I was listening to some music this afternoon and decided to use the audio level meter on my watch to see how loud it was. It was clocking (sounding) in around 65db according to AppleWatch. I did a quick forum search and found the thread below:
I found it interesting. Curious though, rather than “what is too loud,” what is the most common comfortable listening level for you all taking into account enjoyment, experience and sound quality in a longer listening session.
What do you turn it up to for regular enjoyment (vs. the one-off-song you crank up)?
Our neighbour is a of a nervous/depressive disposition and is generally at home, so I tend to play music at about 8:30- 9:30 o’clock position on the 252 during the day. I think this is around 60-70db. After 8o’clock - headphones territory.
I have no idea of the actual SPL but I generally play at what I would call moderate volume. Sometimes I crank it up to very loud but I wouldn’t want to listen for any length of time at that sort of level.
Peter Walker of Quad fame maintained that there was a specific correct playback level for every recording in order for it to sound correct. I remember once reading in a library book about getting the most from your hi-fi - yes, believe it or not such books did exist in the late 60’s, - that you should decide on a playback volume and mark it on the record sleeve for future reference.
I’ve no idea what decibel rate I play at - it is definitely less than the motorhead bass bins I used to lay in…I’m also lucky in that my neighbours have never complained and keep saying they are not bothered.
But I do find that the textures of the music disappear if I am playing it too quiet.
We have no neighbours, so can do what we like in terms of volume. On my 52, I will generally have it at about the 10:00 position, maybe a little less, maybe a little more - up to 11 sometimes. But of course, that doesn’t really say much about the actual volume. Some of my recordings are so loud that even 9 is a bit much. IIRC when I tried measuring it using my phone, it was around the 80 to 85 level.
I admit to liking music at ‘near the front’ concert-type levels but the problematic issue is the variable level of outputs on CDs (not so much vinyl), such that the odd track simply blasts out, often during the middle of what has been a well-recorded and relatively level-output CD.
It is almost as if the recording engineer wants to wake people up if they are dozing slightly.
I have an manually operated automatic db reduction alarm. Anything over an arbitrary level and there’s an irritating screeching noise that appears from somewhere in the house demanding I turn it down and it doesn’t stop until within whisper levels.
Playback levels vary even on the same disc. When the volume becomes “uncomfortable”, can’t put it any better than that, then its time to back off. Particularly in a classical work that has say a soprano part. My ear/s just starts to “crack”!
Some discs are almost too dynamic: the penalty of a CD555 and two PSs. But then you could say a 120 piece orchestra is much the same. Look at a TV broadcast of a classical concert and often woodwind players have a clear plastic shield as brass players behind can cause long term ear damage.
In a rock concert you often see ear defenders.
I think Pater Walker got it about right: every recording has an ideal level. That’s less easy with non classical music. What’s the right level? When your ears start to protest.