Why is reference so loud relative to watching in a true theater? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-16-2014, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Why is reference so loud relative to watching in a true theater?

Fellas,

Something I have been wanting to understand for a while:

Simply, why is reference volume so loud relative to the volume I experience in most theaters? If the idea of calibrating our systems is to approximate the sound levels that the mixer of the film intends for us to hear / what is present in theaters, why does my system sound so much louder to me?

My system is calibrated at 75db with the subs ( 4 x 18's ) being ran about 3-4 db hot. I typically watch movies at -5 to -10db, and though it's still very loud, it sounds good. Sound tracks are dynamic, and bass is clean and authoritative. When I go to reference though, it is uncomfortably LOUD, and louder than what I feel like I hear in theaters.

Can anyone explain?

Thanks,
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-16-2014, 05:26 PM
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Probably because the Theater manager turns it down, too.

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post #3 of 16 Old 08-16-2014, 07:02 PM
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speech/voice doesn't sound loud at 0dB reference.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevings View Post
Fellas,

Something I have been wanting to understand for a while:

Simply, why is reference volume so loud relative to the volume I experience in most theaters? If the idea of calibrating our systems is to approximate the sound levels that the mixer of the film intends for us to hear / what is present in theaters, why does my system sound so much louder to me?

My system is calibrated at 75db with the subs ( 4 x 18's ) being ran about 3-4 db hot. I typically watch movies at -5 to -10db, and though it's still very loud, it sounds good. Sound tracks are dynamic, and bass is clean and authoritative. When I go to reference though, it is uncomfortably LOUD, and louder than what I feel like I hear in theaters.
I don't know of anyplace that it is written that theatres must run at 0 dB.

I recommend that you get a SPL meter because its really the only way to reliably compare SPLs at two different locations.

This one is cheap and IME good:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Digital-Soun...-/111327731591

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post #5 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 05:08 AM
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Also, do not use full band pink noise, because SPL meter microphones below Class 0 do not have such a wide frequency response and will read a lower value than there actually is.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 05:26 AM
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Smaller room, more unwanted/unwanted reflections make it seem louder than is.

If you've compared a well treated room to a highly reflectiive room it makes a big difference to what is bearable, or even enjoyable.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevings View Post
....When I go to reference though, it is uncomfortably LOUD, and louder than what I feel like I hear in theaters.

Can anyone explain?

Thanks,
Human perception may also play a part. An analogy would be riding in a car at 70mph and listening to a favorite song at a good comfort level. You are forced to stop and suddenly your song is uncomfortably LOUD even though the volume is the same. In a large public area your perception can work this way compared to a small in home experience.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevings View Post
Fellas,

Something I have been wanting to understand for a while:

Simply, why is reference volume so loud relative to the volume I experience in most theaters? If the idea of calibrating our systems is to approximate the sound levels that the mixer of the film intends for us to hear / what is present in theaters, why does my system sound so much louder to me?

My system is calibrated at 75db with the subs ( 4 x 18's ) being ran about 3-4 db hot. I typically watch movies at -5 to -10db, and though it's still very loud, it sounds good. Sound tracks are dynamic, and bass is clean and authoritative. When I go to reference though, it is uncomfortably LOUD, and louder than what I feel like I hear in theaters.

Can anyone explain?

Thanks,
My experience is different. I can't go to a theater without taking earplugs with me. The volume drives me out of the place.
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
Probably because the Theater manager turns it down, too.
I find theater volume levels vary wildly location to location, even time of day. When I saw the last Harry Potter movie it was so quiet that I couldn't even make out the dialogue. Had to hunt down an employee and ask them to turn it up

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
I don't know of anyplace that it is written that theatres must run at 0 dB.

I recommend that you get a SPL meter because its really the only way to reliably compare SPLs at two different locations.

Bit of a tangent, but has anybody compared a smartphone app SPL meter to a genuine, dedicated SPL meter? Just curious because I'm exceptionally broke, but I do have an iPhone and a free app. Think they might be useful for any kind of calibration, or is downloading such software more or less a waste of time and storage space?

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post #10 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 09:43 AM
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Yes I've compared multiple android apps against my omnimic.

All junk, and worthless for both frequency response and spl.

The Mics in a tablet or phone are obviously not calibrated and the software doesn't take into account different vendor mics. Its a joke.

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post #11 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Guys,

Thx to all for the great info and perspective. Out of curiosity, I'm gonna take my sound meter with me to the theater next time and keep an eye on it. I have a digital radio shack model, that's still around, even though I upgraded to a calibrated umik1 and rew.
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post #12 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevings View Post
Guys,

Thx to all for the great info and perspective. Out of curiosity, I'm gonna take my sound meter with me to the theater next time and keep an eye on it. I have a digital radio shack model, that's still around, even though I upgraded to a calibrated umik1 and rew.

take ur laptop and umik and run rew why youre there
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-18-2014, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Gorilla Killa View Post
take ur laptop and umik and run rew why youre there
LOL I'm sure that would get you banned from the theater. or a fine, or a very strong talking to.
If they catch you recording the movie with a smartphone you can get in trouble too.
Movie Pirates would LOVE IT if they allowed them...



An SPL meter that doesn't record the dialog they couldn't say jack about... but they may still ask you to leave because they have low IQ's and don't "understand".

Last edited by BassThatHz; 08-18-2014 at 07:21 PM.
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post #14 of 16 Old 08-18-2014, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassThatHz View Post
LOL I'm sure that would get you banned from the theater. or a fine, or a very strong talking to.
If they catch you recording the movie with a smartphone you can get in trouble too.
Movie Pirates would LOVE IT if they allowed them...



An SPL meter that doesn't record the dialog they couldn't say jack about... but they may still ask you to leave because they have low IQ's and don't "understand".
lol...you make some good points here.
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post #15 of 16 Old 08-19-2014, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassThatHz View Post
LOL I'm sure that would get you banned from the theater. or a fine, or a very strong talking to.
If they catch you recording the movie with a smartphone you can get in trouble too.
Movie Pirates would LOVE IT if they allowed them...



An SPL meter that doesn't record the dialog they couldn't say jack about... but they may still ask you to leave because they have low IQ's and don't "understand".
They can ask. Just wait for the cops to arrive and then counter that you are falsely accused of a crime and intend to sue for damages. Now that's entertainment..
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post #16 of 16 Old 08-19-2014, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Frank Derks View Post
They can ask. Just wait for the cops to arrive and then counter that you are falsely accused of a crime and intend to sue for damages. Now that's entertainment..
A lot of theaters have banned phone use of any type - the issue not being the talking, but the bright screen causing distraction.
If your system remains dark and can be used that way you may get away with it
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