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Old January 13th, 2013, 01:57 PM   #1
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Which recording - output level to use

I always aim to keep my audio recordings at the -12 db setting and boost the level up in either Adobe Audition or Premiere.

My question is simple, what peak level should I use for output to DVD, BluRay and internet (YouTube and Vimeo).. I have been using -2 or -3 db, is this correct?
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Old January 13th, 2013, 02:30 PM   #2
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

There doesn't seem to be any standard for YT and Vimeo. Some 'pros' use ATSC A/85 or the LUFS EBU/128, same for DVD and BU. Right or wrong, for DVD and BU, I set peaks @ -6.0dBFS with light comp/limiting, which (usually) yields a ATSC A/85 integrated loudness level of -22.5LUFS. (however YMMV) A little hotter for YT/Vim. For b'cast submissions, whatever the network specifies.. that's usually ATSC A/85 or LUFS EBU/128 these days.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:16 AM   #3
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

Thank you Rick for your informative reply. Interesting that you set your peaks to -6, I was always under the impression that -2 or -3 was the setting to use, but after a couple of "HOT" recordings I wanted to take another look at the settings. I will experiment with -6db.

Has anyone else got views on this?
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Old January 14th, 2013, 02:22 AM   #4
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

I tend to go for around -6dbfs too so it leaves some headroom, note that here in the UK our broadcast levels are slightly different to the USA as we use -18dbfs as zero with peaks up to -10dbfs not -20dbfs and -12dbfs as in the USA.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:10 AM   #5
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

"I was always under the impression that -2 or -3 was the setting to use"
-- That would be OK for a music CD. However it could clip an encoded AAC, AC3 or MP3 or other data compressed file.. in addition it could clip the final playback device's D/A converter, which in most instances you have no control over what folks use to playback.. and piss off the viewer as well, because it's so much louder than usual TV broadcast.
In the US, the B'cast submission standard was.. at least in NYC, -20dBFS (ref. level) with program peaks not exceeding -10dBFS. That is no longer the case since the 'CALM' act came about.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 10:36 AM   #6
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

Thanks again Rick and Gary, so what I am learning is that the final output level should not exceed -10dbs, is this loud enough for DVD output?

I have done so many Google searches and looked in my collection of reference books to find out more information on this, but have not found that many (well none actually) sites with the information I am seeking. It is also interesting to hear you say that -2 or -3 would be OK for music CDs, does that mean people who watch TV have to turn up their volume to watch a DVD?

Here the BBC seem to have many standards for sound levels, I am constantly turning up or down the volume for various programs, the News at 10 and Regional News followed by the weather reports are a prime example.

Thanks again for your input, I have been experimenting for most of the day and the -6 does seem to produce a better quality sound, without being too loud, will try the -10 setting next.
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Old January 14th, 2013, 11:48 AM   #7
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Re: Which recording - output level to use

-10 dbfs is the max level for broadcast and what the BBC and most broadcasters use but is not really relevant for DVD or on-line so I tend to push it to -6dbfs.

Note that the different levels you tend to hear off air are more related to loudness and that can be affected by compression etc, that is why loudness or LEQ meters are being used more and more so an average loudness can be attained.

If you listen to most commercials or indeed radio stations like radio 1 they have very compressed audio and sometimes a dynamic range of around 1db, listen to an Oasis CD and you will get what I mean but dynamic range can have a great effect on how your material is perceived.

A lot of compression will make things sound really loud but it may take away any nuances in a mix, cinema also tends to use more dynamic range as they have huge sound systems for playback that can use all that dynamic range but if you are mixing for TV or DVD you need less dynamic range and ten db's is usually enough but as stated this is not related to maximum peak levels.
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