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View Poll Results: Is properly reproduced (read: relatively low distortion, unstrained/unclipped programme) "reference
1. Perfect. This is the way movies should sound. 33 11.87%
2. A bit too loud for me/my guests, I'm usually between -10 and 0 on the volume dial 89 32.01%
3. Too loud, I'm usually between -10 and -15 on the volume dial 94 33.81%
4. Much too loud, I'm usually - 15 or more on the volume dial 56 20.14%
5. Ae you crazy, it's not loud enough, I spend most of my time in "0+ land" 6 2.16%
Voters: 278. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-18-2014, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notnyt View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinnEars View Post

What is this ambiguous term "reference level" anyway? I see it referred to all the time but have little understanding of its true meaning. To ME reference level is the volume at which I much prefer to listen to a particular genre of music or movie in a particular environment... and this can vary quite a bit.

I see you like to make up definitions. Reference level is a defined level such that content on System A played at a given level will be as loud on System B played at the same level.

I'm not trying to make up anything but am surely exposing my ignorance. I just see dozens or maybe hundreds of posts referring to the term "reference level". If that's not my "preference level" then what is it... other than ensuring it's standardize for "my testing"?

I get your point though. There is no set SPL... just matching. All the posts I see regarding "reference level" tend to point to some set unknown SPL. Maybe I just read too much into those posts but I think the confusion isn't just mine.
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:58 AM
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5 to 10 from reference for me.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:08 AM
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Reference level is the level the movie was mixed at, so what the sound engineer heard on the stage. For most receivers this translates to 0db on the volume dial. It will result in 105db peaks from the main channels.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:12 AM
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I was watching a few movies at reference and at first it sounded too loud. As the movie went on it didn't seem as loud anymore, I guess I got used to it and was able to finish it without any discomfort.


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Old 05-18-2014, 11:13 AM
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I always used to calibrate using the SPL meter and test tones of 75 dBs for each speaker. Turned to MV 0 and thought I was at reference. I assume many do this as that is stated on the manual. Now with auto EQ's everyone just hits calibrate and turns to MV 0 dBs and reference is either too loud or not. I am using the minidsp nano AVR now which is my processor so you have to measure the response to set levels and bass management. You measure each speaker to get a flat response while integrating the sub with each speaker. Then you set the LFE channel 10 dBs hotter than the rest of the sweeps. I ran every sweep so it was 85 dBs and the LFE at 95 dBs. That turned out to be 55 on my MV and when I watched a scene it was not as loud as all the other reference levels the normal way. To get the same loudness I was used to I had to bump it up 5-10 dBs depending on movie and the LFE another 5-10 dBs! So which is correct? I can tell you it has much more feel now than before although at a lower volume which is the EQ doing its thing and I finally have the proper integration at the crossover!

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Old 05-18-2014, 11:19 AM
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:24 AM
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correct is using a spl meter while the movie is playing. Are the mains hitting 105 during loud scenes, bass hitting 115. All the eq, trim levels, are not the final assessment of reference
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:24 AM
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Tinn Ears, there's numerous threads explaining all the details with regard to ref level, use search function above.

Also, as I would suppose is covered earlier in this thread, ref level tolerance is not only a function of purely dBSPL, but also greatly depends on reverberant/decay characteristics of the space.

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Old 05-18-2014, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalugadp View Post

correct is using a spl meter while the movie is playing. Are the mains hitting 105 during loud scenes, bass hitting 115. All the eq, trim levels, are not the final assessment of reference

This assumes whoever mixed and mastered the movie strictly adhered to thx standards. This is not often the case.
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:55 PM
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Yes movies are all over the place in volume mixing. Sometimes 100 dbs for mains is 54 on my emotiva preamp and sometimes 57. Either way using spl meter while movie is playing is the most accurate
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:06 PM
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I don't touch the MV, I set it up where a very loud movie like TDKR is tolerable at and then every other movie sounds just about right. If a movie is too low I turn it up a touch.

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Old 05-18-2014, 02:20 PM
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All movies are mixed to the same standard, at least as far as what the max volume can be. But that does not mean that dialog or actual content is confined to a specific level.
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Originally Posted by notnyt View Post

This assumes whoever mixed and mastered the movie strictly adhered to thx standards. This is not often the case.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by primetimeguy View Post

All movies are mixed to the same standard, at least as far as what the max volume can be. But that does not mean that dialog or actual content is confined to a specific level.

That's what I was referring to. Yes the max will be the same, but nothing else has to be.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:27 PM
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This is why I love emotiva umc200 remote


Every movie I adjust bass and centre channel trims to my liking, not the mixers.
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Old 05-18-2014, 03:39 PM
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Here is a car crash scene I mixed to Reference Level.

First, take this mp3 and tune each of your speakers to be 85db at the LP C-weighted.

PinkNoise.zip 1075k .zip file

Now your system is at Reference Level.

Now... play this car crash scene mp3 (bass peak at ~47hz):
CarCrashRefLevelTester.zip 411k .zip file

If each speaker can hit 105dbC and subs 115dbC without clipping amps & DSP's or bottoming out, then your system has enough dynamic expression / efficiency / amp power / DSP headroom.
Otherwise, it isn't truly THX Ref Level capable / tuned.



That said... most music and even many movies will be incorrectly level-mixed so technically those could be up to 20db TOO LOUD.
Not only TOO LOUD but, the music and movie might not even HAVE 20db of headroom in it to express dynamics, NO system can compensate for that.
a Bad Recording is a Bad Recording. Or perhaps not really BAD, just "different" and "non-standard" wink.gif
Attached Files
File Type: zip PinkNoise.zip (1.05 MB, 6 views)
File Type: zip CarCrashRefLevelTester.zip (411.3 KB, 8 views)
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:38 PM
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So I just tested my mains with this.

With all LFE subs off and with 80dbC of pinknoise out of my Left main I hit 109dbC on the crash scene.
Running both speakers increased it to 85dbC at the LP and 112dbC at the LP.

Here is what my TermLab captured, this mic only measures bass and is unweighted (as far as I can tell).



I didn't even bother turning on any subs or any more than just two SEOS's because I'm sure the cops would have been called.

The tweeters reached -10db out of 2100watts, the mids reached -20db out of 650watts, and the bass reached -5db out of 1600watts.
(4350watts to each main.)

I then disconnected the voicecoils and increased it to what would have been full THX from each main, and I got:
-10db on the tweeters, -15db on the mids and -3db on the bass, and my DSP's were within 2.5db of clipping; but that would have been north of 115db with all the speakers and subs turned on, not just the mains only.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:44 PM
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just a heads up, I don't think that there is any reference level.

the standard that most folks refer to is for large theaters.

in a home or small theater, it is recognized that 85db average at the listening position is too loud, and in a typical living room "reference" is something like 76db.

i forget which document this was all explained in, so no link.

long story short is the measured spl is actually perceived to be VERY different depending on the listening environment. sound is perceived to be lower in large and/or very dead rooms and higher in smaller/lively rooms.

this is probably at least part of why there has been so much confusion over "who listens at reference? isn't that too loud?" type threads over all the years. yeah, everybody is actually hearing different levels, not just indicating a different level listening preference.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:52 PM
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Lots of good useful information posted, especially the THX link. However, it appears even the pro mixers often don't adhere to any standard.smile.gif
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:58 PM
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also kind of funny that folks who buy "thx reference" avr's may have no idea that the output level is more a function of speaker sensitivity than amplifier output.

a "cheapo" avr can output 50 watts, while a "high end" avr can output 200. that is 6 db difference. low sensitivity speakers can be in the ballpark of 83db 1w1m, while high sensitivity speakers can be up around 100db 1w1m. that is 17db.

;-)
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:04 PM
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I'm usually right around reference when I watch a movie by myself and the wife isn't sleeping. I use to listen to around -10 under but after treating the room and getting pro audio speakers reference is awesome. My
wife even likes it that loud sometimes but some of her friends don't and they are over all the time. They are the same ones that complain the commercial theaters are too loud. Also with dramas or comidies I'll listen around -10 under reference so with all of that I voted for the second option. I personally find reference exciting and more thrilling but like I said it took lots of treatment and the pro cinema speakers. Also to play reference with my subs cleanly I can't run them hot.

0 on the MV is usually about 5db above reference on my reciever. -5 will consistently give me dialoge at around 85db with 105 and above peaks with a good mix so as others have said 0 sometimes isn't reference after calibration.

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Old 05-18-2014, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassThatHz View Post

So I just tested my mains with this.

With all LFE subs off and with 80dbC of pinknoise out of my Left main I hit 109dbC on the crash scene.
Running both speakers increased it to 85dbC at the LP and 112dbC at the LP.

BTH,

Thanks for doing this...out of curiosity, I tried it on my system.
I had to put my volume level at -2 on my receiver HK 7550HD for the 85DB at LP

My mains are the 1099's I then played the crash scene (Major heart attack when I first heard it.)
At LP I got 115.4DB with the subs OFF
I got 132.4 DB with the subs on. My subs are at -14 on the input of my MiniDSP and still had some pretty decent headroom left! eek.gif No clipping whatsoever!

What an awesome experience that was...thanks for doing this. biggrin.gif

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Old 05-18-2014, 05:28 PM
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Read these:

Tell me which is correct. There are various ways to interpret "-20dB signal is 85dBC on an SPL meter"

http://www.surroundassociates.com/spkrcal.html

http://www.meyersound.com/pdf/cinema_technical_papers/cinema_calibration_tech_report.pdf

http://www.genelec.com/faq/multichannel/93-how-do-i-align-the-levels-of-a-51-system-using-pink-noise-as-a-test-signal/

http://www.sona.co.jp/pdf/M2TB_r352E.pdf

On the last one, start at page 61-62.


You can see that depending on your signal, and method of measurement, you can get varied SPL levels, ALL of which can claim to be 'reference'.......

If you are using a sinewave sweep with -20dB peaks, it's RMS is -23dB. It gets even more complex with PN. How wide a bandwidth? How large a crest factor? Did you take into account that the SPL will read 'lower' if you use C-weighting? Let's not even begin to talk about the fact that no in-room speaker has a flat freq response, and it gets even more complex.....

Reference level is anything but simple. It only appears so on the surface.

If you read the links above, you have just opened the 'Reference Level' Pandora's Box.....good luck. I am still trying to come up with a proper signal and method, as I am in the process of producing a 7.1 Audio Test Disc.

Ever wonder why soho used to put 'or whatever' behind all the calibration pink noise tracks on the Audio Test DVD sticky'd at the top of the forum?

Now you know.

JSS
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:28 PM
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^^^^ making me want to build some 1099 fatshaft
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalugadp View Post

^^^^ making me want to build some 1099 fatshaft

Ya they're unreal and god dam it they play loud! biggrin.gif

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Old 05-18-2014, 07:11 PM
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Lets not forget that people with sensitive speakers that don't use audyssey or similar could be 15dB over reference or more at 0dB on their receivers/processors! I know a few people that did exactly that! They couldn't stand how loud it was because it was louder and full of distortion at 0dB lol.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:35 PM
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Lets not forget that people with sensitive speakers that don't use audyssey or similar could be 15dB over reference or more at 0dB on their receivers/processors! I know a few people that did exactly that! They couldn't stand how loud it was because it was louder and full of distortion at 0dB lol.
+1. Reference is 85dB SPL at the LP, which has no direct correlation with the settings on the AVR. I can get that with 1 watt, and MK doesn't even need that much.

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Old 05-18-2014, 07:50 PM
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That is why I don't pay too much attention to volume level. 100 dB's in Mk room measured during playback will be pretty similar to 100dbs in mine at same lp. Assuming c weighted. To me the point of all of this is that the mains with peaks of 105db measured is loud.
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:31 PM
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Audyssey XT32 essentially has a reference level set internally and adjusts all speakers accordingly (on the marantz 8801). The subwoofer has to be level matched using the subwoofer's volume knob before you start calibration.

This is the easiest way to know that you are at "reference" at 0db on the volume knob, no
matter what the sensitivity of your speakers is. Due to the very high sensitivity (105db) of my speakers, i actually had to put a -20db attenuator pad between the prepro and the amp.

In my properly treated room, I prefer to run at about -8db from reference when the neighbors arent bothered (daytime) and when I am the only one watching.

If any other adult is in the room, I go with about -14db from reference due to some folks not liking the sound quite as loud. I do have a tendency to run my center channel a bit hot so I don't have to keep cranking up the volume.

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Old 05-19-2014, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Reference is 85dB SPL at the LP, which has no direct correlation with the settings on the AVR. I can get that with 1 watt, and MK doesn't even need that much.

Ahh... a number AND a position (distance). Is that C-weighted? Is it with each single speaker running, or just the mains, or all of them?
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:29 AM
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Each speaker is supposed to hit reference. 85 dBs with 20 dBs of headroom for peaks which is where the 105 dBs comes from. I use about 2-3 watts to hit 105 dBs with a speaker.

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