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RooF
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26th July 2006
Old 26th July 2006
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Who is using Bob Katz K-System?

Hello to all


I am in the middle of setting up and i am considering using the k-system to calibrate my VU and my monitors.

Are many of you doing it?


Thanks
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26th July 2006
Old 26th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RooF
Hello to all


I am in the middle of setting up and i am considering using the k-system to calibrate my VU and my monitors.

Are many of you doing it?


Thanks

Hello, Roof. I think the real key to the K-System is having a calibrated monitor gain that you can return to again and again, even when you're mixing and moving the gain all over the place to hear what it sounds like at different levels. If you can return the monitor gain repeatably to the place where you are working your song at, then your mixes will be more consistent, and hopefully also more open and impacting. The "open and impacting" will come from using a slightly higher monitor gain and working a mix at, for example, -6 dB on the calibrated monitor or above, letting any "loudness issues" mostly be taken care of later on in the mastering side. Because you can't go back, if you overcompress and squash too much on the mix side, there's no going back (well, almost, but that's another topic).

So, setting up.... you need a monitor control calibrated in 1 dB steps, whose 0 dB point is calibrated at 83 dB/C weighted/slow/per channel/with -20 dBFS RMS pink noise. From there, you will end up attenuating it as little as 6 dB, hopefully no more than 8 to 10 dB, depending on how close your speakers are, how loudly you like to listen, and how compressed you want to mix. This is a fact: The more you attenuate your monitor gain, the MORE compressed your mix will have to turn out to avoid overs (distortion) on the meter! The K-System provides suggested monitor gain points that will help you in your goals. The metering is tied to this as well, and it really helps to have an RMS meter integrated with the peak meter, or a standalone true VU meter if that's what you like. You'll find you'll be looking at the RMS meter far far more than the peak.

The K-System also provides for an expansion to a more accurate loudness characteristic once CPUs become powerful enough to drive the meters without eating too much into your plugin power :-).

BK
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#3
26th July 2006
Old 26th July 2006
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I use it with great success! Thx Bob!
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27th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
So, setting up.... you need a monitor control calibrated in 1 dB steps, whose 0 dB point is calibrated at 83 dB/C weighted/slow/per channel/with -20 dBFS RMS pink noise. BK

Any suggestions of any brands which feature this ?

Xj
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27th July 2006
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I still need to set it up. I have a pretty piss poor monitor control setup at the moment. I normally do monitor at the "same" levels most of the time, and I don't have many dynamic issues in my mixes.
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27th July 2006
Old 27th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plec
I use it with great success! Thx Bob!

Very glad to hear it! I haven't been mixing much since about 1996 when I stopped working for Chesky, and so I had not tested my idea very much that a calibrated monitor control would be almost as important for mix engineers as I feel it is for mastering engineers.

But I've been doing some mixing in the mastering room for a couple of jobs, and I welcomed being able to repeatably return the monitor gain to its "normal home" and also observing where the control was set on the dial. If I played a song I had mixed last week and it sounded uncomfortably loud or overcompressed at my noted setting I had noted, then this told me that I might have been fatigued when I mixed it last week, for example. Just another useful tool of the trade!

BK
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27th July 2006
Old 27th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xj32
Any suggestions of any brands which feature this ?

Xj

Tascam makes an all-digital surround monitor controller at around $1000. DSM-7. I have no idea how it sounds but I've read reviews from people liking it. The only issue is it forces you to be monitoring all sources digitally or through their analog to digital converter.

Over the years I've built at least four monitor controllers, hand-wiring resistive attenuators with Shalco (or similar) switches. When I finally could afford it, I bought a Cranesong Avocet. Other nice units include the Grace. For sound, you can't beat an Avocet, and I hear the Grace also sounds excellent. If you want to read an anal-retentive mini-review of the Grace versus the Avocet, do a search in Gearslutz.

-----

I have a philosophical issue with monitor controllers such as the Grace, Martinsound, and the Tascam, that attempt to mark their controls in "pseudo-SPL", since this confuses the issue of "GAIN" with "LEVEL"...

Are you listening at 88? Huh? What SPL? Are you talking about the SPL from your speakers or the position of your pot?

but anyway, if you can add and subtract, then you can use one of those marked in "pseudo SPL".
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27th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
Very glad to hear it! I haven't been mixing much since about 1996 when I stopped working for Chesky, and so I had not tested my idea very much that a calibrated monitor control would be almost as important for mix engineers as I feel it is for mastering engineers.

But I've been doing some mixing in the mastering room for a couple of jobs, and I welcomed being able to repeatably return the monitor gain to its "normal home" and also observing where the control was set on the dial. If I played a song I had mixed last week and it sounded uncomfortably loud or overcompressed at my noted setting I had noted, then this told me that I might have been fatigued when I mixed it last week, for example. Just another useful tool of the trade!

BK
It really made a big difference for me when I started implementing it. I choose which kind of dynamics I will need and then I just set out to make the mix work. I often do very compressed music so I usually have it set at K12. I then mix at that monitoring level which means I have to compress a lot more in order to make it work. It's quite a challenge to make a K12 mix without using a limiter on the master to protect from overs. When I finish a mix to the point where I'm happy with the musical aspects I take a peek at my mixdown A/D to see how much clipping I have. I then set out to make the mix work there without getting any overs, or as few as I can get while still retaining the integrity of the mix I made.

My mixes sound more open, clear and a lot more cohesive from doing this and I notice a lot fewer bi-products from maximizing level after mastering. Makes the ME's work a lot easier I think.
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27th July 2006
Old 27th July 2006
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thank you Mr Katz. Your book is one of the best on the subject and as useful to me (a mix engineer) as it is for Mastering engineers.

So one of the big benefits would be if EVERYONE used this system. Hence my question wanting to know if many had implemented it.


Cheers.
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27th July 2006
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Great to hear from you, Bob. I have found your book to be one of the most useful for me.

I use a Coleman M3PH II. It has a high quality stepped passive attenuator ... the positions/increments are not labelled, but, due to the stepping, you can always return to your calibrated "sweet spot" by remembering, for example, "3 clicks counterclockwise from the 12:00 noon position". I have put a small piece of an adhesive label at the spot.

That, the UAD-1 Precision Limiter (for the meters as opposed to limiting), a Radio Shack SPL meter, and Wavelab (for creating the -20 dBFS RMS pink noise) comprise my basic implementation of the K-system.
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28th July 2006
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thanks a lot- what a great post thumbsup

That cleared a lot to me. Now I hope I can cope with the calibrating.

Cheeers

Marty
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28th July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plec

It's quite a challenge to make a K12 mix without using a limiter on the master to protect from overs.
Hi, Plec. It's great to see someone fully grasp the usefulness of the system and try to push it to its "limit" while maintaining sound quality!


Take care,


BK
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31st July 2006
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Hello,

Ok. I have found the option in my FF800 to set up the meters for K14 system. Now I have the last question (I hope ;-) So, suppose I am mixing on my Nuendo which does not have the K14 metering system (does n it?) . I am setting up the master stereo fader at 0db (In Nuendo). I have my monitors calibrtated to the 77 db mark with the 20db pink noise I have downloaded from Mr. Katz site. So far I am doing ok right? Now- while mixing- I understand that I should refer to the FF800 meter that is calibratet to K14 instead of the Nuedno stereo mix meter? And if yes- should I aim for the Odb mark on ther K14 meter while mixing? Or do I have some more freedom due to the 14 db headroom?

Please excuse me, if I am mixing up some terms but I am still new to the concept and English is not my first language.

Any help would be appreciated


Greetings

Marty
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31st July 2006
Old 31st July 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vibralux
Hello,

Ok. I have found the option in my FF800 to set up the meters for K14 system. Now I have the last question (I hope ;-) So, suppose I am mixing on my Nuendo which does not have the K14 metering system (does n it?) . I am setting up the master stereo fader at 0db (In Nuendo). I have my monitors calibrtated to the 77 db mark with the 20db pink noise I have downloaded from Mr. Katz site. So far I am doing ok right? Now- while mixing- I understand that I should refer to the FF800 meter that is calibratet to K14 instead of the Nuedno stereo mix meter? And if yes- should I aim for the Odb mark on ther K14 meter while mixing? Or do I have some more freedom due to the 14 db headroom?

Please excuse me, if I am mixing up some terms but I am still new to the concept and English is not my first language.

Any help would be appreciated


Greetings

Marty

Dear Marty... what is the FF800? If it's a true K-System meter and connected digitally you can watch it instead of the Nuendo meters. As a ROUGH guide, you're using the averaging meter of the K-System like a VU meter, so on loud passages it could hit 0 dB, and on fortissimo passages it could high as high as +4. When it's hitting above 0 dB, glance at the peak section and see if it's overloading. If it is, then either back down, and consider using more compression if it helps the SOUND you're going for, OR mix to a K-20 and let the mastering engineer take care of the loudness.

BK
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31st July 2006
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The FF800 is an audio interface, the fireface 800, by RME!

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31st July 2006
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Hello,

Thanks You for chiming in Mr.Katz. I am really happy that I could get some advice from You.

As for the FF800- I meant the RME Fireface 800 interface. I think they fully implemented all of the K metering systems. I just found out yesterday that I could switch to K12, k14 or k20 and I think those meters are pretty ok, as they are implemented within the hardware.

So tu summ up- I just should mix by ear, not by meters and just look up at the K14 meter from time to time to check if the peaks are not too loud And as I understood the final mix should oscillate around Odb on the K14 meter. Right?

Oh- one more thing- I do not have the 1db step attenuator. For now I have to cope with ATTY which is ok, but does not have the 1db per step function. I was thinking about solving this differently. Since I marked the 77db point on ATTY with the SPL meter, does it make sense to simply measure the SPL with the same pink noise at 76, then 75, 74 and so on and mark each one just for the reference? Does it make sense ot the stepped attenuator is a must?


As for the mixing- I have not yet mixed at this system, but the idea of getting away from the loudness war's is perfeclty reasonable, and I am really thankfull, that You have opened my eyes on some very common and very destructive myths that are widely spread among audio engeeners- I was among them till I read You article about the K metering system. Thank You one more time thumbsup

Greetings from sunny Poland

Marty
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1st August 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vibralux
Oh- one more thing- I do not have the 1db step attenuator. For now I have to cope with ATTY which is ok, but does not have the 1db per step function. I was thinking about solving this differently. Since I marked the 77db point on ATTY with the SPL meter, does it make sense to simply measure the SPL with the same pink noise at 76, then 75, 74 and so on and mark each one just for the reference? Does it make sense ot the stepped attenuator is a must?
I have an ATTY and on mine the Left/Right balance is off considerably. You might want to test yours: connect your DACs straight into the ATTY and then connect the ATTY's outs straight into your ADCs (with minimal cable, but so that the signal is not going through any other device) and send a stereo test tone to your DAC and observe the input coming into your ADC. You can set up the input and output meters (use the big views) very easily in Nuendo/Cubase. On mine, the L/R channels are off by several dB.
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1st August 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz
...

I have a philosophical issue with monitor controllers such as the Grace, Martinsound, and the Tascam, that attempt to mark their controls in "pseudo-SPL", since this confuses the issue of "GAIN" with "LEVEL"...

Are you listening at 88? Huh? What SPL? Are you talking about the SPL from your speakers or the position of your pot?

but anyway, if you can add and subtract, then you can use one of those marked in "pseudo SPL".
You're absolutely right. We designed the MultiMAX from a filmsound perspective, with one standard reference level of 85 dB SPL + 20 dB of headroom (from the speakers). The monitor system can be calibrated to any reference level, and this can be used as you say by anyone who can add and subtract. MultiMAX does have .5 dB repeatable steps.
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2nd August 2006
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Thanks for Your tip Dawgear. I wlll give it a shot, since yesterday while I was mixing I noticed some inconsistance in the balance. I just have to double check if it s not the mix itself. But I will run the test tone anyways- just to make shure...

Cheers

Marty
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2nd August 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vibralux
Hello,

Thanks You for chiming in Mr.Katz. I am really happy that I could get some advice from You.

As for the FF800- I meant the RME Fireface 800 interface. I think they fully implemented all of the K metering systems. I just found out yesterday that I could switch to K12, k14 or k20 and I think those meters are pretty ok, as they are implemented within the hardware.

So tu summ up- I just should mix by ear, not by meters and just look up at the K14 meter from time to time to check if the peaks are not too loud And as I understood the final mix should oscillate around Odb on the K14 meter. Right?
Hi, Vibralux, greetings from sunny Orlando, where we're watching a tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic at this moment :-(.

Good sum, but I don't know what you meant by "oscillate around 0 dB". How about: "Forte passages should be circa 0 dB and Fortissimo passages may exceed 0 dB by a small amount". That comes close to VU practice for many many years.

You're right about the RME's implementation of the K-System... it's a very precise meter!

Quote:

Oh- one more thing- I do not have the 1db step attenuator. For now I have to cope with ATTY which is ok, but does not have the 1db per step function. I was thinking about solving this differently.
If you have to live with a non-calibrated attenuator and want to mark it, I'd use the SPL meter to as accurately as possible assess the 0 dB mark. You mentioned "77 dB SPL" so I am assuming you are marking the -6 dB mark assuming -20 dBFS RMS pink noise".

Anyway, assuming this is the -6 dB mark on the volume control and you want to know some other positions accurately, I'd disconnect the DAC from your amplifier and using a 1 kHz test tone, adjust the tone until that reads -6 dBu on an analog voltmeter, then move the pot up and down and mark the other positions.

BK
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2nd August 2006
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Hello,

Thanks for You help , but I just want to be shure about it and have one more question:

Quote:
I'd disconnect the DAC from your amplifier and using a 1 kHz test tone, adjust the tone until that reads -6 dBu on an analog voltmeter, then move the pot up and down and mark the other positions.
By disconnecting do You mean- disconnecting the monitor's amplifier? I have active monitors so my chain is FF800----ATTY (the attenuator)-----Adams s3a

Also - I do not have an analog VU meter... I am a bit confused now.

This is how I am understanding it: 1 )I am playing the 1khz test tone on my computer
2) I disconnect the ATTY from the active monitors and instead run the signal back to my FF800 interface and use the RME's implemented K14 meters (instead of the VU meter?) so it reads -6db and then, as You mentioned, I move the pot up and down and mark the other positions.

Am I thinking correctly or is that a total gibberish?

Thanks for Your patience in Advance

Marty
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12th January 2007
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Chiming in to express gratitude for the K system.

Implementing it has brought the bounce back in the beats.

I'll follow the threads for more observations on how to use, how to view the VU's range relative to different parts of the music.

But, frankly. I feel like I'm on the right page. I got the book a couple of years ago, but must have missed the relevence of the K system. Glad I got around to it, and stopped wasting my time.

Looks like a healthy grassroots here.

I had a guy in the studio for mastering today who makes old-school elektro, he actually had a horror story to tell about pegged mastering, and wanted a dynamic result. I was so happy to oblige :D

People are beginning to notice all around.

I do go on...
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