or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › DIY Speakers and Subs › Is "reference level" LOUD to YOU?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Is "reference level" LOUD to YOU? - Page 9

Poll Results: Is properly reproduced (read: relatively low distortion, unstrained/unclipped programme) "reference level" playback (concening properly mastered cinema media) :

 
  • 12% (20)
    1. Perfect. This is the way movies should sound.
  • 34% (55)
    2. A bit too loud for me/my guests, I'm usually between -10 and 0 on the volume dial
  • 32% (51)
    3. Too loud, I'm usually between -10 and -15 on the volume dial
  • 17% (28)
    4. Much too loud, I'm usually - 15 or more on the volume dial
  • 3% (5)
    5. Ae you crazy, it's not loud enough, I spend most of my time in "0+ land"
159 Total Votes  
post #241 of 262
I know that the reference matches so well because you telll me so. You may be completely correct. In the end, I set it where it pleases me and doesn't cause fatigue.

Floyd
post #242 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That's all I'm saying, it's yesterday's issue. I try to watch movies on Blu-Ray in DTS when possible. 24-bit pipelines have more than enough DR to deal with any amount of channel re-direction for modern surround formats, and obviously there's no issue with 2-channel music.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Seaton View Post

This is well documented, but not widely known. It also has some variation with some higher end processors, but pretty consistent with receivers and related brands. I believe Illka posted some testing on this a long while back as well. Fortunately this only applies to Dolby Digital & DD EX decoding. I do not know if this applies to Dolby TrueHD, but it definitely is NOT an issue with DTS formats.
In summary, Dolby tried to "protect" users from clipping the signal chain or over driving smaller systems when the center channel information was routed/mixed to the L/R channels. Most receivers and pre-processors have plenty of digital and analog headroom so in practice I don't believe it was a real problem. Unfortunately it is a decoding behavior to be aware of. When you turn off the center or surround L/R channels, DRC will be engaged on Dolby Digital soundtracks. It is part of the Dolby spec, so the processors which don't follow this are the exceptions, not the norm. Of course any DTS type track won't have this issue.




Audio levels recorded to peak at -3 dB FS remain at-3 dB FS in all formats.

Not sure why you mention 2-channel music. No "reference level" standard is used for music.
post #243 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by bossobass View Post

The problem with "reference level" is that it's a moving target. Calibrating your system to reference is no small task. It certainly isn't as simple as playing the band-limited pink noise in the AVR and using your RS meter to normalize the dBSPL to 75dB.

If you aren't properly calibrated, you can't offer an opinion as to whether or not reference is too loud.


That get's you in the ballpark for playback levels. However, that does not mean that playback at 0 dB on the master volume equates to the "reference level" setting. My calibrated master volume setting is -22 dB on the master volume readout.


Like you say below, you are captive to what is on the recording. "Reference level" sets up the calibration of the full signal chain used in production. That does not mean that some movies are not mixed way louder (AKA average level) than other movies.

In addition there are variations in the DD Dialnorm value selected at Encoding so DD DRC can work properly when audio is downmixed to 2 channel operation. In a movie like War of the Worlds the DD Dialnorm reduces volume by 8 dB (DN = -23) on a standard DD AVR. The DTS track does not use DD Dialnorm, so it plays 8 dB louder than the DD track. Which version plays back at "reference level"?

In a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean DD Dialnorm does not reduce volume at all (DN = -31) on a standard DD AVR. Neither does the DTS version. Both tracks play back at the same volume level when a standard DD AVR is used.

When a THX rated AVR is used, there is another THX variation. The THX baseline assume a DD Dialnorm value of -27 was used at Encoding. THX equipment adjusts gains to compensate for this issue and will not playback at the same volume level as a standard DD AVR even with proper calibration of both units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bossobass View Post


Then there's the recent phenomenon of a BluRay disc that's far hotter (overall) than the DVD version. Thor is the example I posted on back when it hit the streets, but since then I've measured more BR discs as being much hotter than the DVD. Thor BR is +10dB hotter than the DVD. That's 10 times and perceived by listeners in at least one study as being twice as loud.

So, how would you judge if reference is too loud if one version of the soundtrack is perceived as twice as loud as another version of the same soundtrack? You couldn't.

There is also the loudness curve to consider. One disc may be perceived as being less loud even though it's 4 times louder, because of the difference in spectral content at the loudest points.

There is also fatigue in the mix. That is, how much reference-level audio is on the soundtrack and at what intervals?

It might be helpful to single out a few titles rather than a blanket "is reference too loud" question, which, for me anyway, would be impossible to answer. Using the Thor example, reference level when listening to the DVD was not a problem at all for me. When I popped in the BR, it knocked me out of my seat. eek.gif
post #244 of 262
Of course it applies to music. From the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level)."

It helps that I'm a music producer, but I thought that was common knowledge.
Quote:
Originally Posted by J_Palmer_Cass View Post

Audio levels recorded to peak at -3 dB FS remain at-3 dB FS in all formats.
Not sure why you mention 2-channel music. No "reference level" standard is used for music.

Edited by imagic - 12/21/12 at 6:37am
post #245 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Seaton View Post

Actually that was exactly my point. Before arguing any further though, please define how you would measure or determine that "X" level that you find to loud.
Exactly for the second paragraph, but it's not all about distortion. It's simply how we get to an average SPL or total sound power. Again, distortions and especially reflections in room will fill in what would otherwise be quiet breaks if you were listening outdoors or on headphones. In commonly furnished living spaces you will find a point even with the most powerful speakers where more of the reflections in the room start to come up above our hearing threshold and are no longer masked by the direct sound. This is often that point on the volume dial when the sound subjectively transitions from the front speakers & stage to sounding like the sound is coming from all around in the room... because it is! wink.gif

Sure, I could define "x" and how I arrived at it, but it would be a bit pointless. Then it would just be "ok, then what's "appreciably"?!"

I've been down this road before: you submit an opinion on something and a numbered few will spend pages attempting to discount said opinion on criteria they can't of course validate as fact, but it will soun great on a web page.

Like: "we can tolerate louder volumes outdoors".

Excuse me, first of all? Who's "we"?

Secondly..."louder volume" where and how?

At my ears/eat? I would tell you that's insane of course...if I find 100dbs of unclipped program at my ear hole too loud in my living room there's a terrifically good chance ill find 100db content unclipped program at my war hole too loud outside.

Now, watch me be told otherwise.


James
Edited by mastermaybe - 12/21/12 at 6:54am
post #246 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Of course it applies to music. From the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level)."
It helps that I'm a music producer, but I thought that was common knowledge.

So now, as a "music producer" you believe all music is mastered at "reference level"?

Unbelievable.

James
post #247 of 262
there is no reference level for music.
post #248 of 262
Now this thread has become "Both THX and Imagic are wrong about the definition of reference level?" I will not bother arguing - the statement is taken directly from the THX website.

Just to repeat - from the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level). " quoted from the official THX website. It could not possibly be any clearer.
Edited by imagic - 12/21/12 at 7:04am
post #249 of 262
Yes, James. And clearly you are not... so don't argue just for the sake of arguing. I did not say I 'believe it'. I said that THX states it as a fact on their website. If you want to argue with the THX definition of reference go ahead. rolleyes.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

So now, as a "music producer" you believe all music is mastered at "reference level"?
Unbelievable.
James
post #250 of 262
Thread Starter 
People can attempt to spin it however they wish...and make no mistake about it, that's precisely what some are trying fleetingly to do, but proceed however you wish: construct your perfect room, with your perfect equalization, perfect gear, perfect media, and playback at reference level (whatever that is now, lmao)...I'm 100% confident most people will find it too loud for extended listening.

Not all, but most.

Pile on all of the additional posturing, assuming, "my anecdotal experience", "my room", "your room", indoors/outdoors, "mark set it up", "I poured beef gravy over the tweeters" you like...re-write the poll and conduct your own perfect scientific experiment if you choose.

This fact will remain: regardless of distortion, reflection/acoustic properties, equipment, venue, fill-in-the-blank, human beings have differing (many times, significantly) tastes on volume level. And such will be reflected on ANY poll re reference level, regardless of how you choose to define it.

Have a nice day.

James
Edited by mastermaybe - 12/21/12 at 7:18am
post #251 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Sure, I could define "x" but it would be a bit pointless. Then it would just be "ok, then what's "appreciably"?!"
I've been down this road before: you submit an opinion on something and a numbered few will spend pages attempting to discount said opinion on criteria they can't of course validate as fact, but it will soun great on a web page.
Like: "we can tolerate louder volumes outdoors".
Excuse me, first of all? Who's "we"?
Secondly..."louder volume" where and how?
At my ears/eat? I would tell you that's insane of course...if I find 100dbs of unclipped program at my ear hole too loud in my living room there's a terrifically good chance ill find 100db content unclipped program at my war hole too loud outside.
Now, watch me be told otherwise.
James

I agree with you except I believe people are saying a 100 dBs of music with no disortion, compression, or reflections will sound better than 100 dBs of distortion, compression, and reflections so we tolerate that much better. 100 dBs is 100 dBs as loudness is concerned and laugh when people say "Yeah, but reference in your small room is louder than the theater" and I say no, 105 dBs peaks are 105 dBs peaks! My only suggestion with these kind of polls is that most people believe they have clean reference because it sounds good but much too loud at reference(Which I believe they think is MV 0 and it varies). I think many don't have clean reference based on my measurements I get but that does not mean it can not sound good to them. All I know many people Have come over to my house and say that they can't listen to reference because it is too loud and then say my volume is perfect and then I show them we are at reference. Of course my room always gets the credit but I also believe people play their movies louder than reference. I have used my Ada gear for years and it always sound the same but since I have tried using the newer AVR's with auto correct it always sounds too loud and not enough bass compared to what I am used to(I EQ manually).
Edited by MKtheater - 12/21/12 at 7:10am
post #252 of 262
"Just to repeat - from the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level). " quoted from the official THX website. It could not possibly be any clearer."

how do you re-create reference level from the front row of a rock concert while limiting the peaks to 105db?

there is no reference level for music.
post #253 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Yes, James. And clearly you are not... so don't argue just for the sake of arguing. I did not say I 'believe it'. I said that THX states it as a fact on their website. If you want to argue with the THX definition of reference go ahead. rolleyes.gif

Oh, so if THX states it on their web site (text out of context almost certainly, by the way) and you say so, it must be true.

Better let Neil Young, James Taylor, Phil Spector (in jail, but reachable), Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Rick Rubin Tbone Burnett, some guy named Martin who's worked with the Beatles and virtually every other artist, producer, and engineer who's ever worked in a studio/sound production know.

I'm aware of their credentials, where are yours, on sound cloud?

I'm through. It's a shame this thread has spiraled into this. Thanks.


James
post #254 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

"Just to repeat - from the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level). " quoted from the official THX website. It could not possibly be any clearer."
how do you re-create reference level from the front row of a rock concert while limiting the peaks to 105db?
there is no reference level for music.

Ditto...and just as if not more imperatively: albums are MASTERED at different (many times, wildly) different levels. Simple fact and verifiable by any human who owns 10+ CDs.

I would tell you to jut give up now- purely out of the Christmas spirit- but I think someone else should suffer now.

Good luck.

James
post #255 of 262
That's not what THX says. Killing the messenger here, folks. There definitely is a reference level for music and a brief Google search confirms what I've known for a couple of decades: the term is used my critics - people who review audio gear - to describe the conditions under which they evaluate gear. It's also the term used to describe 0db levels in official CD red book mastering (the standard). Technically, it's the 'full range' afforded by a 16-bit recording... which happens to be the same standard THX uses. Sure music is not mastered in a 'dubbing theater' but just as levels vary from movie to movie, they do from album to album but that doesn't mean they were not mastered to 'reference' as defined by THX.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

there is no reference level for music.

Edited by imagic - 12/21/12 at 7:43am
post #256 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

"Just to repeat - from the THX web site: "All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level). " quoted from the official THX website. It could not possibly be any clearer."
how do you re-create reference level from the front row of a rock concert while limiting the peaks to 105db?
there is no reference level for music.

I have a THX processor and amp and when I calibarate to 75 dBs and play it at MV 0 dBs it is much louder than reference! My processor bases the level on how senssitive the speakers are. When I calibrate each channel(After I have EQ'd them with the DCX) I have to turn down the channels to say -8 dBs and then my processor uses that for for reference. If I play at MV 0 I would be playing at 8 dBs higher than reference so my reference is MV -8 dBs.
post #257 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

I agree with you except I believe people are saying a 100 dBs of music with no disortion, compression, or reflections will sound better than 100 dBs of distortion, compression, and reflections so we tolerate that much better. 100 dBs is 100 dBs as loudness is concerned and laugh when people say "Yeah, but reference in your small room is louder than the theater" and I say no, 105 dBs peaks are 105 dBs peaks! My only suggestion with these kind of polls is that most people believe they have clean reference because it sounds good but much too loud at reference(Which I believe they think is MV 0 and it varies). I think many don't have clean reference based on my measurements I get but that does not mean it can not sound good to them. All I know many people Have come over to my house and say that they can't listen to reference because it is too loud and then say my volume is perfect and then I show them we are at reference. Of course my room always gets the credit but I also believe people play their movies louder than reference. I have used my Ada gear for years and it always sound the same but since I have tried using the newer AVR's with auto correct it always sounds too loud and not enough bass compared to what I am used to(I EQ manually).

Well of course and absolutely re: something with less distortion, bad reflections etc sounds better. No reasonable person would debate such.

But that's not the point or a parameter of this poll/thread. That discussion has been inserted by a couple trying to reshape it by making assumptions of people's gear, room, and worst of all: experiences.

James
post #258 of 262
This thread made it abundantly clear that movies are mastered at wildly different levels as well - at least according to some folk, and that's part of your whole 'problem' with 'reference'. So, lols. rolleyes.gifbiggrin.gifwink.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Ditto...and just as if not more imperatively: albums are MASTERED at different (many times, wildly) different levels. Simple fact and verifiable by any human who owns 10+ CDs.
I would tell you to jut give up now- purely out of the Christmas spirit- but I think someone else should suffer now.
Good luck.
James
post #259 of 262
You can't account for all the different concerts out there. The only way they can control the volume is if the disc itself was recorded using THX standards. Live rock concert levels reach 120 dBs and make my ears ring so I don't play that in my room. Just the bass.
post #260 of 262
I know that all too well. That's why to me 'reference' is when the 'standard' is actually met. 85db at LP with 20db headroom (+/- a db or two). That means willingly tweaking the volume for just about every piece of media after acknowledging that mixing is still an art... not a pure science. Setting the knob to '0' on a THX certified receiver does not 'get you there' in the real world. It just means that Spielberg and Lucas' films will all play at the exact same levels. The alternative (I suppose) is to use some sort of volume-leveling feature - that's not something I would choose to do. Still, those words about 'reference' applying to all music, movies and games came from THX, not from me. The 'standard' can be applied by anyone, to any media you can listen to, on any gear capable of reaching those levels. Saying it has to be a movie playing on a THX receiver to be 'reference' is a strange dogma to apply to the concept.

Otherwise, this thread is nothing but one long gripe about how many/most movies are mixed/mastered too loud for reference playback. That may be true... but that is not THX fault.

By the way James, you can officially stop harassing me now because my official credo regarding the volume dial is 'to each their own (volume level)'. Peace.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

You can't account for all the different concerts out there. The only way they can control the volume is if the disc itself was recorded using THX standards. Live rock concert levels reach 120 dBs and make my ears ring so I don't play that in my room. Just the bass.

Edited by imagic - 12/21/12 at 7:40am
post #261 of 262
"All movies, music and games are mixed at Reference Level in the studio, to be played back at the same Reference Level in the cinema or home theater (0 db on the volume dial for THX Certified Receivers is equal to the studio Reference Level). "

But in practice, every movie needs a different volume setting to achieve a similar playback level. On my Lexicon MC-1, which is "THX", that is anywhere from -14 to -4, depending on the movie.

It would be great if you could actually set "0" on the receiver/pre-pro and get the same playback level every time, but at some point in the mixing/mastering stage this consistency is not being maintained.

I dunno what that non-sense was about music being mastered to a reference level. The only limiter for music is 0dbfs, and the absolutely shameless limiting/compression being bludgeoned onto music these days to eek out a little more *perceived* loudness.

Just thank the audio gods that movies are mixed to sound great, rather than just "loud".
post #262 of 262
not all music is mastered with extreme compression. certainly not acoustic recordings, classical music, and any music recorded by an artist who actually cares. the existence of loud movies and loud music proves nothing as far as debunking the notion of using reference levels for music listening.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: DIY Speakers and Subs
AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › DIY Speakers and Subs › Is "reference level" LOUD to YOU?