Audio Levels

Article 3 min
Watch Airman First Class Leah Ritchey of the American Forces Network (AFN) Radio Refreshers discuss audio level peaks, output audio mixdown, song levels and mic levels.

Audio Level Peaks

Everything we do on air with our board processes into an output mixdown. A mixdown is all of your audio elements combined!

Your Axia software will display your final output audio mixdown levels in channel one. All audio elements should have max peaks at negative 10 (-10) decibels. Your average peaks should be around negative 20 decibels (-20). Don’t get too lost in the sauce but know that you want the blue line around -10 and the yellow bars around -20 decibels.

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: The lines on audio boards may vary. However, in most cases, the yellow line is the “average indicator.” This represents the average volume level which is a processed representation making it easier for the operator to adjust. Another way to look at this is “smoothing out the bumps.” If the meter were set to “actual” representation, it would be drastically peaking and falling. The blue line is the “peak indicator.” This indicates absolute peaks to show the DJ where the loudest portions of program material land on the volume unit (VU) scale. The peak indicator slowly comes down after a peak but will quickly jump if there is a spike in mic level.

Within Axia software, you can manage your audio levels by monitoring your channel one output, located on the left side of the panel.
Screenshot from Axia software highlighting -10 and -20 decibels within the PGM 1 gauge.
Within Axia software, you can manage your audio levels by monitoring your channel one output, located on the left side of the panel.
VIRIN: 230421-D-ZW071-1002

Output Audio Mixdown

The audio levels on any element in Flex, on the mics or your production computer are different from the final output audio mixdown. That's why you need to monitor your channel one output constantly. This gets even more complex when multiple elements, including voice, are live at once.

The best way to ensure your songs fire at the correct level is to input them into AVRPS properly. Your song should be set up to peak at -10 decibels when your board slider is at -10. There may be some subtle adjusting necessary when live. Keep your eye on the channel one output to monitor your levels. 

Song & Mic Levels

Everyone's different. To determine where your mic pod should be for your voice, you'll have to work with your mic's audio level, placement and vocal projection.

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: A standard rule for mic placement is a fist away from your mouth. 

Know that while you're talking on air, you have to monitor the audio levels of your mic and the element you're talking over. When talking over a bed, ramp or fade, you're now pushing two layers of audio into the final mixdown output. So you need to manage both pods to ensure both levels are correct. The best way to monitor these levels accurately is to wear your headphones and set them to a level where you can hear the nuances of the audio. 

Tip! Often, you need your bed, ramp or fade audio to sound slightly louder than what feels comfortable in your headphones for your final mixdown output to be leveled properly. Find more on this in the ramps and fades AFN Refresher

When you have a guest in the studio, the same principles apply to mic and audio management. Check out the AFN Refresher on guest coaching for more tips. 

Good habits make a tight board. Practice makes perfect. In no time at all, it'll be second nature. Have a great show!

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