How loud do you listen?

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standup
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How loud do you listen?

Post by standup » Mon Jan 04, 2021 6:25 am

I dug up my Radio Shack SPL meter.

I wanted to see how loud my monitors were, just out of curiosity.

For me, about 75 dB seems comfortable. 85 sounds loud and I probably don’t go much beyond that, and not for long.

I’m trying to remember to check balances at 60-65 occasionally.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by mjau » Mon Jan 04, 2021 6:36 am

I use a dB meter app on my phone and usually monitor around 65-70 dB's. I don't have a great room and only monitor through some smaller Adams, so I find the more I excite the room with volume, the more out of balance everything gets. I end up referencing a lot through some open-back Beyer headphones, too.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by vvv » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:14 am

68-72 always seems best.

I like my olde Rat Shack meter.
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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:03 am

For mastering, ~82db spl. I have a fixed spot ("27", the age rock stars die) on my monitoring D/A, all decisions are made at that one level. It's loud but it's comfortable. If anything hurts at that level I know I need to fix it.

For casual listening, I usually have the D/A at "10" and it's in 1db steps, so that's ~65db spl. I almost never listen casually at regular mastering volume.

For mixing, which these days is almost always just my own stuff, I'm around -60. I'm usually doing that late at night, after mastering during the day, at that point my ears don't like volume at all, so quiet it is.

I feel like almost every hot shot mixer tends to work at very quiet levels, I really can't remember hearing/reading any of them say they work with it cranked. I do think it's important to listen loud from time to time, mainly to check that the low end's not too booming and the high mids aren't painful, but it's just much easier to work for long periods with the volume down, and I think it's also much easier to get the balances happening.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by Studiodawg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:59 am

Do you use a sine wave to set your SPL or program material?

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Jan 04, 2021 11:19 am

I calibrate my monitors to 72 dB. Mark the knob on the console.
Then calibrate to 82 dB, and to 65 DB.

The loud I use only a little, when establishing the low end against the lead vocal, for example.

Mostly I mix at 72, and spend some time down at the 65, when the mix is getting close, to get things out of each other's way,
and out of the vocal's way a bit. Small EQ and level changes there, at most 1.2 dB +/- (I found this value seems to be able to register
with most people's ears more easily.)

At 72, I do the bulk of the mixing work. Ant I take breaks often, 10 minutes, every 2 to 2.5 hours. Otherwise I end up making shitty mixes.

Also: I EQ and get basic level relationships in MONO. After about 3-4 hours in this, I go forward to Stereo, and check MONO from time to time,
to hear where things are colliding with each other. I might pan something while in mono, a little, just to get their level down a bit, and out of the way in Stereo. Say an instrument sits ok in the Stereo mix, but when in MONO it fights the vocal, well, that instrument can get panned a little more
out of the center. How much? Well, in MONO once the vocal is no longer being masked by that instrument, THAT is where it can live. The change is minimal, but can save you hours of EQing something that did not need to be EQ'd.
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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by losthighway » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:22 pm

I don't measure, but this makes me think I should start.

I recently switched over to a new console. Getting used to gain staging on a new board, and perhaps just physically adjusting to where I was instinctively turning a different control room monitor knob, I realized the first 10 hours or so I've spent on this new board I've been mixing at a lower level. I'm pretty sure it's an overall good thing.

I think subconsciously while I'm doing some analytical listening, I tend to push a little more volume while I'm not 100% satisfied with a mix to get some of those brain chemicals, and some more of that visceral response of moving a little more air around in the room. This is a bad habit because it's seeking satisfaction (and sometimes finding it) without actually doing anything to alter the balance of what the mix contains. Don't get me wrong, I'm never blasting my ears out, but I think keeping the volume level glued most of the time forces me to take a medium volume of sound and move things around to make it more satisfying.

I almost wonder if I'm looking for that master bus comp "glue" that I never use by pushing things up all together. Like I'm getting my ears to do a little 1.5:1 squeeze.

No more! I'm aware of it now.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:31 pm

Studiodawg wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:59 am
Do you use a sine wave to set your SPL or program material?
If you were asking me, program material. I set my mastering volume level about 14 years ago and it hasn't changed since.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by Studiodawg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:34 pm

Thanks MoreSpaceEcho.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by standup » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:49 pm

Studiodawg wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:59 am
Do you use a sine wave to set your SPL or program material?
I did this pretty casually, with the meter in listening position while playing back music. The radio shack meter has a knob to switch between ranges, then you watch a VU meter. So if it’s in the 70 dB range and the meter is flipping around between 0 and 5 I just call it 75 dB. Though it might be averaging 72-74 dB, not sure it’s important, it’s approximate.

Sounds like I might want to try listening a bit lower, see how I like it.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by Studiodawg » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:52 pm

Thanks standup. I'm going to dig my Radio Shack meter out of the toy box and keep it handy...

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by drumsound » Mon Jan 04, 2021 1:25 pm

I spend most of my time in the 70ish dB range. I always check around 85db and do a lot of listening at lower volumes as well. I'll also sometimes make it way louder and listen for outside the control room, so it's not hitting me at 90+db even if it's playing that loud at mix position.

The only people I've heard of that mix really loud are some old school guys. Ken Scott and William Whittman among them. Jack White likes to listen so loud that when Vance Powel was working with him he'd leave the control room before Jack hit play...

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:46 pm

Short day mastering today so I got started mixing a friend's song...after an hour or so I had a basic mix dialed in, checked the level and it was ranging between 70-75, so call it 72. That seems like a good default level for mixing. I know our ears are flattest around 83-85 but that's just too loud to listen to all day IMO.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by standup » Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:14 pm

I'm using a Drawmer monitor controller that has a small button to switch to a preset level. I calibrated it tonight for 62-65 dB.

What's cool about it is no matter where the volume knob is, if I hit the button it goes to 62-65 dB.

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Re: How loud do you listen?

Post by drumsound » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:36 am

standup wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:14 pm
I'm using a Drawmer monitor controller that has a small button to switch to a preset level. I calibrated it tonight for 62-65 dB.

What's cool about it is no matter where the volume knob is, if I hit the button it goes to 62-65 dB.
That is a really cool feature. Can you set more than one different preset levels?

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