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Tech Tip Of The Day: Meet The dB Meter

Why a loudness meter is an essential tool for the recording studio, not just live sound.

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: Not long ago I set out to start my own studio, and so far it’s been going well.

Recently I was reading a list of essential tools for the studio and noticed it included the dB meter.

I understand why these meters are useful for live engineers, but are they really that necessary for studio use?

A: Our ears are finely tuned instruments, capable of perceiving an incredibly wide range of volume levels and frequencies.

But, for our ears to work their best in the studio, we need to manage volume levels…too quiet and the ears’ frequency response changes.

Too loud and not only does response change, but there is danger of permanent hearing damage.

For best results, keep your volume level consistent from session to session, and keep the volume the same as a mix or track changes volume. The tool for doing this?

The level or dB meter. Every studio needs one sitting right there on the desk or console, displaying exactly what’s happening volume-wise and keeping our ears honest and safe!

However, that dB meter (which I’m sure is now sitting there on your desk or console) can be put to other uses as well.

A level meter can be a great tool for level matching two sources for accurate A/B comparisons, particularly when comparing a “commercial” mix off of a CD with a raw mix you may be working on.

Unless the two sources are precisely matched, the louder one will always sound better.

As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know your thoughts on studio loudness. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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