I've seen various suggestions for peak audio levels for broadcast, including -20dBfs and -12. But when making files for websites, I've noticed that if I use "proper" levels like -20 dBfs, clients do not feel the audio is loud enough. They want the ability to make it louder through their laptop speakers.
I've taken to trying to get the audio to peak at -6, and only cutting back if it hits 0 (using Final Cut's meters). What do you think? And more important, what do you do for audio levels, when outputting files for the Internet?
[Bob Cole]"I've taken to trying to get the audio to peak at -6, and only cutting back if it hits 0"
I've done that too. Getting the audio as "hot" as possible without going into digital distortion. You could do this with the normalize function in FCP. If the average still seems to be too much lower than the peaks, you can compress (as in using the equivalent of an audio compressor) the audio so you the average and peak levels are much closer. This is typically common (all too common IMHO) when doing TV commercials which is one reason why they sound louder than the typical program audio.