Did you miss your activation email?

• Thursday July 18, 2024, 6:09 pm
• Proudly celebrating 15+ years online.
• Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.

### Author Topic: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion!  (Read 17705 times)

• Charter Member
• Joined in 2005
• Posts: 13,288
• Tell me something you don't know...
##### Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion!
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2014, 04:05 PM »
One other thing to factor in to your calculations (well, in your head that is) - recording signal level.

Here's a quick visualisation:

You can see in there that the volume levels vary throughout the recording and that there is a considerable range compared to a lot of music that basically maxes out the signal at 0 dB (over 0 dB is where you get clipping). It's relatively quiet there in the middle of the second waveform, then the volume builds.

So while you can calculate what dB you theoretically want, you will only be getting that if the recording fits. Recordings with lower signal levels will still fall short.

The general trend in a lot of currently produced music (as has been for a while) is to max the signal out (as mentioned above), while in older recordings, e.g. Beatles, early AC/DC, etc., you have a lot more range.

tl;dr - You will be calculating a theoretical maximum and not the actual dB SPL level of the physical output.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

#### 40hz

• Supporting Member
• Joined in 2007
• Posts: 11,858
##### Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion!
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2014, 04:47 PM »
For louder headphone levels there are three basic options:

• a headphone amp that provides more boost - although +24dBm seems to be the standard
• a more efficient, different design, or different freq response and range set of headphones
• better ears

FWIW, most of the better headphones strive for a flat (or relatively flatter) frequency response compared to your average speaker system. Most people are so accustomed to "sweet spot" sound that they they think "odd" or "too soft" when they first start using good headphones. (Unless they're those ear-damaging 'ultrabass' variety.) Same goes for studio mastering monitors. You can make the overall level in a headphone sound significantly louder just by boosting frequency bands in the 2khz and 4khz range. So it's not just the overall level, but the frequency ranges themselves that also contribute to your perception of how loud they sound.

#### superboyac

• Charter Member
• Joined in 2005
• Posts: 6,347
##### Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion!
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2014, 05:14 PM »
For louder headphone levels there are three basic options:

• a headphone amp that provides more boost - although +24dBm seems to be the standard
• a more efficient, different design, or different freq response and range set of headphones
• better ears

FWIW, most of the better headphones strive for a flat (or relatively flatter) frequency response compared to your average speaker system. Most people are so accustomed to "sweet spot" sound that they they think "odd" or "too soft" when they first start using good headphones. (Unless they're those ear-damaging 'ultrabass' variety.) Same goes for studio mastering monitors. You can make the overall level in a headphone sound significantly louder just by boosting frequency bands in the 2khz and 4khz range. So it's not just the overall level, but the frequency ranges themselves that also contribute to your perception of how loud they sound.
-40hz
I will mess around with these and see how it goes.  It's a good point.  I may be experiencing exactly what you describe.

i will say, I was listening and playing yesterday again with my existing equipment, and it is now not as quiet as I first imagined.  So I'm going through some psychological exercises here.

• Charter Member
• Joined in 2005
• Posts: 13,288
• Tell me something you don't know...
##### Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion!
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2014, 07:03 PM »
You can make the overall level in a headphone sound significantly louder just by boosting frequency bands in the 2khz and 4khz range. So it's not just the overall level, but the frequency ranges themselves that also contribute to your perception of how loud they sound.

Good point.

One other thing to remember is that people's sensitivity to different frequencies changes (i.e. it's personal), so fiddling with the EQ and some decent reference materials is one way to figure out where to boost (or cut back).

Which makes me wonder if there's a set of reference files to actually test this on a system.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker