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Topic: Monitor Listening levels...

  1. #1

    Monitor Listening levels...

    How do you all set up the most accurate Monitoring levels?

    I currently have no more hardware mixer and have CUbase SX2. I have a pair of powered monitors.

    Do you turn your volume on powered monitors all the way up full with volume adjuster knob on back of powered monitors?

    How do you all get the best results and recording levels?



  2. #2

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    Walter Murch (awesome sound editor from way back) has written extensively on setting levels. He even brings a cheap Radio Shack sound meter to theaters to ensure the levels are as he mixed the film.

    There's some information on setting the levels in this interview.

    I've seen some pics from studios that really believe in standardizing their levels. I believe that they run their computers/soundards at full throttle, corresponding to either a +4dBu or -10dBv output setting, and then adjust the monitors accordingly. The pics showed some white tape next to the level controls on the nearfields with pen markings that show the 85 dB point referenced at the mixer's seating position.

    -Jon Fairhurst

  3. #3

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    ...except that they go way over 85dB in theaters, despite all the standards. I have to wear earplugs (I have custom molded ones) when I see movies.

  4. #4

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Batzdorf
    ...except that they go way over 85dB in theaters, despite all the standards. I have to wear earplugs (I have custom molded ones) when I see movies.
    I think Murch says that he likes to do dialog at 78 with peaks of 100. But he's an old guy. The equipment can do more like 115, and many aren't shy to use it. Besides, the theater owners often don't know what they're doing.

    Remember that analog VU meters are different than our digital meters. The average of the peaks may be at around 0 db, but the instantaneous peaks may be much bigger. I'd like to have some VU meters digitally rendered on my workstation.

    -Jon Fairhurst

  5. #5

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...


    Others here may be able to respond better than I, but I'd suggest you purchase a Radio Shack Sound Level Pressure meter http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...t%5Fid=33-2055

    Set it up on a tripod or mic stand in your listening position

    Set your master fader to unity gain (0) or slightly less (-1db)

    Turn on the Sound Level Pressure meter, set it to C-weighting, and play back some pink noise through the left speaker only....set it's volume and check the SLP meter's reading; repeat volume adjustment until meter reads around 78dbs...then do the same for the right speaker....finally check the SLP meter with both speakers on. The two speakers should sum to around 85dbs, I think.

  6. #6

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    To give you a non-technical answer, I think you should monitor pretty loudly or as much as any neighbours will tolerate.

    To illustrate: over 10 years ago I produced an album at home and monitored at regular music listening levels ie fairly low. I took my mix to a professional mastering engineer and he played it back LOUD during the session. I could barely stand it, and asked him to turn it down. Nope... he was "listening into the mix". Sure enough, the volume level revealed bumps, pops and screw-ups that I had completely missed.

    I've just bought a pair of powered Event TR8s and have left them at their default factory level of -5db. That's plenty for me and it handles whatever is coming out of my DAW with suitably revealing results.


  7. #7

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    My earlier response was related to monitor calibration that allows you to monitor at an appropriately high level without problems. As for mix or playback level settings, I'd say set the volume to a "conversation" level for normal listening. To check a mix, set the volume to very low levels (in mono too) and to very high levels (but not louder than 85db) for brief periods to make sure the frequency ranges and/or parts are balanced at all levels.


  8. #8

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    Thanks everyone this is great reference.

    My only question is where do I get a good pink noise to run through my monitors? Is there a free pink noise wave file somewhere or free pink noise software you can link me to?

    Using Cubase SX2


  9. #9

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...


    A "wav" version of pink noise is available from the cite above. If you need pink noise in another format, just do a search for "pink noise" AND [whatever format you need].


    The link above looks interesting and offers a number of test sounds for calibrating monitors, as well as "how to" instructions for various set ups (e.g., 5.1 suround sound or stereo playback).

    BTW, all synths and most sequencers offer ability to generate pink noise...which could be another alternative.


  10. #10

    Re: Monitor Listening levels...

    Remember that analog VU meters are different than our digital meters.
    I believe the spec is 85dB for pink noise, so the readings should be the same - i.e. the speed of the metering won't make a difference.

    Not Dudley, the conventional wisdom is to *check* the mix at different levels (both high and low) but work at a level that's not going to tire out your ears, readjust your thesholds so you make bad decisions, and over time ruin your ears and give you tinnitus.

    Good monitors won't surprise you the way that yours did when you get to mastering - Fletcher Munson aside, they'll sound the same at a wide range of levels.

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