Last week I saw an interesting conversation appear on Facebook. Field recordist and sound designer Charles Maynes created a post in the Independent Sound Effects group to discuss establishing a standard for audio levels in sound effect libraries. It’s a valuable idea. In fact, I’ve received a handful of messages from readers about this in the last three months alone.
After all, new sound library publishers often wonder how loud their tracks should be. Are room tones best at -15, -20, or -35 dBFS from peak? Should sound design impacts be provided at -5 dBFS, or is a less aggressive -12 dBFS? What’s correct, what’s easiest, and what do sound fx library fans want?
The post generated good discussion. Some people passionately believed current sound fx libraries are mastered with levels set too high. Others felt that the current trend of “hot” levels was appropriate.
Which technique is best? Is it better to master sound effect libraries loudly, with presence? Or, is the best idea to provide sound fx with reduced levels perfectly suited to slide right into editing projects and mix sessions?
Today’s post will present both perspectives and allow you to decide. In the future I’ll share my own choice, and some community-sourced standards.
Please note: I explore this idea in detail. This article should take you about 10 minutes to read. Click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.