived loudness.

Mixerman says the average song now how 4dB DR.

He's talking only about hyper-compressed pop music resulting from the 'loudness wars' and the legacy practice of peak-normailsation. Thankfully, that situation is changing as a result of the wholesale move to loudness-normalisation and dynamic range is increasing again to something more natural for most recorded musical genres.

I redo my CDs to compress them. Else the loud parts would wake the neighbor's baby and the low parts would be less than the traffic outside is causing.

I appreciate your candour, but I genuinely find that a very sad statement.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby hobbyist » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:05 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Conversations are typically around 55dB.

That figure feels rather low to me. I'd suggest a more realistic figure would be around 60-65dB SPL -- that's what we normally worked on as a basis for radio studio conversations at the BBC... And even your beloved sengpeil website reckons 60dB (http://www.sengpielaudio.com/TableOfSoundPressureLevels.htm)

83dB is like being screamed at by an army drill sergeant

A great deal depends on the environment. 83dB SPL in a small, lively room is perceived as being very much louder -- possibly unpleasantly loud -- than 83dB SPL in a large, acoustically-treated control room or cinema. Odd as that may seem...

In a decent professional mix room, my experience is that very few people with normal hearing would complain that 85dB feels too loud, but that most would feel uncomfortable with that same level in a domestic situation.

But as I said earlier, we shouldn't confuse the acoustic reference level with the perceived programme level, because the latter is heavily dependent on its dynamic range.

Of course, the 'standard' 85dB SPL reference was conceived to equate with the average programme level, with a 20dB headroom margin for occasional peaks (which could theoretically therefore reach 105dB SPL). If you're familiar with the Katz metering system you'll recognise that as the K20 format intended for use with naturally dynamic source material.

But for compressed music with low dynamic range, Katz recommends the K14 or K12 options. These maintain the same acoustic reference level, but reduce the headroom margins (and peak level) to compensate for the greater perceived loudness.

Mixerman says the average song now how 4dB DR.

He's talking only about hyper-compressed pop music resulting from the 'loudness wars' and the legacy practice of peak-normailsation. Thankfully, that situation is changing as a result of the wholesale move to loudness-normalisation and dynamic range is increasing again to something more natural for most recorded musical genres.

I redo my CDs to compress them. Else the loud parts would wake the neighbor's baby and the low parts would be less than the traffic outside is causing.

I appreciate your candour, but I genuinely find that a very sad statement.



I would say yours is high. Is there that much difference in ears between our continents?

I think Katz is a bit too much and yes mixerman was talking about the loudness war result.

The only sad thing is that I have to compress my classical music so I can enjoy it without riding the gain knob constantly.

We have a church auditorium that must be much larger than any good mix room and I find that 85+ is too loud in that space.
To be fair the Music Director is happy with that although a number of people do complain about it being too loud.

He claims that some people also claim the sound is too low.

I say that all the people are right. The pastor's speaking sounds too low. The choir singing is too loud. And we had a guest talker who went from near whispers to shouting who had way too much DR.

We did get some compression on the choir which helps, but we really need some upwards compression on the pulpit mike and the wireless headset the talker uses.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Moroccomoose » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:48 am

I think the point that is being missed is that the standard does not require anyone to mix at 85dB. Nor is the standard suggesting what level a song is mixed at. It is simply saying that in two different rooms calibrated to the same standard, the loudness of the track should should be the same.

The standard does not say you can't turn down the master fader or monitor controller while you mix. It just says that when you turn it up again to the reference level, it will be the same volume in that 2nd equally calibrated room.

So those with sensitive ears could set the monitor controller to full to do the calibration thus preventing any chance of going louder (assuming sensible gain structure rules are adhered)

Or, following the SOS article advice, set the monitor controller half to three quarters to perform the calibration so you have headroom if you wish to scrutinise low volume artifacts.

For general mixing duties, the standard does not suggest you can't turn the volume down. It simply means if you turn the volume knob to the point where you calibrated, it will be the same loudness as in a similarly calibrated system also at its calibrated volume. You can turn monitor controller down in that 2nd room too if you like, but it is still calibrated.

Or to put it another way, for any given electrical signal input to the speakers, the two systems will have the same perceived loudness.

I'm happy to be corrected, but that is my understanding of speaker calibration.
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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:45 am

Spot on M. Good points and useful clarifications.

It's also worth noting that the original advice given to the OP -- regardless of any specific recommended reference level -- was purely about ensuring consistency of mix levels for the OP across different mix sessions in his/her own facility, rather than about aligning acoustic levels to other studios elsewhere.

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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:52 am

hobbyist wrote:The only sad thing is that I have to compress my classical music so I can enjoy it without riding the gain knob constantly.

Without wishing to cause offence, and with the best supportive intentions, may I suggest having a professional hearing assessment? I say that simply because I gather you are a gentleman of mature years, who apparently finds moderately loud sound levels uncomfortable and struggles to cope with normal dynamic range material. These are all pretty classic symptoms of age-related hearing loss. Just a thought...

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Re: PLEASE someone explain calibration after reading this....!!

Postby TNGator » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:37 pm

ulrichburke wrote:Dear Anyone.

So I've got a music mixing teacher saying to me I've got to calibrate my speakers. She sent me to a YouTube video and I really tried to follow it but boy..... What am I not understanding here!?!

Firstly, my computer. Windows XP SP3 using IDT High Definition Audio Codec. I'm sorry it's not a more modern windows but my DAW wouldn't work on anything else, trust me, and I'm having enough of a nightmare understanding this DAW without having to understand a more modern one. So here goes.

He downloaded an app. onto his phone to check speaker levels. I don't have a phone posh enough to do that, so I downloaded something called Praxis which I'm not pretending to understand for one moment but it says it's a sound level meter. He said it should have C-weighting and slow response. I can't find anything called C-weighting on Praxis - whatever the heck that means - but I DID find a response control and put it over halfway, which I presume is pretty slow.

He then said 'calibrate to 80db'. Now the noise of a cruising aeroplane is 85db. So does that mean I've got to have speakers that can go as loud as a cruising aeroplane (almost!) before I can mix stuff? Apart from anything else, I'm in an apartment and what's that level going to do to the neighbours?

He then said 'turn the speakers up till the pink noise level is -20db'. It doesn't matter what I do with the speakers, the reading on Praxis doesn't change. I've got the internal sound on full, the speakers on full and it's still hovering just above -100. What am I not understanding here? The speakers themselves, btw, at this point, are briefly - so I don't get lynched by the neighbours - emitting sounds loud enough for a rock concert - they're GOOD speakers - but the meter's still at just over -100. So I can't go on with the rest of the video because I can't get the meter to go up to -20 which is the first thing he tells me to do.

Then, purely by chance, I read on Google that the correct level for mixing a piece of music should be about conversation level. If it's supposed to be conversation level, why in hells' bells am I following a video that's trying to get me up to aircraft-cruising-speed sound levels!?!

Please, I WANT to do what my teacher says and calibrate everything but I am utterly beyond confused by all of this, I really am!

If anyone's interested, the 5-minute video I've been trying to follow is here.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idGvZnS ... e=youtu.be

And if anyone can explain all this sound calibration business in a way this dummy can UNDERSTAND, especially the bit about 'correct level being conversation level' (Google) vs. 'calibrate your monitors to 80db' (YouTube) I promise they'll have a friend for life cos I am not getting this at all. (Including why the guy on YouTube says the reading will change if you turn your speakers up and, I promise you, the reading stays exactly the same despite any speaker volume knob turning, up OR down, if the speaker volume knob's on zero the Praxis reading's exactly the same as if the speaker volume's on max.)

Yours frustratedly

Chris.
Hi Chris.
Brilliant post. Fellow dummy here by the way also confused by a lot of this stuff. Im heading into town in a few minutes but I really want to read all of the replies on this. Im currently waiting on my flat response room testing mic from Thomann. I download a room testing software as i want to get some decent DIY acoustic treatment in my small room here. But your query here is also important so lots for me to read here. PS... something that is kind of related to all of this is how to read the meters in your DAW. Im a dummy on this subject also but one of the SOS guys in answer to a post I made sent me this link. Its a great document on meters. https://mikeriversaudio.files.wordpress ... evised.pdf Xave . Thanks for the great question. Ive no doubt loads of us out here need help on this.
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