How Loud Do You Listen in a Typical Listening Session?

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)?

normally around 80-85 at listening position, less at night, 90 with max. 95 peaks with some music and if know the neighbors are not in.

All according to the phone app which may be off. The “80-85” corresponds to ~9:45 on the 252 with 86dB speakers

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.

But the few times she’s out…

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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.

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I’m lucky that my DBL’s can get close to creating a concert level experience, so I listen pretty loud. That’s anywhere between 9 and 10 on the 552 dial.

Is your watch meter calibrated?

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.

Using a proper SPL meter, my comfortable range is 65db average with 85db transient peaks.

I have sympathetic tinnitus so certain frequencies are reinforced and and louder is very uncomfortable.

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Another Peter Walker quote: The volume control is like the focussing knob on a microscope, there is one correct position.

For me I don’t listen to music at high levels because it just doesn’t sound correct - so it looks like Peter was right.

I haven’t measured it, but basically I like to feel the music. So, pressurised room and bass reverb for a full on session. For a chill out, lower and immersed in the emotion.

Never measured, but usually around the 8 o’clock mark, creeping up to 9 after a few glasses of wine. That is pretty loud with the 808s.

I had an older friend whose thousands of CDs I inherited who did exactly this. Every single CD’s booklet was marked with the precise level of volume it sounded best at.

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I find that the 10 o’clock position gives me more than enough juice to get the SF Concerto’s singing. Never strayed beyond 11 o’clock.

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.


I generally listen somewhere between 48 and 52 on my Nova. Less in the later evening - more for an occasional blast. I’ve no idea what this equates to in db terms though.

Interesting topic.

I have a Unitilite, so no dial. I generally don’t listen above 40, more likely 35 max, and on many occassions a lot less.

However I’d be interested in knowing how many db those settings are (subject to stream/cd level).

There are many apps for iOS, can anyone recommend a free one that they feel is acurate?

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.

My wife tells me my music is ALWAYS too loud!