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Old December 18th, 2007, 10:42 AM   #1
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Levels for the final mix

Hi folks,

Roughly how loud should normal speech be on my VU meter? At the moment, I'm mastering so that normal speech averages about -12db (ranging from about -18db to -6db) with loud laughter getting up to about -2db. Is that too loud?

(Just to be clear: I'm not clipping anything; the audio sounds great... I'm just a little worried that my mixes are a little louder than most of the audio I hear on purchased movie DVD etc).

Many thanks,
Jack
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Old December 18th, 2007, 10:46 AM   #2
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I've noticed that DVDs vary in terms of how the audio is mastered. I think a lot of them forget to go back in and tweak the audio for a television set - the highs are LOUD and the lows are loooowww....

For instance, Syriana, even with a 5.1 surround system set to narrow band, I could not hear the majority of the dialogue (the movie of whispers!) and at the same time SFX would worry me about waking the neighbors.

I guess what I am trying to say is - it doesn't matter so much the level. It matters that you don't feel the need to ride the remote, it's relatively in the same ballpark.

People can turn the volume down if it's too high, but if your quiet dialogue then falls off, you have a problem.

C
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Old December 18th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #3
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The TV company that I have worked with wants the dialog between -20 and -12 dB, all peaks touching -6 dB have to be listed on a separate form with time codes and -3 dBFS is the absolute allowed maximum level.

Of course the most important thing is consistancy. The viewer must be able to set levels once, if they are a few dB low or high it does not matter all that much, as long as the levels stay the same all the way.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #4
 
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According to Jay Rose in his book "Audio for Postproduction", the spoken voice can have a dynamic range of 12-18dB above average. A professional voice recordist can limit his range to 6 dB. Pop music can have a dynamic range of 2-6dB(a little compression, maybe?)!!

Broadcast standards usually run -20dBFS, set so the analog output is at +4dBu on a VU meter. Desktop editting can be set at -12dBFS, but, should be turned down to -20dBFS for the final mix if you're going out to broadcast.

Note: digital meters are best used as PPM meters, measuring peaks. VU meters measure average levels of analog audio. While you can go back and forth, they really are different depending on whether it's consumer or pro reference voltages.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 07:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Kelly View Post
Hi folks,

Roughly how loud should normal speech be on my VU meter? At the moment, I'm mastering so that normal speech averages about -12db (ranging from about -18db to -6db) with loud laughter getting up to about -2db. Is that too loud?

(Just to be clear: I'm not clipping anything; the audio sounds great... I'm just a little worried that my mixes are a little louder than most of the audio I hear on purchased movie DVD etc).

Many thanks,
Jack
Hello Jack,

It pretty much depends on your program. You have to think about the loudest sound and the quietest sound. If the dialog is very loud and you have an explosion that's no louder, it'll sound weird.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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