Proper use of spl meter to protect hearing

Should we be using max=peak or avg spl readings when using a digital spl meter to determine how loud our monitors are in order to protect hearing. On my digital spl meter there is a max button that measures peaks instead of an avg.
I am wondering if I should be going with the max peak measurement or when max is turned off it gives me an avg. spl reading. Wondering which is the most accurate in regards to protecting hearing. I monitor very low anyways these days but this is important info for me and other producers so you’re help will be greatly appreciated and could improve the life of others so please respond. Thanks happy holidays!!!

I found the answer to this, sent an email to a teacher I had at Full Sail. Here is his response

Hello Adam,

Use the average setting for SPL measurements. In addition, 85 dB SPL is the recommended monitoring level for most even frequency response and exposure time.

I monitor much lower than this because I have ultra sensitive ears, an I’ve chosen to use peak readings which are much more sensitive in order to protect my hearing a little more but for measuring even freq response 85 db SPL is the defacto standard answer.

Ugh. Not a good answer. “most even frequency response” - Our ears are not flat, google some Fletcher-Munson information which may be what your teacher is referencing. Using that metric, depending on what part of “even” you want, how about monitoring at 100dBA for even “flatter” response? You’ll be deaf in no time.
Please do some google searching, there is a mountain of documentation on acoustic exposure. Unlike audio production the acoustics folks actually do experiments to prove things. Short version - if you listen consistently at 85dBA for many hours per day you will experience significant hearing loss. The film mix folks who monitor (usually) at 85dBA at reference level (translation - “quite loudly”) regulate their exposure per day and it’s not constant.

Protect your ears.


Thanks for that. I agree I do not monitor that loudly for long periods of time.
I graduated in 2004 and this was a quick email response, I monitor very low
Actually and hope others adopt that practice as well ocassionally Turing it up to see
How it sounds loud etc. taking breaks. Thank you for chiming in its important to get this type of
Information correct.