Originally Posted by Ed Mullen
It also says dBA which is short for A-weighted.
While tastes in bass calibration level certainly vary - it is common to run the subwoofer 2-4 dB louder than the speaker channels.
Running the subwoofer 6 dB hotter than the speaker channels is literally a doubling of the sound pressure level from the subwoofer and will not sound balanced to most listeners.
Remember, the mixing engineers and director mixed the soundtrack to sound correct/intended with the subwoofer running at the same level as the speaker channels.
You may consider that to be 'laughably low' but I would encourage you to recalibrate your ears and your expectations and learn to live with the subwoofer level running either level matched or a few dB hot. Even a 3 dB increase is literally a 42% increase in sound pressure level and is considered plenty hot by most enthusiasts.
I really like the fact that you were so helpful with the advice you gave, especially the step-by-step advice in an earlier post. I do, however, want to add something to what you said in your post. Film mixers mix bass, including the special effects, to be in equilibrium with the other frequencies at or near Reference levels
. As you know, a film recorded to have peak levels of 105/115db, in a commercial theater (a BR theatrical release), will sound anywhere from 5 to 7db louder than that in most home theaters (depending on room size).
But, most people (even on AVS) don't watch movies at a master volume level of somewhere between -7 and 0.0 (Reference on a calibrated system). The average volume level on AVS, from any number of sources, is probably somewhere between about -10 and -20MV, with many people listening at even lower levels than that rough average. As the listening levels drop, bass frequencies drop faster than those in our normal hearing range, as illustrated by the Equal Loudness Contours. I know that you know all this!
The important point is that even a 6db increase in all of the bass frequencies played by the subwoofer, and not just the lowest frequencies, is actually a very modest increase at -15 or -20MV, and is not sufficient for most people to restore the acoustic equilibrium intended by a particular film mixer. That is even before we take into account variances in individual hearing and issues of personal preference. It is difficult to make generalizations about this sort of thing, but from years of monitoring the Audyssey thread a pretty consistent pattern has emerged.
Even with DEQ engaged, with it's bass boosts which are intended to restore acoustic equilibrium at below Reference listening levels, most DEQ users add anywhere from 3 to 6db on top of DEQ
. Of course, that also varies by listening level, but that is a pretty consistent average. For users of calibrated HT systems not employing DEQ, individual subwoofer boosts are typically higher. This is something I have monitored fairly carefully on any number of subwoofer threads over the years, and I am pretty sure of my ground.
It really does make sense that a 3db, or even a 6db subwoofer boost, might sound pretty modest as volume levels drop, because our hearing drops off so much faster for frequencies below 120Hz. Then, you have to factor in the special effects in some movies and the low-bass tactile effects that some people also enjoy. Those aren't governed by the Equal Loudness Contours, but they are still subject to effects from the addition of subwoofer volume.
It's an interesting subject, and one that is governed by so many factors of room gain, listening level, individual hearing, desire for tactile effects, etc, that it's hard to generalize that others should
find a +3 to +6db boost in subwoofer volume sufficient to achieve either a balanced or a preferred bass level. Sorry to derail the thread a little, but I thought this was worth pointing out.