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Old 22nd May 2004
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Re: Drum Buss, output levels

Originally posted by wallace
I was wondering, for those who are squashing their drum buss tracks and sending other tracks into the buss as well, how are you dealing with large peaks you're getting on the master fader (maybe 3 or 5 db)? Do you have to pull your master fader way down, and are you having to compress everything else to get it to come through in the mix?

Do you let your levels go into the red on individual tracks (not on the master fader)?
If i'm compressing individual tracks, i try to adjust the output gain on the compressor so that it is at a similar volume as when the compressor is bypassed. I just like to a/b things, and not having to mess with volumes makes that easier to do. So, in my case, a compressed track will actually be less in-the-red than the uncompressed track. I'm not really into boosting everything up to 0dBfs and then backing it off on the channel or master fader. It just seems counterproductive, although some plugs and hardware do sound interesting when driven right to the limit (and sometimes well beyond).

Especially mixing percussion/drums in digital, i've resorted to using RMS metering. Generally i'll just put a plug with both peak and rms metering into the master bus inserts, and keep that window open. Soloing individual tracks will still hit the meter. I will just set my initial volumes to rms the same way the analog Vu guys have always done it, rather than dealing with peak meters. There is just such a huge difference between peak and rms readings on percussion, that you need to kind of be aware of both.

If i had my da converter and playback system calibrated to -14dBfs rms = 0 Vu, i'd probably start with the kick and snare around -20dBfs RMS (equating to about -6 Vu on an analog desk). Peak meters are good to see how close to clipping you are, but they aren't very 'musical.' But, starting where i start, i usually end up within a few dB of where i want to be in the end. Works for me, but probably doesn't answer your question.