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Some sounds are much louder


SuaveSteve
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I think there's two sounds that always seem to be much louder than the rest, the pause menu music (pressing esc while in mission) and the new objective sound.

Now, you may argue that they've been normalised (which I doubt) but regardless of that, dark mod is a very quite game. That means that any sudden sound is louder from a psychological point of view. You are tiptoeing quietly in a mansion, you pickup the royal sponge then you hear DUNG! DUNG! DUNNNNNG! It reminds of that time I put my volume up to hear Raoul's performance in Song Of The Caverns only to get blown away by the objective sound 😆

As for the pause menu music, I've never heard ambient music in a mission louder than it, it's always louder.

I know some are going to disagree and say I'm nitpicking. But CVARs for these would be nice :)

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Not nitpicking at all. Correctly adjusting volume levels is important but often neglected, even in commercial games (in Dungeons and Dragons Online there are certain quests with background music which is deafening and renders the game sounds inaudible, making me wonder if the developers ever actually test their own game). It's very easy to introduce a cool new sound or piece of music but make it too loud, because subjectively "loud sounds better" to most listeners.

Waveform normalisation doesn't solve this problem, because many sounds need to play at different volumes, and peak amplitude doesn't entirely determine subjective loudness in any case. If background music plays at the same RMS power as guard shouts, then the music will sound too loud and the player will struggle to hear the guard shouts at all.

I don't think new cvars are needed, just some sensible tweaks to the volume offsets in the sound data files. If particular sounds are too loud, this can be tweaked by adding small volume reductions (e.g. steps of -2 dB) in the sound shader until the subjective volume levels seem more similar. One thing I learned in music production is how much you can progressively lower the volume of a sound while it still remains completely audible (because human hearing is non-linear), but it fits so much better in the mix once it's reduced to a similar level as surrounding sounds.

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