I read that a symphony orchestra can

generate about 110 dB max, and though the article this was in didn't specify, I'm assuming that would be at the listener position. (Yes there would be a lot of "listener positions" in a symphony auditorium, so for the sake of argument let's say this is an average.)

My thought is, given that a lot of talk here is devoted to creating "live" sound levels with reproduced music, don't most of our systems have the capability of creating these dB levels, assuming we have decently sensitive speakers and decently powerful amplification?

I've never had a dB meter, but given that my listening room is not exactly gigantic, I can crank my system up to high enough levels that it certainly seems "live-equivalent" to me.

I'm wondering if we psychologically perceive that our music isn't "loud enough" simply because our speakers aren't perfect and the music doesn't sound live no matter how loud it is?

The second part of this question is in regards to room treatment and speaker system platform, especially in regards to classical music, as I am of the opinion that classical music in the auditorium environment is very difficult to translate into an equivalent in the home environment. Given the three-dimensional sonic experience at a live symphony concert, it would seem to me that the best home solution for this would be of course a properly treated and probably larger-than-average room, and a speaker system that can approximate the huge 3D soundstage of an auditorium. I'm thinking this would be something like the latest Linkwitz set-up and DSP with an appropriate delay to the side and rear speakers (7.1?).

Have any of you gone from say a "basic" system with enclosed speakers and untreated room to OB + treated room + DSP rear speakers set on "auditorium" or similar and experienced the "missing link" in symphonic reproduction?

I guess I'm asking the age-old question of what the Holy Grail is, but as a nearly 100% classical listener it is this particular reproduction I'm curious about. What sort of "solutions" have you people built that has resulted in that "epiphany" of "Yes - now it's right" experience with your system, if any?

Thanks!
 
The author V. Capel, in one of his books that I have, says that a symphony orchestra playing full fortissimo in a concert hall with good acoustics is heard at a good seat as 90 dB.

Later on the same page, he says that listening to rock music playing louder than 90 dB results in hearing loss.

One difference between classical and rock music that is an important factor also I think is that rock music is usually sustained loudness, whereas classical is fairly infrequently really loud.

Listening to reproduced music is never going to be an equal to going to hear a live performance. The live performance is the ultimate- including the fact that the musicians are standing in front of you, performing in the flesh and blood.

Regards,
Pete
 
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Is 110db peak or average?

My 102db/w/m Altec's will eat up over 100 watts/ch to do 110db averages in my seat 20ft away.

So on normal 92db/w/m speakers that would be 1,000 watts/ch. No too many speakers can take that sort of power.

Well I could be way off the mark then - but 110 dB is probably peak. But - you are also sitting 20 ft. away from your speakers - that's a lot farther away than most people sit, I believe - I sit less than 10 from mine. But I don't know the mathematical correlation between distance and relative sound pressure change - that would be an important variable to know.
 
The author V. Capel, in one of his books that I have, says that a symphony orchestra playing full fortissimo in a concert hall with good acoustics is heard at a good seat as 90 dB.

90 db compared to 110 db is huge compared to required amplifier output - so the article was probably referring to peak levels, and that may be at the ears of the orchestra musicians themselves.

So it re-sets my question - can most of our systems put out 90 dB to our ears? That certainly seems reasonable.
 

Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
I think 110dB peak in the good seats is pretty darn loud! No way could that be average.
Where the conductor stands it can get very loud, for sure.

I have gone from small box, to large OB to large box, to treated room. All certainly help, but I think your "larger than average" room is necessary for concert hall believability. Maybe it can be done in an average size room, but it would require excellent, well thought out and expensive room treatment. It might be cheaper just to build a bigger room. :) Ceiling hight is important.
 
I think 110dB peak in the good seats is pretty darn loud! No way could that be average.
I seem to recall John Eargle writing that he'd never seen over 105dB at a mic . . . referring obviously to "house" or "flying" placement . . . and such mics are closer to the orchestra than most if not all seats in the audience. That conforms to my experience as well. Typically our 40 chair orchestra peaks at about 95dB in the hall . . . add some trombones and a full choir and we'll see maybe 98-100. Seating 80 chairs (your typical large orchestra) adds 3dB.

It is, of course, much louder on stage . . . and amplified "rock" is a whole 'nuther story . . .
 
I seem to recall John Eargle writing that he'd never seen over 105dB at a mic . . . referring obviously to "house" or "flying" placement . . . and such mics are closer to the orchestra than most if not all seats in the audience. That conforms to my experience as well. Typically our 40 chair orchestra peaks at about 95dB in the hall . . . add some trombones and a full choir and we'll see maybe 98-100. Seating 80 chairs (your typical large orchestra) adds 3dB.

It is, of course, much louder on stage . . . and amplified "rock" is a whole 'nuther story . . .

dewardh - what orchestra do you play in? When I lived in northern California I saw the San Francisco Symphony regularly, under both Blomstedt and MTT. I see the San Diego Symphony now, which has developed into a fine orchestra in its own right.
 
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Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
Thanks for the further notes on levels.

In the rather curious anechoic symphony recording done by Dennon back in 1987, they claim peak 112dB SPL at the mics right behind the conductor's head. On a reflective stage that ought to be even higher. But out in the audience?

I find that hitting clean peaks of 110dB on my home system is all I ever need.
 

steve71

Member
2007-11-12 6:01 pm
Well I could be way off the mark then - but 110 dB is probably peak. But - you are also sitting 20 ft. away from your speakers - that's a lot farther away than most people sit, I believe - I sit less than 10 from mine. But I don't know the mathematical correlation between distance and relative sound pressure change - that would be an important variable to know.

Actuality, I was surprised that the SPL meter reads ~ the same until you get right up to the speaker. Maybe that would change with just one speaker playing?
 
you may have to include the lobing effect of a loudspeaker, that is, at mid to high frequencies (about about 200Hz) any loudspeaker is directional, and it makes a difference exactly where you are standing. Move around in front of the speaker while maintaining the same distance from it, and you may be surprised. :)

As you are alluding to, it should drop off with regard to the square of the distance from the speaker, the so-called inverse square law.
 

steve71

Member
2007-11-12 6:01 pm
you may have to include the lobing effect of a loudspeaker, that is, at mid to high frequencies (about about 200Hz) any loudspeaker is directional, and it makes a difference exactly where you are standing. Move around in front of the speaker while maintaining the same distance from it, and you may be surprised. :)
I could move all about the room (in front of the speakers) and the spl meter never changed much.

FWIW the room has walls and ceiling that have 1ft thick fiberglass insulation.

As you are alluding to, it should drop off with regard to the square of the distance from the speaker, the so-called inverse square law

That is only for a speaker playing outside though.
 
I could move all about the room (in front of the speakers) and the spl meter never changed much.

FWIW the room has walls and ceiling that have 1ft thick fiberglass insulation.



That is only for a speaker playing outside though.

well, not really, but as you are alluding to again, the room makes it a reverberant field! It would be so in an anechoic chamber, for example, but not in a normal living room, I grant you. If you made the microphone directional, you would get a different result. :)
 
I am an amateur trombone player and play in a symphony orchestra. I bet max SPL of a symphony orchestra depends heavily on number of players, on which instruments and the particular composition played. During, for instance, Bruckner's 8th symphony, which we played with a normal symphonic size orchestra, simply the sustained style of playing from wind instruments was loud, it made the strings in front of us nauseous. With Shostakovich's 7th symphony, which we played with a philharmonic sized orchestra with lots of extra winds, especially brass, the whole orchestra was wearing earplugs and still on the verge of running out the concert hall. And we're not particularly loud as far as orchestras go. Then again, we just started rehearsing Sibelius' 5th symphony with roughly the same size orchestra as we played the Bruckner with, and it is much quieter. It depends much on idiom, harmonic and rhythmic structure.

I'm not sure it relates very much to a high SPL-reading from your meter, weighting and such things considered. I do know that my DIY speaker systems with higher efficiency and power handling were better at playing that loud and complex orchestral music. I use 2" fullrange drivers above 300Hz now. Sounds great with single instruments (trumpet intro to Mahler's fifth), but chokes when the orchestra comes in. :D