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dB Levels In Your Primary Listening Place??


Power User
Also, when I first got my big speakers (ATC SCM 100s) I was warned that, due to their low distortion, you won't think they are as loud as they are. Sure enough, a dB meter read over 100dB when I thought it am was a comfortable volume. So, having a dB meter at my side was a good thing!

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
I usually use 80 dB SPL with spikes of 85 to 90 dB when creating IR cab mixes and presets.

This way there are no lamentations regarding Fletcher Munson curve effects among players who use my wares and like to play like kings or queens of volume.

la szum

When mixing 80-85 Db.
Lower levels when practicing or only playing.
At rehearsal surely higher levels and live "one louder".
I tried several times ear protection at rehearsal but can't stand it.
Missing too much and feeling like I'm not in the room an beeing uncomfortable with it.
Sure be better using it but I can't.

I get it. I use cigarette filters. :) Best cheap attentuation ever. I have tried
expensive "for musicians" molded plugs, cheap foam plugs, and the cigarette
filter torn in half, and then folded into the ear canal is perfect. First did it in
desperation in the 1980's at a concert, and always go back to it. It works without
making everything sound muddy and the highs too attenuated. Just mooch a ciggy
off someone and pop the filter off the end. Easy peasy!

Disclaimer: I am not an audiologist. :)


Power User
I have a SPL meter on my desk. When adjusting presets about 90db.
When playing along to may favorite Rush, VH, Ozzy, Neal Morse Band a bit over 90db.
I wear hearing protection all day long and am well aware of the OSHA guidelines. :cool:


I try to keep it at about 85dB. When louder than that for any sustained period I’m either wearing IEMs or, if monitoring with wedges or anything other than IEMs, I use molded -25dB ear plugs.

la szum

Does anyone think it is better to vary the listening levels than to stay at a certain dB threshold all the time?


Does anyone think it is better to vary the listening levels than to stay at a certain dB threshold all the time?
If you're mixing a recording there is - because you want to ensure it works at various levels. But for general listening I don't see any advantage.


I think the original question was about listening scenarios, not performance.

But, one piece of advice re live performances. If you use in-ears, try taking one out and balancing the level with your stage sound. I found I was playing in-ears way louder than the stage volume. Kinda defeats the protection benefit of in-ears. It sounded great turned down, but the sound is so clean, you can end up turning up too loud.
This ↑. People often underestimate just how easy it is to hit 100+ dB when using headphones, buds, or IEMs. Because you can't feel the music through the rest of your body (bone conduction, vibrations on your skin and hair, etc.) people often have a tendency to crank it up louder with headphones to try and get some of that same impact, particularly on the low end.

Trying to drown out external noise is another bad reason people crank up their headphones/buds/IEMs too. If you're in a loud environment, you need a good air seal in or around your ears to acoustically block as much noise as possible. Then you don't have to turn your monitoring level up very loud to compete.

Comparing one ear at a time like fractalz said is a quick way to roughly compare the sound levels between ambient and in-ear levels.


A great feature of iPhones is that, at least for Airpods, it reports the SPL in Control Center. I usually listen to 60 db for Audiobooks / Podcasts and 70 db for music, I'd love to crank it more but I am almost 48 y/o already and do not want to fuck my hearing further.


When only listening over headphones or speakers I also reduce to lower levels than mixing and mastering.
This should be done at 80-85 Db.


Whether a rehearsal space, studio, basement, or garage----has anyone else checked the dB levels
when you are either playing solo or with a band, mastering or mixing?

Just curious what those levels might be, and whether some constrain themselves from listening volumes
that may be considered unsafe and too high.

Thanks!! :)
Define dB.
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