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What dB Level Should You Set Live Speakers To? (The Truth)

When setting up a live PA system, one of the most important decisions is what dB level to set your speakers to. This is important if you want your sound to be clear and balanced without distortion or feedback. But what dB level should you set your live speakers to?

Unfortunately, not knowing what dB level to set on speakers can lead to damage to speakers.

Image of a db level and control panel of an audio mixer. Source: dmitry demidov, pexels
Image of a dB level and control panel of an audio mixer. Source: Dmitry Demidov, Pexels

This article covers what dB level is best for your live speakers and provides tips on striking the perfect balance between too loud and too quiet. So if you’re looking to make sure your next show is a success, this post is for you!

What dB level should you set your live speakers to? An ideal volume for listening to music via speakers is 75 dB. If you approach too near the speakers, noises above this level may be distracting or even painful to your ears. An SPL meter is the most accurate tool for checking the volume of your speakers.

What is a decibel (dB) level?

A decibel (DB) is a unit of measurement for speaker output power. Our ears perceive a change in loudness in a way that is not linear. The loudness of a sound, which is different from its volume, may be affected by several variables. Two factors are the volume of air entering the ear and the physical separation of the eardrum from the sound source.

If the dB is reduced, more power is sent to the speaker, which may increase the volume. The volume of an audio system is affected not only by the number of speakers but also by its size, design, and location.

The decibel scale

A system of measurement called decibels was developed to help with this problem. The human ear can detect a loudness fluctuation of as little as 1 dB. So a change of 3 dB is a little small, but a change of 10 dB makes the sound twice as loud to the human ear.

At 0 decibels, the human ear can detect no sound. Normal decibel levels for certain frequently encountered noises are as follows:

  • Whisper: 15 to 25 dB
  • Background noise: 35 dB
  • Normal home or office background: 40 to 60 dB
  • Normal speaking voice: 65 to 70 dB
  • Orchestral climax: 105 dB
  • Live rock music: 120 dB+
  • Pain threshold: 130 dB
  • Jet aircraft: 140 to 180 dB

What dB level should you set for live speakers?

There needs to be more than just having all the right parts for your home audio system to guarantee the best listening experience. The volume of your speakers is one of the most important aspects to evaluate.

There will be noticeable problems if your speakers’ volume is too high. The primary danger is to your hearing, which may be permanent. When we hear loud sounds often, our hearing gets more and more likely to be damaged.

Second, if you turn up the volume on your speakers too much, you could annoy your roommates or neighbors. Despite this, finding the ideal speaker volume is crucial if you want to get the most out of your listening experience and hear every nuance of your favorite music and other sounds without distortion.

I need to find out what your speakers’ best volume level is. That’s because several things combine to create this. Several things, like the room’s architecture, acoustics, and where the listener and speaker are, can affect how well your home audio system works.

Another factor to think about is the amplification of your speakers. Again, we can help you choose the best setting based on how well it balances clarity, loudness, tone, and ear protection.

In most cases, a volume of 75 dB is ideal for your speakers.

In a smaller-than-average room, you may want to keep the volume down to about 70 dB, while in a larger-than-average room, you may want to crank it up to around 80 dB. If you approach too close to the speakers, noises above this level may be distracting or even painful to your ears.

An SPL meter is the most reliable way to check speakers’ loudness. To measure the dB of your transmission, your receiver probably includes a wide-band pink-noise test tone.

Tips for setting your speaker levels

A high-quality SPL meter and a tape measure are essential for fine-tuning speaker volumes. The next step is to locate your ideal listening location in the room and take a seat (or a stand) there.

It would help if you lowered the receiver’s current volume to a comfortable level. This prevents the receiver’s test tones from being too loud, which might harm your hearing or annoy your neighbors.

The receiver’s main configuration menu may be accessed via the device’s settings. The following are common names for this:

  • Manual setup
  • Speaker config
  • Speaker setup

After getting to this menu, you must change the “Speaker Delay” or “Speaker Distance” settings. Next, locate the main listening location in the room and measure the distance from each speaker.

You may then return to the receiver’s distance or delay settings and enter the new values. The next step is to turn on the receiver’s test tone and measure the volume level directly in front of the speaker using an SPL meter.

An optimal level of 75 dB for speaker calibration is suggested. There is no danger to your hearing at this level, but you will be able to hear every nuance of the sound.

Image of a db levels of sound system. Source: hendrik b, pexels
Image of dB levels of the sound system. Source: Hendrik B, Pexels

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “How to Set Level on Amp (or Powered Speaker)” from the Collaborate Worship YouTube channel.

A video called “How to Set Level on Amp (or Powered Speaker)” from the Collaborate Worship YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the dB levels of speakers.

What is a good dB setting for speakers?

The test tone will then emit pink noise as you go from speaker to speaker, adjusting the volume, allowing you to fine-tune the volume as necessary. I prefer to set the maximum sound pressure level (SPL) for each speaker to 75 dB. This is plenty loud and will allow you to drown out any background noise in the room.

Is 85 dB good for a speaker?

Compared to lower background noise levels, 85 decibels is a loud level. Over time, being around this much noise could hurt or even destroy a person’s hearing.

How many dB is concert speakers?

The decibel level during a rock performance often exceeds 120. However, since electronic instruments are not as loud as acoustic ones, hip-hop events are typically a few decibels softer than rock concerts, clocking in at roughly 100–110 dB.

How many dB is too low?

The EPA and the WHO advise keeping ambient noise levels below 70 dBA for 24 hours (or 75 dBA for 8 hours) to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.

How long can you safely listen to 80 dB?

The danger of hearing loss increases with both the decibel level and the duration of noise exposure. For instance, an 80 dB sound level is acceptable to listen to for up to 40 hours each week. However, in the case of a sound level of 90 dB, the maximum amount of time that one may listen safely each week is cut in half to four hours.

Conclusion

Setting the right dB level for your live speakers is important in creating a great listening experience. You risk damaging the sound system and your audience’s ears if it is too loud. On the other hand, you will only be able to feel the music if it’s quiet. Finding the perfect balance between these extremes is key to delivering a great show.

However, just as you can’t become an expert cyclist by reading a book, you can’t become a great musician by reading articles alone. It’s time to take action! Go and put what you have learned into practice.

This article covered a decibel (dB) level, what dB level to set on live speakers, and tips on setting your speakers’ level. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • A decibel (DB) is a unit of measurement for speaker output power.
  • There needs to be more than just having all the right parts for your home audio system to guarantee the best listening experience.
  • A high-quality SPL meter and a tape measure are essential for fine-tuning speaker volumes.
  • Extra tips:
    • The point at which your subwoofer begins to produce audible bass is known as the crossover frequency.
    • It’s the sound volume we’re talking about at the audio level. It is often used interchangeably with the gain, while technically, the gain is the microphone input level.
    • The human ear is most attuned to sounds in the middle range (around 3–4k Hz).
    • If you raise the receiver’s volume beyond 0 dB, you may cause audible distortion, saturation, or clipping in the amplifier.
    • The speakers’ wattage ratings will affect the receiver’s volume level.
    • Setting your speakers to 100 dB is excessively loud unless you’re doing a live event in a big venue.
    • The music’s mids should be lowered in the eq settings if vocals are to be heard over the top.

So, at what dB level do you usually set your speakers? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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