Average and Peak Audio Levels
Before you begin to adjust audio levels, take a closer look at an audio waveform to
better understand how it corresponds to what you hear during playback.
Waveform from an excerpt
of electronic music
The most important distinction is the difference between an audio clip’s peaks and its
Â Peaks are short, loud bursts of sound. In spoken dialogue, letters like P, T, and K at
the beginning of words can result in peaks if the person speaking is close to the
microphone. In music, peaks occur at the very beginning of sounds from percussive
instruments such as drums.
Â The average loudness of a clip generally determines its overall perceived volume, and
this is probably somewhat lower than the level of the peaks. In the sample waveform,
the level of average loudness appears as the densest, darkest part around the middle.
Average loudness, rather than the brief peaks, tends to influence your decision about
mixing a sound higher or lower.