Correct output gain level for UR22C whe calibrating studio monitors

Hi. I have UR22C and PreSonus studio monitors with subwoofer. I have Cubase 12 Pro. I want to calibrate the monitors. The DAW output is unity gain and I can measure the DB level using a sound pressure meter at unity gain. The UR22C has an output level, but there is no information as to the correct level to use. I will get different readings for different levels. Should I set it maximum, or somewhere in the middle? Any information gratefully received.

85 decibels is what Presonus recommends. How Do I Calibrate My Studio Monitors? | PreSonus.

Ok, I posted this question because I saw the same question somewhere in Google and it didn’t get an answer.

Since posting I have done much research and I thought I should post my findings in case it may help someone else. If you disagree with anything, please feel free to contibute.

TL;DR
In answer to the specific question. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the relative levels of all the speakers in the system. The sound interface gain can then be used to raise or lower the overall volume. You should mark the sound interface gain where the calibrated level ended up so you can always go to that level. Calibrated level is usually quoted at 85db.

Detail
I found many conflicting articles about this but I believe that a lot of it isn’t actually critical. There are a few important elements though.

  1. The monitors and subwoofers should be calibrated releative to each other. Monitors should be the same db level at the listening point, and a subwoofer, if you have one should be 3db lower. The big question is, at what db level?

  2. The industry quotes 85db for pink noise is the preferrable level. However, if you have a small studio, as I do, this may be uncomfortably loud. I discovered that the level is not actually that important. What is important is understanding the correct level for bass at the level you mix at. The human ear perceives bass to be more dominant at louder levels and less dominanrt at lower levels. In fact what most people would consider a normal bass level is roughly 75db, I guess possibly because this is a normal listening level for music. The bottom line is to use a reference song to make sure you understand the correct level of bass for the volume you are mixing at, and get used to that level. You should also check your mix at different levels anyway, whatever level you usually mix at. The track you use will vary according to your genre taste, but a good general track is “Ain’t No Sushine”.

In case it helps anyone, these the exact steps I used for my setup and it sounds good to me.

  1. Choose target listening level db. For a very small studio like mine 76db works.
  2. Select crossover frequency to suit the system. 80Hz is common.
  3. Turn off all speakers
  4. Set subwoofer to zero gain.
  5. Set subwoofer low pass filter to crossover cut off.
  6. Set both monitors to zero gain.
  7. Set both monitors high pass filter to the same crossover cut off.
  8. Turn sound interface gain to zero.
  9. Send pink noise at unity gain from DAW.
  10. Set SPLM to C and slow and mount at the listening position.
  11. Switch on left monitor only.
  12. Slowly increase sound interface gain until SPLM shows 3db below the target listening DB.
  13. Switch off left monitor.
  14. Switch on right monitor only.
  15. Use monitor gain to calibrate to 3db below the target listening DB.
  16. Switch off right monitor.
  17. Switch on subwoofer only.
  18. Use subwoofer gain to calibrate to 6db below the target listening DB.
  19. Turn off pink noise.
  20. Turn on all monitors.
  21. Play the reference track to verify the sound is as expected.
  22. Test that subwoofer phase, if there is one, in both positions to get the loudest bass setting.
  23. Use the SPLM with pink noise to test the overall db you are listening at for various sound interface levels.
  24. Using the sound interface gain, test the reference track at higher and lower gains and note the perceived level of bass at each.
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