How to record volume levels?

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How to record volume levels?

Permanent link to this post Posted by shredlord1234 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:58 am

Is it possible to record the level of sound coming in (on any kind of scale)? Basically, I would like to compare the volume at different spots in a recording with some kind of numerical value. Is this possible with Audacity?
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Re: How to record volume levels?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:45 am

You can compare the levels of recorded signals.
You can't get an "absolute" measure of the level of a sound without a fully calibrated system.
Which are you trying to do?
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Re: How to record volume levels?

Permanent link to this post Posted by shredlord1234 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:05 am

Yeah I suppose I'm trying to get some kind of "absolute" value. I want to be able to point to a louder spot and say "look this has 96 'decibels' (or whatever unit of measurement) but this spot over here only has has 62."
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Re: How to record volume levels?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:09 pm

In order to know how loud the sound was in the room where you recorded, you need a dB meter.

The signal level in an Audacity recording depends on how hight the recording level was set, the microphone sensitivity, microphone placement, pre-amp/sound card gain, and other factors.
The loudness of the playback depends on the signal level in Audacity, the playback volume levels, the amplifier and speakers, and other factors.

An easy way to find the "signal level" in an Audacity track is to select the part that you want to measure, then go to the Effect menu and select "Amplify". Don't apply the effect, just look at the numbers. The default amount of amplification is how much the effect needs to amplify in order to bring the level up to 0 dB, so if the effect says (for example) "Amplification (dB): 1.9" then that means that 1.9dB amplification will bring the selected signal up to 0dB. In turn that tells you that the signal level is -1.9 dB (signal levels are usually in "minus dB" because "0dB" is the reference for full track height which is the maximum signal without distortion).
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