Originally Posted by ResIpsa
I listened at -8 and thought my ears would bleed.
I normally listen somewhere between -20 and -10. How in Gods name do people listen any louder than that, and at refernce level nonetheless.
It isn't the LFE or surround tracks that bother me, it's the center channel. At those levels everybody is just SHOUTING at you, that is just not enjoyable to me at all. I suppose I could keep everything else loud and lower the center, but that would throw things out of whack.
, if one finds the playback level offensively loud, perhaps the distortion characteristics of the speaker may be an issue.
Obviously I'm not familiar with your HT in general, and your center channel in particular. However, perceived or apparent
loudness in any speaker covering the critical mid-bands, is highly dependent upon the distortion characteristics of the playback. Having been in and out of studios, and in front of every conceivable size of system one can imagine, a very clean and low distortion speaker system, can be deceptively loud without those experiencing it fully aware. Distortion products, and any non-linearity brought upon by higher drive levels, are some of the key elements that we find objectionable and "loud".
The center channel, carrying a great deal of the dialog, is tasked to reproduce the one instrument that we are most astute at hearing any distortions; the human voice. We need an acoustic reference for a sound, to know whether or not a loudspeaker is reproducing it properly. With voice, we get that all day, every day of our lives. So we are very critical of any deviation from linearity with dialog. The cringe factor, or harshness associated with soundtracks, that prevents or enjoying of the material at realistic levels, is most often a center channel being pushed way beyond it's limits. The center channel's performance is so integral to a positive experience in HT. All too often individuals utilize a downsized center, or a horizontal center that's not designed properly for horizontal orientation. A proper center channel should be capable of reproducing realistic playback levels largely without the effects of compression, and other more offensive non-linearities. A good center channel main is a key component to an enjoyable experience in HT,...and it's oftentimes overlooked.