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    Setting proper mix and levels
    #1
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    Hi guys,

    When you're finishing sound mixing (I'm using Davinci Resolve to edit the full project), where do you place the loudest sound in the mix? I think Resolve is full scale, so it maxes at 0db. The most audible bit in my project should be the voice over which I'm placing at -5db at its loudest. Soundtrack is around -20 to -10. Everything else is falling where it should, accordingly. I've been using generic speakers to edit (I don't have monitors) and now I'm doing a pass using headphones. Everything sounds nice except if I do a stress test and push the volume way up. I mean, way louder then it's comfortable. In that case, the hisses in the voice over start to appear, but this is to be expected right? Or am I supposed to get everything lower in the mix? I was watching an episode of Hannibal in the same system, using the same headphones and no matter how far I push the volume in my PC, it never gets that loud. I mean, it was definitly mixed to be way more silent than my project.

    Any trick I'm missing here?

    Thanks!


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    Senior Member Rick R's Avatar
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    The relative dB balance 'number' is meaningless .. use your ears as long as it's not clipped. The overall mix level depends on the project's destination. For instance, TV broadcast mostly uses the LU scale. Typically the ATSC standard in the states) is -24LU (integrated). For the web and and DVD/BU, the 'recommended' loudness is between -14 and -18 LU. Broadcast monitoring volume is usually based around the -20dB= 85dB SPL (pink noise). Calibration files are available through Blue Sky and elsewhere. Accurate monitors and a decent room are critical as well
    Also download the PDF 'Techniques-for-establishing-and-maintaining-audio-loudness' paper from atsc.org.
    Audio CDs OTOH are usually mastered to be .. as loud as possible. (search 'loudness wars' for more info)


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    #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick R View Post
    The relative dB balance 'number' is meaningless .. use your ears as long as it's not clipped. The overall mix level depends on the project's destination. For instance, TV broadcast mostly uses the LU scale. Typically the ATSC standard in the states) is -24LU (integrated). For the web and and DVD/BU, the 'recommended' loudness is between -14 and -18 LU. Broadcast monitoring volume is usually based around the -20dB= 85dB SPL (pink noise). Calibration files are available through Blue Sky and elsewhere. Accurate monitors and a decent room are critical as well
    Also download the PDF 'Techniques-for-establishing-and-maintaining-audio-loudness' paper from atsc.org.
    Audio CDs OTOH are usually mastered to be .. as loud as possible. (search 'loudness wars' for more info)
    Thanks for helping, Rick! Well, this is for film festivals, so theatrical deliverable. The thing is, when I'm listening with headphones at about 75%, it sounds good. 80% sounds ok as well. But above 90%, it's just too loud, and essing sounds in voices start to emerge (which are not there at 75%). So maybe this is a matter of getting everything lower in the mix? Make the audio more silent?

    EDIT:

    This may sound stupid, but I was listening in Media Player and on VLC, and it definitly sounds better on Media Player. Almost like it has a limiter. Does this make sense?


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    Senior Member GaryNattrass's Avatar
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    I always mix and balance the same and to my usual broadcast levels of peak -10dbfs then if I have to deliver for cinema or on-line then just add +10bd of gain for the master to peak at 0dbfs.

    Oh and before dynamic range is mentioned I am sorry but we don't all listen to theatrical levels with 20k of PA on the end of it so I mix the same for all of them as 30 db of dynamic range is more than ample for most things and as for dialogue around 8db is about right.


    Loudness and balance is no way related to technical levels and relative loudness depends on all sorts of factors and how you deal with the dynamics of a mix.

    I always feel there is too much worry about dynamic range in these digital days and people need to learn more about loudness and delivering a mix that suits their audience and how it is to be appreciated in real terms and not on theoretical specs.

    We have been given ears to work with so that is the true reference and the tech specs are just to meet delivery standards to whatever format is chosen.
    Over 15 minutes in broadcast film and tv production: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1044352
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    Senior Member Rick R's Avatar
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    For 'film festivals', all bets are off in terms of loudness levels. That said, I would go with the DVD/BU levels. If you don't have LU/LK loudness meters keep the peaks from exceeding -4 or -6.0dB on full scale meters (dBFS). I would also avoid a multi-channel mix (5:1, 7:1, Immersive). I've heard and read of many instances of incorrectly calibrated systems that totally messed up the sound and down-mixes that took out the center channel (where 99% of the dialog lives). Go with a narrow stereo image or dual-mono to air on the side of caution. If you can get to the venue and audition the PB system ahead or time, you can better judge what you can and can't do.


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    Sound Ninja Noiz2's Avatar
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    Film festivals are all over the map as to playback levels. Part of that is low/no budget films mix at wildly different levels. As Rick said film is mixed by ear, but on calibrated monitors. You can get pretty close by playing some pink noise at -20dBfs with everything in software set to unity set you amplifier level so it's just uncomfortable and you will be pretty close.

    Video is usually mixed to a specification. That spec. varies so it's hard to give any real numbers.

    Headphones are near useless for mixing. The stereo separation is much wider than speakers will be and you will hear lots of things you want to fix that just are not audible on speakers. They will also throw your balance way off because small sounds that you can hear in headphones will tend to disappear in speakers.

    A good mix on speakers will sound good on headphones, but the reverse is almost never true.
    Cheers
    SK


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