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  1. #1
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    "Too loud", "too quiet" opinions: what are the factors?

    Sorry if the post is off topic for this forum.
    I have put a player in a store a few weeks ago. People who work there keep changing the volume on the player although it uses track replaygain and plays at random from a specific library.
    Not only they change volume but they have one single complain about the system: it's either too soft or too loud. People's opinions vary in time: it's not always "too loud" for the same person.

    My personal take on this is that the ambient noise in the store varies "a lot" between moments there are little customers and rush hour, while the player keeps pushing audio at the same volume; if this is true, I think something like an ambient microphone would help adjust player volume automatically.

    However I have no idea how I would make that really work, and before starting I'd like to verify if this is the reason for these people's swinging opinion about music volume.
    Hence my question: what makes people say music is too loud or too soft?

    I hope this is clear and not off-topic. If so I am eager to get your inputs.
    3 SB 3 • Libratone Loop, Zipp Mini • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • LMS 7.9 (linux) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput, Triode's BBC iPlayer by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix, Music Walk With Me, What Was That Tune? by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • AirPlay Bridge by philippe_44 • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

  2. #2
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    This is totally off-topic for an audiophiles section, but my recommendation for this would be to parts.

    Step 1, get a an SPL meter. There are some out there with USB so you could try and do data logging.

    Step 2, Find out what volume level is loud enough to not be a bother when the store is quiet.

    I personally would lock the volume level max somewhere where the music doesn't cause problems when the shop is quiet. Sure, it might not be listening volume when the store is busy, but when the shop is busy, do you want to have music competing with actual conversations with customers?
    Last edited by SuperQ; 2017-07-06 at 03:00. Reason: fix typo

  3. #3
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    I think you'll never keep people happy even after adding automation.

    From past experience with an office and air-conditioning. Even though temp was automated - it seems depending on how it looked outside (sunny, rainy, windy) - occupants "felt" hot/cold and complained. Solution - put in a control the occupants could twiddle but in reality temp was still automated but occupants felt empowered and except then complaints were about other people putting temp up/down.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by epoch1970 View Post
    Sorry if the post is off topic for this forum.
    I have put a player in a store a few weeks ago. People who work there keep changing the volume on the player although it uses track replaygain and plays at random from a specific library.
    Not only they change volume but they have one single complain about the system: it's either too soft or too loud. People's opinions vary in time: it's not always "too loud" for the same person.

    My personal take on this is that the ambient noise in the store varies "a lot" between moments there are little customers and rush hour, while the player keeps pushing audio at the same volume; if this is true, I think something like an ambient microphone would help adjust player volume automatically.
    Good diagnosis.


    However I have no idea how I would make that really work, and before starting I'd like to verify if this is the reason for these people's swinging opinion about music volume.
    Hence my question: what makes people say music is too loud or too soft?

    I hope this is clear and not off-topic. If so I am eager to get your inputs.
    This same problem exists in motor vehicles. Some of the more sophisticated vehicle sound systems automatically adjust the volume depending on noise levels in the passenger compartment.

    First cut, there may be existing commercial products that do this in the more general case. Google is your friend.

    Second cut, the feature is implemented by a variable gain circuit that is controlled by the long-term averaged signal value on a special input that may be hooked to a microphone in the space to be controlled. There needs to be some feature that keeps the system from reacting to its own adjustments to the music level.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpa View Post
    From past experience with an office and air-conditioning. Even though temp was automated - it seems depending on how it looked outside (sunny, rainy, windy) - occupants "felt" hot/cold and complained. Solution - put in a control the occupants could twiddle but in reality temp was still automated but occupants felt empowered and except then complaints were about other people putting temp up/down.
    It depends what you mean by automated control. Does this include reacting to outside peak temperature - I guess this would need hooking into forecasts?

    One of my complaints about many offices is that they are too cold on hot days and too hot on cold days. I know seasonal adjustments are made but that seems too simplistic and the temperature difference not enough. It think it's down to people, understandably, wearing warmer clothes on hot days and lighter clothes on hot days.
    Check it, add to it! http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/

    SB Touch

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by darrenyeats View Post
    It depends what you mean by automated control. Does this include reacting to outside peak temperature - I guess this would need hooking into forecasts?

    One of my complaints about many offices is that they are too cold on hot days and too hot on cold days. I know seasonal adjustments are made but that seems too simplistic and the temperature difference not enough. It think it's down to people, understandably, wearing warmer clothes on hot days and lighter clothes on hot days.
    There is little to be gained exploring my example - my basic point was that it is usually not possible to please all the people all of the time. Automation may not be the answer and the OP needs to consider than before putting lots of effort into automation.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpa View Post
    my basic point was that it is usually not possible to please all the people all of the time.
    I agree that's a factor!
    Check it, add to it! http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/

    SB Touch

  8. #8
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    I think we can consider the topic closed.
    My thanks for the interesting and varied contributions!
    3 SB 3 • Libratone Loop, Zipp Mini • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • LMS 7.9 (linux) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput, Triode's BBC iPlayer by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix, Music Walk With Me, What Was That Tune? by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • AirPlay Bridge by philippe_44 • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

  9. #9
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    I've never found ReplayGain to really do an adequate job of adjusting volume so that I never had to adjust the volume of music playing randomly. Older CDs, especially, before the loudness wars and the massive compression used in later releases, are often dramatically quieter.

    IMO, the only way to "fix" the problem would be to employ some kind of additional compression during the music playback, like they do with radio station broadcasts. Or perhaps there could be some kind of pre-processing you could that would modify the audio files in the library and accomplish the same thing.

  10. #10
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    Using a compressor is actually what I am experimenting with right now. I would say job done if the end result was a less tiring/fluctuating audio stream.
    Regarding auto-volume control, reading from the comments I no longer expect as much. I did also a bit of testing and pumping the volume up I ended with "loud music in a noisy environment". You just want to go away from that, not good for a store So the adjustment would probably have to be minute, and defining the right base level on volume and compression looks like a good start.

    Of course, noise cancellation would be great... There are refrigeration units, quite loud and they produce what I think is stationary noise. I'll be back with another silly question if I decide to start on this
    3 SB 3 • Libratone Loop, Zipp Mini • iPeng (iPhone + iPad) • LMS 7.9 (linux) with plugins: CD Player, WaveInput, Triode's BBC iPlayer by bpa • IRBlaster by Gwendesign (Felix) • Server Power Control by Gordon Harris • Smart Mix, Music Walk With Me, What Was That Tune? by Michael Herger • PowerSave by Jason Holtzapple • Song Info, Song Lyrics by Erland Isaksson • AirPlay Bridge by philippe_44 • WeatherTime by Martin Rehfeld • Auto Dim Display, SaverSwitcher, ContextMenu by Peter Watkins.

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