Originally Posted by Klay
First as a Dolby pro audio dealer for 45 years, I have had the pleasure of learning from the best (including Ray Dolby himself). It is NOT up to personal preference but instead, it is up to a calibrated playback system according to standards developed since before you were born. Second, let's liken this to a blank canvas. There is a reason artists canvas' are white. If they were yellow, the final product would be off. Third, color bars help us set the visual side so that the program material looks its best. Test tones do the same for the audio playback. I will be the first to admit (as I have mixed TV shows, concerts, movies, and records) that *that* product *is* up to personal preferences but I expect it to sound best when played back on a known good system. You will do yourself a favor to buy a sound level meter (there are good ones for iPhone, not so sure about the Android platform) and use the receivers built in test tones for a level check. Most if not all newer systems self-calibrate (although they do the subs incorrectly--see <http://soundoctor.com/testcd/index.htm>) for a few lessons. With your level meter, one typically calibrates to 85dB.
A few BTWs: if you set a particular channel at +7, realize you are adding 7dB to that gain structure. You are also reducing the headroom of that (or those) channels by the same 7dB. With todays digital sources you may not have 7dB to give up. Note that once calibrated, you may soon realize that some mixes suck. That is not on you--thats on the idiot that mixed it. Finally, use <http://soundoctor.com/surround.htm> as a guide. I have no financial interest in that site, but I have known Barry for 45 years. He is one smart SOB. We attended many Dolby training sessions together. He knows his...business.
So, I should set the speakers as close to 0, if at all possible ? I'll try that. I agree that some mixes suck. DTS is such a mix. I have yet in my entire life to come across a DTS or DTS HD master audio track where the thing was mixed properly. The dialogue is ALWAYS way too soft compared to the effects and often times music. RARELY have a problem with any of the kinds of Dolby tracks. That's what I loved about dvd. If you didn't want a DTS track, you could almost find a movie without it. But now, DTS seems to be standard. WAY too much dynamic range.
I tried using an SPL application on my old iPhone 3, but it only goes up to 100. Even with all my fans and ac off, the meter is still at about 40 db. If you have to test by 75 or 85 db, the application I tried doesn't give me enough range to adjust the levels. Or can I just use the lower number and callibrate the speakers using that ?