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How to level match two stereo channels?
Old 31st October 2017
Gear Maniac

Thread Starter
How to level match two stereo channels?

When comparing two stereo channels (maybe comparing two different main pair placements, or choosing between two main pair takes that use different microphones), the advice is usually to match the levels. We want to avoid psycho-acoustic issues related to unconsciously perceiving louder as better.

So, how, exactly is this done. One can't simply match peak values. But, if using an average of some kind (say, RMS), how does one determine the period over which to average. Just what does it mean to say that these two 3-minute samples have the same loudness, and how does one do it.

I see comments such as, "the two samples are matched to within 1 DB". But, I don't know how that is actually accomplished.

Is it qualitative (which would seem to defeat the purpose), or quantitative (but then exactly what and how to measure)?

Thank you.



P.S. Here is another context... Suppose one has a main pair, and also a pair of flankers. I see comments such as, "the flankers were mixed in at -3db. Or -6db. (Or some other value)". How is the measured. The content is similar, but the waveforms are in no way congruent. How do I know that the flankers are Xdb lower than the mains?

Last edited by dgpretzel; 31st October 2017 at 10:19 PM.. Reason: Add P.S.
Old 31st October 2017
I usually take a sample of 30 seconds of a tutti section and get the RMS average of the entire section. Perceived loudness is certainly more important when comparing samples than peak. And if you average out one section, there is no guarantee that the loudness differences will be consistent across the entire piece. But it works the majority of the time.

For comparing outriggers and mains. For me it is just a "best guess" by looking at the meters. Nothing scientific, since it is all done by ear.
Old 1st November 2017
Lives for gear
boojum's Avatar
My practice is to start with all tracks at 0dB. Then I get the mains where I like them and then dial in the flankers. If they are down 6dB it is 6dB lower than 0dB in that track. It is not a number I shoot for but a sound. The number tells where the level is in that track. I may be all wrong, but that is my method.

Later: If there were a great discrepency between sets of tracks at 0dB I would adjust the sliders to where they were equal, as would happen when mixing very sensitive and not too sensitive pairs.

Last edited by boojum; 2nd November 2017 at 07:58 AM..
Old 8th November 2017
Lives for gear
Plush's Avatar
It is adjusted by ear.
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