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Proper gain staging in digital world DAW Software
Old 29th December 2010
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Proper gain staging in digital world

what level should i be recording my vocals? I have an art tube v3 do i have to have the meter steady 3 - 1 area? How far is someone supposed to be from the mic, can he be very close up? Another question is what level should my master be hitting?
Old 29th December 2010
  #2
Gear Nut
 

try to aim peaks at -18dbfs or -12dbfs depending on your converters
Old 29th December 2010
  #3
Gear Nut
 

You can mic however you want. It depends on what sound you're going for.

The higher you put the mic, the more nasal it will sound, the lower you put the mic the more chesty it will sound. If you're swallowing the mic, it gets what is called "the proximity effect" and the low end tends to build up. It can make a really muddy vocal track, but depending on the chain and vocalist, it can sound nice too. But typical commercial recording for say... Kiesha Cole, you would have her stand 4-12 inches away from the mic. But if you're recording somebody like Jadakiss, you can use a bright mic like the u87 on a 1073 and let him swallow it.
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
Gear Nut
 

and the Master buss should have at least 3dB of headroom. Usually I don't let peaks get past -10 for mastering purposes.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
Gear Nut
 

are the meters in pro tools 7.4 accurate?
Old 29th December 2010
  #6
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Storyville's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS View Post
are the meters in pro tools 7.4 accurate?
meters are rarely accurate, or a reflection of what you want.

The myth is that you want to record as hot as possible to digital. That's a quick way to overdrive the analog front end of the converter, or clip the signal. Even if you are recording 16 bit, leave a good amount of room and if you want to hear the incoming signal louder, just turn the output volume up.
Old 29th December 2010
  #7
Gear Guru
 
rickrock305's Avatar
 

Proper gain staging in digital world

If you're recording in pro tools, treat the point where it turns yellow as your peak. Try no to go above that.
Old 29th December 2010
  #8
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hereticskeptic's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose View Post
try to aim peaks at -18dbfs or -12dbfs depending on your converters
What does this mean exactly? I've been wondering for some time, but finally have my setup ready to go, and would like to understand how I determine that I'm peaking at -12 (heard many recommend this level).
Old 29th December 2010
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Thanks so how much head room should i be aiming for for all my instruments and vocals? Do i use compressors to make everything louder and not effect the meters?
Old 29th December 2010
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rickrock305 View Post
If you're recording in pro tools, treat the point where it turns yellow as your peak. Try no to go above that.
ok thanks.
Old 29th December 2010
  #11
Please search the forum. TONS of info on this.
Old 29th December 2010
  #13
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rickrock305's Avatar
 

Proper gain staging in digital world

Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS
Thanks so how much head room should i be aiming for for all my instruments and vocals? Do i use compressors to make everything louder and not effect the meters?
If you want something louder, turn down everything else or turn up the fader. Use your faders before you worry about compression.
Old 29th December 2010
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hereticskeptic View Post
What does this mean exactly? I've been wondering for some time, but finally have my setup ready to go, and would like to understand how I determine that I'm peaking at -12 (heard many recommend this level).
look at your DAW meters, most of the peaks should be at around -12.

Thats because if you pass that, you are "CLIPPING" your analog input.

-18dbfs=0dbVu
Old 29th December 2010
  #15
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS View Post
Thanks so how much head room should i be aiming for for all my instruments and vocals? Do i use compressors to make everything louder and not effect the meters?
Like I said... the master buss should not go past -3. But, with that said, most of my mixes peak at -6 or -10 dbfs. Mastering engineers would prefer those over -3 anyday.

Don't worry about loudness. Worry about the mix. After the mix is done, you can apply a limiter to bring up the level.

Notice I didn't say master. Why? just look up the definition of "Mastering Audio"
Old 29th December 2010
  #16
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Nahuel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose View Post
look at your DAW meters, most of the peaks should be at around -12.

Thats because if you pass that, you are "CLIPPING" your analog input.
? That's not true.
Old 29th December 2010
  #17
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nahuel View Post
? That's not true.
You can ask any pro engineer they'll agree with me. Its true, its just too much for your little brain to grasp.

-18dBfs= 0dBvu

When you pass 0dBvu, you are clipping your analog signal which is your mic, your preamp, and anything else in the chain before your recording console.
Old 29th December 2010
  #18
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ramil's Avatar
 

firstly, u have to calibrate all your audio system before u try to hit your meters reading -18dfs. That means if u didn't align properly voltage at any point in analog chain your DAW can show u what u want to see but it gonna be far away from truth. Recording at hot levels in digital world means using larger worldlengh in 1010101 world and using using all bits possible that's why so many people try to record they tracks as hot as hell.. it's not necessary in digital world but usually what I do I record most important instruments a bit hotter than background ones and then apply proper gain staging in mixing process. -18dbfs it's just a guideline because on different audio set up u got different gear with different headroom..
Old 30th December 2010
  #19
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rickrock305's Avatar
 

Proper gain staging in digital world

Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose

You can ask any pro engineer they'll agree with me. Its true, its just too much for your little brain to grasp.

-18dBfs= 0dBvu

When you pass 0dBvu, you are clipping your analog signal which is your mic, your preamp, and anything else in the chain before your recording console.

I'm a pro engineer. I don't agree with you.

Just because you pass 0dBvu does not mean you are clipping your analog devices. Analog devices have headroom above 0dbvu.

Then we can also get into different calibration setups. Not every interface has to be calibrated at the -18 standard.
Old 30th December 2010
  #20
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Nahuel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose View Post
You can ask any pro engineer they'll agree with me. Its true, its just too much for your little brain to grasp.

-18dBfs= 0dBvu

When you pass 0dBvu, you are clipping your analog signal which is your mic, your preamp, and anything else in the chain before your recording console.
cool, thanks for sharing you views about the size of my brain...

Dude that's a gross simplification, it's mostly gear dependant.

I can garantee that my mixer (some ol Amek) can clip my converters with a clean signal if I enable the 2buss compressor, I dont even have to crank the make up that much....the sound is cristal clear on my monitors, no audible distortion, peak leds are off... but my daw input is in the red...(converter input set at +4db of course) If I record a signal peaking at, let's say -6 db in my DAW I can garantee that nothing is clipping (unless a source is actually clipping my neumann but that's another story).

It's cool to read posts from professionals on this board but be carefull to fully understand what they mean before you mistake debatable statements for absolute truth.

I beleive a lot of professional analog gear is not necessarly clipping when the needle reach 0dbvu, some units have a lot more headroom, also calibrations may vary.
Old 30th December 2010
  #21
Quote:
? How far is someone supposed to be from the mic, can he be very close up?
Well your sound changes with the distance your mouth is form the mic. So this question about how close you should be cannot be answered correctly. so I would learn abut the proximitry effect and do some experimenting on reocridng vocals.

Try 2 inches to 2 feet and deciede what sounds the best for that song
Quote:
Another question is what level should my master be hitting?
Theres 2 levels:
1. The Peak level can be from 0.3 to 0.5. this allows room for your MP3 conversion errors
2. The RMS level can be from -18dB all the way to -8db depending on the genre of the music
Cj
Old 30th December 2010
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nahuel View Post
cool, thanks for sharing you views about the size of my brain...

Dude that's a gross simplification, it's mostly gear dependant.

I can garantee that my mixer (some ol Amek) can clip my converters with a clean signal if I enable the 2buss compressor, I dont even have to crank the make up that much....the sound is cristal clear on my monitors, no audible distortion, peak leds are off... but my daw input is in the red...(converter input set at +4db of course) If I record a signal peaking at, let's say -6 db in my DAW I can garantee that nothing is clipping (unless a source is actually clipping my neumann but that's another story).

It's cool to read posts from professionals on this board but be carefull to fully understand what they mean before you mistake debatable statements for absolute truth.

I beleive a lot of professional analog gear is not necessarly clipping when the needle reach 0dbvu, some units have a lot more headroom, also calibrations may vary.

Look, no offense to you or the OP, but the OP probably doesn't have the greatest gear. If he did, he would probably know the answer to his own question. So I said -18dBfs because I know that his converter will be okay there. I think all we're doing is confusing him with talking about differently calibrated systems.
Old 30th December 2010
  #23
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Storyville's Avatar
Thread is on a new course.

But since we're here:

The definition of "clipping" in an analog system is a little more subject than digital - and therefore, the concept of headroom gets a little slidy as well.

Generally speaking, vu meters are calibrated so that the clipping point is +6db, sometimes +4. However, you start gaining saturation effects well before the point of clipping - and even when you are clipping, it's not like a digital clip where it literally chops the signal into a square wave.

So if headroom is the loudest point of clean sound vs. your noise floor - one then has to question what "clean" sound is. Chances are, if you are calibrated to overdrive your channel at +6, you're going to get some of that delightful analog love at +0, depending on the build of the console.
Old 30th December 2010
  #24
Gear Nut
 

im completely lost. I just want to know what level db i should be recording at(on the preamp) like +30 or what?
Old 30th December 2010
  #25
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Nahuel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose View Post
Look, no offense to you or the OP, but the OP probably doesn't have the greatest gear. If he did, he would probably know the answer to his own question. So I said -18dBfs because I know that his converter will be okay there. I think all we're doing is confusing him with talking about differently calibrated systems.
However this is not a novice forum so we're allowed to discuss points a lil further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS View Post
im completely lost. I just want to know what level db i should be recording at(on the preamp) like +30 or what?
I never used the art MP V3 but I googled the pic... you have a nice Vu on those, use it, you have to stay under the red section that start at 0. In your DAW pretty much the same, you have to stay under the red that start at 0 (same apply to you soundcard virtual mixer, stay under 0/red, all eventual clipping lights should stay off).... That is the undebatable "rule" to avoid clipping (not to be confused with distortion).

Some will say you have to record at -18 in you DAW others will say -12 or whatvever... I say stay under the redzone all the time but get you levels consistant enough to avoid noise (if you record too low the noise level will be too high vs you signal) and get a nice waveform suitable for editing.
Old 30th December 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Over Dose View Post
You can ask any pro engineer they'll agree with me. Its true, its just too much for your little brain to grasp.

-18dBfs= 0dBvu

When you pass 0dBvu, you are clipping your analog signal which is your mic, your preamp, and anything else in the chain before your recording console.

0VU = RMS

If you want to go by this method you must use RMS metering in your DAW and this will equate. If your meters are set to Peak metering then this metod would be incorrect. So you are partially right. Peak metering is pretty much only useful for detecting digital overs I'd say.

And also like RickRock said... there is plenty clean headroom above 0VU in most analog devices. The further you drive them say +18 then you may start to get some bite. But it is all dependent on the unit.
Old 30th December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS View Post
im completely lost. I just want to know what level db i should be recording at(on the preamp) like +30 or what?
Pull out the specs on your preamp prob last page in the manual. It will tell you Nominal levels before distortion (most likely in RMS). Switch your DAW metering to RMS or use a plugin like PSP Vintage Meter and calibrate it to the specs of your unit. Adjust your gain on your preamp so it doesn't go over the nominal RMS level and you'll be fine.. Knowing that when you go over you will be hitting distortion.
Old 30th December 2010
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MG_BEATS View Post
what level should i be recording my vocals? I have an art tube v3 do i have to have the meter steady 3 - 1 area? How far is someone supposed to be from the mic, can he be very close up? Another question is what level should my master be hitting?
Sorry your original question has been subverted so badly.

On your Art Tube V3. Forget about the rules. twiddle the knobs until you get a sound that you really like.

If you're using a computer to record into, avoid the instinct to get as close to 0 db as possible. I think there was a previous post saying to stay out of the yellow. I think that's a pretty good rule of thumb.

Distance from the mic. Once again there are no rules. If you're going for a super-intimate sound then get up close to the mic. It really enhances the bass response. As you back off the mic it will sound more natural. The bottom line is there's no hard and fast rule. Put up your mic. Put the singer in the room and play with placement until you get the sound that makes everyone smile.

Regarding your master. Generally speaking; no one really advocates using the same person to mix AND master. But if you're tight on $$$ and have to master your own stuff then put a limiter on your output and set its output ceiling anywhere from -1 to -.1

hope that helps.
Old 30th December 2010
  #29
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Bending_Bus's Avatar
 

Proper gain staging in digital world

Instead of confusing poor MG_Beats why not just keep it simple.

Record at 0VU (that is an avg level and you can use a VU meter and set your input so it hits around 0VU. Or, in your DAW you may have avg RMS meters and you would set those to -18). 0VU = -18RMS.

If you have neither and only have the common digital peak meters then just set them so it appears to peak at -12, that should be fine.

Happy recording.
Old 30th December 2010
  #30
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for all the input guys...

So basically i should record hot but never peak.

i should just make my master fader not hit above -6db(so i dont have to worry about my instrument/vocal meters*Of course not clip* just focus on how it sounds and when it comes to mastering i can make it sound loud and clean since i have the -6db headroom on my master.

If im wrong someone please try make it simple i have no idea what RMS is im using default pro tools m powered 7.4 meters.
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