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post #1 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Preferred SPL for critical listening

I've read a few threads that say a good or preferred SPL for critical listening is 75 dB. Is there science on the topic? As it turns out, I max out my listening (10' from speakers) at 63 db average with 40 dB minimum and 65dB peaks mainly due to WAF. Turning it up from there momentarily appears to increase quality (richness), not confusing with volume.
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post #2 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 02:49 PM
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post #3 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 03:13 PM
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I'll bet the SPL of a live concert, rock or classical, is much greater than 75 dB!
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Last edited by MTVhike; 09-22-2019 at 02:01 PM.
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post #4 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
I'll be the SPL of a live concert, rock or classical, is much greater than 75 dB!
Yes, and I listen at 73 in my car. I find that as SPL increases beyond 65 dB, richness increases by a greater proportion than does volume.
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post #5 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 04:13 PM
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just depends....critical listening to metallica gonna be lot lower than gershwin

metallica maybe 75db....gershwin you might be lucky to have a system that can do 75db
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post #6 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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just depends....critical listening to metallica gonna be lot lower than gershwin

metallica maybe 75db....gershwin you might be lucky to have a system that can do 75db
I was actually just listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue this morning and the dynamic range is incredible. So it went from nothing to very high SPL in a few min. But what do you mean by "gershwin you might be lucky to have a system that can do 75db"?
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post #7 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar View Post
I was actually just listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue this morning and the dynamic range is incredible. So it went from nothing to very high SPL in a few min. But what do you mean by "gershwin you might be lucky to have a system that can do 75db"?
cause most classical recordings if listening from 10ft away is kind of hard to have a system that can handle 50db dynamic range...so in my space of huge open floorplan...going from 75db to 125db is almost impossible.

from wikipedia on dynamic range Early 78 rpm phonograph discs had a dynamic range of up to 40 dB,[24] soon reduced to 30 dB and worse due to wear from repeated play. Vinyl microgroove phonograph records typically yield 55-65 dB, though the first play of the higher-fidelity outer rings can achieve a dynamic range of 70 dB....A dynamic microphone is able to withstand high sound intensity and can have a dynamic range of up to 140 dB. Condenser microphones are also rugged but their dynamic range may be limited by the overloading of their associated electronic circuitry.[29] Practical considerations of acceptable distortion levels in microphones combined with typical practices in a recording studio result in a useful dynamic range of 125 dB.[28]:75

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range
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post #8 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 04:59 PM
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post #9 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 05:06 PM
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if we talking max spl of 75 db....thats not even something I could feel in my space.
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post #10 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 05:11 PM
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I would answer question with 90 db peaks
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post #11 of 35 Old 09-21-2019, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar View Post
I've read a few threads that say a good or preferred SPL for critical listening is 75 dB. Is there science on the topic?
Careful analysis by top scientists have determined there's only one optimal level.
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post #12 of 35 Old 09-22-2019, 03:50 AM
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post #13 of 35 Old 09-22-2019, 09:50 AM
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I'm at a loss to understand how this thread's question even makes sense because a song is not at one volume level like a test tone or pink noise, it varies drastically from moment to moment sometimes by tens of dB.
Are we discussing the song's loudest peak? The beginning passages? The end? The "average" and how is one defining that? Was that average weighted to where the ear is most sensitive, around 3.5kHz-4kHz? Was that average weighted to where the music often consumes the most system power? And for what genre of music?

Add on top of that we need to add the complexity that the music we buy isn't even recorded at the same level on the medium, as shown at the link above for pop CDs over the years:
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post #14 of 35 Old 09-22-2019, 02:06 PM
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Of course the stock audio of car's isn't the best, but if I turn the volume of the cd player to maximum, I can barely hear the open strains of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique and the loudest are painful. I guess I need volume compression!
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post #15 of 35 Old 09-22-2019, 02:21 PM
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Using audio in noisy environments like cars/trains/planes really cries out for compression. Knowing this many radio stations routinely compress their transmissions so they will reach a larger audience which boosts their ad revenue. This is also largely to blame for the birth of the "loudness war".
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post #16 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 06:10 AM
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For "critical listening" and most of my listening, I set the volume at a realistic level for the type of music I'm listening to. I'm not concerned about db level. If it sounds like I'm sitting in the room with the musician/band then its right for me. Its generally louder then most people listen. Even something like acoustic jazz is fairly loud if your sitting 10-20 feet away from the band. When you get the volume right it can be surprising how realistically live good recordings can sound. It helps if you have heard music played live to have a reference point.

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post #17 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Use what sounds best to you in your room with your equipment.
dB police do not monitor your home, car, airplane, lyft or uber.



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post #18 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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For "critical listening" and most of my listening, I set the volume at a realistic level for the type of music I'm listening to. I'm not concerned about db level. If it sounds like I'm sitting in the room with the musician/band then its right for me. Its generally louder then most people listen. Even something like acoustic jazz is fairly loud if your sitting 10-20 feet away from the band. When you get the volume right it can be surprising how realistically live good recordings can sound. It helps if you have heard music played live to have a reference point.
Exactly, thank you! I visit a lot of clubs/concerts and don't seem to get the same quality (I mean quality not volume) at lower volumes at home. I've read threads where people said their speakers didn't open up until a certain volume and hence was inquiring.
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post #19 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Vikram Iyengar View Post
I've read threads where people said their speakers didn't open up until a certain volume and hence was inquiring.
There is a phenomenon in audio perception where the fullness and richness of the sound seems to get reduced or dissipates when listening at lower levels. [research: Fletcher-Munson equal loudness curves to learn more]. This is an illusion though, because a perfect, electronic analyzer with a perfect microphone would report that the only alteration is the level, not the sound quality nor tone. Unfortunately people don't understand this deficiency in our hearing so they then blame the gear/speakers whereas the real culprit is their hearing. [Being humans, that is. We all suffer from it.]

Compensation mechanisms to overcome this have been offered over the years with sometimes good and sometimes poor success. Some offer a static correction and others dynamic [varies per current song level]

- loudness buttons
- loudness knobs
- Audyssey Dynamic EQ
- Dolby Volume [offers a few different sound corrections all-in-one, not just equal loudness compensation]
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Last edited by m. zillch; 09-23-2019 at 11:17 AM.
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post #20 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 11:40 AM
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Compensation mechanisms to overcome this have been offered over the years with sometimes good and sometimes poor success.
One solution for some is to buy speakers/headphones with an elevated bass response. Listeners would report: "These speakers still sound good at lower levels. Unlike my old pair I don't find I'm forced to crank them up to get a nice, full, rich sound out of them."
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post #21 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
There is a phenomenon in audio perception where the fullness and richness of the sound seems to get reduced or dissipates when listening at lower levels. [research: Fletcher-Munson equal loudness curves to learn more]. This is an illusion though, because a perfect, electronic analyzer with a perfect microphone would report that the only alteration is the level, not the sound quality nor tone. Unfortunately people don't understand this deficiency in our hearing so they then blame the gear/speakers whereas the real culprit is their hearing. [Being humans, that is. We all suffer from it.]

Compensation mechanisms to overcome this have been offered over the years with sometimes good and sometimes poor success. Some offer a static correction and others dynamic [varies per current song level]

- loudness buttons
- loudness knobs
- Audyssey Dynamic EQ
- Dolby Volume [offers a few different sound corrections all-in-one, not just equal loudness compensation]
Correct, this is what Sonos, Google Home, and many powered, smaller speakers do. I think this is what the "Engineered" setting in my AVR does.
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post #22 of 35 Old 09-23-2019, 02:59 PM
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Is that what "Engineered" means. Good to know.

I hate it when audio companies use dumb jargon making the true meanings of things ambiguous, like:

"Optimizes the performance for better sound so the listener will hear a better sound with a more natural balance making the music enjoyable and beautiful using scientific principles for high fidelity."

[not a real quote]
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post #23 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Is that what "Engineered" means. Good to know.

I hate it when audio companies use dumb jargon making the true meanings of things ambiguous, like:

"Optimizes the performance for better sound so the listener will hear a better sound with a more natural balance making the music enjoyable and beautiful using scientific principles for high fidelity."

[not a real quote]
I think "Engineered" may be a term of art in the audio industry to mean "play with bass, treble, and other freqs." Bose even touts an "engineered sound processor" and Bose is foremost in this tweaking regard, which is why they get a bad rap from audiophiles. I actually don't mind because the Bose systeme in my WAF's car sounds far better than the cheapo radio in my Toyota. (Of course could be quality of components also, etc). I think for cars with 4 small speakers, glass windows, and low power application, Engineered sound and dynamic compression is almost a must to get pleasing sound.
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post #24 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 08:20 AM
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Uh oh! You said the "B" word!



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post #25 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 08:50 AM
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Uh oh! You said the "B" word!
"Blows" ?

Isn't their motto "Better engineering through advertising" ?
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I'm surprised it took 30 minutes.



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post #27 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 09:55 AM
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I'm surprised it took 30 minutes.
29. I was in the shower.

Seriously though, I've toured the Bose factory in Massachusetts. [Had to for work, not by choice.] It was very interesting.
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post #28 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 09:57 AM
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Yeah great. Glad you showered.



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post #29 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 04:19 PM
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I measure sometimes with an SPL from my listening position. 85-90 db peak (C weighted) is comfortably loud, usually don't feel the need to go any higher - sounds are clear, rich and impactful.

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post #30 of 35 Old 09-24-2019, 09:00 PM
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What sounds nice to me

Typical max spl for me is around 72 dB C-weighted at the listening position.

I normally don’t enjoy loud music and wear noise blocking earplugs for the majority of live gigs as a listener.

So I don’t try to duplicate a live music listening experience, preferring to optimise recorded music experiences. This also applies to quiet classical music recordings, for example, where I may listen at louder SPLs than I would listening to the same compositions being played in the concert hall.

Duplicating a loud concert experience therefore means inserting noise blocking earplugs and turning my stereo up full blast, which is what I always do.


Not.
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Last edited by pibroch; 09-24-2019 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Improve it. (Originally used the word “typically” 3x)
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