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How to get audio levels right across all kinds of different loudspeakers/headphones for video?

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Sophia Smoloka
How to get audio levels right across all kinds of different loudspeakers/headphones for video?
on Sep 9, 2015 at 4:53:02 pm

Hi,

I'm in big need of some advice regarding audio levels for an online video.

It will be hosted on YouTube and my prime concern at the momnent is that the levels vary widely depending on which headphones or which computer you happen to have. This is especially a problem for the music (it's one track).

I've adjusted the levels with Audio-Technica headphones (ATH-M50x) and it sounds good to me but with Macbook loudspeakers, you can bearly hear the beginning bit of the music (it builds up over time) while on a Lenovo laptop, the music gets so loud you can bearly hear the interview audio (this is much worse than not being able to hear the music at the start!). These two seem to be extremes and this makes me worried.

What can I do to make sure the audio sounds good on as many devices as possible?

For the spoken bits (narration and interviews), it seems to me that I can only really level them and make sure they are as clear as possible. So this means I need to adjust the music to get it right. I've already used parametric EQ in Premiere on the music track to make the spoken bits more audible. Should I make sure the music levels are peaking at a certain dB? The audio from the narration and interviews peaks at around -6 to at most -3dB.

I've got the Adobe Creative Suite CS6 at my disposal.

Many thanks!!


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Peter Groom
Re: How to get audio levels right across all kinds of different loudspeakers/headphones for video?
on Sep 10, 2015 at 10:10:40 am

Ok.
Mixing audio is not about putting things to numbers - its aboiut using your ears and deciding what feel or vibe you are trying to communicate -ie chaos, happiness, dread etc etc.
You have already identified that different devices sound different. Thats always the case. Ive been mixing for Tv for 30 years, but dont panic myself about someone who is listening on some hopeless little mac in built speakers on a laptop etc.
Get some decent monitors (not massive studio speakers) but something like Genelec 8010. Learn how they sound and mix on them with at least 6 ft between your ears and the speakers, as the air space changes a LOT of how things sound.
Lastly use meters so you can be sure that the levels of you recordings and mixes are optimised. Id say dont use meters within programmes like Premiere and FCP as they are db meters and not going to help you mix with any real loudness understanding. id say get some proper meter unit that offers loudness and PPM values etc, but youre probably not going to do that, so learn the balistics of whatever meter you use, and set the max levels accordingly. Then mix with your ears engaged on something you trust rather than the poorest monitors on earth.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Sophia Smoloka
Re: How to get audio levels right across all kinds of different loudspeakers/headphones for video?
on Sep 10, 2015 at 10:42:18 am

Thanks for your tips - using my ears, definitely makes sense :) I guess it's just that it might sound fine for me with my setup but it won't on someone else's setup. But I get that there isn't a bullet proof way of doing it using the monitors.

Is there anything I can do if I can't get loudspeakers? I work for a company in an office with lots of people that don't want to listen to me editing a video all day. I know that's not ideal but there's nothing I can do about that.

I'll try different kinds of headphones to reach a middle ground and then listen to it on a few different laptop loudspeakers to see if it's ok. This is an online video so it will only ever be watched on laptops and mobile devices (with and without headphones).


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Peter Groom
Re: How to get audio levels right across all kinds of different loudspeakers/headphones for video?
on Sep 10, 2015 at 12:01:16 pm

The only thing that I can think of in a "non audio freindly" space is to become aware of the characteristics of the speakers that you are having problems on.
IE Its pointless allowing low frequencies through in your mix that those speakers are never (and are not meant to attempt to replicate)
Id also suggest compression to makimise the overall levels youre sending.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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