Hey everyone,

Currently reading Audio Post Production for Television and Film by Hilary Wyatt (good read!)

Anywho. . I recently did the sound for a film over here in Belfast. The original sound I got was hideous, messy, gruesome, and the film was nearly scrapped. I went to work on it and made it respectable enough that the local board actually funded the project so I was chuffed. (put a few clips on my website).

However, although it sounded respectable. . .I'm reading this book and they're talking about Television and Film being in 48kHz (I used 44.1kHz), they're saying that the sound should have an operating level of -20dB. I'm going to be honest - I imported the guys film to Pro Tools. Imported the original sounds. . .and then operated BY EAR on fixing the film. When I completed the audio for each scene I exported the tracks (audio only - up to 20 tracks per scene) as an AIFF file (in 44.1kHz) and then sent that file to the director to line up and secure to the image.

Even though the film sounded well - should I have done things way differently as it says in this book?

I fear that if I don't go by the things in this book (which seem to be universal standards) then I'll struggle to get a job in future.

What would you have done differently?

Is Pro Tools set to SMPTE Clock by default (as they say to use this also).

I'll work in 48kHz from now on (even though most of my sound recordings have been done in 44.1) but I'm not sure what this "-20dB" starting point is.

Can someone explain ?

Thanks in advance!


2 Answers 2


You actually should be mixing by ear (though broadcast television has a few other hoops to jump through, but let's keep things simple for now). -20dB is a only a reference level (peak, not RMS) for the in system playback level of pink noise, and pink noise is used to calibrate both electrical levels on inputs and outputs of audio gear and listening level for your speakers. See this post for an explanation on how to calibrate your monitors. If you want to learn how it's used for electrical calibration, you can check out this one.


hey Aaron don't worry too much about going by the book.

Calibrate your speakers like Shaun has said and mix to ear for now. When it comes to TV you'll have to meet regulations such as peaks and nowadays dealing with loudness metering. I generally mix to peak 6PPM (-10db) or Loudness -23LKFS and 5PPM peak, this is just what I'm used to at work.

Alot of commercial and professional video cameras used for TV use 48khz for sound. It's vital to record your sound at 48khz if you are using a separate recorder. It will go out of sync if you use 44.1khz.

You would use a higher sampling rate such as 96khz or 192khz if you were recording foley, spot sound effects. This is so that there is more sampling information in the recording if you needed to manipulate it, stretch it, etc. It will turn out better.

I'm sure you can change the clock set up in Pro tools as it changes country to country from EBU to SMPTE.

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