Hey guys (and gals!),

My first 'straight to DVD' mix is approaching and thought I'd do some research on the delivery spec for DVD. Because it's not for a broadcaster, and there isn't a publisher behind it, there isn't a spec per se (It's a guy on his own directing, editing and funding it) and I'm struggling to find anything as all my searches turn up with results for 'DVD-Audio/DVD-A'. I've asked him for specs, but he doesn't seem to sure on any of it so I thought I'd ask here.

Are there any specs that are common to a DVD release? Any guidelines I should be following (dialnorm/Peak Level/etc.) - or should I just mix as I would for a non-spec project (think student/ generic film festival film)?

Any advice, help or links to info would be amazing.



3 Answers 3


2 more cents: DVDs have dialnorm too.. 27 is standard but I think that's a tad too dynamic for a home system, and that 24 works better.


There aren't really any specs for the straight to video market that I'm aware of. I typically go for a film style/non-spec mix with a smidge less dynamic range; since it's primary viewing location is a living room, not a theater. I'm interested to hear what other people do. So, thanks for bringing this topic up.


Both Sean and Georgi have valid points... a couple more to add.

  1. Have you calibrated your mix room? Check out the Room Calibration Sticky at the DUC. For DVD, like Georgi, I tend to calibrate more in the TV area... I just don't have to worry about staying inside that constrictive little dynamics box that TV imposes.

  2. While THEORETICALLY you can go to "0"(0dbFS) on a DVD, it pays to leave a little headroom. Discussion abounds, but -3dbFS or -6dbFS are both popular. This accommodates a wide variety of downmix and compression scenarios.

  3. Finally, it never hurts to be forearmed. Creating AC3's can be fraught with peril. When the Director is suddenly calling back saying "It sounds really quiet on my DVD player. "Star Wars" seemed much louder!" it pays to know about Dialnorm, and all the wonderful Dymnamic Range functions that can go awry. Dolby.com has some rather dry, but informative technical documents on the format. Gearslutz and the DUC also have posts on the topic.

Hopefully if you're having the DVD encoding done at a reliable transfer house you won't ahve to deal with any of the last, but so many of these lo budget things are done by the filmmaker and it's really easy to screw up if you're not paying attention!

  • What you mention is pretty much why I always boost my submasters (or stems if I'm working with the printed stems) by about 6dB, brickwall about -3 to -1 and re-mix accordingly where needed. This 6dB bump overall seems to result in good DVD/Web volume level translation to counter, as you said, the "too quiet" conundrum. he 6dB bump pretty much puts it up near TV spec - imho any louder, we start running into the "music mastering loudness war" May 3, 2013 at 19:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.