Music Video DVD Levels

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Graham B, May 24, 2005.

  1. Graham B

    Graham B Guest

    I am mixing a live concert video DVD for a band and I have a problem with where to head with the overall level. After years of mixing and mastering for CD, I am used to peaking close to 0dB Fs. After investigating levels on commercial DVDs, I find that they often only peak to around -12dB. Some music DVDs however, have really hot CD kind of levels. The Led Zeppelin live DVD for instance peaks to -0.5dB on both the PCM stereo and the DSD tracks, but is about 8dB lower on the AC3 track..
    I believe there is some reason for keeping levels relatively low before AC3 encoding, is this simply for compatibility with feature films? Do you think it would be rather irresponsible to make my stereo mix that hot? Should I then drop the peak level of the surround mix? :?
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Distinguished Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Well AC3 is pretty much the standard for DVD releases as far a player support goes. AC3 defaults to 4db down when you encode it, you have to change the value if you don't want it to drop 4db. They do this to bring the level more in line with DVD titles that stay at about -12. You can edit this value so that full scale is full scale. I usually only see full scale AC3 with DVD-A releases that also have an AC3 track. Now if someone was just watching forest gump on their DVD player and then they pop in yours that hits full scale, at least you'll get them up off the couch running to their amplifier. It all depends on what the context is. If it's a music only title, I'd pick up a handfull and see where the trend is. Most music only titles I've see have been going full scale for stereo, not 5.1.

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