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That is the best explaniation I have heard. It makes total sence to me when you put it that way. :T
Yep, everyone has a different level due to their experience in life. Many times I've read a post where they comment about their sub shakes the whole apartment complex, and they're talking about their 8" model with a 200 watt plate amp. Now take that person and have him listen to a system with 16 or so 18" drivers, each with 3" of excursion powered by a 6K watt amp, and their frame of reference changes forever.

Like the old quote says, "Contentment is destroyed by comparison"
 

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We just got back from a local Movie theater where I ran an app from my phone that shows the DB levels... It showed peaks of only 90db while watching Robocop. Pretty much the same as what I watch movies at home at.
 

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My Onkyo 702 is THX certified. Doesn't make it reference. But for me reference level is pretty much when I can't take it anymore. Everything is almost (important) maxed out.
 

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I think reference level is any Level the Director or sound engineer or whom ever is responsible for the sound on a movie, decides it should be and what he finds appropriate for the viewer to experience the movie the way he intended., I do believe that in the movie industry there is certain guidelines as to what it should be, and in order for it to be a THX certified copy that reference level is stipulated at 85 db.

On every THX certified amplifier 0db on the diplay is considered the reference point at which the required 85db volume is achieved but please bear in mind that this is also related to room size and the power required to achieve the required volume in that space hence the reason why some amps are THX I/S plus, THX select (smaller rooms) and THX ultra (for larger rooms) Check THX website for specifics. http://www.thx.com/consumer/home-entertainment/home-theater/thx-certification-performance-categories/

This does not mean that 0db on every amplifier can be considered to be "reference volume" as stipulated by THX, on a non THX amp this can be anything.

So if you want to find out what reference level is on your amplifier is my suggestion would be to use the test tones on a THX certified disc and turn up the volume on you amplifier until you get a 85db reading on your SPL meter.

my 2c
 

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well..., we have stumbled upon a place I feel history is stranger than fiction. The question is "what is reference level", in fact a far cry from how do we measure "reference level". I love 16hz's explanations and I see 16hz is a preferred frequency so I will start at the beginning and hope this includes all instruments..., an important question when considering real sound reproduction and reference sound reproduction.

Well I'll admit I've read every post until page two when I realized we were saying the same thing in deferent words I believe believing we were saying something more..., well...

Let's start at the beginning..., "What is "Reference Level" sound". Come on???? think about it. Wait..., only for a minute. Reference is the sound of an instrument played at its natural reference sound level. So..., but then, a bass drum is louder than a flute when played in chorus and not in refrain or at least, it must be etc etc etc..., or, is it???? Well this is the question. So this naturally leads me to the question what is the loudest natural instrument in the orchestral pit..., played at natural or its normal levels and levels, not within refrains nor at solo intervals. I can only imagine these measure at 75 to 85db for brass instruments, of course depending whether the instrument is one of a reference quality instruments e.g. Stradivarius or the like instrument. In any case, what is this "reference" idea. Well the idea of a reference level is an admirable idea but how do we measure this esoteric idea :foottap:

Now..., moving on, I remember as easy as it is to identify the loudest instrument in the orchestral pit, as a brass instrument,
Well..., Ii would say "the loudest instrument" it must be based in reality at some point and we must adjust other instruments and adjust recording levels to this level..., at some point.

Now, I ask you..., what is this level of optimal play back and in effect optimal recording???????????? Imagine recording at anything less than this optimal reference level....

I'll pause here
 

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I only wish that motion picture reference level was the same as orchestral reference level. I generally listen to movies at below reference level because I believe that room size has an effect on percieved volume. 85dB w/ 105dB peaks is just not comfortable for me and my stablemates, even though distortion is at very low levels. BUT. I listen to symphonic orchestral music at levels much higher than I would hear it live in a concert hall outside the first few rows. Why? Because I can, and it gives me a more visceral response. Bruckner and Mahler come to mind. Even so there's no way I or anyone else can realistically reproduce the sound of a pipe organ in a cathedral.
 

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My reference level is far from 90% of the people on here. it is the actual level of being on the stage with the musicians, or in video, the level it would take to convince a blind man the sound was not coming from speakers but was really happening near him. 99% of all systems fail to deliver this. It is called a "reproduction system" for a reason.
Yep I agree!

I'm a drummer by trade...lots of live touring gigs in the past...I know loud and it can be very uncomfortable to most.

I can say that my system will run you out of the room with the volume at 0db. At -80db it shakes the screen and it at rock concert level at the sound board. My room is 24x20 10' ceiling, acoustically treated. I've never ever understood this so called reference level of 0db and I find movies and concert blu ray mixed hotter than others.
 

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It's much less fuzzy and subjective than you are making it out to be. Like you are discussing what the term "fast" means to you, vs the term "speed of sound at sea level."

Movie Reference Level, 0dbFS, is: at the listening position being assessed, the volume level is such that each channel will produce a maximum of 105dB, except LFE, which shall be 115dB.

Now, whether one likes that level or not is another issue.
And even that is complicated. To return to the analogy of speed...
In a 1950s car, going 70mph on a winding road might seem insanely fast and uncomfortable. Your spouse is screaming, "Too fast!" but what she or he really mean is, "Too fast in this car on this road!"

In a 2014 Porsche or similar, it doesn't seem so fast. Tires aren't screeching losing traction, the body isn't shaking and rolling and creaking, the engine isn't straining.

So, is Reference Level too loud for you and yours? Is your equipment and room capable of attempting this without producing objectionable noises and distortion?

For most people, no, it's not capable. And winding road torture test of home theater audio, deep bass in LFE channel, renders no one subwoofer capable of passing.
 

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Wow ! you guys give me so much to think about. I am now officially terrified to be here. I know so little and need to know so much. I will never even come close to your gear. I hope you all can put up with my lack of knowledge. I love HT though so we have that in common if nothing else. I thought I knew what reference level was. I guess not.
 

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I agree with those who have said...

Once calibrated, a surround system's speakers (5.1/7.1/9.1 or 11.1) should be level matched (relative to each other) to 85db (strictly speaking) or 75db (more tolerable/less likely to break something) at the 0 volume position on your pre-pro, processor except for the subwoofer (the .1) which should be 10db higher if your particular sub can achieve that without falling apart at the seams (literally).

Room acoustics, size and layout all play a role in how your system sounds and whether or not it will achieve reference level at the listening position without distortion.
 

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It's much less fuzzy and subjective than you are making it out to be. Like you are discussing what the term "fast" means to you, vs the term "speed of sound at sea level."
Good analogy, eyeleron, terms like "fast" are qualitative rather than quantitative.

Movie Reference Level, 0dbFS, is: at the listening position being assessed, the volume level is such that each channel will produce a maximum of 105dB, except LFE, which shall be 115dB.
Correct, technically speaking (please see next comment).

Now, whether one likes that level or not is another issue.
And that's where house curves come into play. You're probably already using one, if even if you don't know what it is. Ever bump-up the subwoofer level after auto-EQ or manual calibration? Well, you've just created a house curve!
 

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Wow ! you guys give me so much to think about. I am now officially terrified to be here. I know so little and need to know so much. I will never even come close to your gear. I hope you all can put up with my lack of knowledge. I love HT though so we have that in common if nothing else. I thought I knew what reference level was. I guess not.
Welcome, dreamerpuppy! We were all in your shoes once, and we all have to start somewhere. Please read my comments above. Also, you can check out the STICKY threads at the top of any forum for general info. Glad to have you here, and don't be afraid to ask questions! :wave:
 

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Maybe I am oversimplifying this question but I am looking for the easy route to "reference" level. My system includes a Marantz AV7702 Pre plus 200 watt per channel Outlaw Amp plus SVS Ultra 5.2 speakers. Forget the subwoofers for the moment. If I run Audyssey XT32 from my Marantz, it sets the trims and distances for all 5 speakers. The results look appropriate. I then crossover at 80hz.

After having done this exercise, if I turn up the Marantz volume to 0, am I at "reference" level?

Thanks!
Marcus
 

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Maybe I am oversimplifying this question but I am looking for the easy route to "reference" level. My system includes a Marantz AV7702 Pre plus 200 watt per channel Outlaw Amp plus SVS Ultra 5.2 speakers. Forget the subwoofers for the moment. If I run Audyssey XT32 from my Marantz, it sets the trims and distances for all 5 speakers. The results look appropriate. I then crossover at 80hz.

After having done this exercise, if I turn up the Marantz volume to 0, am I at "reference" level?

Thanks!
Marcus
Yes, insomuch as you are "giving the gas" to achieve such.

Many speakers can't output at that level from 12 feet away. And must that do produce a great deal of distortion, so there's not noise than good sound.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

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... then crossover at 80hz.

After having done this exercise, if I turn up the Marantz volume to 0, am I at "reference" level?

Thanks!
Marcus
Good Question,
Essentially "Reference Level" is critically important in the recording studio. For many reasons an established recording Sound Pressure Level (SPL) for all recorded sound is predetermined and used universally by recording engineers etc etc.

Recorded music, movie soundtracks etc recorded at Ref Levels are then calibrated and ready for intended play back levels predetermined by recording artists and engineers etc. :nerd:

In order to play back recorded soundtracks at intended ref levels your electronic equipment must have the ability to generate its own "pink noise" and you will need an SPL Meter. :spend:

Using the pink noise generator you must then calibrate each speaker volume to register 75db on the SPL meter (subwoofer adjusted to 85db) this is a "C Weighted" ref level sound playback.

However, hearing and listening for each individual is not linear or interpreting sound volumes is different for each individual and even the same person can hear a recording played back at the same volume as loud when listening late at night or quiet when listening at midday. :huh:

The easy "ref level" check for me is a sound system that is calibrated to playback uniform sound at appropriate SPL along with speaker timing delay etc etc e.g. all else being proportional to sound volumes of the original musical instruments and/or original sounds recorded. E.G. a ref level is hearing a sound played back sounding like the original sound at volumes listened to at that moment of origination.

Enjoy - :yikes:
 

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Good Question,
Essentially "Reference Level" is critically important in the recording studio. For many reasons an established recording Sound Pressure Level (SPL) for all recorded sound is predetermined and used universally by recording engineers etc etc.
(...)
The easy "ref level" check for me is a sound system that is calibrated to playback uniform sound at appropriate SPL along with speaker timing delay etc etc e.g. all else being proportional to sound volumes of the original musical instruments and/or original sounds recorded. E.G. a ref level is hearing a sound played back sounding like the original sound at volumes listened to at that moment of origination.
Enjoy - :yikes:
Knowing that timing delay etc etc is done properly, if I listen my ht 5.1 always around 70 db 68-db, is it better to calibrate the SPL of each channels at 70db instead 75? or it does'nt make any difference at the MLP?
 

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Knowing that timing delay etc etc is done properly, if I listen my ht 5.1 always around 70 db 68-db, is it better to calibrate the SPL of each channels at 70db instead 75? or it does'nt make any difference at the MLP?
The lower you calibrate, the closer you are to your system's noise floor. It will make a difference (in headroom) for acoustic measurements, but shouldn't make much difference at the MLP. I think calibrating to 70dB instead of 75dB will just change how much you'll need to turn your AVR's master volume to reach the same SPL as before.
 
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