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Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?

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Debbie King
Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 1:15:36 am

Hi Everyone:

I managed to burn a blu ray disc and my discovery is that it made the audio really loud; distorted. In Sony is was not distorted, but was loud enough to hear across the room at a moderate volume. I once read in an article that when mixing, if the speakers are calibrated, there is not need for the sound to be loud. It should be loud enough to hear the dialogue.

I am going back into Vegas to lower the levels enough to just hear what the actors are saying and level the sound effects accordingly.

Is this what you do in your mixing experience? Just checking to see if I am on the right track. When sitting in front of my computer a few inches away, the sound was moderately loud. I can hear well once I step away at that same level. When I turn the levels down a little, I can still hear the dialogue, but it sounds low, like the person is speaking to me. Is that how it's suppose to be?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks, everyone, for all of your help to get me this far.

Best,

Debbie


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Russ Froze
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 2:25:25 am

Could you give a list of the playback system.
Russ Froze


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Debbie King
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 3:23:20 am

Hi Russ:

I'm using Media One 4a speakers with Steinberg interface UR22 set to 0. I have a small room, so I calibrated my speakers to 79db. My last mix of my dialogue was at around -17 to -12 and my master setting is set to -6.0. The master level was at -3.0. When I burned to blu ray, the dialogue had a slight distortion and the music was too loud. I actually realized why the music was loud. I had compressed the master bus when I shouldn't. I have since uncompressed the master bus, and am compressing the individual busses the dialogue, music, sound effects and voiceover are attached to. In my first mix, I originally set the dialogue levels to about -21 to -19 and although I heard everything quite well, I thought that it may be too low for the theatre so I raised it when I shouldn't have. Now I am going back to those levels and it sounds better. What do you look for when you mix?

Many thanks,

Debbie

Many


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Russ Froze
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 5:35:43 am
Last Edited By Russ Froze on Dec 13, 2014 at 4:28:03 pm

[Debbie King] "What do you look for when you mix?"

Everything depends on what it is I am attempting to convey in the production. First and foremost the dialog takes precedence. I mix the dialogue first. Next I add special effects and background sounds. And lastly I add a score if needed to emphasize the emotions of the scene. It is rare that the score and the dialogue are ever at the same level. For that matter the score and the dialogue rarely ever meet. I use the music score to emphasize actions , dialogue must be strong enough to stand on its own. Any part of the score must be below, way below the dialogue with a few exceptions such as if someone is yelling and screaming the level of the score can then of course be raised.
Forget about the numbers all the specs and everything else, this is art.
Choose your level set your dialog , then choose a score that fits the scene. Unless your doing a musical or a music video , the music is a supporting actor nothing more nothing less.
Whatever you do don't let the Supporting Actor steal the scene.
Russ Froze


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Graham Bernard
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 12:08:03 pm

[Russ Froze] "Forget about the numbers all the specs and everything else, this is art."
Yes. You gave a most eloquent description of what to do. I've tiptoe-ed in each and everyone of your well defined/described footsteps.

Grazie

Video Content Creator and Potter
PC 7 64-bit 16gb * Intel® Core™i7-2600k Quad Core 3.40GHz * 2GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 560 Ti
Cameras: Canon XF300 + PowerShot SX50HS Bridge


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Russ Froze
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 4:25:35 pm

Thanks Grazie,
RF


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Debbie King
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 3:54:16 pm

Russ:

Thank you so much for this, because I was so confused for a long time as to what levels to use while mixing. I mixed where the dialogue was well heard, but a little loud, then when I rendered and burned to blu ray, the dialogue had slight distortion, even though the levels were never red on the editing console. Blu ray raised the volume, and reduce some as well. What I did after going back to the drawing board was choose my level (thank you for that) where the speaking voice is just where we can hear what is being said, but not loud. It makes so much sense now, where the music is, compared to before. I lowered the music more, even though it was never competing with the dialogue before.

I really appreciate this input and I will do as you suggested. Thank you as well Grazie.

Many thanks,

Debbie


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Russ Froze
Re: Should Levels in Audio Mixing Be Just Loud Enough to Hear Dialogue?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 4:22:29 pm

You are most welcome
Russ Froze


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