It's become common for music production to happen in rooms with no acoustic treatment and monitors badly positioned. Shane Berry explains why and how to calibrate your speakers. Essential reading.  

So What Can Be Done About It?


What Do the Pros Do?  

Why the range from 79–85 dB SPL? 

Where Do I turn up?

Audio Interface as level controller

Basic Speaker Setup 

Ideal speaker position

DIY Very (Very) Basic Level Calibration 

Typical Music Making Setup 

Calibration “Lite” for Stereo and 2.1 

Meters Showing -20dB -23LUFS
SPL Meter and App C weighting Slow Average
Band Limited Pink Noise 
A calibrated monitor controller marked at the point where the reference pink noise signal measures a specific SPL at the mix position for both speakers.


Learn acoustics to recording, reverb to mastering, audio editing to mastering in the Audio Concepts series by Joe Albano in the AskAudio Academy here.

Shane is an SAE certified audio engineer, sound designer, composer, and audio consultant. Working with Tokyo based media agency Ultrasupernew and creative game agency Playbrain, he creates audio for TV, music and sound for product launch events, and web audio content for major multinational firms such as Red Bull, SuperCell, Heineke... Read More


I am surprised no one has commented on this. It is probably the best article that condenses all the right information into one spot... Thanks for this. However, I have one question...

If we need to worry about this risk,

Since this is a mixing reference volume, remember to turn down when listening to commercially mastered music, films, or internet content, because this -20 dB headroom has been deliberately removed—a commercial CD could be as much as 15 dB (RMS) louder and damage your speakers or worse yet your ears.

Why don't we calibrate our speakers to an even lower SPL? If we are calibrating with a -20 dB FS sample, yet most music is trying to hit 0 dB, why not calibrate to 50/60 dB SPL, so that when your music or any reference material is played at unity (in your DAW), you're actually hearing it at 70-80 dB SPL? Is this just silly? What am I missing?

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