The last complicating factor is that very often the audio level has already been turned down. There is enough anecdotal evidence – evidence from people talking about it, but not properly written down with each point studied by experts in the field – to say that most movie theaters have turned down their audio processors from the optimum level – the level that the auditorium was designed and set up for. )Usually, that means that the level was set up to follow a set of Recommended Practices from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).)
Technical Stuff – Cover Your Eyes
In order to duplicate – as closely as possible – the artistic intention of the Director, there is an audio level for the equipment that the industry uses to help keep the audio sound consistent from post production studios to the movie theaters – from the mixing stages to your auditorium. When the audio processor is set at this standard level of ‘7’ in an auditorium that has been properly set up and maintained, the sound will be at its best for that room.
This level allows for an optimum amount of what is called “headroom” and dynamic range. Meaning, there is room for enough extra energy during the exciting parts that they can be delivered without hitting a ceiling that makes the sound ‘crack’. (OK; crack is not a technical term.) Technically, the standard level is created when everyone calibrates their rooms for ‘7’ on their audio processor (which is 85 decibels (dB)) and the upper headroom is set for 105dB.
[You might hear some reporter say something on TV, that they measured a theater at 125dB. Realize that it just isn’t likely. Ask the TV announcer to photograph the room full of amplifiers, because a room full of amplifiers is what it would take to fill an auditorium with sound at that level.
Remember, sound is always measured relative to something else. The difference between 105dB and 125dB is 100 times as much power and 4 times as loud – it would take a jillion amplifiers to make that happen. (OK; not a jillion, but a lot more than just a dozen or two dozen.]
OK; that is all. The bell is rung and can’t be un-rung. You have some expertise. If someone says, “Don’t get so hung up on 7”, you can say, “Tell that to the director” and “Check your calibration equipment, because the room was designed for 85dB at 7 on the dial.”
Part Ten: Too Loud~! More, But Not Now