What is the proper loudness for listening?

Paul McGowan via YouTube claims that each room, system and recording has a specific sound level at which music sounds most "real"

I've noticed this myself listening to my 3 different systems set up in differing rooms. Thought I was crazy to think so but I guess maybe I'm not?

Also, have notice in smaller listening rooms that lower maximum volume levels sound more real.  Going too high on volume in a small room just overloads it and results in distortion

Any comments?


Thank you, @ditusa. These are very informative links.

Note that, according to your third link, "The A-weighted sound level discriminates against low frequencies.... In this setting, the meter primarily measures in the 500 to 10,000 Hz range. It is the weighting scale most commonly used for OSHA and DEQ regulatory measurements. The C-weighted sound level does not discriminate against low frequencies and measures uniformly over the frequency range of 30 to 10,000 Hz." This is just what I maintained in my earlier post, except that A-weighting actually cuts off at 500 Hz, rather than 100 Hz—which, of course, makes my point even more important.

However, I will admit to some puzzlement about the clause I elided: that A-weighting "discriminates against low frequencies, in a manner similar to the human ear." In my experience, audio system measurements are almost always given with C-weighting. Sometimes this is explicit, but even when the weighting filter is not specified, the numbers seem to be C-weighted. After all, we do certainly prize systems, and speakers, that produce sound below 500 Hz! To eliminate these sounds from the meter’s measurement because the human ear is less sensitive to them would not be what an audiophile would want to do. For one thing, low frequencies are felt as well as heard. Surely you (ditusa) are not advocating for measurements that ignore low—and high, for that matter—frequencies!

In any case, when I see the dB levels folks on this forum cite as preferred listening levels, and then try to match them on my system, I find that the higher levels (90 and above) MUST be C-weighted. My ears begin to bleed when I approach 90 dBA, but 90 dBC is just excitingly loud.

Some very good insight here, I enjoyed reading through this thread understanding there's always the factors of the individual person, system and room.


Personally, I find myself in 70-75db as a sweet spot for most types of music although I'll go slightly above that for classical to feel the scale and peaks. 

Those two items on each side of your head will be the guide as to how loud you can go with the sound. Your room will also dictate this and whether you're listening alone, what time of day/night you are listening, etc. If you plan on listening into old age as I am, then don't go overboard on the volume control!

@snilf Wrote:

Thank you, @ditusa. These are very informative links.

For one thing, low frequencies are felt as well as heard. Surely you (ditusa) are not advocating for measurements that ignore low—and high, for that matter—frequencies!

Your welcome. No, I am not advocating for measurements that ignore low and high frequencies. The Department of Labor bulletin #334 I posted about OSHA standards is their standard for safe levels, they don’t care about audio, like you and I do. I.e. full frequency bandwidth from 20Hz to 20KHz. They only care about safety, bass frequencies below 100Hz are not as detrimental to our hearing as frequencies above 100Hz. You are correct, frequencies below 500Hz are felt as well as heard, so yes C-weighted dB(C) would be better for audio.

FWIW, I bought a pair of JBL 4343’s in 1979 for my home stereo, see JBL brochure below last page top right hand corner caution: