How loud do you listen?

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  • 04-22-2012, 10:08 AM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    Fortunately, none of the symphonies I've ever heard played at rock concert levels. :)

    Same for me. 120 dB is absurd, I think even if you were sitting among the orchestra players.
  • 04-22-2012, 10:40 AM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    ... even if you were sitting among the orchestra players.

    With your ear in the bell of a trombone, perhaps. :)
  • 05-03-2012, 09:17 PM
    tube fan
    The bass drum in the firebird suite can hit 100+dB. Either you have poor meters or listen at background levels. OH yes, your system might not be able to reproduce a bass drum full out!
  • 05-04-2012, 11:30 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    I'd like to mention one thing and complain a little in the process. For some movies, especially movies with a lot of action, the people who mix these tend to try and bury the dialog in a flurry of beating drums,crashing objects, and what not... Many times, when the dialog is at a decent volume, the action scene starts and people in the room start yelling, "Turn it Down, it's loo loud!". I turn it down, but when the action stops, I have to grab the remote and turn the dialog back up. This goes on during the entire movie. There are also a number of movies that almost un-watchable because the background sounds drown out the dialog during the entire movie.
    When we mix the movies, we don't have this problem for several reasons.

    1. The ambient levels of the mixing room are a lot lower than the average household room. The dubbing stage has at least NC-20, and the typical home is NC-45-50.

    2. Aside from the studio I work for(Disney), most all movies on DVD or Bluray carry the theatrical mix. It was created and mixed in a room that is bigger than most houses, on speakers four or fives times larger and of a different design than most home speakers, and are perfectly matched across the front soundstage.

    3. The mix is created in a room that follows SMPTE standards, and most folks don't follow SMPTE standards in their homes.

    4. Most folks do not use identical speakers across the front soundstage. When one uses speakers with different frequency responses, all three sitting in much different environments (center on or under a television, and L/R mains on stands or close to walls), one speaker(s) can cloud the other speaker output.

    One thing I have learned over the years with hometheater is the closer you match your playback system to the mixing system, the fewer playback errors you have.

    For music I listen at about 75-80db average level. With movies it is an average of 70db at dialog level which leads to momentary peaks of around 105db.
  • 05-04-2012, 11:42 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tube fan View Post
    COMPLETELY WRONG: Symphonic music peaks reach between 120 and 137 db. 1/3 of the total power of a 75 piece orchestra comes from the bass drum. You need a more accurate meter!

    Actually your information is wrong. You would destroy the bass drum playing it that loud. Over the last 25 years of recording and mixing, I have recorded all of the large classical works out there. I have recorded orchestras as large as 110 members(the average being around 80), and have never had levels close to 120db let alone 137db. Our level meters don't even peak that high.

    The loudest peak I have ever recorded was 110db, and that was during the peak loudness of a 120 voice choir, a 110 person orchestra, and a 8 piece band in a large auditorium. That level was uncomfortable to some of the audience members in the front few rows of the auditorium.
  • 05-04-2012, 12:12 PM
    bobsticks
    Good stuff Terrence.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible View Post
    3. The mix is created in a room that follows SMPTE standards, and most folks don't follow SMPTE standards in their homes.

    I'd imagine this plays into it more than just simply not following directives. Most folks within the hobby have de facto preferences between two channel and multi-channel reproduction. I can't tell you how any audiophiles tweak systems for two channel playback and then don't recalibrate for movie viewing...and wonder why FR and FL are too loud in the mix.
  • 05-04-2012, 04:24 PM
    mlsstl
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tube fan View Post
    COMPLETELY WRONG: Symphonic music peaks reach between 120 and 137 db. 1/3 of the total power of a 75 piece orchestra comes from the bass drum. You need a more accurate meter!

    I'm curious as to the source of your information and the details of how it was measured.
  • 05-09-2012, 09:17 PM
    tube fan
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mlsstl View Post
    I'm curious as to the source of your information and the details of how it was measured.

    google gcaudio. A jet peaks at 140 dB; a 12 gage shotgun at 165 dB; a piano at 103 dB; a violin at 92; a cello at 111; an oboe at 112; a flute at 103 dB; a clarinet at 114 dB; a trombone at 144 dB; and a bass drum at 106 dB. Symphonic music PEAKS: 120-137 dB. Rock PEAKS: 150 dB. And, yes, 1/3 of a symphony's total power comes from the bass drum.
  • 05-10-2012, 04:26 AM
    mlsstl
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tube fan View Post
    google gcaudio. A jet peaks at 140 dB; a 12 gage shotgun at 165 dB; a piano at 103 dB; a violin at 92; a cello at 111; an oboe at 112; a flute at 103 dB; a clarinet at 114 dB; a trombone at 144 dB; and a bass drum at 106 dB. Symphonic music PEAKS: 120-137 dB. Rock PEAKS: 150 dB. And, yes, 1/3 of a symphony's total power comes from the bass drum.

    You missed answering the part that relates to "how it was measured".

    And, at GCAudio, there was this little footnote: "There were some conflicting readings and, in many cases, authors did not specify at what distance the readings were taken or what the musician was actually playing. In general, when there were several readings, the higher one was chosen."

    In reading through the material on the site, it is obvious they like to impress with big numbers.

    Perceived loudness follows the inverse square rule in the open, which means volume drops quickly with distance, though how much varies with the acoustics when one is inside rooms.

    One can play lots of games with this. Put the measurement microphone under the lid of a piano is going to give a much larger number than a measurement at a concert-goer's seat, whether the first row or back of the auditorium. However, even the piano player doesn't listen with his head inside the lid.

    Similarly, if measuring multiple instruments (i.e., an orchestra), was a single mike used at a listener's position or were instruments individually measured close-up and the numbers added together. I strongly suspect the latter in your case which is not a "real world" number.

    I've been to plenty of classical concerts at Powell Hall in St. Louis and other venues and never heard 137 dB. That's a pretend "shock" number, created on purpose using invalid measurement techniques in my book.

    One can easily see the importance of discussing measurement technique as it directly impacts the validity of the results.
  • 05-10-2012, 04:44 AM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mlsstl View Post
    ...
    I've been to plenty of classical concerts at Powell Hall in St. Louis and other venues and never heard 137 dB. That's a pretend "shock" number, created on purpose using invalid measurement techniques in my book.

    One can easily see the importance of discussing measurement technique as it directly impacts the validity of the results.

    Personally I've never heard an orchestra anywhere close to 120 dB, the number bandied about earlier.
  • 05-10-2012, 05:27 AM
    RGA
    At deafening levels our ears stink at discerning "quality"

    I would say most of my listening at the listening chair is 60-80db. I value greatly systems that can play "well" at low levels - which most everything I have heard does a piss poor job of doing and SS with feedback perhaps is "the" worst at doing - which is why it's always the same "I can't make out the Oboe which is clearly there - let's turn the volume up so I can hear it. Almost but not quite as bad as those big box store home theaters where you could never bloody well hear the dialog properly so you would crank the receiver WAY up almost to the maximum (often the maximum) and then someone would put a cup on a table and it would go BOOM and you would get thrown through your seat.It was "awesome" in the store but Frak I hate holding the remote control through EVERY single movie adjusting the center volume and the rears and the turning down the fronts.

    Pioneer I believe came out with Legato Link conversion and a leveler for CD - so every CD played would be at the exact same level. It sucked (just noise shaping circuits degrading the quality) but it did make sense from the annoyance factor especially if you had a mega changer or were recording to tape.. But they didn't do it for LD or DVD.

    The dialogue channel is 99.9999999% the most important aspect to a move (unless it's a silent film - or the story is so inane and moronic that it's better not to know (which is 99.9999% of everything Hollywood has made in the last 15 years).

    I never quite get the volume arguments - you want to go boom boom it's not terribly expensive to play astonishing loud. Cerwin Vega comes to mind. My Wharfedale Vanguards and the model up came in a DJ version (119db the Whharfedales will pound).

    I am past the stage of Motley Crue at deafening levels - playing loud causes fatigue and it's not necessary - chances are if you feel like you have to play it loud something is seriously wrong.

    Still you could do worse than a set of these at this price. (And he is not lying - they listed for $2000 back in 1990 - they were the best model they made while still being run by Wharfedale - a much better E-70 which is a bit of a classic these days. My set still needs work - might be cheaper just to buy his. Somewhat tempting.

    Basically it's a refined sounding Cerwin Vega or Klipsch (which is why I bought them over those). It could pound but it still made sense of things like Vocals - Cher sounds like a transvestite on Cerwin Vega, so did the did from Roxette. I know Cher has a deep voice but...

    And Klipsch KG4s were ear bleeding bright

    $325 - Hmm Wharfedale Vanguard Speakers - Nanaimo Electronics For Sale - Kijiji Nanaimo Canada.
  • 05-10-2012, 06:19 AM
    Poultrygeist
    "Loudness is often a substitute to create the illusion of seeing more. Then we forget what we really don't see. It's compensation. It proves out insufficient illumination at quieter levels. In plain speak, that's inferior and ultimately insufficient resolution. The need for SPL's nearly always signifies it".

    - Srajen Ebaen

    "And no amp can resolve detail at low levels like a SET".

    - Poultrygeist
  • 05-10-2012, 08:39 PM
    tube fan
    You ALL are missing the point: these are PEAK dB levels. Most levels are in the 80 dB range. However, if your system cannot reproduce a bass drum at full level, you are missing a big factor in realism.
  • 05-11-2012, 03:43 AM
    mlsstl
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tube fan View Post
    You ALL are missing the point: these are PEAK dB levels. Most levels are in the 80 dB range. However, if your system cannot reproduce a bass drum at full level, you are missing a big factor in realism.

    And the central question is still being evaded: describe the measurement protocol.

    It is very easy to produce "big numbers" if you stick a microphone inside an instrument. That never has been what a listener hears at any normal audience position.
  • 05-11-2012, 03:50 AM
    Poultrygeist
    The realism of sitting inside a bass drum at "full level" is a big factor I hope to avoid.

    Tube fan, tell us about your car subs.
  • 05-11-2012, 06:18 AM
    VerdaMcEwen
    not clear about this.
  • 05-11-2012, 07:35 AM
    mlsstl
    Here's an illustration of why a clear description of measurement technique is important.

    I ran a rough set of numbers on Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis. It seats almost 2,700 people in a space of approximately 750,000 cubic feet. That's a lot of space to fill and a whole bunch of individual sound absorbers.

    Let's say that one does get an instantaneous peak reading of 137 dB from a microphone placed 2 inches from a bass drum head. At the normal 1 meter measurement distance used for a speaker, the direct sound level has already dropped to 112 dB. Bass drums are usually toward the rear of the orchestra, so put the person in front-row center seat 10 meters from the bass drum and their instantaneous peak is down to to 92 dB. Perhaps one can add a few dB back for reflection and reinforcement from the room, but one still doesn't have a "137 dB" peak at the listener's eardrum.

    Now, translate that to an ordinary listening room. Instead of 2,700 bodies, we have perhaps a couple. Instead of three-quarters of a million cubic feet, we have maybe 2,000. I am also perhaps 3 meters from the speakers instead of some multiple distance from the musicians, with more volume reinforcement from reflection due to the smaller room and closer walls.

    If my goal is to reproduce, in my living room, the instantaneous peaks heard by a symphony listener at their front-row seat, I don't need to recreate the original volume produced at the drum head since I'm not in a symphony hall filled with thousands of people.

    In fact, if I do recreate the total original power of the instruments in that home setting, I will have a completely unrealistic listening experience in my room that is far too loud to the point of discomfort or ear damage.

    In short, without context and details, the sound level numbers bandied about can be rather meaningless.
  • 05-11-2012, 07:47 AM
    Mash
    Some points
    1. Your ears have increasing distortion as SPL increases. As the (lower) distortion in your ears increases closer to the distortion in your sound system, the sound system sounds better.

    2. Most SS amps have a downward sloping distortion curve as power increases & their lowest distortion is at power outputs a few dB below clipping. { i.e. Distortion at low power outputs is usually greater than it is at higher power outputs. See 1. Tube amps tend to be the other way.

    3. Loudspeaker distortion varies all over the place.

    4. Direct radiators {point-source loudspeakers} SPL drops with distance squared. Planar speakers (panels) show SPL constant with distance. This is noticeable outdoors & very large rooms.

    5. Averaging SPL measurements? You do not simply add & divide.

    You convert each reading to
    (10)^(SPL/10)
    Then add these numbers....... to SUM

    Then Calculate SPL = (10) *(LOG10(SUM))

    Easy with EXCEL, tedious with a hand calculator.
  • 05-11-2012, 08:08 AM
    Mash
    SPL is a measure of sound power density, i.e. sound power per unit of volume. So you can have the same SPL in your room at home as is measured in the concert hall, but you will not have the same total sound power in your room as existed in the concert hall. This is what makes SPL readings useful.
  • 05-11-2012, 08:22 AM
    Mash
    The cleanest speakers are either

    Low-mass panels i.e. Magneplanars/Magnepans, or ESL, usually with tube amps

    Or

    Servo-feedback controlled dynamic (cone) speakers, where the feedback circuit both controls & corrects the cone motion as it tends to cancel amp distortions. Amp distortions are higher order frequencies (multiples) of the original signal's frequencies and so become far less audible at higher signal frequencies which are usually reproduced by tweeters.
  • 05-11-2012, 08:49 AM
    mlsstl
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mash View Post
    ... Planar speakers (panels) show SPL constant with distance. This is noticeable outdoors & very large rooms.

    Actually, that can't be true as written. Otherwise the speaker would sound just as loud half-a-mile away as up close.

    The dipole nature of a planar will engage the room more than a conventional box speaker, but sound levels will still decrease with distance.
  • 05-11-2012, 09:14 AM
    Mash
    A panel speaker will supposedly begin to transition toward a point source at about the same distance as the dimension of the panel, i.e. an 11 ft wide x 6 ft high Tympani will transition at about 6 feet. I have measured my Tympant at 1 ft, 3 ft, 6 ft, 9 ft, 12 ft, 15 ft, etc. all the way back to the listening position in a large room using pink noise & the SPL was constant. "A mile away" is a ridiculous measure.

    See Olsens Theoretical Acoustics, I forget the page.
  • 05-11-2012, 09:43 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tube fan View Post
    You ALL are missing the point: these are PEAK dB levels. Most levels are in the 80 dB range. However, if your system cannot reproduce a bass drum at full level, you are missing a big factor in realism.

    So you can see how ridiculous you sound no recording format has 137db of dynamic range. Even 24bit which has a theoretical dynamic range of 144db, even the best consumer playback system will only get about 120db performance from it.

    137db even in the bass frequencies is extremely loud. Unless you have subs like mine, and as many as I have, with the necessary power to push bass frequencies to very high levels, no speaker system will playback 137db(or even 120db), not even yours.

    It takes me 4 H-PAS subwoofers in a tight cubical cluster and 4,000 watts of power to get 131db at 20hz. The digital cannons in the Telarc version of the 1812 Overture did not even come close to that level when played back at an average listening level of 80db. Those cannons are recorded louder than any bass drum can play without destroying it.
  • 05-11-2012, 09:45 AM
    mlsstl
    No need to be sensitive, but note that your original message on the subject specifically said "outdoors and very large rooms".

    15 feet is not indicative to me of a "very large room" and certainly not outdoors. It is the contribution of the rear radiation of a dipole to the room sound that gives the effect you note and it would therefore be meaningless outdoors. The sound level of a panel speaker played outdoors does not stay constant over any meaningful distance.

    Of course, this is all a side distraction. My entry into this conversation had to do with the SPL numbers that one had to supposedly duplicate in your listening room to recreate the same volume as a live symphony concert. To suggest that one cannot get a realistic reproduction of symphonic music in a home setting unless your speaker can reproduce sound at 137 dB is silliness of the first order.
  • 05-11-2012, 09:47 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mash View Post
    A panel speaker will supposedly begin to transition toward a point source at about the same distance as the dimension of the panel, i.e. an 11 ft wide x 6 ft high Tympani will transition at about 6 feet. I have measured my Tympant at 1 ft, 3 ft, 6 ft, 9 ft, 12 ft, 15 ft, etc. all the way back to the listening position in a large room using pink noise & the SPL was constant. "A mile away" is a ridiculous measure.

    See Olsens Theoretical Acoustics, I forget the page.

    Doesn't this apply to line arrays and not conventional speakers?