Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs
Isn't a tone or program level at -20dBfs lower in volume then one at -16dBfs? Since 0dBfs is as loud as it'll get...it stands to reason that -16, or even -12 is louder then -20 right?!? LOL
I'm gettin' kinda confused reading this thread! LMAO
I thought we were talking about reference levels here, which among a few other things will determine the dynamic range of a digital system -- much the same as a reference level on a tape machine determines the level hitting the tape.
Since digital has a wider dynamic range than analog, interfacing the digital and analog gear can be tricky because the analog gear has a 'narrower operating range', for lack of a better term, than digital.
This opens a big philisophical approach to recording digitally vs. analog, but consider this:
Ever notice, on a Protools system at their 'standard' -18 ref level, that you end up turning up the pre's a bit more to get level into the system and to get the metering at a reasonable level. Also notice how it hits the line amps -- if you are playing back on an analog console -- destroying your headroom at the line amp on the console. The level is reasonable into the system but is hotter than necessary at the output.
For me, I have found that setting up my PTools rig for a -16 ref level, which essentially lowers the output of the system while raising the input to preserve unity gain, works better with analog gear. Yes, it limits the dynamic range of the system, but it also lets all the analog gear -- pres, compressors, etc., live in the 'sweet spot' that it would be in if I were recording to an analog tape machine.
Unless I misunderstood, the original poster was talking about keeping a digital reference level of -20, which I think could be a problem if you are trying to mix to an analog deck. If the meters are getting up there at all in the DAW, and the stereo outs are hooked directly to an ATR, it will most likely clip the input of the tape machine way before the tape has a chance to do anything cool to it.
that was my point.