Audio Level Meters

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jkaz, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. jkaz macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Upper Mid West
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm trying to make a link between all of my audio level meters from FCP to STP to my monitor speakers.

    What I am hoping to find is an apples for apples meter that I can hand hold at my listening position to calibrate the output level of my speakers to match the levels on my FCP projects.

    So, if I have a test tone in my timeline and it is reading -6dB constant,

    I want to have an audio meter in my hand that tells me what my speaker level output is at so that I can raise or lower the volume to match that -6dB example.

    I've done some snooping, but I am initially concerned that I am not looking at apples to apples comparisons when it comes to measuring units.

    I'm no pro when it comes to audio, but i'm doing my best to improve!

    Thanks,

    Jeff
     
  2. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #2
    Not possible.

    For recorded materials, -6dB is in relation to the clipping point for the device. 0dB is clipping.

    Unfortunately it has no relations to sound measurement in real life.
     
  3. jkaz thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Upper Mid West
    #3
    Thanks for the response.

    How do I then know what the 'actual' level being output is at?
     
  4. bimmzy macrumors regular

    bimmzy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #4
    Firstly, standard line up for digital audio with video is 1kHz at -20dB (-18 in Europe), so most speech should also be around the -20dB mark or a little above using your FCP metering.

    Secondly, absolute audio levels in a "box" are not absolute relative to those in nature (in air).
    Play your line up through your speakers turning your amp volume up or down until it feels comfortable. Then if you can, play some speech through the system remembering to adhere to the -20dB rule (in FCP), if it feels about right for your ears, you have then set the right overall level.
    ;)
     
  5. AceWilfong macrumors regular

    AceWilfong

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #5
    Not very glamorous,

    but this old goat thinks you can do what you want to do with a simple, hand-held, Radio Shack db meter. Hint: It's all relative.
     
  6. jkaz thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2004
    Location:
    Upper Mid West
    #6
    Thank you both for your response.

    I think through this discussion, I may have discovered a way to reach my objective, tell me if this makes sense:

    I will take any sort of loudness or audio meter and pair it with a microphone, then I will record a dialogue, taking note of the level it reaches.

    Next, bring it into the computer, output it to my speakers, then tweak my volume settings so that it matches the initially recorded audio level.

    Finally, I think I have a solution.

    Thanks!

    Jeff
     
  7. bimmzy macrumors regular

    bimmzy

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #7
    What counts is what feels comfortable in your working environment/studio/edit suite.

    Remember a conversation between two people in an office will come in at around 60dB SPL, that same conversation in a quiet room will be less.

    If the conversation you are recording meters around -20dBV this will give a relative stand point to work with. Digital audio need lots of headroom, so in a sense the line up of your system within the box is fundamental.

    When I work with audio, I'm often turning the gain of the amp up and down regularly as i need to listen carefully to different parts of the production. But the levels on the timeline tend to stay fixed in relation to different noises and sounds.
    A conversation is relatively quiet, people shouting is loader, and an explosion is loader still, but if you fix those levels in the box to those in nature you are going to deafen your audience when a bomb goes off!
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #8
    The volume knob on the speakers is always going to change from person to person. What counts is what the audio meters say and the relative loudness of everything in the audio mix. As others have said, keep the audio levels w/in reasonable limits (ex. the TV show I work on wants the meters to live around -15 and never peak above -10) and adjust your speakers to a comfortable level.


    Lethal
     

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