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Decibel level stupid question

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  • Decibel level stupid question

    Is there an equation to mixing based on DB levels of each instrument? If I want the overall sound to be, say, 95 DB, or "x"..... the vocals have to be "a", the guitar "b", keyboard "c", drums "d", etc, so that;

    a+b+c+d=x

    or something like that?

    I'm looking for a more objective approach to mixing so its not just subjectivity of a 60 year olds preference vs. a 27 year olds vs. a 14 year olds.

  • #2
    There technically would be a way to do this in a perfect world.
    Get up a killer mix and then mute everything except electric and take a measurement, then drums, etc.

    But that would be a bit far-reaching to be practical on a week in week out thing. A better way is to let the tech throw up a mix and then go back while the band,etc is still playing and show him what you expect by adjusting the faders and letting him hear the changes as you make them.

    What we do do at NorthWood weekly is a quick comparison of A weighted (91-92) to C weighted (102-103 peaks, not average) to make sure our top end isn't outstripping our bottom end or vice versa.

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    • #3
      Scientifically I am confident this could be done, realistically not. Every second of every song, all aspects of your music are changing. Each song also demands a different mix (guitar heavy/piano heavy/vocal heavy/etc.) so that makes it virtually impossible to establish some sort of rule. It is MUCH more realistic and easy and even more correct to set a target overall level and aim for it. If you want to stay under 95dB A-slow, then, mix for that. Establish what the sound for each song should be in rehearsal and then make adjustments to accomplish the goal. That's a pretty typical mix approach. We use DCAs on our console to make this easier. We have vox, instruments and drums each in a separate DCA so we can make easier level adjustments as we progress through a service.

      As for dealing with the opinions of all the different people... been there man, whew. It stinks. We spent about 6 months in discussions about volume before we arrived at a number and everyone from our Pastor down is on board with the level and can discuss it with people who want info. We mix at about 93 db a-slow with peaks in the high 90s. Last week I took an Leq of our service from and the level was at about 84 db. That is the number that "matters" (as long as there aren't ridiculously hot peaks that will cause immediate damage). Average sound level exposure over the course of an event is a good standard to work from. You will find that when you add in periods of prayer and spoken word with your music that your levels are WAY more safely low than it would seem at first.
      Travis Paulding,
      Production & Technology Director, St. Simons Community Church
      www.sscommunitychurch.com
      twitter.com/tpaulding

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      • #4
        I would agree with Travis on this. There is certainly a way to do what you are asking but highly impractical.

        If you have the finctionality of DCA/VCA on your console or even subgroups, you can achieve what you are after much easier.

        As a side note, your noise floor will determine your mix levels often times. You will need to stay 20dB greater with your program material than environmental noise, including HVAC, airplanes, crying babies, etc.

        To open up a can of worms... I would suggest that stage volume plays a big part in this as well. What if your stage volume is 90dBA at mix position? Of course you can't understand anything, there is no articulation. What do you do now? How can you get the mix you desire at the levels you want?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by amprodirect View Post

          As a side note, your noise floor will determine your mix levels often times. You will need to stay 20dB greater with your program material than environmental noise, including HVAC, airplanes, crying babies, etc.
          so we should be 20dB louder than the congregation's singing? that's an interesting figure to take to the group.

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          • #6
            Ha, well, depending on what you are after you could go with that. Typically congregational singing is not what we would refer to the noise floor, but could be, you decide. Sometimes we design facilities to enhance the congregational singing, others we design to attenuate, jut depends on what you are after. I personally love to hear the congregation, my preference is to include the congregation in the worship experience, not just put on a spectacle. I like to think of the folks on the stage as lead worshippers, with the expectation everyone else will join in.

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