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Minimum noticeable difference in level...

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Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 11:13 am

A few days ago I read something from some esteemed forum contributor, about 1db being the minimum difference in volume that can be noticed - or something along these lines.

I know that when I am approaching the final balance for a track, I often end up doing much smaller changes (especially on vocals, or parts which I want to stand out without "unglueing" them), easily of 0.1 or 0.2dBFS, and it does seem to make a difference to me - in the sense that i end up with a defined and repeatable preference between two options which are a tenth of a dBFS apart.

Obviously in these situations my brain is highly attuned to the details of the mix in question (something that happens after listening to it some 20 times in a row!), so I can perceive and appreciate a lot of details that I normally wouldn't.

I will keep on doing it regardless, but I wonder if I am fooling myself into believing there are differences or actually other people experience that too?
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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 23, 2019 11:41 am

CS70 wrote:A few days ago I read something from some esteemed forum contributor, about 1db being the minimum difference in volume that can be noticed - or something along these lines.

I don't know the context of that, but I believe the 1dB thing comes from testing people's ability to detect absolute level changes. So you play a tone or a track or something, and then play it again with a small level change, and see whether the listener can identify whether the level is the same or not.

A skilled listener is supposed to be able to hear changes of 1dB or more. Less skilled listeners need more like 2 or 3dB before they are sure there is a difference. (This is measuring source signal amplitude, not acoustic power BTW.)

But listening to sound levels in isolation is a very different thing to listening to the relative internal balance of two or more sounds and -- as you say -- a skilled listener can easily tell the difference in relative mix levels to a much finer degree -- 0.25dB being a figure I've come across often.

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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 12:27 pm

Ah! Good to know I'm not delusional!

Thanks!
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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 23, 2019 12:36 pm

Ah..now... I didn't say that exactly... :lol:
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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 2:37 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Ah..now... I didn't say that exactly... :lol:


RIght, more delusional than usual! :bouncy:
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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby Martin Walker » Thu May 23, 2019 2:44 pm

I can't remember ever changing a value by less than 0.5dB, but then that's perhaps me being anally retentive about using 'neat' values ;)


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Re: Minimum noticeable difference in level...

Postby James Perrett » Thu May 23, 2019 10:36 pm

CS70 wrote:A few days ago I read something from some esteemed forum contributor, about 1db being the minimum difference in volume that can be noticed - or something along these lines.

I think that may have been me and, having checked, I mentioned that this was in the past as modern research suggests that smaller differences (of the order of 0.1dB) can be detected although not necessarily heard as a difference in level. In the post that you saw I think I was trying to make the point that a 1dB difference actually comes across as a very small change in level.

I also find that small level changes can be heard much more clearly with decent monitors.
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