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Analogue to Digital gain structure question. Single-Channel Preamps
Old 27th November 2007
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Analogue to Digital gain structure question.

G'day all. Sorry I know this has been discussed at length and I have read most of the posts concerning this topic but I just need to clear one thing up. So here goes........

I am tracking a spastically loud 5150 guitar amp. My chain is sm57>ltd-1>ua1176>2192>cubase.

Now it is my understanding that GENERALLY analogue outboard gear runs optimally with line level signals eg 0dbv. So typically for the clearest signal I want to run the ltd-1 with the least gain possible with the output pot at max. So currently I have the gain at -20db and the output pot at max.

The 2192 is calibrated at -18dbfs = 0db (This is how I understood the manual) So to check that I wasn't running the ltd-1 too hot I hooked it straight up to the 2192 initially to see. I had a stab in the dark and assumed that the led meters on the 2192 are peak meters so I thought I would be aiming for -15 in the peaks (for electric guitar I thought this might be about right?) I was also getting this reading in cubase.

So then I thought you beauty, this is the kind of level I want to be running from the ltd-1 to the 1176. So my settings on the 1176 are INPUT at 8:30, OUTPUT at 3:00, ATTACK 10:00 and RELEASE at 2:00 with a 4:1 ratio (i guess it's really the input and output that matter the most for this question). When I looked at the meter on the +4 output setting the needle was going no further than about 3vu which I assume is a good level (I am from the new school so correct me if I am wrong) and I only wanted to tickle the needle when monitoring gain reduction which is exactly what's happening. Perfect I think?

Now the above setting feeds the 2192 15dbfs of signal which feeds cubase the same. I assume this to be a reasonable recording level but the only problem is I get a bumbum little waveform in cubase and I read that alot of you guys feed your DAWs up to -6dbfs.

I am worried that I may be tracking with not enough signal and when it comes to getting my stuff mixed (I might do this myself) and mastered the engineers are just gonna go "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? THESE LEVELS ARE RUBBISH!" or something like that.

For the record, what I have tracked sounds bloody good. Clear and defined and not brittle or harsh at all, I just wonder if I have gone wrong somewhere in my thinking?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

CHEERS MATE!
Old 27th November 2007
  #2
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddlepop lion View Post

For the record, what I have tracked sounds bloody good. Clear and defined and not brittle or harsh at all, I just wonder if I have gone wrong somewhere in my thinking?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

CHEERS MATE!
Then you're doing it right. I think it's great to have a conceptual understanding of what's going on. And that understanding will help you get good sounds. But the only truly immutable law of the studio is "if it sounds good it is good".
Old 27th November 2007
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Wow! That was fast! Thanks. Yep, couldn't agree more. If it sounds good then it is right.

I just down want to be the laughing stock of the recording industry when I front up to a mixing or mastering studio with great sounding tracks that are a million db too quiet that they can't do anything with. Thats all.

Cheers mate!
Old 27th November 2007
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Just wanted to make 100 posts. Yay

Seriously though..... are these levels ok or am I just an idiot? (re my first post)
Old 27th November 2007
  #5
Gear Guru
Assuming you're going 24 bit, running meters on the DA at 1/2 to 2/3 is fine. You don't want to get near the top of the meters.
Old 27th November 2007
  #6
Lives for gear
 
drew's Avatar
I agree. You are in the minority and are using proper gain staging. Most people mistakenly drive their analog gear to hard.
Old 27th November 2007
  #7
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by drew View Post
I agree. You are in the minority and are using proper gain staging. Most people mistakenly drive their analog gear to hard.
Although that's part of why understanding the concepts is a good idea. Overdriving certain analogue stages intentionally can be a great thing, if you know what you're doing. And know how to compensate down the line.
Old 27th November 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 
drew's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
Although that's part of why understanding the concepts is a good idea. Overdriving certain analogue stages intentionally can be a great thing, if you know what you're doing. And know how to compensate down the line.
yes, but there's a difference between purposely driving input stages hard and simply recording too hot. Even when you are driving your analog pieces, you still want to feed the proper level to the A/D, leaving plenty of headroom for further processing. That's what I'm referring to. A lot of people think that OTB is better than ITB because they record everything way too hot and wonder why it's folding up.
Old 27th November 2007
  #9
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by drew View Post
yes, but there's a difference between purposely driving input stages hard and simply recording too hot. Even when you are driving your analog pieces, you still want to feed the proper level to the A/D, leaving plenty of headroom for further processing. That's what I'm referring to. A lot of people think that OTB is better than ITB because they record everything way too hot and wonder why it's folding up.
Old 27th November 2007
  #10
Gear Addict
 

As a mix engineer, I'm crying tears of joy at your sensibility! I've been teaching and converting one client at a time to think about proper gain staging rather than using up every bit of meter. I challenge them to try it my way JUST once, and after they do, the look of amazement on their faces is priceless. "Headroom, air, openness? It does exist!" And I just smile and nod my little head...

You are DEAD ON! Don't change a thing. Any mix engineer who complains about those levels may need to rethink his title.

peace

Rob Burrell
aka mixboy
Old 27th November 2007
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Hey thanks heaps guys. I haven't been doing this that long so sometimes I don't trust my ears as much as I should.

I could never understand this analogue to digital thing. When I first started about a year ago I was told to make sure I get the best signal to noise ratio on my daw but always found I had to drive my outboard gear too hot and it sounded bumbum. I thought it must have been something I was doing (well really it was) or something lacking in my chain.

I worked hard and saved up cash (no social life) to get some quality gear and it was still sounding rubbish.

Anyway, I am only relatively young and still have a long way to go, but it is encouraging to think that after doing some homework (thankyou gearslutz) and using my ears, I have actually made a great breakthrough. My recordings are sounding like they should now and the only thing that was stopping me from achieving this the whole time was a misguided (or perhaps misinterpreted) piece of information a guy told me when I bought the gear.

It's amazing how little misinformation it takes to really screw things up. I should have trusted my common sense and ears in the first place.

So thankyou all you slutz for helping me out. I really appreciate it.

Cheers mate!
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