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Author Topic: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers  (Read 1439 times)

Patrick Tracy

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2021, 08:10:29 pm »

If I'm doing it by ear, I'll set up the console so the master fader's a few dB below zero and the meter is barely going over 0 dBVU, then set the tops to get the desired volume, the set the subs to match. That way there's headroom in the mixer and space on the fader to push it a bit later. Worst case, I run out of room on the console and have to nudge the speakers up a bit during the show.

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2021, 11:24:27 pm »

I personally like to set my speaker gains such that when my mixer is mid to low yellow band, my speakers are just starting to flicker the limit lights.

That's pretty much the basics, I think, you're around -18DBFS.  There's a good thread over at Controlbooth.com currently discussing what "0 dB" means that's an interesting read. https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/midas-m32r-output-levels.48196/

Finding out how much "protection" comes with how much light flicker might be interesting to experiment with.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2021, 11:58:43 pm »

My prescription is to start at 0db or whatever the manufacturer says is unity. Then adjust as needed from there to achieve the desired balance at performance level. In most cases, you will add volume to the subs if you are doing a 1:1 ratio of tops to subs. Ultimately the goal is to have the outputs of the mixer not clip, have the volume you need from the speakers, and also not clip the speakers.
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Mark Norgren

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2021, 07:27:03 am »

Very interesting discussion.  I loved the M32R article.  Minus 18db digital equals +4 db analog.  That is a perplexing statistic. 

I now use the solo button on my M32R to set the gain level on each channel.  By selecting the solo button, the gain level will show up on the right meter and allows me much more detail in setting the correct gain.  Gain structure is so critical in setting my board up properly.  All my dynamics and effects seem to respond better to a properly structured gain?  No real proof of that, just my 2 cents.  I never really push my speakers past 4 o'clock and seldom have clipping issues.
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2021, 09:40:31 am »

I've often wondered if there is a correct way to set the levels on the subs and mains.  Should they be set at the same levels, unity for both, both at 2 o'clock?
If it's not a preconfigured system with DSP and/or amps with presets, etc., I typically start with levels all the way down.

Next, I input speech or music signal to the console, gain it up properly, and then output it.

Then, I turn up the inputs on the loudspeakers until I reach the general SPL I think (or know) I'll need with that type of material. I'll just use a simple meter or phone app - it's a relative process.

Usually, I'll add 3dB-6dB or so more above what I think I'll need, unless I'm maxed out (in which case, it becomes a too much gig for the rig and we're under-spec'd).

Doing it this way gives me an idea of what SPL I'm hitting when my meters are running around "0" and helps keep my mixing in-check as ear fatigue sets in.

Would calibrated SPL measurement help? Maybe...but I think it's the thought process behind it that is helpful.
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Patrick Tracy

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2021, 01:49:56 pm »

Very interesting discussion.  I loved the M32R article.  Minus 18db digital equals +4 db analog.  That is a perplexing statistic.

It's not too perplexing. Analog would have an optimum level above the noise but with headroom to accommodate dynamics, so the zero has plus and minus around it. Digital has an absolute brick wall at the top of the scale, so zero starts there and all values are negative. The "normal" digital level is set to a value far enough below zero to accommodate dynamics.

Most likely -18dBFS (digital) = 0VU (analog meter) = +4dBu (voltage). Not everything is exactly that. Some AD/DA converters put 0dBVU at a different value, perhaps -20dBFS. Some analog mixers (Mackie) put 0VU at 0dBu.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 03:01:47 pm by Patrick Tracy »
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Alec Spence

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2021, 02:43:46 pm »

Very interesting discussion.  I loved the M32R article.  Minus 18db digital equals +4 db analog.
....
I never really push my speakers past 4 o'clock and seldom have clipping issues.
I love the fact that, however technical we get with gain structure everywhere else, the speaker attenuator is so often by "clockface"  :)
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2021, 03:54:30 pm »

I love the fact that, however technical we get with gain structure everywhere else, the speaker attenuator is so often by "clockface"  :)

I suppose its because there are usually no numbers or anything to tell where the setting is on the attenuators so it makes most sense??
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Scott Bolt

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2021, 05:18:26 pm »

I love the fact that, however technical we get with gain structure everywhere else, the speaker attenuator is so often by "clockface"  :)
I suppose we could use degrees from high noon ..... but that would just be too geeky ;).
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Ed Taylor

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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2021, 11:52:31 am »

pressing some old gear back into service as small town USA tries to reopen.

gear hasn't failed, so I still use it...so while it's not the hot brands and certainly not the best, it's still making me money. (so please be kind)

the rig I used last week  was mackie 1530 3-way tops over mackie SWA1801 subs.
total watts rated out of each box is 700...pretty whimpy compared to the ratings on single QSC K12 rigs these days I know...but the rig still sounds good and was paid for so very long ago. (2 per side)

the 1530s actually don't even have a "volume" knob on them. They do all they can do and you hit them with the gain structure off the board.
the mackie subs do have a gain control, and I tend to set that at about 2 oclock so they can keep up with the tops and give me headroom to adjust.
I do mix the subs from an aux sub path...my boards provide for full eq control on all aux, so it's not like the old days where an aux out to subs could not be adjusted in pre mode, meaning more outboard gear in the racks to deal with that.
 
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Re: Setting Levels on Powered Speakers
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2021, 11:52:31 am »


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