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Console Channel levels vs stereo bus levels?
Old 4th May 2005
Gear Maniac

Console Channel levels vs stereo bus levels?

Hi All,

I was wondering on your approaches on stereo bus output levels (while mixing) in order to keep those levels under control: here's the situation:

we send all tracks (separately) from PT HD to an SSL console. The stereo mix is converted to digital with a HEDD192 and recorded in Sadie.
PT is referenced to 0VU = -18dB(FS). Most of the time, the tracks we get (to mix) arrive at fairly hot levels (distortion guitarsliving in the -2 to -4 dB range). So, already by sending out everything at 0 out to the SSL, the console's meters tend to be pegged from the start.
Throw in a few dB's of compression where needed and we'll end up with a mix that is WAY too hot (By the way, on the SSL's output 0 VU = -14dB). Not to mention that it is also too hot for the HEDD (also calibrated for 0VU = -14dB).
So what's to do?
1/ Lower the master fader on the console? possibly yes, but if the levels are that hot, will the tracks not already be distorted prior to their arrival at the quad bus? or at the quad bus input?

2/ Lower the output levels in PT so that the tracks hit the console at a lower starting level? Is that a good way to start or would you rather recalibrate PT so that for instance 0VU=-14dB (and thus reducing the headroom by 4 dB??)

3/ Bring down the individual faders by x dB? Yes but this is not an option when you're halfway a mix as it changes levels to sends, submaster inserts etc...

4/ Recalibrate the HEDD? 0VU=-16dB is the most you can get (I believe) but then that would still not solve the problem if the quad bus is overloading??

How do you folks deal with this? How's the headroom and calibration thing affecting you?

Thanks & All The Best,

Old 4th May 2005
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

in fact of some people still tend to record " as hot as possible " [ whyever that is by the way ] we all love the mighty " TRIM " plug in protools .
so you just use it in the first insert slot and you are still able to take a look at the pt mixer without the wish to jump out of the window .
yeah right , the trim tools just able to lower the signal by +- 6db ( 4am ... i hope thats right ? ) you are still in hell if the converters set to boost +18db .

i would simply just recalibrate the outs of the interfaces . if ur not itb , you dont need em anyway for inserts etc. for mastering etc you can still use the hedd . heh
if ur able to educate ur clients just teach em what you wanna have that would be the easiest way , if thats IMPOSSIBLE ( as usual ) u could just rerecord using f.ex some aes cables and set the levels you wanna have ? <-- kinda stupid

for recording i would stick to as much headroom as possible -18
some sounds like a snare can easily peak like 14db . for the fact that we dont want to have some digital distortion lets keep some headroom . some pres etc tend to be really " hot " so headroom can be an cool idea .

some people like to chase the " mighty 24 bits " ... i leave some hr and can easily sleep when i know i just captured 22,8574853405394587

good luck & lets see what the others say

" what do i know ? "
Old 4th May 2005
What i do is bring down the faders in PT.

That way when it hits the console i have enough headroom to work with.
Old 4th May 2005
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
Not making moves in P-T is a good thing so I'd recommend you leave the faders where they are. The more headroom you can give an SSL strip the happier they'll be... so in this situation I would recommend you either trim back the levels on the output of P-T [without using their software faders!] or trim back the line input level on the desk. Either way you'll find it better sounding than using the faders in P-T or driving the channel strips too hard on an SSL... and if you're interested in a good measure better audio in general... find some D/A converters that don't say "****i-Design" on the box... it'll be of some serious overall assistance.

Old 4th May 2005
Lives for gear
studjo's Avatar

Fletcher you're getting old.
Old 4th May 2005
Lives for gear
The trimmers on the HD interfaces don't have ENOUGH attenuation to make a substantial difference (in my expereicne) if someone sends you a screaming hot session.

I would do ALL those things:
recal the output
turn down the trims
and pull the whole PT session down by 6 dB or whatever it takes to make the level to the desk seem sensible.

You don't want to cream the input front end of the desk... turning it down internally after that doesn't solve that problem.
It's just not a nice sound.

In these 24 bit days, pulling down all the PT faders (by grouping them in 'ALL') doesn't seem to be a problem.
And it's a much better solution that slamming your desk.
Old 4th May 2005
Originally Posted by wwittman
In these 24 bit days, pulling down all the PT faders (by grouping them in 'ALL') doesn't seem to be a problem.
And it's a much better solution that slamming your desk.
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