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Tracking Levels...what about Rendering Levels?
Old 10th July 2007
  #1
Gear Maniac
Tracking Levels...what about Rendering Levels?

Hey guys,

I've been following a few threads about tracking levels.."getting signals into the box at about RMS -20 or -18dfs", what about if your sounds are already in the box...say like a softsynth or samples, would it be wise to make those have an -18dfs RMS reading when turning it to audio tracks ready for a mix?? I do this already but was just wondering what you guys do?? For example do you render off at what ever Level and then just use a gainer plugin or in Cubase SX3 for example use the input trimmer etc..

Surely you run into the same kinds of problems with all the ITB sounds too taking up room at the Master Buss stage.? only to pull the faders all down again etc.

Cheers.
Old 10th July 2007
  #2
If I understand your question, here's my take:

If you're sending to a mastering engineer (you should pardon the expression), he will likely have his preferences. Call him or email him and find out what level he likes his source files to peak at. Also ask him whether he wants 24 bit fixed or 32 bit float files (as I believe that version of Cubase can output in 32 float -- but check that, to be sure).


Now, if you're outputting your file for your own purposes, general playback, etc, then you simply want to get your level "normalized" -- ie, you want your peaks just under 0 dB full scale (digital 0, if you will). Particularly if you're outputting to a 16 bit format. The reason, of course, is to get the most resolution you can at the DA process.

[You may also want to use compression/limiting to raise your average levels, which will give you greater apparent volume. That and ancillary/corrective processes are often thought of as "mastering" these days, now that "mastering engineers" are typically no longer highly trained computer assisted cutting lathe operators but rather people in search of a professional niche.]


In between tracking and rendering/outputting, since Cubase has internal 32 bit float processing you have the option of going over 0 -- as long as the level of your audio doesn't exceed 0 dB fs when rendered, ie, you bring down the internal level at the software output buss or before.

BUT... it's probably prudent to keep an eye on your internal levels as well -- even though the DAW can handle "overs" gracefully using floating point math -- you MAY be using FX plug-ins that are optimized for "normal" (sub 0dB) levels and their operation MAY be highly impacted by too-low or too-high levels.

Obviously, this is especially true of compression/limiting/dynamic processor plug ins.

For that reason, may DAW-recordists tend to approach internal gain staging in their DAW much as you might optimized gain in an analog circuit (even though the issues can be very different).
Old 10th July 2007
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Farview's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark III View Post
Hey guys,

I've been following a few threads about tracking levels.."getting signals into the box at about RMS -20 or -18dfs", what about if your sounds are already in the box...say like a softsynth or samples, would it be wise to make those have an -18dfs RMS reading when turning it to audio tracks ready for a mix?? I do this already but was just wondering what you guys do?? For example do you render off at what ever Level and then just use a gainer plugin or in Cubase SX3 for example use the input trimmer etc..

Surely you run into the same kinds of problems with all the ITB sounds too taking up room at the Master Buss stage.? only to pull the faders all down again etc.

Cheers.
With soft synths and samples, it doesn't really matter as far as quality goes. The only reason to keep those down at -18dbfs rms would be to match the levels of the other tracks that you recorded at that level.

The recording at -18dbfs RMS thing is mostly about not overdriving the analog chain on the way to the converters. Once it's in the box, it's not such a big deal.
Old 11th July 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
 
taturana's Avatar
lately i adopted -6db as my rendering peak level... and i am very happy with it... it also makes it really nice for interfacing with analog stuff... it also reduces the need to lower the main faders not to overdrive the busses...
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