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How LOUD is TOO LOUD & Does it Sound Better? An Honest Audiophile Listening Level Challenge!

Playing music loud is something that we all have done and experienced at one point or another in life. Who of us hasn't pushed the volume knob higher than the norm when our favorite song comes along or when the kids or co-workers are annoying loud and need to be drowned out? Loud music is all around us but does it sound better the louder it is played? These are my thoughts on listening volume levels and if cranking the volume knob improves the sound or not.


NOTE: Please keep in mind that I am not a professional sound engineer, producer, musician or vocalist, etc. I have not done any scientific research, measurements or in-depth testing of any kind; just my own listening, comparing and internet reading. I have very limited real life experience with recording, mixing and mastering gear. I have been involved since my teenager years with various churches as the sound booth dude. Currently, at my church, we use an Allen & Heath QU-24.

Secondly, this write up is based on impressions from an audiophile who mostly uses headphones and IEM, not speakers.

Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.


For years I listened to music way too loud, whether in the car, at home with earbuds, headphones or with speakers. My friends and I would sit just a couple feet away from his Pioneer stack and blast AC/DC, Aerosmith, Rush and Metallica at crazy levels just so we could see the woofers on the verge of explosion and we could feel the impact of the air movement.

When I was about 30 years old; I started working with a friend in our church sound booth. He asked me one day why I always turned the speakers up loud and if I thought that sounded natural and accurate. I immediately answered with a defensive "YES" and was taken back a bit by the question. Was my friend accusing me of being deaf? Did my friend think that I was doing something wrong? It was his response that really threw me for a loop. He told me that louder doesn't mean better and that I need to learn how to listen at lower volumes. I scoffed and told him that at lower volumes you can't hear the details and you can't feel the music. He challenged me to start listening at lower volumes and to see if that changes my mind on details portrayed and feeling the music. He recommended that I start slow and consistent over several weeks. He said to listen to my favorite music at normal levels and then to turn the volume knob down just one notch per week. Continue doing this until I can no longer hear what I believe I should be hearing. Several weeks later, I noticed that I didn't listen to music at ridiculous levels and that I was hearing more in the music then ever before. My mind was blown; I was actually enjoying the music instead of just blasting it for the laughs and hopes that the drivers would explode. I found that at church I wasn't blasting the speakers so that everyone in the building, including those in the boiler room in the basement, could hear but I was portraying an accurate and natural sound that all could enjoy without having to put their fingers in their ears.


Here are some simple examples about noise levels:



Keep in mind that the average use of personal audio devices is 94db but only for 1 hr of exposure. It is recommended that you lower that 94db by 30db and no less than 15db so you should be listening somewhere between 64db and 79db on average,



I have created a list of songs that I think do a good job of portraying sonics that can be heard at all listening levels. I challenge you to give these songs a listen at your normal listening level and then lower the volumes little by little over time and see if you don't still hear the same or more detail and dynamics along with a more natural and accurate reproduction. Also, try listening with gain on low, medium and high and see how that affects your listening experience, not all gear needs high gain.


Honest Audiophile Listening Level Challenge playlist:


Harry Connick Jr. - Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious


Molly Johnson - What a Little Moonlight Can Do


Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra - The Pine of the Appian Way https://tidal.com/browse/track/12064811


Bela Fleck, The Flecktones - Flight of the Cosmic Hippo


Nils Frahm - My Friend the Forest


Quincy Jones and His Orchestra - Soul Bossa Nova


Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey - One Sweet Day


Yosi Horikawa - Grasshopper (YoggyOne Remix)


Sarah McKenzie - Paris in The Rain


Brian Tyler - Escape Room


Rene Marie - Bloero/Suzanne


Ilhan Eshkeri - 47 Ronin


Cher - Believe


Two Steps from Hell - Ulthuan


Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You


Mariah Carey - Hero


Reba McEntire - You Lie


New England Conservatory Chorus - Las Agachadas (Vocal)


Yanni - East Meets West (A Medley of the Best)


Baha Men - Who Let the Dogs Out


Pearl Jam - Alive


Vangelis - Echoes


Vangelis - Conquest of Paradise


Madsonik - Boom Goes the Dynamite


Kraftwerk - Geiger Counter/Radioactivity


Michael W. Smith - Agnus Dei

https://songwhip.com/michael-w-smith/agnusdei

Atli Orvarsson- Babylon Requiem

https://songwhip.com/atli-orvarsson/babylon-requiem

Todd Rundgren - Bang the Drum All Day


AC/DC - Back in Black


AC/DC - Highway to Hell


Tony Bennett - My Favorite Things


Amber Rubarth - Good Mystery


Queen, David Bowie - Under Pressure


Madonna - Material Girl


Enya - Orinoco Flow

https://songwhip.com/enya/orinoco-flow

Britney Spears - Toxic


Confederate Railroad - I Hate Rap


Little Texas - Some Guys Have All the Love


Lorne Balfe - Terminated


Lorne Balfe - Bad Boys for Life


Rush - Tom Sawyer


Iron Maiden - 2 Minutes to Midnight


Europe - The Final Countdown


Run-DMC, Aerosmith - Walk This Way


Karen O, Willie Nelson - Under Pressure


Ronan Hardiman - Love Song


Jerry Goldsmith, London Symphony Orchestra - The Generals


Petra - St. Augustine's Pears


Kelly Clarkson - Never Enough

Houston Person, Ron Carter - You Are My Sunshine


The Piano Guys - Lord of the Rings


Hans Zimmer - Crimson Tide/160 BPM


Jerry Goldsmith - Valhalla/Viking Victory


Ear protection is important and with unhealthy ears we can't enjoy the music as well as we can with healthy ears. Do all you can to protect your ears now so you can enjoy the music just as much in the future. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions about what you all hear and experience with this little listening challenge.


Remember to Enjoy the Music and Honesty is the Best Policy!

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2件のコメント


adventurist
adventurist
2023年8月06日

Everything sounds more separated and realistic at a lower volume, but you'll hear less treble. more real VS more treble

いいね!
dbstechtalk
dbstechtalk
2023年8月06日
返信先

Yes it does sound more real. I actually think you hear more treble as in more accurate treble.


いいね!
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