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Old July 5th, 2008, 04:41 PM   #1
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Mixing audio: best levels?

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong forum...

First, I read the ten commandments, and I have to tell ya'll that I feel like such a noobie! :D

With that said, I am a one-man crew and capture XLR audio straight into my camera.

My question: When balancing audio levels (using NLE like FCP) for final output, in general, what is the best average DB range for things like interviews and general (not so loud) ambient noises?

I am finding that when I output my final video, and when compared to my peers (who do not really worry about audio levels -- this is for web video), my audio is much lower and harder to hear on some computer/speaker systems... On the other hand, I think my audio sounds pretty good on my high-end workstation with decent speakers (whereas, it seems like the other videos are much too loud.)

When making my final NLE mix (i.e. FCP), should average sound level peak just into the red while not distorting or overloading?

What is general rule-of-thumb for final output audio levels?

Many many many thanks for any help you folks could throw my way. :)

Cheers,
Micky
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Old July 5th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #2
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Hi Micky,

It really depends on your target. If you're mixing for a dramatic DVD, peak the voices at about -12 dBFS, and leave the rest for dynamic events, like gunshots, door slams or whatever. If you really want punch, peak the dialog at -18 dBFS and hope the audience turns up the volume.

For TV broadcast, they will run your movie through a compressor, so it will be much hotter, but with lower peaks.

Personally, I treat web video like car radio - I do the original mix for dynamics (-12 dBFS), but I cook it in a mastering pass for maximum loudness (like a pop/rock CD.) If the web audience can't hear the audio, you risk them clicking away.

I use the izotope mastering tools that ship with SoundForge 9.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 05:00 AM   #3
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I normally process audio in post, lately with FCP. The audio tools are a bit crude in FCP, but I've figured out how to work around them.

For example, here's two headworn Countryman e6 mics and an AEA R84 ribbon mic on the guitar amp.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rFHwXWHpcA

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old July 7th, 2008, 12:11 AM   #4
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Thanks folks! Great info. :)

Nice clip Ty! Sweet audio...

Thanks!!!

Have a great day,
Cheers,
Micky
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