What volume when comparing pressings?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by LitHum05, May 17, 2018.

  1. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura Thread Starter

    Does anyone have an opinion on this matter? I’ve been listening to my music loud and on headphones whenever comparing LP pressings. But I’m wondering if I may be making it more difficult to assess differences. Is there a standard answer to this question? What’s optimal?:help:
     
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Kind of a strange question. It's like asking us what too loud would be on your behalf.

    Frying your ears won't help you keep your hearing nor easily hear the differences between pressings.

    Put it at a comfortable volume and listen attentively but not as if you're figuratively squinting. Otherwise, the microscopic nuances aren't really worth the time, IMHO.
     
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  3. GT40sc

    GT40sc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    the frequency response of the human ear is most linear at around 85 dB.
    Levels of 82-85 dB are considered safe for 8 hours per day.
    Louder levels will require shorter time exposure...

    Most engineers will work at a range of levels...perhaps 65-95 dB, for example...
    The goal is to ensure that the music remains relatively balanced at typical home listening levels.

    In reality, tracking sessions with live bands are often far louder...
    but tones and balances that sound great at 110 dB are much less great at 70 dB.
    The engineer who ignores this fact will have a very short career.
    Take good care of your ears, my friends...
     
  4. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    A or C-weighted ? If I measure A with my smartphone app, I get 85 dbs (peak). But switching to A reads WAY higher.
     
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  5. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Location:
    Paris, France
    Average 77dB SPL C weighted Slow here, same volume I listen to everything else at for 95% of the time.
     
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  6. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura Thread Starter

    Perhaps listening at too loud a level starts to make the midrange less noticeable (in the record itself, if that makes sense—I know we all hear differently). This may make it less useful when comparing differences. That’s the sort of thing I mean.

    My question again: it there an ideal range in volume to compare pressings?
     
  7. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    Location:
    DC area
    Your question was answered above by GT40sc.
     
  8. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura Thread Starter

    :righton:
     
  9. Otlset

    Otlset free-range audiophile

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    On a scale of soft, medium and loud, it should be just between the medium and loud. :righton:
     
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  10. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    I think it's best to match the output volume. Keep in mind this doesn't always mean the same dial on the volume knob. If a record is cut a little quiet, and another is cut a little hot, they could have a solid 3-5db swing for the average volume. Doesn't mean the one that is cut hotter is better. Just louder.

    So find the volume output where each press matches. Remember it or write it down. If you need to walk away for a few minutes that would help too. Then compare them at a comfortable matched volume.
     
  11. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    Location:
    DC area
    This is only half a solution. The human ear/brain perceives sound differently at different volumes. One could sound better at lower volumes and vice versa.
     
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  12. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I would not play louder than what you could talk over. Unless the music has very good dynamics, turning it up too loud will obscure details. Lower frequency sound will "over run" higher frequencies.
     
    LitHum05 likes this.
  13. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Location:
    Paris, France
    85dB is fine for your local cinema or a film scoring stage, but it's much too loud for most living rooms, and likely to excite a lot of room resonances unless you have really good acoustic treatment. The size of the room is a factor too. IME, 77dB SPL is better for living room size spaces. Research the equal loudness curves, then read this article:

    Establishing Project Studio Reference Monitoring Levels |
     
  14. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Location:
    Paris, France
    If you are talking about the actual levels of the two pressing (if they are different) then they should be matched as closely as possible, otherwise the louder one will almost always sound better (even if it's not). This is something us mastering engineers do every day. My Crookwood console has A/B/C/D digital and analogue inputs which can be matched to with a quarter dB on different physical buttons, feeding the monitors, which makes level matched A/Bs very easy to do.
     
    LitHum05 likes this.
  15. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    If I am seriously comparing pressings, I'll note the difference using a handheld meter (nothing fancy that is certified calibration for government work, but decent enough), but then play them at their "natural" volume, i.e., that which sounds best (to my ears), fills the room and doesn't sound over loud. (I don't listen normally at crazy high db levels-in fact, I think people often would be surprised that a sound that seems pretty loud is only X db). I don't use headphones, which I think involve a different listening experience. The psychoacoustics of the louder one sounding better is obviously a factor.
     
  16. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    Location:
    DC area
    I would. Playing at too low of a level will skew preferences toward smiley eq’d versions.
     
  17. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    That's fair. I guess part of the equation is what is this comparison being used for? If I'm just trying to decide which one I should keep, I think volume/level matching on my gear at home at my normal listening level, then that's great. However, you're right. If you're doing a true full detailed analysis, you need to do more, and probably have the gear and appropriate room for doing so.
     
  18. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    Location:
    DC area
    My point is you need to normalize AND listen at a volume close to where the human ear/brain frequency perception is most linear (unless you’re ears are “trained” to accomodate for lower or higher volume levels). It’s not that complicated and it doesn’t really require fancy equipment.
     
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  19. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    A or C-weighted ?
     
  20. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Location:
    Paris, France
    See my post above
     
  21. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    Ah, that's very true. I just assumed if someone was going for their own comfortable normal listening volume, it would hopefully fall within range. But now that you bring up that point I'm not even sure I'd know what volume would be correct for human ear/brain frequency perception. Is it based on the room at all, or is there kind of one general range to shoot for.

    Always excited when I an learn something new here!
     
  22. 911s55

    911s55 Forum Resident

    Whatever is "normal" for you. Why would you listen at levels that you won't be listening at later?

    Test drive a car at 30 mph when your normal driving is at 65?
     
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  23. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    That's what I assume too. And on the same analogy, you wouldn't redline a car going 110 in a test drive if you're only using it as your daily commuter (unless you drive like that of course).
     
  24. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura Thread Starter

    I knew this was complicated. :goodie:

    Plus, the idea of a natural sound would seem to be complicated by the type of cartridge. My MC cartridge needs to be cranked so that the natural will inevitably be a few db higher than with an MM cart. I realize there is still an output volume, but I’m still not so sure what that would be each time, particularly when music sounds more exciting when louder. I’ve sometimes thought (the horror!) that compressed 45 singles sound better than album versions. o_O
     
  25. LitHum05

    LitHum05 El Disco Es Cultura Thread Starter

    This is why I thought that maybe analytical headphones were an equalizer for picking the better pressing. But maybe I’m wrong there too.
     

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