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What SPL do you mix at?
Old 7th April 2016
  #1
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What SPL do you mix at?

What SPLs do you mix at?


If possible, include weather is was A or C weighting when you measured it.
Old 7th April 2016
  #2
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jwh1192's Avatar
85-87db C-Weighting / Slow Response
Old 7th April 2016
  #3
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Sk106's Avatar
 

I set the volume to ~85dB before, but with time I've come to set it to where it 'feels' loud when the VU-meter crosses 0dBu. That way I can use my feelings and spontaneous impressions more. I haven't measured where this level is recently, but I guess it's a couple of hairs louder than 85.

If for the moment it feels very low/loud in volume, but the level is the same and meter set the same as before, then I know it's my hearing/mindset that is different. Kind of a quick reality check or diagnosing the moment. The perception changes over the course of the day, and some days my hearing is just .. really weird, like good and bad days or something. It's good to know what has changed, the output or the perception (or both).

That said, I frequently change the volume, turn mono on/off, use headphones and alternate speakers to listen to things from all different angles. The closer to the finish line the mix gets, the more I vary the listening, trying to catch anything that I might've missed or pop the cherry about anything I think I'm sure about. But it's seldom I go above that 'loud at 0dBu' level. Just don't want to fatigue the mind during long days.

When I make the song - recording, composition, playing MIDI keys etc - the volume usually ends up being constant.
Old 7th April 2016
  #4
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It's about 83/84 A-weighted, slow ballistics. Like that's where most of the peaks are. Most of my time is spent there. I do a lot of work towards the end considerably quieter (sub 70) and any editing I might need to do is also really quiet.
Old 7th April 2016
  #5
85 - 90 dB.
Old 7th April 2016
  #6
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jp22's Avatar
 

.
This question really isn't specific enough, since there's actual/physical external speaker volume (monitor) levels and then there's digital metering inside DAW software.

With that said, I have no clue what my external speaker decibels might be (it's a knob), THEN there's the volume of the digital metering within the DAW software, which these days I now mix with a setting at around 75-77db SPL (-6dBFS or under), sometimes even lower.

Mastering.. totally different story. Easily at 83db SPL (inside the software).

Again though, as for the speakers themselves, no idea what the decibels might be because they're just generic desktops with a single knob and little white dots around it. So, each dot could be 1db, 2db, who knows.
Old 7th April 2016
  #7
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jwh1192's Avatar
example: -20db (or -12 broadcast, -14 music per K-Scale) RMS pink noise / SPL meter set to C-Weighting Slow Response / turn your volume knob until you get to 85db / mark it with a piece of tape or Grease Pencil .. now listen to some Music through your system and meter it .. all that smashed music is going to be louder ..

if off the mark, disregard ...
Old 7th April 2016
  #8
When I check my mixing level, which I usually set at about the same subjective level as my regular, attentive listening, it's very often around 85 dB SPL measured by my meter's time-based averaging.

I've got some eustachian tube congestion, though, currently, and I see my levels a couple dB's over that. But I've been noticing a tendency to turn things up until it starts getting uncomfortably loud -- and then I realize I've been trying to compensate for my hearing difficulty. Since the congestion comes and goes and 'creeps up' on me, I'm trying to keep an eye on those creeping levels so I don't push too hard and potentially damage my ears. So, actually, having the meter out and measuring is a good reminder that I can't just do what I feel, at least not until I get the congestion issue straightened out.
Old 7th April 2016 | Show parent
  #9
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jp22's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
example: -20db (or -12 broadcast, -14 music per K-Scale) RMS pink noise / SPL meter set to C-Weighting Slow Response / turn your volume knob until you get to 85db / mark it with a piece of tape or Grease Pencil .. now listen to some Music through your system and meter it .. all that smashed music is going to be louder ..

if off the mark, disregard ...
Personally, I don't wire my monitors directly into the digital software where it can be effectively read and I don't have any external mixing device with metering either (just channel strips). My monitoring is done using a switchbox routed to/from two different audio cards. One comes from the outputs on the back of my converters (stereo pair) and the other comes from a second sound card - used for mastering and MIDI.

So, when I want to switch over to a different audio card, I just do that with the switchbox. This way, I can also hear both MIDI and another mix running on the other card simultaneously (two different audio programs running parallel), which means they both have separate volumes as well.
Old 7th April 2016
  #10
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jwh1192's Avatar
i have several different Marks on my SPL 2384 Surround Monitor Controller .. one for DAW's, One for SACD Playback, one for RoKu Box - for checking broadcast levels on the Net ..

a Radio Shack SPL meter is about 40 bucks .. you can even get some fairly descent ones on your Phone / iPad device now for free .. Only one i found is accurate as the little hardware box ..
Old 7th April 2016 | Show parent
  #11
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jp22's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
a Radio Shack SPL meter is about 40 bucks .. you can even get some fairly descent ones on your Phone / iPad device now for free .. Only one i found is accurate as the little hardware box ..
I think I need one of those.. thanks for that !

My switchbox is an old Realistic Tape Control Center, which I think is also Radio Shack made. I've had it ever since I was messing with 1/4" reels back in the late 80's..
Old 7th April 2016 | Show parent
  #12
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jwh1192's Avatar
dos yours have Switches (black & orange color) or Knobs (black & white color) for changing the inputs ?? i was looking at some pics ... that is a piece of history ....


Quote:
Originally Posted by jp22 View Post
I think I need one of those.. thanks for that !

My switchbox is an old Realistic Tape Control Center, which I think is also Radio Shack made. I've had it ever since I was messing with 1/4" reels back in the late 80's..
Old 7th April 2016 | Show parent
  #13
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jp22's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
dos yours have Switches (black & orange color) or Knobs (black & white color) for changing the inputs ??

It's this one:

http://www.hifiengine.com/images/mod...rol_center.jpg

http://www.hifiengine.com/images/mod...rear_panel.jpg

I only use the Source and Monitor inputs or switch (far right switch on front of unit and far left on the back inputs).
Old 7th April 2016
  #14
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Drumsound's Avatar
I listen at various volumes, but 85dB is kind of the 'standard.'
Old 7th April 2016
  #15
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It is more listening, playing synths, hobby FX programming or hobby mastering here. I don't currently do much mixing, but would use the same levels if I ever get busy mixing in the future.

I use a small 16 ch mixer for synthesizer inputs, and return stereo from two computers thru the small mixer's line-level FX returns. Other configs are available with the patch bay, but that is the default setup. So the little mixer functions as both an input mixer and monitor controller.

To hear computer A, I turn up FX return 1. To hear computer B, I turn up FX return 2.

Normalled thru the patch bay, the mixer, driverack and monitor amps are gain-staged so that 0 dB on the mixer output meter measures 90 dB slow C weighted on the sound level meter. So the mixer has 15 or 20 dB headroom to crank it louder than 90 dB SPL for short term ear-blasting, but this gain-staging is convenient to "keep monitoring within reason".

If the mixer meters are hitting 0 dB, then I know that SPL is in the ballpark of 90 dB. The mixer meters are downstream of live instruments, computers, or whatever else might get plugged in, so the mixer meter indicates fairly reliable SPL level regardless of the audio source. But the sound level meter is usually close by if I need to double-check.

I usually listen or tweak around 80 or 85 dB. If I'm gonna be tweaking for hours, will use levels lower than 80 dB to avoid ear fatigue. It is more probable to hit 85 to 90 dB playing keyboards. For some reason, it doesn't sound "as loud" when live playing. Playing keys feels better turned up a little. Ear damage comes from a combination of level and exposure time.

Will usually tweak around 80 or 85 dB, then when I'm about finished will typically run it up to 90 dB to play a song a couple of times to make sure it still sounds OK a little louder.
Old 8th April 2016
  #16
I monitor SPL with an audio control SPL meter and it reads unweighted SPL. I try to keep it at 83dB because ears are more flat in that range and it is below the SPL where the ears "acoustic reflex" kicks in.

This can be seen on the equal loudness countours (fletcher munson)
Old 8th April 2016
  #17
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83dB
Old 8th April 2016
  #18
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Amphibian's Avatar
 

You guys are really blasting...
Old 8th April 2016
  #19
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Sk106's Avatar
 

Denniz Pop - late swedish producer, originator of Britney's first success, mentor to Max Martin as well as a whole slew of Scandinavian producers in the 90s - mixed music as it was to be heard in the club dance floor. That's the only perspective he was interested in, so he listened at ROOF BOUNCING VOLUMES! People had to yell impressions to each other in the control room. He once said he determines low end by 'how it feels in the chest'.

Despite people reporting him using huge speakers, he managed to break most monitors. So he started ordering custom makes from private builders and local firms, made for blowing your hair back. At first he managed to kill those too. :P But then he got a speaker made which could withstand the pressure. As a great half-unintended bonus, the mixes made on those translated great to the dance floor.

As far as I know they made another couple of improved models based on the first one, and this then developed into Snake speakers, a brand which has managed to carve themselves a name in the biz. Max Martin and others has used them quite a bit over the years. It became sort of a fashionable thing over here, to use enormous speakers even in small rooms. Swedish house mafia can be seen using that concept, the camera image vibrates from the volume/lowend.
Another protege of Pop, Douglas Carr, used the same method: fridge sized snake models, enormous volumes and custom ear protection (those which don't mask up alot of freqs) so he could determine how the mix 'feels' in the body and the room, but without wasting his hearing.

83dB? pffft hahaaaa!
Old 8th April 2016
  #20
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Amphibian's Avatar
 

CLA mixes on conversation volume... Just saying!
Old 8th April 2016 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post
Another protege of Pop, Douglas Carr, used the same method: fridge sized snake models, enormous volumes and custom ear protection (those which don't mask up alot of freqs) so he could determine how the mix 'feels' in the body and the room, but without wasting his hearing.

83dB? pffft hahaaaa!
In earlier decades, studios seemed to commonly monitor and mix at high volume. Yeah, if the body feel is important, high volume + hearing protection makes some kind of sense. Tis a better option than occupational-related hearing loss.

The ONLY reason I limit levels is to protect the ears. There may be advantages in perceived frequency balance at some level around 85 dB or whatever. Loud sometimes sounds good, if it didn't damage hearing. I'm a geezer. Had to start using musicians earplugs playing live or going to concerts, or muffs using power tools, in the 1980's nearing age 40. Hearing damage was first beginning to show. Was better to limit levels than go deaf.

Maybe high levels are still the norm among youngsters. Went to a guitar center to listen to some monitors last year, and the salesman was cranking them to PA levels. It wouldn't be PA levels some distance back, but was equivalent to PA levels close to the monitors. Customers testing guitars and amps were testing em loud.

Couple of years ago finished tweaking my new office, spent a long time learning the room with various music. Seemed that a lot of music done "before the era of CD's" felt light on bass compared to music from the last couple of decades, on a system fairly flat down to 25 Hz. Listening around 80 to 90 dB.

So tried an experiment, played some of those old hits that seemed lacking in bass at "safe" SPL levels-- Cranked the monitors up to 95 or 100 dB, and the frequency balance sounded fine. Bass levels were about right played near-the-pain-threshold. Maybe those old mixes sounded balanced loud, because they were mixed loud back then.

It might be impossible to find the book in the attic, but I recall a 1970's early edition of "Modern Recording Techniques" discussing that music is commonly mixed loud (as of 1970's). Hearing risks were also discussed, but that early edition of the text seemed to take it for granted that a loud mix on big flat monitors as "a good way to get a proper mix". So far as I recall.
Old 8th April 2016
  #22
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lynngraber's Avatar
very very quiet most of the time. Reference loud.
Old 8th April 2016 | Show parent
  #23
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jp22's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
i have several different Marks on my SPL 2384 Surround Monitor Controller .. one for DAW's, One for SACD Playback, one for RoKu Box - for checking broadcast levels on the Net ..

a Radio Shack SPL meter is about 40 bucks .. you can even get some fairly descent ones on your Phone / iPad device now for free .. Only one i found is accurate as the little hardware box ..
Incidentally, isn't the 2384 a summing mixer ? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the SPL SMC is the 2489.

Also forgot to mention, the outputs on my converters (going optical to primary audio card) and the second sound card are both spliced together. From there, they go to the Realistic switchbox and the desktop speakers at the same time. That's how they're controlled with the source/monitor switch on the old Realistic box. Just thought I'd clear that up.
Old 8th April 2016
  #24
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jwh1192's Avatar
2489 yes .. spell check upgraded me to a summing mixer - haha ..
Old 9th April 2016 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post
Denniz Pop - late swedish producer, originator of Britney's first success, mentor to Max Martin as well as a whole slew of Scandinavian producers in the 90s - mixed music as it was to be heard in the club dance floor. That's the only perspective he was interested in, so he listened at ROOF BOUNCING VOLUMES! People had to yell impressions to each other in the control room. He once said he determines low end by 'how it feels in the chest'.

Despite people reporting him using huge speakers, he managed to break most monitors. So he started ordering custom makes from private builders and local firms, made for blowing your hair back. At first he managed to kill those too. :P But then he got a speaker made which could withstand the pressure. As a great half-unintended bonus, the mixes made on those translated great to the dance floor.

As far as I know they made another couple of improved models based on the first one, and this then developed into Snake speakers, a brand which has managed to carve themselves a name in the biz. Max Martin and others has used them quite a bit over the years. It became sort of a fashionable thing over here, to use enormous speakers even in small rooms. Swedish house mafia can be seen using that concept, the camera image vibrates from the volume/lowend.
Another protege of Pop, Douglas Carr, used the same method: fridge sized snake models, enormous volumes and custom ear protection (those which don't mask up alot of freqs) so he could determine how the mix 'feels' in the body and the room, but without wasting his hearing.

83dB? pffft hahaaaa!
Probably a bad idea for career longevity. I spend a lot of time on stage at festivals and in clubs with mega loud monitors so I test a lot of my electronic tracks during soundcheck.
Old 25th July 2018 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp22 View Post
Personally, I don't wire my monitors directly into the digital software where it can be effectively read and I don't have any external mixing device with metering either (just channel strips). My monitoring is done using a switchbox routed to/from two different audio cards. One comes from the outputs on the back of my converters (stereo pair) and the other comes from a second sound card - used for mastering and MIDI.

So, when I want to switch over to a different audio card, I just do that with the switchbox. This way, I can also hear both MIDI and another mix running on the other card simultaneously (two different audio programs running parallel), which means they both have separate volumes as well.
When does a parallel DAW situation become useful, or necessary? I'm not poking fun at this statement. I'm just genuinely curious.
Old 25th July 2018 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcjr View Post
I usually listen or tweak around 80 or 85 dB. If I'm gonna be tweaking for hours, will use levels lower than 80 dB to avoid ear fatigue. It is more probable to hit 85 to 90 dB playing keyboards. For some reason, it doesn't sound "as loud" when live playing. Playing keys feels better turned up a little. Ear damage comes from a combination of level and exposure time.
I might be wrong, but I think that's because the noise floor in a crowder bar or a nightclub is significantly higher than it would be in your studio. And so, what we perceive as loud in one setting, may be relatively quiet in another.
Old 25th July 2018
  #28
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cjogo's Avatar
Been mixing for way too long -- very quiet --- got to save those ears ..
Old 25th July 2018
  #29
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Matti's Avatar
Small room, around 70-75 DB (c-weighted) here

Matti
Old 25th July 2018 | Show parent
  #30
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amphibian View Post
CLA mixes on conversation volume... Just saying!
If I had NS10's (or, now, TSoH's), I would too.
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