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How Loud Do You Have the Volume in Your Home Cinema?


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I took the wife to the local Gold  Class  the other day and saw the movie "Tenet".  The cinema is a new fit-out with  new 4K projection and  Atmos sound system.     From the first scene the sound was LOUD, louder than other theatres I've been to but I must admit I really liked it!.  I thought it added extra drama and immersion.  At home I have a tendency to dial the volume high  but lately I  have  tried to be considerate  of others  who don't like it so loud and have compromised.  No more!  

 

 Movie theatres supposedly aim for 80-85db but the peaks in Tenet the other day were way in excess of that.  I've heard of people leaving a theatre for it being too loud and some online suggest that you should  take ear plugs.   For me and the movie Tenet, I would not have it anyway other than LOUD.  I was interested to hear what others do  when chasing the ideal volume.  Do you turn it up as loud as your wife or ears allow ? or do you have a  target average DB level that is set?   

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Lets just say my best movie nights are when the wife is out 

As long as it’s loud enough that I can’t here my tinnitus. With bass that scares the cats. 

I don't have one of those anymore, my son lives with me and we both love our movie nights twice a week.   I get to buy whatever I want now, my ht has certainly grown better.

When watching with my son volume usually is set to -14db which I presume would equate to 91db.

When on my own I can easily go -10db but often settle at -12db.

On rare occasions I've gone louder.

 

I like to feel the movie as much as I want to watch it. Running at 80db just doesn't cut it.

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Where I want to be at is -10db but most of my movie watching is at night after 10pm when everyone is asleep so I stuck at -35db to -30db :(

 

Similar to OP, took my wife to watch Captain Marvel (last movie I saw at cinema :( ) at local United Cinema and felt that volume was extra loud, I loved it but I had to take my 2 year old daughter outside for being it too loud. Thankfully, that was my second time watching in that same cinema.

 

By the way, I find anything on streaming side (Netflix, prime, disney, etc.) I am having to increase the volume by 10db to have the same level vs locally stored movies. Also, I find that DTS tracks are louder than Dolby. It could be just my empty brain playing ticks on me.

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Between -29 and -20 in most cases. There's couple of movies that are a bit quiet which can get into the high teens. But I'd start having pain issues if I went as high as -10.

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6 hours ago, hometheatrebugbitten said:

Lets just say my best movie nights are when the wife is out 

I don't have one of those anymore, my son lives with me and we both love our movie nights twice a week.

 

I get to buy whatever I want now, my ht has certainly grown better.

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The noise floor in my den is about 25-30 db

So I play my discs around 60/70db mostly peaking at 80db for the occasional loud scene like interstellar ..

Edited by petetherock
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It might have been the soundtrack that reeled me in, but watching Tenet in a quality theatre with the volume waaaaay up  had me convinced it is the way to go.    Tenet had a great music score that was paced with the action and adding to the drama,  quite different to some action movies where its often loud dialog interspersed with explosions.   

 

 

 

 

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0dB = ~103dBC ..... but this is quite loud for most hot content like modern music.

 

I default it to -40dB to be safe (ie. peak = ~63dBC)

Edited by davewantsmoore
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On 20/09/2020 at 8:27 PM, TP1 said:

Movie theatres supposedly aim for 80-85db

No, they aim for -20dB = 80-85dBC   (so peak is 20dB higher, ie. 105 .... the LF channel is another 10dB higher, so peak can get to 115dB)

 

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I think we average around -18 here, a couple louder if I'm watching alone. Agree with the previous comment re: FTA TV that ranges from channel to channel is comfortable at -26 on some to -40 on others

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11 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

0dB = ~103dBC ..... but this is quite loud for most hot content like modern music.

 

I default it to -40dB to be safe (ie. peak = ~63dBC)

Yep. I find I'm listening at around 85 dB more often than not in the main listening room. It's amazing how that level moves up and down with the clarity of your rig though.

 

However for shits and giggles can confirm I can sustain 112 dB in my main listening position without any clipping or obvious distortion. Definitely not for everyday listening at that volume.

 

It's so easy to keep winding it up when your system doesn't distort and everything is so clear.  It's an experience I remember well from my dance music scene days when a well tuned Function 1 rig, driven hard, still lets you have a conversation easily enough on the dance floor, whereas a shitty rig, run hot, will drive you from the floor from the aggressive nature of the sound.

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12 minutes ago, recur said:

Yep. I find I'm listening at around 85 dB more often than not in the main listening room. It's amazing how that level moves up and down with the clarity of your rig though.

 

However for shits and giggles can confirm I can sustain 112 dB in my main listening position without any clipping or obvious distortion. Definitely not for everyday listening at that volume.

 

It's so easy to keep winding it up when your system doesn't distort and everything is so clear.  It's an experience I remember well from my dance music scene days when a well tuned Function 1 rig, driven hard, still lets you have a conversation easily enough on the dance floor, whereas a shitty rig, run hot, will drive you from the floor from the aggressive nature of the sound.

 

Had some mates over a few weeks ago and we streamed a 3hr Pearl Jam concert through the horns.  SPL meter read 100dB+ during the music (not a lot of quiet PJ stuff), peaks circa 105dB or maybe a bit more.  Nobody was complaining about being too loud, nobody wanted to turn it down, we could talk to each other easily enough, but we did hit the pause button a few times to go downstairs and refill the single malt...gotta have priorities.  I think the neighbours also enjoyed the concert...haha.  Point being that the distortion/clipping benefit that comes with a capable loudspeaker does let you listen louder without discomfort, but you really have to be careful about turning up the wick too much for too long.  My normal daily listening is circa 90dB at the listening position, peaks into the low 100's.

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1 hour ago, acg said:

 

Had some mates over a few weeks ago and we streamed a 3hr Pearl Jam concert through the horns.  SPL meter read 100dB+ during the music (not a lot of quiet PJ stuff), peaks circa 105dB or maybe a bit more.  Nobody was complaining about being too loud, nobody wanted to turn it down, we could talk to each other easily enough, but we did hit the pause button a few times to go downstairs and refill the single malt...gotta have priorities.  I think the neighbours also enjoyed the concert...haha.  Point being that the distortion/clipping benefit that comes with a capable loudspeaker does let you listen louder without discomfort, but you really have to be careful about turning up the wick too much for too long.  My normal daily listening is circa 90dB at the listening position, peaks into the low 100's.

The recommended unprotected exposure to 100 dB is 15 minutes. 110db is less than a minute. I am not sure you were talking to each other, more likely shouting at each other. 😂, Single malt will do that. Either that or your sound level meter is kaput, or you and all your mates are deaf as door posts. 

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Don't know if I've got the wrong end of the stick but doesn't it depend on how you calibrate your system?

 

I set my test tones on the AVR to 85dB and listen with volume set at -15 to-12dB so 70 to 73dB?

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2 hours ago, recur said:

Yep. I find I'm listening at around 85 dB

I'm not really sure what that means?   85 = true peak SPL? (how measured?).   If peak, that is relatively quiet (althogh that does depend on how hot the content is)

 

2 hours ago, acg said:

SPL meter read 100dB+ during the music (not a lot of quiet PJ stuff), peaks circa 105dB or maybe a bit more. 

An SPL meter is quite slow.... on most music it will read quite low.

 

2 hours ago, acg said:

Point being that the distortion/clipping benefit that comes with a capable loudspeaker

Don't underestimate the effect of directivity here.... it is likely having a much greater impact than non-linear distortion.

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5 minutes ago, turnthetable said:

I set my test tones on the AVR to 85dB and listen with volume set at -15 to-12dB so 70 to 73dB?

Depends on what "the test tones" on your AVR are?

 

Perhaps they're -20dB from 0dBFS.....  ?!?!??

 

 

But the short answer is "Yes" ..... people using an SPL meter while music is playing doesn't really give a clear picture.   A calibrated test tone, is much much more clear.

Edited by davewantsmoore
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58 minutes ago, John Doe said:

The recommended unprotected exposure to 100 dB is 15 minutes. 110db is less than a minute.

That's for a constant sound power though.... most music is much less constant energy.

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23 minutes ago, turnthetable said:

I use my SPL meter to adjust the test tones to 85dB in the AVR's manual settings

Sure... I undrstand.... but are the test test tones -20dB from peak SPL  (0dB "Full Scale") ..... ie. your peak SPL would be 105dB ..... or something else?

Edited by davewantsmoore
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5 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

That's for a constant sound power though.... most music is much less constant energy.

 

Yeah, that's what I figure, and Eddie Vedder tends to have a lot to say from time to time...

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46 minutes ago, acg said:

 

Yeah, that's what I figure, and Eddie Vedder tends to have a lot to say from time to time...

LOL, yeah he does enjoy a good chat every now and then....

 

Unfortunately I missed them in 98 and my mates who went never shutup about it.

Edited by davewantsmoore
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I set the volume loud enough to hear the dialogue clearly, which is usually around 75 (dB I guess.... New AVR). Old AVR was usually set around -14.

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, steffanth said:

if its too loud . . i turn it down.  If its not loud enuf . . i turn it up.  I don't really care what anyone else things about the sound level.

 

Same.

 

Movies vary on sound levels, even depending on release and media (eg take some of the nerfed disney Marvel Atmos remixes compared to the Blu Ray original). And look at a spectral graph of a lot of movies.  Nearly everything I look at is at least 10db down, and many are 25-30 db down.

 

And some I have to wind back in some key scenes... Nolan...

Edited by Mobe1969
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Some people think it's a sin to listen to Metallica  quietly because they get a lot more sense of enjoyment and involvement when its loud.  I am thinking that some movies - like Tenet- should be heard with the volume way up.  I know its a matter of taste  but  I suspect Christopher Nolan's recipe is to have it on the loud side.   

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On 21/09/2020 at 9:48 PM, davewantsmoore said:

No, they aim for -20dB = 80-85dBC   (so peak is 20dB higher, ie. 105 .... the LF channel is another 10dB higher, so peak can get to 115dB)

 

@Davewantsmore is correct here.

 

Before we get carried away on the hurling of "you'll go deaf you lot" posts, we need to make into account this is not just measurable acoustic sound level in the playback experience here.... 

 

95dB of 200hz is not experienced the same to our ears as 95dB of 2khz, 10khz or 40hz -- they are experienced vastly different.

 

It is a C weighted calibration to 500-2000hz (typically) in a cinema targeting vocal accuracy, @ 80dB.

 

Next factor, the sound stage engineers and mixers spent days and weeks producing this - typically experienced in expelling the right frequencies at the right level, based on a reference level playback in a cinema. 

 

Acoustics....   90dB playback in a well treated, damped cinema is not the same as a person's nil/light/medium treated room. Nor with concrete separation to the externals quite often..   this means less accumulate reverb, creating direct and indirect delays, peaks and distortion to the original content - often increasing the experienced sound as 'loud'. 

Subjectively, it likely is not. 

Consider this...    Would anyone disagree it wouldn't sound the same playing the movie in the cinema's open foyer, full of glass and reflective surfaces compared to in their treated cinema? 

Ofcourse not.

Even if at the same playback level it will feel louder, as it will be acoustically imposed on by the surfaces.

Most of us experience this at home

 

Calibration.... Often the Gold Class or Luxe , VMAX etc cinema of your local is well calibrated - to reference. It does feel 'loud' but it's not harming. This art has been around for decades and decades...  the speakers used are designed to produce sound for cinema. Krix, JBL, QSC, Klipsch.  Large mid drivers, high speech transmission and efficiency via horn loading etc.

We don't all have this at home, and our systems can inaccurately reproduce a director intended sound. Volume doesn't equal the same output - even if calibrated at a pink noise level same as the cinema...each of your driver's will handle it's freq band how it does...

 

In the meantime, I encourage find a good local cinema that's got Atmos and DTS X. Enjoy it at reference, and play it back at home as you see fit to suit your taste 🙂

 

 

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I like a bit of volume at times, but not all the time. If things start heading into the pain threshold then it really is too loud, pain is not enjoyable. I often myself backing off on the volume a bit when I have been listening at higher levels for a while.

 

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Personal taste is key.  Now that my room has been treated appropriately and that my Trinnov has optimised the sound for the room I am finding I can have it at a higher level of dB and not find it too loud.  Around 85 dB is a good level for me (measured with my SPL metre) sitting 4 metres back from my speakers in my sweet spot chair.

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17 hours ago, Godot said:

With bass that scares the cats. 

My cats seem completely immune to loud and/or bass (they apparently have very adjustable hearing).   They literally sit in the mouth of my bass horns.

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My understanding of calibration levels is the same as Dave's, 80-85dBC.

 

This should be in a safe range. 

 

However, all metrics for safe use, use different measurement parameters. The time and frequency weightings are different to the dBC above. 

 

Average levels to protect against hearing loss need to be measured in dBA LAeq over the entire exposure period. This converts all the range of highs and lows to a single constant number that has the same total energy level for the exposure period as the full dynamic range and changes of the movie.

 

In very simple terms this should be less than 85dBA LAeq. However this is based on a 40 hour per week exposure. And roughly, any 3dBA increase halves the safe exposure. Hit 95dBA and you are looking at only a few hours of exposure.

 

But BEWARE, your entire weekly exposure to noise needs to be considered. Workers who have high exposure at work will have much lower safe levels for listening to music and movies per week than most paper pushers, assuming the paper pushers don't have headphones on all week. For some people music/movies at 85dBA at home could be enough to contribute to hearing loss when the rest of their weekly exposure is considered.

 

The other key measurable parameter is dBC peak. This is a measure of sudden loud events. Levels at 130dBC peak can be enough to cause permanent hearing loss from a single exposure.

 

Unfortunately you will need a proper sound level meter to measure these. Any mobile phone app I have tested, including ones that claim to have calibration curves, are probably only good enough to estimate safe numbers of hours for an indicated level by about a factor of 6 error. Ie am I good for 6 hours at this level or 1 hour?

 

For me it is an interesting discussion about what safe levels at work are? Should consideration be given to what people may be doing outside of work hours? Or is it right for work to claim all of a person's safe amount of weekly noise exposure? 

Edited by DrSK
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The thing is, the number displayed on your AVR is only representative of the input signal attenuation, not sound output level. Sound level at your listening position depends on a few things. ie Amplifier output power, speaker efficiency, any DSP applied, distance from speakers etc, etc, etc.

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10 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

My cats seem completely immune to loud and/or bass (they apparently have very adjustable hearing).   They literally sit in the mouth of my bass horns.

My cats barely notice when the Crowsons are shaking the bejebus out of the couch. The one on my lap doesn't budge, and the one on one of the spare seats looks up for a moment before going back to sleep...

 

I don't like loud though. I do have tinitus, from childhood, not from noise damage though. More TMJ type exacerbated by tension stress. But loud noise isn't something I like . I have senitive hearing. At the office, I use Sennheiser momentum over ears, and it irritates the XXXX out of me when someone has their phone or computer bleating whenever they get a message, and I'll tell them to mute it. Yes, I can hear it over enclosed headphones when I'm listening to music or audiobooks.  Heck even riding my bike in traffic I'll put wadding in my ears as the ambient wind and traffic noise is unpleasant. So the AVR -dB levels I set are comfortable 

 And it depends on the movie.

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 This is an extract from an article on cinema volume levels from a website promoting hearing protection. They suggest using ear plugs if it gets too loud.

 

A few years ago, during a showing of the film “Inception”, a Belgian girl suffered hearing loss. Peaks of 118 dB were measured during this film. This is comparable with a fighter jet flying over. The corresponding noise level can almost cause instant damage. In comparison, the limit for hearing impairment lies at 85 decibels! However, even during a film such as Frozen, which is seen by many young children, the sound level reached 98 dB."

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