The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Level Matching Tools?
Old 28th June 2009
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Level Matching Tools?

What are good precise and accurate tools for A-B level matching?
Old 28th June 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Ears and VU meters. Seriously, that's it.
Old 28th June 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 
MASSIVE Master's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Mostly ears. VU meters will tell you voltage over time (which can be handy) but your ears tell you whether that voltage translates to volume.
Old 28th June 2009
  #4
Gear Addict
 
rkwyent's Avatar
 

The Cryptic Mastering is Magic Answer...

Why do the mastering guys always answer questions in such a short snappy fashion?

I understand the OP didn't elaborate much in the question but how about suggesting monitor controllers for level matching and doing A-B comparisons.

To the OP: There are monitor controllers that allow you to level match and switch between multiple hardware sources.

This type of thing can also be done digitally with different files within a DAW. You can do a search for suggestions there should be abit of discussion on this very topic.
Old 28th June 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkwyent View Post
Why do the mastering guys always answer questions in such a short snappy fashion?
Apparently you and the others that answered understood the question differently. The other posters assumed the question is about assessing / measuring difference in loudness, you apparently understood it to be about tools needed to execute level changes for comparison. That's all there's to it

Here's my answer then:

As others said before, ears are best to assess comparative loudness. If the two sources are near identical, you can align (sample-accurately), flip polarity on one, mix with the other and adjust levels to the point where cancellation is greatest. But even then, your ears may still disagree with the result.
Remember that loudness is, by definition, subjective, so your ears are the only tools that really qualify for the job at hand. Also be aware that others' ears may come up with slightly different results.

As for tools to execute level changes / compare: I'd strongly suggest to do it in a DAW, if the nature of the specific A/B comparison allows for that. Most DAWs can level match to an accuracy of 0.01 dB or less and feature some mode in which aligned and level matched tracks can be switched between with single clicks.
The DAW approach has the added benefit that you can then export the individual, level-matched files and use a blind A/B or ABX application to verify your findings blindly.
Old 28th June 2009
  #6
Lives for gear
 
IIIrd's Avatar
 

Verified Member
ears and 2 stereo channels in a DAW for me....
Old 28th June 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
MASSIVE Master's Avatar
 

Verified Member
If the question was about level matching in monitoring, I'd submit that the OP need only calibrate his monitoring chain and he wouldn't need to ask the question.
Old 28th June 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthnerd View Post
What are good precise and accurate tools for A-B level matching?
Are you referring to level matching the source file or (non processed file) to the the file that you are processing?

The gain will always be changing on the file you are processing, at least until your final print. So you would need something that could adjust or adapt to these changing levels quickly. (As said: Ears, VU, DAW, separate volume/level controller) I don't know if you'll find anything "precise".
Old 28th June 2009
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Thanks very much for the advice thus far.

To be more specific, I am talking about matching peak levels of two files with, for example, different levels of compression on each one, to see which one sounds better all other things being equal (most importantly peak level). Right now I do it with the DAW meter but I was wondering if there was a tool that would provide a faster workflow.
Old 28th June 2009
  #10
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthnerd View Post
Thanks very much for the advice thus far.

To be more specific, I am talking about matching peak levels of two files with, for example, different levels of compression on each one, to see which one sounds better all other things being equal (most importantly peak level). Right now I do it with the DAW meter but I was wondering if there was a tool that would provide a faster workflow.
Oh my, DAW meters are a poor substitute for the ear, especially when judging compressed versus non-compressed material. You used the word "peak levels" and don't forget that peak levels (on a digital peak meter) have absolutely no correlation with loudness. I've never found ANY meter to be useful for the practice of matching levels for mastering purposes. Even with an accurate true loudness meter (none exists, they all are approximations), by the time you have inspected the meter, you could have matched the levels by ear with any decent monitor controller. The Avocet does this comparison job very purely, but it only has 1 dB steps. It's very ergonomic; if I find a situation where the mix is either 1/2 dB more or less loud than the master regardless of where I set the Avocet, I just go with it, because if you can't make the master sound better than the mix when the mix is 1/2 dB louder than the master, you shouldn't be mastering :-).
Old 29th June 2009
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Table Of Tone's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I always have a bunch of mastered wavs on my capture puter desktop which is running 44.1k, 99% of the time.
The only time that puter is running higher SR is when someone asks me for a high res capture for a DVD or something.
I'll then give em a 96/24, from the same playback and out board setup.

Anyway, I just quicktime the wavs when I reckon the track I'm working on is nearly done.
I normally end up with a pretty consistent album volume by doing that.

Again, it's using your ears!
Old 29th June 2009
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkwyent View Post
Why do the mastering guys always answer questions in such a short snappy fashion?
A: busy.
Old 29th June 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
The Levelator from The Conversations Network

Just something I know of but I rather use my ears, maybe it could be useful for someone else...
Old 29th June 2009
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
masterizer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
Oh my, DAW meters are a poor substitute for the ear, especially when judging compressed versus non-compressed material. You used the word "peak levels" and don't forget that peak levels (on a digital peak meter) have absolutely no correlation with loudness. I've never found ANY meter to be useful for the practice of matching levels for mastering purposes. Even with an accurate true loudness meter (none exists, they all are approximations), by the time you have inspected the meter, you could have matched the levels by ear with any decent monitor controller. The Avocet does this comparison job very purely, but it only has 1 dB steps. It's very ergonomic; if I find a situation where the mix is either 1/2 dB more or less loud than the master regardless of where I set the Avocet, I just go with it, because if you can't make the master sound better than the mix when the mix is 1/2 dB louder than the master, you shouldn't be mastering :-).
Well put Bob, the peak meters of a majority of todays masters will be slammed at 0db anyway and as Bob said " peak levels (on a digital peak meter) have absolutely no correlation with loudness".
Old 29th June 2009
  #15
Gear Addict
 
j-madd's Avatar
 

I find that it's easiest to check volume match on smaller desktop speakers than large speakers.

Justin
Old 29th June 2009
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Jesse Graffam's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
The Levelator from The Conversations Network

Just something I know of but I rather use my ears, maybe it could be useful for someone else...
No offense to the podcasters that designed this with supposedly a ton of experience, but it's one of the worst AGCs i've ever heard.


As for checking volume, I do make my final adjust by ear, but I also use LKFS (ITU-R BS.1770-1) to make sure I don't go very far from home plate while I'm working. While it is an approximation, it tested (done by TC Electronics) to within under a 1db mean of actual loudness across 10,000 samples. It's a pretty darn good approximation of average subjective loudness.
Old 30th June 2009
  #17
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-madd View Post
I find that it's easiest to check volume match on smaller desktop speakers than large speakers.

Justin
That's because it's a lot harder to find the center of gravity (loudness center) of very dynamic material than compressed material. And since smaller desktop speakers compress, they reduce the dynamics and thus make it easier to find the "loudness center". However, I have not done any studies to determine if that reaches an accurate conclusion, and if your judgment will translate to a less compressed or larger system.

Certainly the less compressed loudspeakers (dynamic, with good transient response) will tend to emphasize the percussion instruments over the vocals and so the vocal level tends to seem a little less loud on better speakers to my experience. Whether that affects the relative judgments from tune to tune, I don't know, since I always make that judgment on the same pair of real good loudspeakers I haven't even tried doing it on an experimental cheap pair to see if it doesn't translate.

BK
Old 30th June 2009
  #18
Gear Addict
 
j-madd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
That's because it's a lot harder to find the center of gravity (loudness center) of very dynamic material than compressed material. And since smaller desktop speakers compress, they reduce the dynamics and thus make it easier to find the "loudness center". However, I have not done any studies to determine if that reaches an accurate conclusion, and if your judgment will translate to a less compressed or larger system.

Certainly the less compressed loudspeakers (dynamic, with good transient response) will tend to emphasize the percussion instruments over the vocals and so the vocal level tends to seem a little less loud on better speakers to my experience. Whether that affects the relative judgments from tune to tune, I don't know, since I always make that judgment on the same pair of real good loudspeakers I haven't even tried doing it on an experimental cheap pair to see if it doesn't translate.

BK
Yes I have noticed that when I mix to get the vocals to sit right on my Focal Solo 6 Be's, they are louder when played on desktop speakers and vice-versa. As far as the volume matching, I just get lost on larger speakers when trying to match volume, so the little speakers (playing at low volumes) have always been the trick, for me at least.

P.S. Bob, your Mastering Audio book is amazing!

Justin
Old 5th July 2009
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
Oh my, DAW meters are a poor substitute for the ear, especially when judging compressed versus non-compressed material. You used the word "peak levels" and don't forget that peak levels (on a digital peak meter) have absolutely no correlation with loudness. I've never found ANY meter to be useful for the practice of matching levels for mastering purposes. Even with an accurate true loudness meter (none exists, they all are approximations), by the time you have inspected the meter, you could have matched the levels by ear with any decent monitor controller. The Avocet does this comparison job very purely, but it only has 1 dB steps. It's very ergonomic; if I find a situation where the mix is either 1/2 dB more or less loud than the master regardless of where I set the Avocet, I just go with it, because if you can't make the master sound better than the mix when the mix is 1/2 dB louder than the master, you shouldn't be mastering :-).

Completely!! God, loudness is the last thing you should be judging on a peak meter, especially a DAW one. Just use your ears, but bear in mind, the tonal balance of the material will greatly effect the perceived loudness.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump