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Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:53 am

More than one site says this nonsense:
The optimum loudness level for mixing is 85dB.
[Did not say calibration. They meant mixing at average 85]
And
It is absolutely vital that your speakers are accurately calibrated so that you can create the best possible mixes.
[This makes no sense. You calibrate so others know what level you are at. Presumably to adjust their playback or mastering easier]

Other sites say something like:
Most home studios are smaller , so 73 SPL C is a more appropriate target.

Some say to mix at 85 others say to calibrate at 85.

For myself and a lot of people I know who are not in the business but just listen to music not mix it, 85 dB is too bleeping loud except for an occasional peak. Rock concerts are not the norm for most people.

The problem is that people misunderstand the Fletcher Munson curves. You do not have to mix at deafening levels to get a good mix just because your hearing may be a bit flatter at such levels.
Why not crank it up to 90 or 100 and really use a flatter area?
Why not 110 or 120 or more?

If you make a good mix at 60-65dB then it will sound just as good at 60-65dB on a playback system.

Why do some people think that louder is better and want to inflict painful andor dangerous sound levels on everyone?

Here is a recent post by a guy doing his basement to record his band:
....a room for a loud (l 120-130 Db at the peaks, averaging around 105-110 Db) band.

And he is not the exception. Are all musicians deaf already?
What's with the goal of having such ridiculous unsafe levels?

It is one thing to have an interchange standard with 85dB being some fixed value in digital, but there is NO reason to mix at that level nor calibrate at that level unless you are playing back at that level.

But note that one site says this
It's worth noting that calibrating the studio monitors to the required sound pressure level could result in playback volume that is considered too loud. d'OH!

An alleged benefit of 85 is: #1 Headroom[?]
By calibrating your system you will give yourself headroom in your mixes. This forces you to add more dynamic range in your mixes!

Maybe that was left over from the analog days. We have way too much bleeping headroom with digital and S/N to burn too.
Nobody needs to calibrate at 85dB in order to have 'headroom'.

All I see are lots of unproven claims based on logical fallacies and a desire to have loud mixes by those who were involved with the standards.

Anybody with facts please tell me where I am wrong.
But note that I have the majority of the listening public on my side although not many kids nor musicians,
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Re: Really?

Postby Jack Ruston » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:34 am

85dB is the sort of level you'd use in a larger space with main monitors. In a typical smaller near field setup it would be way too loud. What you find is that somewhere between 75 and 80 dB seems to be more suitable. Whether it's 77 or 79 doesn't much matter. It's more important to pick a comfortable level and stick to it.

J
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Re: Really?

Postby Luke W » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:31 am

hobbyist wrote:More than one site says this nonsense:
The optimum loudness level for mixing is 85dB.

hobbyist wrote:For myself and a lot of people I know who are not in the business but just listen to music not mix it, 85 dB is too bleeping loud except for an occasional peak.

Then why worry? No one says you have to listen back at any particular level, and I can fairly safely assume any problems you have regarding mixes weren't caused by the listening level of the studio they came from :thumbup:
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Re: Really?

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:27 am

Why so exercised about this?

I have not the faintest idea at what listening volume I'm mixing. I set levels to what is comfortable to me - increasing them slightly if something's really critical and I need to concentrate on a few bars in particular and then dialling back to my normal level in due course. 75dB? 85dB? Who knows? Dare I say, with a few exceptions such as yourself, who cares?

Having been doing this stuff for 50-ish years I have a kind of intuitive notion now of 'normal' and can adjust things quite happily without constantly agonising over where my monitoring level control is set. (My 'normal' is the level at which I'd expect to be listening to commercial stuff in the mix environment.)

Surely the key thing is that mixes are 'finished' to appropriate levels and leave your mixing environment adjusted for the replay medium for which they're intended?
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:58 am

hobbyist wrote:More than one site says this nonsense:
The optimum loudness level for mixing is 85dB.

We've already had this discussion. And it really shouldn't come as a surprise that so much of 'The InterWeb' is full of bad or conflicting advice and nonsense!

Image

On the up-side, it emphasises the oasis of calm, polite, considered, rational and accurate advice and information that the SOS Forums offer... :D

So, yes, as we have already established elsewhere in recent threads, it is a nonsense for a small domestic studio to calibrate a reference listening level of 85dB SPL.

The reason that figure (or the updated 83dB(C) SPL value) is often bandied about is because it comes from the SMPTE standard (derived from Dolby and adopted by many others) for mixing in very large, acoustically-treated professional mix rooms -- where it is an entirely appropriate and practical reference level.

This makes no sense. You calibrate so others know what level you are at. Presumably to adjust their playback or mastering easier

For professionals regularly exchanging programme material with other establishments or mix engineers, there is complete sense in everyone working to a common acoustic monitoring level. That was the reason Dolby established the practice and SMPTE defined formally as the RP200 reference in the first place.

However, while amateurs mixing at home might not need to exchange work-in-progress with other home studios, working with a calibrated acoustic reference level makes sense for a related, but slightly different, reason: it's very helpful to have a known, repeatable monitoring reference level so that when working on mixes at different times over a long time period, the listening level can be kept consistent, and thus mix decisions will be much more uniform and consistent.

So in this case, the idea is to calibrate the monitoring system to enable working at a consistent level day to day, and week to week. In practice, this could be achieved perfectly well just by using a consistent volume setting on the monitor controller knob -- and that approach works very well for a great many people. However, a lot of people like to compare their mixes on multiple different monitors, and they may upgrade their monitors in time, so it can be useful to know the chosen acoustic reference SPL that they're happy working at, and to ensure that all speakers in a multi-speaker system are working at the same reference level.

Anybody with facts please tell me where I am wrong.

See above!

I can say without fear of contradiction that you're pushing on an open door here when it comes to working with sensible monitoring levels and the importance of protecting one's hearing. I think you'll also find that Sound On Sound (as the world's best music technology magazine) -- as well as these SOS forums -- champion the same sensible ideals.

Can I ask, have you actually bothered to read that instructional article I linked in the previous debate? It states, very clearly, all these things... :roll:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/establishing-project-studio-reference-monitoring-levels
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Re: Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:30 pm

Luke W wrote:
hobbyist wrote:More than one site says this nonsense:
The optimum loudness level for mixing is 85dB.

hobbyist wrote:For myself and a lot of people I know who are not in the business but just listen to music not mix it, 85 dB is too bleeping loud except for an occasional peak.

Then why worry? No one says you have to listen back at any particular level, and I can fairly safely assume any problems you have regarding mixes weren't caused by the listening level of the studio they came from :thumbup:

True and I dont.

But neither will I mix at those levels no matter what some deaf guy tells me to do.
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Re: Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:30 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:85dB is the sort of level you'd use in a larger space with main monitors. In a typical smaller near field setup it would be way too loud. What you find is that somewhere between 75 and 80 dB seems to be more suitable. Whether it's 77 or 79 doesn't much matter. It's more important to pick a comfortable level and stick to it.

J


I agree. For me peak peak at 85 is my max tolerable.
An average could be between 50-65 depending on the room.

However many experts are making blanket statements of use 85dB for everything.


One sane site has this wizdom:

NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.

Here’s how:
Know which noises can cause damage (those at or above 85 dBA).

Wear earplugs or other protective devices when involved in a loud activity


If you can’t reduce the noise or protect yourself from it, move away from it.

Be alert to hazardous noises in the environment.

Protect the ears of children who are too young to protect their own.

Make family, friends, and colleagues aware of the hazards of noise.
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Re: Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:35 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:Why so exercised about this?

I have not the faintest idea at what listening volume I'm mixing. I set levels to what is comfortable to me - increasing them slightly if something's really critical and I need to concentrate on a few bars in particular and then dialling back to my normal level in due course. 75dB? 85dB? Who knows? Dare I say, with a few exceptions such as yourself, who cares?

Having been doing this stuff for 50-ish years I have a kind of intuitive notion now of 'normal' and can adjust things quite happily without constantly agonising over where my monitoring level control is set. (My 'normal' is the level at which I'd expect to be listening to commercial stuff in the mix environment.)

Surely the key thing is that mixes are 'finished' to appropriate levels and leave your mixing environment adjusted for the replay medium for which they're intended?


So far every comment has been realistic.

So why do the 'experts' say it has to be 85dB ??

Great for interchange so you know the level of a file you share but way too high to listen to.

I know that tinseltown likes loud movies and they need to normalise for playback at a theatre. But that is still too loud. Seems like the loudness war mindset without thinking about safety.

Didnt someone recently win a case in EU where they claim their hearing was damaged in the theatre because it was too loud?
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Re: Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:39 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:More than one site says this nonsense:
The optimum loudness level for mixing is 85dB.

We've already had this discussion. And it really shouldn't come as a surprise that so much of 'The InterWeb' is full of bad or conflicting advice and nonsense!

Image

On the up-side, it emphasises the oasis of clam, polite, considered, rational and accurate advice and information that the SOS Forums offer... :D

So, yes, as we have already established elsewhere in recent threads, it is a nonsense for a small domestic studio to calibrate a reference listening level of 85dB SPL.

The reason that figure (or the updated 83dB(C) SPL value) is often bandied about is because it comes from the SMPTE standard (derived from Dolby and adopted by many others) for mixing in very large, acoustically-treated professional mix rooms -- where it is an entirely appropriate and practical reference level.

This makes no sense. You calibrate so others know what level you are at. Presumably to adjust their playback or mastering easier

For professionals regularly exchanging programme material with other establishments or mix engineers, there is complete sense in everyone working to a common acoustic monitoring level. That was the reason Dolby established the practice and SMPTE defined formally as the RP200 reference in the first place.

However, while amateurs mixing at home might not need to exchange work-in-progress with other home studios, working with a calibrated acoustic reference level makes sense for a related, but slightly different, reason: it's very helpful to have a known, repeatable monitoring reference level so that when working on mixes at different times over a long time period, the listening level can be kept consistent, and thus mix decisions will be much more uniform and consistent.

So in this case, the idea is to calibrate the monitoring system to enable working at a consistent level day to day, and week to week. In practice, this could be achieved perfectly well just by using a consistent volume setting on the monitor controller knob -- and that approach works very well for a great many people. However, a lot of people like to compare their mixes on multiple different monitors, and they may upgrade their monitors in time, so it can be useful to know the chosen acoustic reference SPL that they're happy working at, and to ensure that all speakers in a multi-speaker system are working at the same reference level.

Anybody with facts please tell me where I am wrong.

See above!

I can say without fear of contradiction that you're pushing on an open door here when it comes to working with sensible monitoring levels and the importance of protecting one's hearing. I think you'll also find that Sound On Sound (as the world's best music technology magazine) -- as well as these SOS forums -- champion the same sensible ideals.

Can I ask, have you actually bothered to read that instructional article I linked in the previous debate? It states, very clearly, all these things... :roll:

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/establishing-project-studio-reference-monitoring-levels


Yes. SOS is more sane than the other forums on the net.
Like the one I quoted with 130dB band practice. And that in a small enclosed basement.

I read most of the links you posted.
I saw the SOS chart of recommended SPL by room size.
IMHO they were still all 15dB too high.

I wish the alleged experts would stop pushing nonsense but I guess the internet makes that futile.

This site about hearing loss says a MAXIMUM of 85dB which has long by my standard based on my ears and measureing SPL at places I have been at which seemed too loud, and mostly were.

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise- ... aring-loss
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Re: Really?

Postby Wonks » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:45 pm

The daily recommended exposure rate for 85dB is 8 hours. So a normal healthy person could do a standard days work of mixing at 85dB (though the average SPL will be a lot lower), as long as you don't expose yourself to any louder noises. You certainty aren't going to suffer instant hearing damage.

There are certainly benefits to listening louder, as you can perceive smaller differences in sound levels, so you can tune a mix better. The mix might not sound much different at 65dB, but for anyone who does play it louder, then it can sound better.

But most people with 83/85dB reference systems will probably mix at lower volumes and turn it up occasionally to get that bit more detail from it.
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:50 pm

hobbyist wrote:But neither will I mix at those levels no matter what some deaf guy tells me to do.

Nobody is asking you to! :headbang:
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:03 pm

hobbyist wrote:For me peak peak at 85 is my max tolerable.

Then, self-evidently, your own sense of hearing lies significantly below the range considered to be that of a normal, healthy average person, and as such your perspective on an appropriate level will clearly not apply to the average person. Perhaps you should consider moderating your position and arguments to reflect that.

Image

Know which noises can cause damage (those at or above 85 dBA).

This is either quoted in part or out of context. Either way, it is factually erroneous and therefore both meaningless and misleading!

The risk of noise-induced hearing loss comes (mainly) from long-term noise exposure which has to be measured in a very specific way. A simple SPL measurement is not appropriate or relevant! the figure you quoted above should have been quantified as 85dB A Leq -- the equivalent continuous sound level, A-weighted.

Here's a precise -- and accurate -- description: http://www.gracey.co.uk/basics/leq-b1.htm

The actual recognised threshold for a risk to hearing is continuous exposure to sound which is constantly greater than 85dB A Leq over an 8 hour period (or pro-rata shorter periods for higher exposure levels). The correct way to measure sound exposure requires specific calibrated tools which are much more sophisticated than a simple SPL meter.

Thankfully, the average level of most music varies dramatically all the time -- much of it being much quieter than the peaks for extended periods -- so the actual noise exposure is usually much less than might be imagined from a simple SPL measurement...

...unless you compress the bejeezuz out of it, of course. ...Oh, wait... ;-)

Wear earplugs or other protective devices when involved in a loud activity
If you can’t reduce the noise or protect yourself from it, move away from it.
Be alert to hazardous noises in the environment.
Protect the ears of children who are too young to protect their own.
Make family, friends, and colleagues aware of the hazards of noise.

This is all good advice, and I suspect all well-known to, and heeded by, everyone on these forums.
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:11 pm

hobbyist wrote:So why do the 'experts' say it has to be 85dB ??

The genuine experts recommend it for the appropriate situations because it has been established over a very long time period to work extremely well in professional environments.

If someone is recommending that reference level for a small project studio, I'd question their expertise in the subject!

...but way too high to listen to.

For you, perhaps... but we've established you do not represent the norm and you are not working in large, professional mix rooms.

Seems like the loudness war mindset without thinking about safety.

Hearing safety is quite carefully stipulated and controlled in professional and working environments on both sides of the Atlantic -- and more strictly on this side, actually. But even if a feature film measured 85dB A Leq for its entire duration of, say 2.5 hours, the resulting total noise exposure would still be below 80dBA Leq and thus below the action levels and considered no safety risk to hearing whatsoever.

Didnt someone recently win a case in EU where they claim their hearing was damaged in the theatre because it was too loud?

I very much doubt it. Evidence?

H
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:29 pm

hobbyist wrote:I wish the alleged experts would stop pushing nonsense but I guess the internet makes that futile.

This site about hearing loss says...

This is classic. The sites that say things you choose to disagree with are 'pushing nonsense', yet those that say things you like are deemed to be trustworthy!

Unfortunately, the site you've chosen to illustrate how right you are is actually factually wrong... it misrepresents the true facts by employing the very common error of confusing instantaneous or short term SPL measurements with a true noise exposure measurement -- the latter being what is actually written into health and safety laws.

And while I'm on the subject of H&S, it's also worth noting that the EU sets the first action level to protect hearing 5dB lower than the US currently mandates!

This European-based site provides a rather better explanation of the relevant thresholds and measurements:

https://envirocare.org/noise-exposure-limits/

The bottom line, though, is that you are confusing a recommended professional alignment reference level with the second (or first in the US) sound exposure action level, just because they happen to use the same number. The reality is they are completely unrelated things...

Nevertheless, we can agree completely that no one in their right mind should try to set up the monitoring in a typical, small, home project studio to align with the professional standard... and that anyone suggesting such a thing should be challenged.

But we won't agree that the established professional standard is inappropriate because it clearly isn't -- provided it is employed appropriately.

And finally, I'm sure we can also all agree that looking after your hearing is critically important to avoid all manner of work-related or age-related hearing losses -- which would obviously be extremely limiting and frustrating to anyone working with sound and/or music professionally or as an enthusiastic amateur.

H
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Re: Really?

Postby desmond » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:32 pm

I'm not a huge fan of the whole cinema experience, and on the whole I find them, not *uncomfortably* loud, but louder than I'd choose personally. And of course, we don't have any control over it, which is mildy distressing. ;)

However, if I was the cinema manager, I'd have a loc more anecdotal evidence to support my decision making than just my personal preferences, and I may well choose differently... ;)

As we're talking about volume then:
I expect many people here, like me, are very sensitive to volume - maybe almost obsessively so.

I'm pretty sensitive to noise pollution (and make efforts to cause as little as possible, things like shutting cupboards intentionally quietly, rather than just letting them slam etc), and noise bugs me in a way that it doesn't for other people - I think it's partly to do with once you train yourself to be an analytical listener (as musicians, producers, engineers etc have to be), then all incoming noise gets more brain power dedicated to figuring out what it is, and how to respond to it, and it commands attention more compared with people who can more easily ignore it.

(Noise sensitivity was one of the reasons I got over my aversion of the "tap-to-click" feature on laptop trackpads - I always hated that feature from early laptops with crap trackpads, but the allure of noiseless mouse-clicking was enough to help me get over it and I love a stealthy mouse-click these days..!)

I can think of a few more anecdotal things to talk about volume too, but I worry it might make me sound a little odd... :o :lol:
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Re: Really?

Postby Logarhythm » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:45 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
hobbyist wrote:Didnt someone recently win a case in EU where they claim their hearing was damaged in the theatre because it was too loud?

I very much doubt it. Evidence?

H

I presume the reference was to the ROH/Wagner case that went in favour of the musician, and was subsequently upheld on appeal:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43571144
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47965734

Hugh Robjohns wrote:On the up-side, it emphasises the oasis of clam, polite, considered, rational and accurate advice and information that the SOS Forums offer... :D
Completely OT, but roughly what proportion of the magazine cover price funds this lavish oasis of clams at SOS Towers? :mrgreen:
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Re: Really?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:59 pm

Logarhythm wrote:I presume the reference was to the ROH/Wagner case that went in favour of the musician, and was subsequently upheld on appeal

Ah yes -- well remembered -- I was thinking he meant a member of an audience. I recall we discussed that musician in the orchestra pit case in the forums at the time. A disturbing situation, but at least the NaW act was applied appropriately and will change the behaviour of other orchestras for the better.

Completely OT, but roughly what proportion of the magazine cover price funds this lavish oasis of clams at SOS Towers? :mrgreen:

The chowder is lovely... Come on in! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Really?

Postby hobbyist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:28 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Logarhythm wrote:I presume the reference was to the ROH/Wagner case that went in favour of the musician, and was subsequently upheld on appeal

Ah yes -- well remembered -- I was thinking he meant a member of an audience. I recall we discussed that musician in the orchestra pit case in the forums at the time. A disturbing situation, but at least the NaW act was applied appropriately and will change the behaviour of other orchestras for the better.

Completely OT, but roughly what proportion of the magazine cover price funds this lavish oasis of clams at SOS Towers? :mrgreen:

The chowder is lovely... Come on in! :lol: :lol: :lol:

How long until a member of the audience sues and wins when some rock concert blows his hearing out?

I wonder if those orchestra musicians use good hearing protectors in their ears or not. Certainly not for that one case.
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Re: Really?

Postby Wonks » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:06 pm

He was issued perfectly good hearing protection. He chose not to wear it. The case was about the ROH not checking and insisting he wore it and stopping him perform if he didn't.

And we are taking very high dB levels here, not 85dB.
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Re: Really?

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:25 pm

hobbyist wrote:
How long until a member of the audience sues and wins when some rock concert blows his hearing out?


Probably a long time. Audience members choose to go to a concert... and can choose to leave if the sound is too loud or is unpleasant. That's what I've done on more than one occasion.

So far, legislation is about protecting the hearing of those who have no choice but to be subjected to loud noise over an extended period. In my experience concert-goers who think the sound is too loud are in a tiny minority.
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