Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Using Reference Levels Essential For Translation

One reason your sounds didn't translate to other systems is because you aren't monitoring at the right reference level. The reference level is a peak SPL in the real world and not a thing on a meter. Some say it is 83db. I don't believe this is a good volume level to use as it could damage your hearing. Some use 72db for nearfield applications. You will need an actual SPL meter from radio shack or the internet and a pink noise generator to set it. Don't go so high you are messing up your ears.

With a peak level set, you will mix sounds set below the reference level. Most people do -12 or -14db below. This is a standard comfort zone for voice or most instruments. If you want to go loud you can push over that level, but its not something you do through the entire mix. Someone should have told this to the people that mix Disney soundtracks.

Equipment like T.C. Electronic BMC-2 allows you you to have a set reference level at the touch of a button.

If you use flat monitors, the mix reference level is even more important to have. I find flat monitors are easier to mix with when pushed louder. If you mix at low volumes there is a risk of over-compression, distortion, and going too far. If you back off on the meter, and increase your speaker volume you'll be able to make better sounds. If you want to be more accurate, try a set reference level with an SPL meter.

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