Concert levels are the best, BUT your system has to do it without a shred of strain or distortion of any kind. Just as if you were playing it at neighbor friendly levels, the moment it does even slightly strain your ears tell you it's too loud.
Each track or recording will have an optimal level for playback. However, on a single CD by the same artist, you don't need to adjust levels as that was already done.
One way to partially get around this is by using "auto level" on the foobar equalizer. With this, you still need to account for the impedance and sensitivity rating of your headphones or speakers. Alternatively, CDs can be burned with real player (among others) where you can set volume to be equal with each track.
For instance, take a Senn HD569 - with an impedance of under 32 ohms. It can easily reach loud volumes.
Regarding detail retrieval as a characteristic of the transducer and/or audio gear, there is a set point with particular reference gear. Too little volume, and details are missed. To get it just right at about 65-70db means that you will be able to hear the full potential of the headphones or speakers you own.
I think louder is better (depending on circumstances). If I'm cleaning my house, I don't need to hear J.S. Bach at tremendous levels. If I'm wasted (a quarterly event) listening to LZ or Jimi, and feel like cranking it, I don't want the system to wimp out or fall apart. This is how to tell if you got your money's worth. All systems, MOL, sound good at moderate levels. You pay the big-bucks for something that sounds the same at whatever level you choose. This is, to a large extent, dependent on room size. Blasting music in a small room can't help but trigger all kinds of foul resonances and reflections. My dream room is 30 X 50 X 12. Peace
Syntax, mastering92 is on the right track. Every recording has a volume it sounds "right" at. This depends on how it was mastered and the genre of music.
Your ears change frequency response with volume. At lower volumes bass and treble disappear at high volume they can be overwhelming. Google Fletcher-Munson Curves. Loudness compensation is way to beat this. It raises the treble and bass at low volume.
I'll listen to rock at 95 dB once my ears have warmed up. If you try to listen to a string quartet at 95 dB it will cut your throat. I'll listen to that at 70 dB. I'm talking about peak volume. Many systems will not play at 95 dB effortlessly. They are clipping the peaks. IMHO there is never such a thing as too much headroom. Depending on your speaker's efficiency you need to make sure your amp can handle peaks of 10 times the power or about 10 dB over your loudest listening level in my case that would be105 dB. My speakers have an efficiency rating of 89 dB/watt/meter. Every 3 dB requires twice the power. 92 dB = 2 watts. 95 dB = 4 watts. 98 dB = 8 watts. 105 dB = 38 watts. My amps stay pure class A up to 25 watts so, they are staying class A except for the very loudest peaks at my loudest listening level. There are speakers that have an efficiency rating of 110 dB/watt/meter just fine for those SET amps and speakers that have an efficiency rating of 82 dB/watt/meter requiring 132 watts. Rock concert level would require 250 watts. This is pretty basic. The various classes seem to handle power differently. I can usually identify a class A amp. They have an effortless character missing in the other classes. They also tend to sound more powerful than they actually are. The Krell KMA 100's I had sounded more powerful than every one else's 200 watt amps. Was it the class or the size of the power supply or something else I do not know and my experience is anecdotal. But for what ever it is worth I will never use anything but class A for my main amps.
Yes, love it a bit on the loud side, band dependent of course....
some music just does not have that “able to be played loud” thing.....
as far as doing some room heating with my amps, some bands get a little more volume as the recording is good, and sounds great. One straight off the top is Stevie wonders musiquarium 2cd set.. the sound and depth , the way it sounds , tight, great punchy fast deep bass, his voice, it is one of the best recordings put to cd,...for me, anyway.
Search "Equal Loudness Contour". We don’t hear everything equally well at all frequencies. Really low bass and really high treble have to be fairly loud to hear well. This is why the Loudness switch used to be so common. At low levels we have to turn up the bass, and the treble, to have them sound right.
Recording engineers know this. The levels they set are based on the music being played back at a certain level. That is one reason certain recordings sound "right" when played at a certain volume. Also part of why people say some gear has to be turned up loud to "bloom". A lot of it is equal loudness.
So yes louder is better, at least until you reach this point.
Above it things become a lot more complicated. Many systems will become congested or compressed at high volume. Many rooms will retain so much energy this adds to the feeling of overload, compression and congestion. At some point if it is loud enough your hearing acuity first becomes less, and the goes away altogether. If you experience ringing that is a sure sign it was too loud. Keep going, you can lose it altogether.
Loudness and volume are complicated. That is why back in the 1970’s engineers studying the problem did extensive real-world testing to determine the optimal amount of loud. Where you feel it in every cell of your body, yet still crystal clear and just below the point of damage. This became the industry standard, which like so many things learned at great cost has been forgotten and must continually be relearned. It is called Supertramp Loud. That’s what you want. Just be sure to use your Crime of the Century reference LP.
As with many things more is not necessarily better, but there is a "proper" volume that is determined by your individual circumstance of all the factors mentioned above. Probably didn't need my 2 cents on this one... as I'm confident you know when it is the correct volume for a given recording.
I do find late night listening at moderate levels very rewarding.
Agree with the thought that each track has optimal level to sound best. However, I think each particular room should be taken into consideration as well. Too loud in one room but just right in another.
If you're looking to find a natural volume level, go to a party. Wait until there's no music blasting on the stereo. Listen to people speak. Listen to shouts and laughter. Listen to little kids yelling. Listen as folks play acoustic instruments.
I still forget with my planar/ribbons, that they ARE in fact playing loudly, they just sound not as thinkly loud as the driver-based speakers I have owned. Took me a while, but now I recognize that tradional cone driver "thickness", as distortion.
The downside is if I set the volume too loud, like rock concert levels, with difficult 20th century orchestral recordings, they can break up with things like ffff timpani shots.
Those times when I want head-banger levels, I use my Tannoys or Cerwin Vegas. Otherwise I listen to undistorted sound at high but realistic levels on my planar ribbons.
Concert levels? Holy crap! No one has a house that big. If I played a recording of even, say, a single trombone at 'concert level', or had a singer friend open up in my living room, I would soon be deaf. Even orchestra players wear earplugs.
jdane, I am a professional orchestral player, and I don’t wear ear plugs anymore.
A good attitude apparently helps, when it comes to hearing loss.
A German study of hearing loss in orchestra musicians found that if the musician had a negative feeling towards the repertoire being played, more often, than players who liked the repertoire more often, the negative emotion players suffered much greater levels of hearing loss than the positive feelings players.
I imagine it has much to do with stress hormones being produced when in a negative mood, which probably make the ear cells and cilia more brittle and less resilient to sudden transients like timpani blasts, but I am not sure of the details.
All I know there is a wife's dinner's ready loud and an after-dinner loud. Before dinner, I find myself slowly cranking up the volume to whatever my head calls for at that moment, then returning after dinner that predinner level is way too loud.
Yes, when you’re 25 and not planning to ever be 65. No, when you are 65 and cussing predisposing yourself to tinnitus when you were 25 listening to high volumes. Who knew you’d ever be getting that old? That kind of age is reserved for old people
I like loud (90+db) but usually I listen more in the 70-80db (peak) volumes. It’s more comfortable over time. My system isn’t fatiguing at all. I am just bombarded by loud all the time. A little more mellow is good. And I totally disagree with “play at concert levels” thing... that will kill your ears faster than anything. I’m a professional drummer, so I am VERY familiar with loud. I always wear ear protection at concerts these days. We are only getting older and I like hearing with detail.
I find that the optimum level for listening is about a tenth of a twist higher than the level at which I worry that it is going to bother the people in neighboring apartments. I do believe there is a minimum level that you must have to get the full benefit of your system. Paul McGowan of PS Audio has done a number of enlightening YouTube clips on this subject:
There are some general guidance documents on setting up studio monitoring systems for level. Many adopt Bob Katz* approach (1). I came across the following link which is a bit easier to follow (2). The size of the room is very important, since the -20dB point will need to be at somewhere between 75dB for a smallish room (UK lounge :-) ) to 85dB for a big room which is a big range difference.
* Well known mastering engineer.
When you have a system setup like this, it is surprising how many recordings "snap into focus! In terms of loudness they sound right. Obviously, most systems can go louder, but I've observed that when doing so, although everything is louder, it seems less right. Bear in mind, that domestically available recordings are mixed for domestic consumption, not PA levels of energy. I feel that a system that sounds right at PA levels is probably not right.
I dunno... in my late 20’s I put together a car stereo featuring a 2700w amp driving a pair of extremely efficient 15” subs. Tended to make people sick to their stomachs, and no one wanted to ride with me twice. So... maybe not always?
On previous forums, I've seen posters siting 90db or something crazy like that. Above all, go see an audiologist and have your hearing tested. I've known folks who had terrible hearing and top notch systems.
I'm surprised the elephant in the listening room hasn't been mentioned: loud cost more money. Doesn't everyone like loud once in awhile? Not a big believer in a "correct" listening level unique for every recording. That said, sure lots of speakers sound best at a certain level for THAT specific room. (Least appreciated factor when designing acoustical treatments for a room.)
Many less expense systems are as competent as others with the difference being the ability to play at concert levels. Cheap ribbons or cheap electrostatics beat cheap boxes any day of the week. As prices increase, things are't that simple. (But this is another topic)
Low levels late night with big A$$ Tannoy concentric drivers driven by a class A Sugden being fed from a tubed Tavish Design phono preamp and Jensen MC 2rr SUT receiving a signal from a Hana EL mc with Alnico magnets on the end of a Pro-ject 9 inch carbon fiber /aluminum tonearm attached to a well isolated Pro-Ject The Classic belt driven turntable. Clean power courtesy of my AQ Niagara 1200 and AQ Thunder PC connected to my dedicated 12/2 20 Amp circuit provided by my AQ Edison receptacle, ahhh heaven....all Analog baby....oh and the volcano Lava lamp and the lights down low😁
Your question can be addressed in the same simplistic form asked or broken down into more details. Simple answer yes an no. I like different artists at different levels. It is easy to measure as I start an album at at set level and as the listening session goes on I find my self either turning it up or turning it down. Detailed answer has to breakdown the rig. SS class A class A/B, tubes in the chain, types of power source in the amp ( I don’t get caught up in watts per as in my mind this is and can be overrated) then speaker efficiency. Some speakers will sing at low to moderate levels with the right amp and others crave high current high power and high volume. This reminds me of college in the 80’s with my Bose 901’s running a Sansui 9090 amp. The power supply on this amp could double as a welder if needed. The 901’s only made acceptable sound at ear bleeding levels. So is louder better yes and no.
Many interesting responses hear that have lots of relevance. But I don't believe their is a universal rule that can be applied to answer your question. Tends on the music, mostly. Recordings too can be sublime or harsh. Obviously one sounds better at high volumes. Some bands just need to be played at higher volumes. Some LP tell you to crank it up.