How loud is loud?

I saw recently a number of posts telling that the neighbors were complaining about the volume at which some of us Naimites were playing their music.

I don’t have complaints from my neighbors and usually limit the volume to 60-70dB. But as a guitar player, I know that a 80-90dB range is more realistic.

I wanted to poll the community members to know at what volume they play their music and what they fell is appropriate.

PS: The volume (maybe it’s too French a translation) is measured using a regular iPhone with dB Meter.

60db max if I am sitting listening. Probably no higher than 70 db normally.

For me it varies by mood, but I do sometimes play at “realistic” levels, whence the sound level at the listening position may average high eighties for rock music. classical music depends on the type - an extreme being the Telarc 24-bit recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812, of which the canons easily reach the 115dB max output of my speakers before clipping, perhaps 113dB(A) at my listening position, with the average sound level only in the seventies meaning I have to keep it down, unnaturally. Other dramatic orchestral music I might play with average sound levels of the higher volume passages in the eighties.

For my ears’ sake, in general I tend to keep average levels no higher than low eighties except for short periods of time - truly realistic rock music maybe only 2 or 3 albums max in a session, and that infrequently.

Of course, what matters as far as the neighbours are concerned is the sound their side of the boundary - which depends on many other factors not just the listening level, including acoustic properties of whatever separates you from them…

For information, I’ve only measured with an iPhone app (which incidentally can vary by as much as 6dB ‘out of the box’ - you do need to make sure you use the right “weighting”: normal convention for this sort of purpose is dB(A) some apps are set for other weightings like dB(C), which is inappropriate. And having checked that there may still be up to about 3dB difference (equivalent to saying twice the sound level of the other!). Having compared apps it seemed reasonable to pick one of those giving readings very similar to a number of others. The two I settled on (having slightly different functions suited to different things) are Decibel X and dB Volume

Also very significant to the subject of this thread of course is whether to measure average or peak sound level. Average over a period of time, which is what most people tend to mean when talking about “listening level”, as opposed to instantaneous peaks such as the beat of a bass drum, for which the speed of response can make quite a difference to the reading. In my case I have a detached house, well insulated, and never open the windows when playing music.


I am making my measurements in dB-A. The app I am using allows different settings. It also presents mean and peak volumes. I was also wondering how good is an iPhone as a dBmeter.

Same as you 60-70 dB average,and sometime very short peaks at 75-80. No complaints from neighbors in my apartment building. Like to keep it that way. Went from 202/200 to 282/200 to 282/250 to now 282/300,and with every step I could turn the volume a notch down and still enjoy the music in the same way. Now if a neighbor complains I’ll ask him/her to chip in for a 252. Or a 500 system or if it really bothers him a full Statement setup… :grin:

I actually made a similar journey going from 102/180 to 282/250 then 252/250 and finally 552/300. I also found that each upgrade allowed to turn the volume down a notch.

Still I feel that going up is the only way to sound realistic.

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70-80 normally, according to an app and I don’t feel that’s “loud”. That’s 2.5 meters from speaker and the volume dial at 9 o’ clock. Louder if I can and am in the mood, but can’t really as loud as I sometimes would want. Well-built apartment with no neighbors below and good separation to the others

All depends how close your neighbours are. Terraced house or country estate with 500 acres between you and the neighbours.
My 17 year old son did " complain" that he could hear my music as he got out of the car on the drive once. I felt quite proud.


And how they’re constructed

I don’t know how loud I play the hifi but my wife says it’s too loud sometimes but some music seems to invite higher volume and good source, amps and speakers allow distortion-free high volume.

There are never any complaints from neighbours the nearest is over 1/4 mile away downhill and the sheep don’t seem to mind!


65db ish.

I have sympathetic tinnitus so certain frequencies ring when played too loud and is very uncomfortable. I avoid live music where possible for this reason. Given up on cinema alltogether in favour of home theatre where I can control the levels below my discomfort threshold.

To me 65db seems loud. I might rock out louder with one track in a blue moon (peaking 90db) at a more realistic level.

Of course my wife and kids think 65db is crazy loud.

This hobby is a marathon, not a sprint. Protect your hearing folks. Or the hobby will be short lived.

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Also between 60-70 SPL dB according to the Bosch iNVH app on an iPhone.

The volume is usually around 9 - 10 o’ clock depending on the recording.

I have never used my 282 volume control beyond the 12 o’clock position and that is only for a quiet vinyl recording. Usually 10 o’clock is more than sufficient. This is at 2.5m from the speakers.

12 o 'clock? Jeez. I reckon my MF Nu vista power amps would have melted my PMC 20-26s at that point.

Even with people familiar with a particular source, preamp and power amp combination volume control position doesn’t give a meaningful indication of the sound level to other people speakers unless you give your speaker sensitivity (which can range from low 80 decibels per watt to mid 90 decibels per watt, and over 100 in the case of horn speakers), and your distance from the speakers (every doubling of distance reduces by 6dB).


Ideal for me is around 75dBA average, around 3.5m from the speakers. Late evening around 70 and by 80 the room is contributing in more than I like. Very rarely is the volume knob above 9 and if it is, its only very slightly. Speakers rated at 88dB.

I don’t have any means of measuring loudness but I do know when its too loud. Particularly with female singers and large choral groups. My ears start to crack in a most unpleasant way.
Difficult to compare a live orchestra in full flight with a hi-fi system doing the same.
Its a long time since I attended an orchestral classical concert. I do remember when it was very loud it wasn’t uncomfortable in the way home hi-fi might be.

…might have disliked the music!

I just did some measurements using the mentioned Bosch app.
My room is roughly 5 x 11 meters or 17 x 36 ft. The speakers play in the length of the room.

My normal listening position is 3.5 meters from the speakers. When I move back to 6/7 meters there is virtually no measurable drop in loudness/dBs. The app measures realtime and average. If I change the volume, it shows immediately.

A relevant factor could be that in both positions there is no wall close behind me (even at 6 meters from the speakers, the rear wall of the room is still 4 meters away).

70db (9 o’clock) seems to be normal levels for having e.g. Ken Bruce on at good quality, then a bit of music at good quality is around 86-88db. That maps to around 10 o’clock on the volume.

Speakers are 85db sens.