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Speaker to Music DB Ratios

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  • Joseph Puentes
    Hi all, I m slowly getting into adding music intros/outros for some of the folks I m doing podcasts for. Here is my question: Is the volume of the music that
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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      Hi all,

      I'm slowly getting into adding music intros/outros for some of the folks
      I'm doing podcasts for. Here is my question:

      Is the volume of the music that overlaps the brief time the person is
      speaking at both the intro and outro a subjective number or are there
      standards for the volume of the brief background music.

      I try to get the volume to -.5db So do I just guess and see what sounds
      best: low enough to not interfere with the speaker but loud enough to be
      heard?

      thanks,

      joseph

      ====================

      Joseph Puentes
      http://PleaseListenToYourMom.com (Women's Peace Podcast)
      http://H2Opodcast.com (Environment Podcast)
      http://H2Opodcast.blogspot.com/ (Blog for above)
      http://NuestraFamiliaUnida.com (Latin American History Podcast)
    • Steven R. Boyett
      It depends very much on the kind of music (loud bass? very busy? piercing lead?), what dB it s coming in at, and the volume of the speaker s voice. But
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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        It depends very much on the kind of music (loud bass? very busy? piercing
        lead?), what dB it's coming in at, and the volume of the speaker's voice.
        But lowering by .5db seems pretty negligible. Ducking by 3 to 5db is very
        common. You want the music to be a bed, not a focus. Ultimately it's your
        judgement that decides. Does the music support or distract from the vocal?

        _____

        From: Joseph Puentes [mailto:makas@...]
        Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 4:33 PM
        To: podcasters@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [podcasters] Speaker to Music DB Ratios




        Hi all,

        I'm slowly getting into adding music intros/outros for some of the folks
        I'm doing podcasts for. Here is my question:

        Is the volume of the music that overlaps the brief time the person is
        speaking at both the intro and outro a subjective number or are there
        standards for the volume of the brief background music.

        I try to get the volume to -.5db So do I just guess and see what sounds
        best: low enough to not interfere with the speaker but loud enough to be
        heard?

        thanks,

        joseph

        ====================

        Joseph Puentes
        http://PleaseListen <http://PleaseListenToYourMom.com> ToYourMom.com
        (Women's Peace Podcast)
        http://H2Opodcast. <http://H2Opodcast.com> com (Environment Podcast)
        http://H2Opodcast. <http://H2Opodcast.blogspot.com/> blogspot.com/ (Blog for
        above)
        http://NuestraFamil <http://NuestraFamiliaUnida.com> iaUnida.com (Latin
        American History Podcast)






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Joseph Puentes
        Sorry. I said: I try to get the volume to -.5db So do I just guess and see what sounds best: low enough to not interfere with the speaker but loud enough to
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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          Sorry. I said:

          " I try to get the volume to -.5db So do I just guess and see what sounds
          best: low enough to not interfere with the speaker but loud enough to be
          heard?"

          WHAT I MEANT was that I try to get the Speakers volume to -.5 db and
          then aim for the music around -20 db and then just bump it up or down
          from there.

          I guess trial and error is the answer.

          thanks for the comments.

          joseph

          ====================

          Joseph Puentes
          http://PleaseListenToYourMom.com (Women's Peace Podcast)
          http://H2Opodcast.com (Environment Podcast)
          http://H2Opodcast.blogspot.com/ (Blog for above)
          http://NuestraFamiliaUnida.com (Latin American History Podcast)
        • Michael W. Dean
          ... vocal? ==== I ll second that. I don t look at meters for stuff like that (except to keep the overall thing out of the red.) I use my ears. One thing I ll
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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            --- In podcasters@yahoogroups.com, "Steven R. Boyett" <steve@...> wrote:
            >
            .... You want the music to be a bed, not a focus. Ultimately it's your
            > judgement that decides. Does the music support or distract from the
            vocal?

            ====
            I'll second that. I don't look at meters for stuff like that (except
            to keep the overall thing out of the red.) I use my ears.

            One thing I'll add is that some types of music work better that others
            under talking. First of all, any music with ANY vocals (talking,
            singing, grunts, anything produced by a human voice) is going to
            distract from talking on top of it.)

            Any music with a lot of dynamics (going from very loud to very soft)
            is not usually a good choice. Nor is anything that has any samples
            that sound like noise. (pink noise or white noise...you know, anything
            that has a "spray" or "water falling" or "wind" or other "noise"
            component to it.) Music with very tinny or bright sounding percussion,
            especially cymbals (real or sampled) will usually compete with the
            talking on top of it. A lot of techno and industrial is a bad choice
            for beds because of the noise component and/or bright percussion
            component.

            Basically, there's a big difference between good music and good
            **background** music. A lot of music I LOVE to listen to makes
            horrible background music to talk over. Conversely, a lot of music I
            wouldn't listen to makes great background music.

            I find this is a big mistake made in a lot of independent filmmaking,
            they use music that sums up the mood of the film and then have people
            talk over it, and it's hard to hear the people talking. For instance,
            a punk rock track with shouted vocals or a hip hop track with rapping
            on it is great to set the mood for a film (or a podcast), but it's not
            great background music for scenes in a drama where characters are
            talking, or in a documentary film to use under interviewees speaking.

            I don't listen to hip hop much in the course of my day, but I tend to
            use it a lot in films I make, and under talking in podcasts. Hip hop
            is MADE to talk over, ya know? Rapping is talking, albeit rhythmic
            talking.

            Trip hop makes even better background music under talking. It's got
            the level dynamics of hip hop, but is a little mellower and less
            obtrusive.

            It's really easy to make great background music in Sony Acid, and they
            even offer a free version, Sony Acid Xpress:
            http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/download/step2.asp?DID=551



            MWD
            "Clone The Homeless"
            Michael W. Dean's podcast that remembers when sex was safe and music
            was dangerous. (Free, and no iPod is needed to listen.)
            http://www.clonethehomeless.com
          • Steven R. Boyett
            Amen to alldat! I don t know what audio app you are using, but many have some kind of option to raise or lower the volume on the vocal track being overlaid as
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 7, 2007
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              Amen to alldat! I don't know what audio app you are using, but many have
              some kind of option to raise or lower the volume on the vocal track being
              overlaid as well as the volume on the music bed, letting you trial & error
              the process. Sound Forge's Mix function is great for this. Others, such as
              Cubase, you may have to actually draw the volume envelopes.

              Don't try to max out the volume on the blend, as often frequency
              combinations of voice & music produce harmonics that will clip. Blend at a
              level that you like, then normalize the volume with whatever you normally
              use (Levelator, etc.)

              _____

              From: Michael W. Dean [mailto:kittyfeet70@...]
              Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2007 5:13 PM
              To: podcasters@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [podcasters] Re: Speaker to Music DB Ratios



              --- In podcasters@yahoogro <mailto:podcasters%40yahoogroups.com> ups.com,
              "Steven R. Boyett" <steve@...> wrote:
              >
              .... You want the music to be a bed, not a focus. Ultimately it's your
              > judgement that decides. Does the music support or distract from the
              vocal?

              ====
              I'll second that. I don't look at meters for stuff like that (except
              to keep the overall thing out of the red.) I use my ears.

              One thing I'll add is that some types of music work better that others
              under talking. First of all, any music with ANY vocals (talking,
              singing, grunts, anything produced by a human voice) is going to
              distract from talking on top of it.)

              Any music with a lot of dynamics (going from very loud to very soft)
              is not usually a good choice. Nor is anything that has any samples
              that sound like noise. (pink noise or white noise...you know, anything
              that has a "spray" or "water falling" or "wind" or other "noise"
              component to it.) Music with very tinny or bright sounding percussion,
              especially cymbals (real or sampled) will usually compete with the
              talking on top of it. A lot of techno and industrial is a bad choice
              for beds because of the noise component and/or bright percussion
              component.

              Basically, there's a big difference between good music and good
              **background** music. A lot of music I LOVE to listen to makes
              horrible background music to talk over. Conversely, a lot of music I
              wouldn't listen to makes great background music.

              I find this is a big mistake made in a lot of independent filmmaking,
              they use music that sums up the mood of the film and then have people
              talk over it, and it's hard to hear the people talking. For instance,
              a punk rock track with shouted vocals or a hip hop track with rapping
              on it is great to set the mood for a film (or a podcast), but it's not
              great background music for scenes in a drama where characters are
              talking, or in a documentary film to use under interviewees speaking.

              I don't listen to hip hop much in the course of my day, but I tend to
              use it a lot in films I make, and under talking in podcasts. Hip hop
              is MADE to talk over, ya know? Rapping is talking, albeit rhythmic
              talking.

              Trip hop makes even better background music under talking. It's got
              the level dynamics of hip hop, but is a little mellower and less
              obtrusive.

              It's really easy to make great background music in Sony Acid, and they
              even offer a free version, Sony Acid Xpress:
              http://www.sonycrea
              <http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/download/step2.asp?DID=551>
              tivesoftware.com/download/step2.asp?DID=551

              MWD
              "Clone The Homeless"
              Michael W. Dean's podcast that remembers when sex was safe and music
              was dangerous. (Free, and no iPod is needed to listen.)
              http://www.clonethe <http://www.clonethehomeless.com> homeless.com






              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Salim Fal Fadhley
              Where and how the user listens to your show makes a big impact on the answer to this question. If somebody is listening to your show in a high-bit rate MP3
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 8, 2007
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                Where and how the user listens to your show makes a big impact on the
                answer to this question.

                If somebody is listening to your show in a high-bit rate MP3 file on a
                nice iPod with noise-reducing headphones in a quiet room then you will
                find that 5db is more than enough.

                On the other hand, if somebody is listening to your show on a
                car-stereo while driving fast, that music will be a real nuisance -
                especially as some car stereos seem to unintentionally apply a kind of
                ghetto-compression to everything they play. That will eliminate much
                of the difference between the voice and the background.

                5db will represent just about the maximum you can get away with
                without seriously impeding your listener's experience.

                From past experience, I'd say use background music sparingly as
                possible, and aim for between 5-7 db.

                :-)

                > Is the volume of the music that overlaps the brief time the person is
                > speaking at both the intro and outro a subjective number or are there
                > standards for the volume of the brief background music.
                >
                > I try to get the volume to -.5db So do I just guess and see what sounds
                > best: low enough to not interfere with the speaker but loud enough
                to be
                > heard?
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