What is a good volume reference for the foley and FX editors to go by? I want to avoid having to re-adjust volumes of the various layers (DIA, Foley, and SFX) when I put all the tracks together for the Master.

4 Answers 4


Editorial calibrated to -18 or -20 dBFS = 85 dB SPL, Dialogue should be hitting a LM100 at -27dB LEQ(A) or -24 via a Stereo Phase Scope (but still about -27 when monitored via a Center channel Phase Scope if you're running a 5.1 mix bus - the -24 is due to a +3dB in-phase summing thing) - which when the room is calibrated to -18 or -20, should sound loud, robust, but comfortable.

To make sure everything translates to the stage properly we want to cut at the same calibration the stages uses, also since monitoring level affects our editorial judgements (both in terms of sound 'impact' and the Equal Loudness curve).


Sorry to disagree with Stavros, but in my humble opinion, it really depends on the room - 85 as a dolby reference is intended for rooms with a volume of 150 cubic metres or bigger. In a typical edit suite in the near field, you wouldn't normally want to monitor any higher than -20dbFS = 79dbSPL IMHO. Anything louder and you'll probably be under-cooking your balance for the stage or driving yourself deaf... If you get your monitor level right you shouldnt need to look at the meters.

  • True, room size does have some consideration, good point. Everything we all said probably also depends upon speaker configuration and what level each individual feels comfortable cutting at - the latter being somewhat subjective even after calibration. I cut in a stereo config so each mon is calibrated to about 82 SPL, resulting in an 85 phantom center - take into account dynamics as I prepare material where I can. Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 17:03

Excellent explanation Steve. I'm going to second Brent on SPL according to room size, but it is a great response otherwise. I've got a break down on the recommended SPL level vs. room size in a post I did about monitor calibration on my site, Jellan. You can check it out here.


Have any of you who own a pro sound level meter tested one of the iPhone apps? Can we trust them?


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