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Re. calibrating my virtual console meters properly
Old 1 week ago
Gear Maniac
Re. calibrating my virtual console meters properly

I have a copy of Plugin Alliance's Focusrite Forte Console emu, and I'm setting it up for workhorse use.

My question is this: the plugin gives me the option to set meter reference points for the included VU and PPM meters. The default reference points are -10.0 dBFS (VU) and -20.0 dDBFS (PPM) - the respective meter is then calibrated to hit "0" at these incoming values.

Here's where I'm getting confused. If VU is meant to be an "average" where PPM is meant to be a "peak"...then based on what I currently understand about proper gain staging...shouldn't the values be vice versa? A VU reference of -20.0 dBFS and a PPM reference of -10.0 dBFS?

Can someone help me understand what I'm missing here? I trust the folks at Plugin Alliance and have trouble believing they could have made such an elementary mistake...therefore I'm convinced I'M the one making the elementary mistake.

Much appreciated!
Old 1 week ago
Gear Maniac
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

Well, I don't know that specific plugin, but you have to remember that meters are "just" visual references ultimately so they can really do "whatever works for you".

You can have two meters that have a zero value equal some sort of reference input (i.e. for example -20dBFS) but that doesn't tell us (me) what the maximum value written on the meter is. Some go all the way to "+20" which makes sense if the reference is -20dBFS since "+20" is then the absolute maximum, yet others will have exactly the same point of reference yet only have a maximum of "+3". The latter doesn't mean nothing exists above, it just means that for some reason it's a convenient way of working meaning it works well between what the signal is, what it sounds like, and what the meter looks like when it moves.

Having written all of that though I'll agree that "-10dBFS=0VU" is awfully narrow a range above 0VU. I have no idea why that is. My guess would be that if you're working with popular music with little dynamic range you may have to compress in order to get the average of a signal to "0VU" yet also fit peaks above without clipping. So it could sort of push you towards louder more compressed mixes.

As for why the PPM would be calibrated lower; well, it could just be that it's helpful to see that type of meter movement over what will likely be a wider range (depending on where the scale ends). Remember that PPM and VU are meters that respond differently to the input signal so they'll 'feel' different, and I'd guess that's part of the reason they're referencing different values.
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