How loud do you normally listen to music?

Discussion in 'The Cutting Edge' started by Blue Shadow, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. tubed

    tubed Lunatic Member

    Most seem to reference "live" music in regard to sound reproduction.
    So, for instance, it seems realistic listening levels would be how loud an acoustic quartet might sound playing live in your living room, decibel levels being coincidental, unless they are just playing too damn loud.
    If Led Zeppelin were to be playing live in your listening space, I'm sure the sound technician would make it as loud as possible but still have it listenable.


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  2. Pauln

    Pauln Active Member

    What a delightful thread!

    Two things of possible interest:

    The sound level dB meters were standardized many decades ago so that the summation time for the "peak" setting optimized monitoring of male voice broadcast audio. Voice peaks are much slower than music peaks (drums, leading edges of many instruments, etc.) which means when listening to music and observing the dB meter's "peak" level, the actual true acoustic peak level is about 12dB higher... these peaks are too fast for the meter's peak summation time, but they are a good part of what makes the music sound present and real.

    The dB reference level of playback the studio engineer auditions when working on a recording for virtually all labels has been around the upper 80's. I think 87dB was the industry standard reference in the U.S. for the many decades of lp production. It is at this level that the engineer adjusts eq balance, and a whole bunch of other things.
    If you listen at this level, you are closest to the engineer's expectation. If that is too loud, some adjustment may be made (lower the volume and adjust eq if necessary), but if you listen louder than that you may need to take the bass and treble down a notch or two to recover the engineer's intent for the sound...

    Personally, I think that is a little too loud for critical listening; I like about 80dB average which means for most music the meter "peaks" may be 92dB (and the real instantaneous peaks may be 104dB!!!).
    safebet likes this.
  3. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    Here and I thought you just had to turn up the volume...

    Measuring how loud, I turn it down if my ears feel a bit uncomfortable and that's probably why I'm not suffering from hearing loss. See me and my buddies always sat way in the back when attending concerts drinking beer, talking and passing one around from time to time.

    But how could a person properly adjust volume other than personal taste !

    Who is going to play music at some determined level only to turn it down cause it's too high ?
  4. armyslowrdr

    armyslowrdr I don't want one..LOL

    Killeen, TX
    Generally I have to have the Luxman at 11 oclock to hear the very faintest, almost not there notes. Now yes that means some of the other notes are
    seismic. lol. I do not get out the RS SLP meter much. I know some folks swear by that gadget and Ive had mine for tens of years but to me it is quite a finicky device---think maybe it has something loose in it.
    I do have an app on the ipad but I hear that is not a reliable tool. Anyway peak might be 100 but mainly it is prob high 80s to mid 90s.
  5. armyslowrdr

    armyslowrdr I don't want one..LOL

    Killeen, TX
    Now here is something abnormal..since my mid 20s I have been a teetotler BUT I did venture into Mohawk bar in Austin last winter because I had to see
    Deerrhoof (well really I had to meet Satomi..ha). I was right near stage right speaker. OMG---the bass waves pierced my body to the point of nausea practically, and very very close to hitting the deck.
    By the end of the 3d song I had to back up 20+ yards. I would have loved to have known the Db output of that baby! Fast forward several months later when I went to another bar to see The Joy Formidable and The Kongos and this is a small sized bar..
    so pretty close to speaker again BUT unlike Deerhoof, the SPL was much closer to what it is when I have it cranked (say noon or slightly more on the dial) in my listening room.

    Satomi is a real doll too ;)
  6. unfairlane

    unfairlane Well-Known Member

    I`m used to having to straighten up lampshades and paintings after a healthy session, kind of fun-indicators


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  7. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier Subscriber

    MI, US
    Ever since I got the tube amp, I have had to cut back on volume since 70 watts doesn't have the cojones that 200+ watts does, in terms of dynamic headroom. However, since I am seriously considering speakers that have a powered woofer section, that will work out in the end. I don't like it super loud, but I can tell the difference when a peak comes along.

    I'd have to get out my SPL meter to see what levels I usually listen at.
  8. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Philadelphia PA
    Isn't that what the OP asked?:D
  9. Dave59

    Dave59 Well-Known Member

    Fort Worth, Texas
    60 - 70 db typically for well recorded CDs, even at the lower end of this range detail, stereo image, and overall bass/mid/treble all sound good (e.g. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels; almost anything by Mark Knopfler or Roger Waters etc). I find some (less good?) recordings need to be played at higher volume to work for me, e.g I find that early Led Zep or Queen albums have to be played >90db to work for me at all. Maybe just that I got used to hearing that stuff really loud back in the 70s!

    Also have found that as I've acquired better gear (particularly amp and speakers) that more moderate volumes work better for me they did with lesser gear.
  10. KDAC

    KDAC Addicted Member

    After becoming sick of sporadically deafening tinnitus outbursts after high volume listening sessions at home, in early 2016 I began, without fail, to listen to music at between 85 and 89 dBA peak (metered, not guessed) 99.9% of the time if I'm doing something around the house and never beyond 65-69 dBA if I'm sitting in the sweet spot 10 feet from the front plane of my speakers . The 0.1% of the time the volume is elevated beyond the aforementioned ranges is simply due to the playback really old or poorly recorded source material.

    As a prior post mentioned, I'm also no longer 18, have come to treasure what hearing I have left, and if I end up going deaf for some reason, I'd rather it be from something unexpected/completely outside of my control versus what is undoubtedly and absolutely in my control: the volume control on my preamplifier.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
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  11. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Epic Member

    If by finicky you mean is shows flakey/erratic readings, read on.

    If it is the style with the rotary dial for the range selection, a drop or two of DeoxIT on the switch contacts probably will fix that. It did on mine.


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  12. GChief

    GChief Not well known, super member or other silliness Subscriber

    Eastern NC
    lokerola likes this.
  13. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

    Central NJ
    Never measured but I know I tend to listen louder than I should. I will also admit that my system sounds best with a little juice running through it. I don't see it as lacking resolution at lower levels as much as I think things buried in the mix become more apparent with a little volume so I think there's a sweet spot. If you're hearing the same content at very low volumes and higher volumes, maybe your system isn't articulating all of the sounds at higher volumes any better than at lower volumes. I'm pretty sure you could make a case that most systems would have a peak performance (clarity, dynamics, dimension) with some energy pumping through it. The balance of response of any speaker, on some level, has to be influenced by the power fed into it. My system seems to come to life with what I estimate is about 30 to 40% of max volume. When listening to good high resolution sources, higher volumes don't result in the ear fatigue that I've felt on lesser systems and low quality sources so it's more fun to get loud.

    My volume is often dictated, like most people's, by what's going on. Am I trying to impress a friend? Am I playing guitar along? Is it an electric guitar? My sax? If I'm going to get really loud I jump to my studio room and fire up the PA, then I can do some real damage so hearos (ear plugs that allow higher frequencies) go in!
  14. techguy0192

    techguy0192 Keep McIntosh amps carbon fiber free! Subscriber

    120 dB or higher.......


    85 dB peaks are plenty for me. Take care of your ears, seriously, that's extremely loud.
  15. 2ndtimelucky

    2ndtimelucky Active Member

    Mid 120s usually if I'm gigging, 100s if I'm at home :rockon:
  16. roadie1

    roadie1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Chillicothe, OH
    Usually the volume is right at razors edge. Enough (barely) for me to enjoy the music yet keeping the neighbors happy. Kinda hard to do with a Krell amp ATC speakers.


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  17. ng0k

    ng0k Active Member

    Omaha, NE
    My iPhone dB app registers around 70-75dB average at my comfy listening level. 85dB if I crank it up. I can't stand it louder than that.
  18. lokerola

    lokerola AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Alexandria, VA
    I'm about where you are. I have the Commodores Easy turned up and the max is 102dB with the average being 83dB. Quite loud in my living room.
  19. turkster

    turkster New Member

    Depends if I'm listening to wax or cd's.
    Oh yeah also depends if the wife is home or not. She dont care for loud.
  20. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox Super Member

    I never measured until I saw this thread yesterday. That session averaged 71 and peaked in the low 80s. That was my typical listening volume. I'll do a wife's not home measurement next.

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