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Pro levels vs. Amateur levels
Old 18th July 2004
  #1
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tunesmith's Avatar
 

Pro levels vs. Amateur levels

So, this is going to reveal just how stupid I am when it comes to engineering, but I had to ask.

I am working on a spoken word project and the primary vocals were tracked at Bill Schnee's here in L.A. The vocals sound awesome. Big, bright, warm. These poets are the real deal, pains in the ass to work with, but the real deal, so the performance is just spectacular.

It was tracked to protools and the I got comps to work with the poets on composing a scoring track.

Here's the thing. The signal levels are significantly quieter then the vocals that I track ay my place. I mean they sound great, they're just softer then what I go for.

So I get to thinkin... "Hey...." "I am always distorting and clipping my pres trying to get a hot signal into the box!"

How hot do you all track? Is it a myth that you want to get the signal into the box as hot as you can?


Am I just a dumbass?

Tunes.
Old 18th July 2004
  #2
"How hot do you all track?"

Not very

"Is it a myth that you want to get the signal into the box as hot as you can?"

Yes - that is a popular maxim for analog tape recording (only)

"Am I just a dumbass?"

Yes - or probably just someone who is a little out of date.

"using all the bits" by recording right up to the end stops on digital systems might have been a valid process back in the 80's with DAT players but nowadays ON DIGITAL the following buz words are for the misguided only.....

Recording "hot" to my converters
Normalizing everything

But dont take the news too hard, I spent half a year slamming signals into my Apogee AD800's Soft Limit before I learned that easing back was the way to go...
Old 18th July 2004
  #3
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
With 24 bit resolution laying off the level is quite acceptable [within reason], and in many cases, preferable. You can avoid unwanted distortions that way, you can avoid the overuse and abuse of compression that way, you can also work a bit quicker with fewer fears if you're not always dicking with compression and not in "soft limit" on a regular basis.
Old 18th July 2004
  #4
Lives for gear
 
tunesmith's Avatar
 

Thanks for the responses.

I think I might have just had bad information. I regard engineering as something I HAVE to do to get the music going, rather then holding it as the art form that it is.

Sometimes DougHTI will stop by and look at some setting I have going during a session and just sort of shake his head and grimace...

Gotta love it.

I'm looking forward to tracking my next session now... going to half my levels and see what it does to the sound. I am at 24bits most of the time, so hopefully it will be cleaner. Thanks again.



Tunes.
Old 18th July 2004
  #5
Gear Nut
 
3db@1K's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules

"Is it a myth that you want to get the signal into the box as hot as you can?"

"
This is releaving to read I have been trying to get other engineers I work with from time to time this exact thing...

I even test the audio quality on PT HD 3
on various Sample rates from 44.1-192 @24 bits

I recorded program matial at all these sample rates at levels -10 VU, 0 , +3 and then slammed just before peak .....

And the lower level sounded better at every sample rate...period...
Old 18th July 2004
  #6
Try to calibrate your converters to not overload when you outboard is outputting at optimum level. (and then leave some extra head room as well)
Old 18th July 2004
  #7
Lives for gear
 

The hot level thing is based in fact, but has no real world value....

Lets take a typical example....

The 'industry standard' calibration level is 0dbvu=-18dbfs (in the USA). If we follow that through, we set up a pre to show a 0VU level, which is where most pres are designed to work at their optimum level. The VU (volume unit) meter is an averaging meter. It has a very slow integration time. This is because average level gives a clearer idea of perceived volume than peak level. Consequently some faster peaks will be ignored by the meter. So we have an average level of 0VU at our pre, with peaks that might be....8db higher maybe. This is going to appear in the software with average levels around -18dbfs and peak levels around -10dbfs. This gap is called headroom and its an essential part of getting a decent sound.

In a 24bit system, there is theoretical 144db of dynamic range. If you leave those 10dbs above your highest peaks its really not all that much is it. Its like a little head on the top of your beer! In a well maintained digital system you would have to record at a very low level before noise became a problem.

I wont go into it now, but leave some headroom on your master fader too.

J
Old 18th July 2004
  #8
Gear Nut
 
3db@1K's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Sly


leave some headroom on your master fader too.

J


PRIASE THE LORD!!!!!!!!
Old 19th July 2004
  #9
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faeflora's Avatar
 

A lot of converters and software also sounds better when operating below -10 dbfs. Some software sounds better around -20!!
Old 20th July 2004
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
"Is it a myth that you want to get the signal into the box as hot as you can?"

Yes - that is a popular maxim for analog tape recording (only)
Uhhhhh....

Not really. Slamming tape is just as bad as slamming A/D's.
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