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How Bad Is Hitting Red?
Old 29th June 2009
  #61
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Keith Moore's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
a passive attenuator would do the job much better than a limiter.
Like this guy?

Also, aside from upgrading to PT8 is there a way to view a numeric value of the meters?
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Old 29th June 2009
  #62
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

There is a free one here.

smassey.com
Old 29th June 2009
  #63
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First off, we are WAY off of the original topic here. A COUPLE of in-audible "overs" on a GREAT take...sorry, I'll take music over math ANY DAY!

Secondly, there is NO CORRECT WAY! The best mixers/engineers/producers all do what fits the music, and what sounds best for the song. If it means cranking the pre till it smokes for some god-awful sound, then do it. If it means getting a touch of grit from a 1073 on the way in on your vocal/electric/bass, or whatever, then DO IT!!!!

From my experience, the engineers that "play it safe" and "do it correctly" have some pretty lame sounding recordings. I'm not slamming anyone on this thread...I haven't heard anything to judge. I'm just saying, its stupid to put "handcuffs" on your music/recordings when you're ultimately catering to the listener...not a bunch of gearsluts on a forum.
Old 29th June 2009
  #64
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Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cortaudio View Post
First off, we are WAY off of the original topic here. A COUPLE of in-audible "overs" on a GREAT take...sorry, I'll take music over math ANY DAY!

Secondly, there is NO CORRECT WAY! The best mixers/engineers/producers all do what fits the music, and what sounds best for the song. If it means cranking the pre till it smokes for some god-awful sound, then do it. If it means getting a touch of grit from a 1073 on the way in on your vocal/electric/bass, or whatever, then DO IT!!!!

From my experience, the engineers that "play it safe" and "do it correctly" have some pretty lame sounding recordings. I'm not slamming anyone on this thread...I haven't heard anything to judge. I'm just saying, its stupid to put "handcuffs" on your music/recordings when you're ultimately catering to the listener...not a bunch of gearsluts on a forum.
You're missing the point.

What we went off topic with is where the 0 should be. It was very clear in the analog world and most people stayed around 0. Some would slam it for effect but not many hit it at +18.

If you want to abuse your gear, feel free to do so. But know that that's exactly what you're doing. Abusing it.

Getting as close to 0 on digital is wayy more common than it should be and it's based on misinformation.
Old 29th June 2009
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cortaudio View Post
First off, we are WAY off of the original topic here. A COUPLE of in-audible "overs" on a GREAT take...sorry, I'll take music over math ANY DAY!

Secondly, there is NO CORRECT WAY! The best mixers/engineers/producers all do what fits the music, and what sounds best for the song. If it means cranking the pre till it smokes for some god-awful sound, then do it. If it means getting a touch of grit from a 1073 on the way in on your vocal/electric/bass, or whatever, then DO IT!!!!

From my experience, the engineers that "play it safe" and "do it correctly" have some pretty lame sounding recordings. I'm not slamming anyone on this thread...I haven't heard anything to judge. I'm just saying, its stupid to put "handcuffs" on your music/recordings when you're ultimately catering to the listener...not a bunch of gearsluts on a forum.
Speaking of off topic, how hard your push your mic pres and how hot you recording into your digital recorder are completely different topics.

If you like the sound of your pre pushed until is "smokes", go for it. The point is that if you record that signal super hot into your daw you will compromise the quality and detail of your recording of sound of a mic pre being pushed until it smokes. actually things that are harmonicly rich (such as things driven into distortion, suffer the most as super hot levels. A B3 track as hot levels can be rendered almost useless.

Those who think Kenny and I (and a few others) are going on about this stuff because its the "rules" and rules are meant to be obeyed, are completely missing the point. I am in the middle of an extreme metal record right now. I am running vocals through guitar amp sims, drums and basses through distortion boxes, smashing compressors over 20-30dB. F the rules. But I am working with conservative levels into my digital converters, because I want this to sound as big and heavy as possible.

People do not realize that most of the time when they are pushing the levels hot that they are actually working against their end goal. Analog tape is something different. On analog tape I will calibrate to +9 and still have the meters begging for mercy if that is the sound I want, but digital is something completely different.
Old 29th June 2009
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moore View Post
Like this guy?
Yes. I have not used that particular one, but since it was designed by Jonathan Little I would be very good money on it that is is built like a tank and super high quality.
Old 29th June 2009
  #67
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cortaudio View Post
First off, we are WAY off of the original topic here. A COUPLE of in-audible "overs" on a GREAT take...sorry, I'll take music over math ANY DAY!
On the contrary the original topic is asking about setting levels and the clear implication was not "should I throw away these takes" but rather "should I continue to work like this"?

Other than me, impressing a vital lesson on my engineering students in a class setting, I don't think anyone here has suggested throwing out takes because of a few overs.

"Music over math" is a false dichotomy. Our task as Audio Engineers is to succeed at both.

Quote:
I'm just saying, its stupid to put "handcuffs" on your music/recordings
True, but there is absolutely no 'handcuffing' required to avoid the red.

Quote:
From my experience, the engineers that "play it safe" and "do it correctly" have some pretty lame sounding recordings.
From my experience, the engineers who think that small badnesses "don't matter" and allow them to pile up, are the ones with the lamest sounding recordings.

Quote:
If good does not accumulate, it is not enough to make a name for a man.
If evil does not accumulate, it is not enough to destroy a man. Therefore
the inferior man thinks to himself, Goodness in small things has no value,
and so neglects it. He thinks, Small sins do no harm, and so does not
give them up. Thus his sins accumulate until they can no longer be covered
up, and his guilt becomes so great that it can no longer be wiped out. In
the I Ching it is said, 'His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue, so
that his ears are hidden. Misfortune'
Old 29th June 2009
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
Yep. This is the reason I did not check out of this thread a while ago.

As a guy that mixes records for a living its amazing how often I get tracks recorded by lesser experienced engineers (or the artist) with really hot levels that have hurt the audio pretty badly, and they have read on the internet somewhere that, that is what they were supposed to do. "because it gives you the fullest sound...."

ps. the poster that thought I would erase a great performance because of some overs(and my agenda) is pretty mistaken.

No I didn't mean your agenda specifically. I meant "an" agenda where the engineer (not you) thinks their priorities come before the artists. I am fully aware of your level work and appreciate it.

Yes there is a responsibility to those learning...but aren't we all learning? just different stages and I feel that it isn't so cut and dry on this one and I've done plenty of recording...but yes lower recording levels are best ITB....that's not exactly what the OP was asking though. He was asking about occasional overs. Big difference.
Old 29th June 2009
  #69
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Living dangerously is pushing the record button on the rundown before you've had a chance to set levels.

A lot of us have learned that in the digital world it's better for the inevitable error to be on the low side rather than the high side.
Old 29th June 2009
  #70
Hot level can cause plug ins to crap out - you can of course tweak down the input on each plug in - but that really becomes boring..
Old 29th June 2009
  #71
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Keith Moore's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Hot level can cause plug ins to crap out
This is actually something else I have run into with some hot leveled tracks. I've been recording my tracks dry and EQing ITB. Just getting tired of clicking that red light. I'm glad I got so many responses from this post, I'm going to use the Massey Meter and try to get my levels averaging at -18dbu.

Thanks guys!
Old 29th June 2009
  #72
Gear Guru
 
Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moore View Post
This is actually something else I have run into with some hot leveled tracks. I've been recording my tracks dry and EQing ITB. Just getting tired of clicking that red light. I'm glad I got so many responses from this post, I'm going to use the Massey Meter and try to get my levels averaging at -18dbu.

Thanks guys!
I think that's a bit low.

I try to average about -10dB with peaks around -6dB.

Good luck.
Old 30th June 2009
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moore View Post
How can you tell where this is with Pro Tools meters?

If you Command + Click (mac) or Control + Click (PC) on the volume display under the channel fader, it will toggle between track volume, peak level, and track delay (in samples). When it is in peak display you can click on it and it will reset.
Old 30th June 2009
  #74
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Go there and read that tread...... you got all the answer with some of the best engineer,
not some wanna be without experience........... and after, decide if you still want to hit the red........

best of luck

PSW Recording Forums: Whatever Works => Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???


P.S. Kenny Gioia is giving the best answer so far......
Old 30th June 2009
  #75
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Keith Moore's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammer Mark View Post
Yes, you can trust the meters in your DAW -- it's pretty simple math, so I'd be surprised if they got it wrong.

I'd consider a take ruined if there was a single over. Even in the cases you describe, there's no excuse -- set your levels to peak no higher than -18 dBFS when you're doing your level check and I doubt any singer or drummer will blow over from there. If you're working with 24-bit word length and to a peak of -18 dBFS, you're still using 21 of those bits. That's 32 times the dynamic range of a CD.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny Gioia View Post
I think that's a bit low.

I try to average about -10dB with peaks around -6dB.

Good luck.
Sorry I think I was thinking -18 from the thread above. -10db with peaks around -6db makes much more sense to me. Thanks again for all your help. (Jawa making his way to be a Jedi)
Old 30th June 2009
  #76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moore View Post
Sorry I think I was thinking -18 from the thread above. -10db with peaks around -6db makes much more sense to me. Thanks again for all your help. (Jawa making his way to be a Jedi)
The reason -18dBFS *RMS* was mentioned is that that's around where your outboard hardware will be working at 0dBVU, i.e. about optimally for most equipment. The peaks will be at some point above that, depending on the type of track and instrument. They might be slightly higher or a lot higher.

You can always have the average higher than that if it's not causing the peaks to get too high. It's just a rough guideline for what is fairly likely to have your outboard hardware working at optimal levels. But it's also possible that a -10dBFS RMS level might cause the peaks to be too high in some cases if it's a really peaky instrument.
Old 30th June 2009
  #77
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
a passive attenuator would do the job much better than a limiter.
HHMmmmm.... it depends, but I wouldn't agree on a lot of stuff. A passive attenuator would probably just make him turn up the gain more and the same old problem returns, with the additional benefit od added noise......

As I understand it the problem is occasional overs, not a signal that's too hot on the average. A signal that's too hot can be easily dealt with by turning down the gain - or by using a pad (passive attenuator) if the gain control on the preamp doesn't have the range, which seems unlikely unless he's recording gunfire.......

Doing live shows in the old days we sometimes needed pads because a lot of the early live mixers lacked proper gain control on the input, but that hasn't been a problem for years and certainly shouldn't be for recording gear.

Please understand that I am definitely NOT in favor of the "modern" tendency to over-use limiters to compensate for lack of technique.
Old 30th June 2009
  #78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny Gioia View Post
You're missing the point.

What we went off topic with is where the 0 should be. It was very clear in the analog world and most people stayed around 0. Some would slam it for effect but not many hit it at +18.

If you want to abuse your gear, feel free to do so. But know that that's exactly what you're doing. Abusing it.

Getting as close to 0 on digital is wayy more common than it should be and it's based on misinformation.
Yes. Look up Bob Katz's K-System metering for more on metering standards for digital recording.

Or if you have a fetish for printing hot buy a 2" tape machine. I did. And no, I don't hit it anywhere close to +18!!!!!!!! Geez!
Old 30th June 2009
  #79
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With the headroom we have in DAWs, I don't see why anyone would want/need to hit red. Lower the levels!
Old 30th June 2009
  #80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moore View Post
This is actually something else I have run into with some hot leveled tracks. I've been recording my tracks dry and EQing ITB. Just getting tired of clicking that red light. I'm glad I got so many responses from this post, I'm going to use the Massey Meter and try to get my levels averaging at -18dbu.

Thanks guys!
AHEM! dBu has no meaning in digital recording. You mean dBfs.

Can we PUH-LEEZE keep our nomenclature straight?
Old 30th June 2009
  #81
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbone View Post
Go there and read that tread...... you got all the answer with some of the best engineer,
not some wanna be without experience........... and after, decide if you still want to hit the red........

best of luck

PSW Recording Forums: Whatever Works => Digital tracking with low levels = better...is this new???


P.S. Kenny Gioia is giving the best answer so far......
uh huh...and you are? and you are with?
Old 30th June 2009
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
The reason -18dBFS *RMS* was mentioned is that that's around where your outboard hardware will be working at 0dBVU, i.e. about optimally for most equipment. The peaks will be at some point above that, depending on the type of track and instrument. They might be slightly higher or a lot higher.
Whatever are you babbling about? dBfs "RMS"?????? RMS refers to power levels in an analog circuit and has nothing to do with digital levels whatsoever.

dBfs refers to dB FULL SCALE, and is referenced to the absolute limit at which digital clipping occurs.
Old 30th June 2009
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The MPCist View Post
With the headroom we have in DAWs, I don't see why anyone would want/need to hit red. Lower the levels!
that's pretty dismissive of a slew of good points.... do you guys really expect anyone to believe you never experience overs while recording bed tracks? ...trying to make yourself seem above it all isn't helpful to those learning in here either.
Old 30th June 2009
  #84
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Whatever are you babbling about? dBfs "RMS"?????? RMS refers to power levels in an analog circuit and has nothing to do with digital levels whatsoever.

dBfs refers to dB FULL SCALE, and is referenced to the absolute limit at which digital clipping occurs.
Maybe I was mixing metaphors or something. But still I think I'm basically correct because, despite your ever so condescending way of pointing this out, which really contributes to the quality of the forum so much, I'd have say that RMS is not specific to audio at all. It means root mean square. It's a statistical measure of some varying quantity and is just as applicable within the DAW in the digital world as in the analog world. Plenty of analyzer plugins show you the RMS level of the audio in the FS world. It's the root mean square of the FS level of the signal, I would assume.

If you feed a sine wave at 0dBVU signal into the DAW, if it's set up correctly, I think you should see a -18dBFS RMS signal in the digital world, right? So the point was, if you go for a -18dBFS RMS level in the DAW, that's a level that should be pushing your outboard hardware about at 0dBVU, which many folks can't tell because they have no metering on lots of their hardware.

If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me, though try to be an adult about it.
Old 30th June 2009
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glissando View Post
that's pretty dismissive of a slew of good points.... do you guys really expect anyone to believe you never experience overs while recording bed tracks? ...trying to make yourself seem above it all isn't helpful to those learning in here either.
I am certainly not above it. I screw up sometimes and I always feel like a chump for doing so.

I can also sadly remember a couple times when I was producing with other engineers that understood me saying "use conservative levels" as only clipping every once in a while and some of the tracks were actually unusable (with some pretty big deal musicians)
Old 30th June 2009
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Whatever are you babbling about? dBfs "RMS"?????? RMS refers to power levels in an analog circuit and has nothing to do with digital levels whatsoever.
root mean square (abbreviated RMS or rms), also known as the quadratic mean, is a statistical measure of the magnitude of a varying quantity. It is especially useful when variates are positive and negative, e.g., sinusoids.

It can be calculated for a series of discrete values or for a continuously varying function. The name comes from the fact that it is the square root of the mean of the squares of the values. (thanks wikipedia)
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post

dBfs refers to dB FULL SCALE, and is referenced to the absolute limit at which digital clipping occurs.
Actually dBfs refers to all available bits being used. Clipping occurs when you try to record more information than will fit in the available number of bits. (i.e. go past zero.)
Old 30th June 2009
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
I am certainly not above it. I screw up sometimes and I always feel like a chump for doing so.

I can also sadly remember a couple times when I was producing with other engineers that understood me saying "use conservative levels" as only clipping every once in a while and some of the tracks were actually unusable (with some pretty big deal musicians)
I don't want overs ever. Digital clipping to me on the way in is ridiculous and a sign of bad gain staging. really though that is not the point of this...it's more like when do you draw the line...is it 3 overs...that's about it for me...ideally I'm going for none and usually do just that and keep my levels conservative. It certainly is not the end of the world and also it's not necessarily a sign of BAD engineering. Sometimes it happens given a certain set of circumstances.

So when you "screw up" but the take is good how many overs is too many?
Old 23rd August 2009
  #88
Here for the gear
 

Clipping is generally bad news. Pro Tools will go in the red with (2) consecutive samples at 98%. So use the ears.
Old 23rd August 2009
  #89
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The "use your ears" approach is appropriate for the analog world but ignoring clipping in the digital world can get you in trouble because the biggest audible problems occur after you've re-crunched the numbers to change the volume or something.

The glassy sound that results is not big and the sound of an overloading analog IC chip is not big. What sounds big is a really clean recording of some cool analog distortion.
Old 23rd August 2009
  #90
Gear Maniac
 

As far as hitting red on the master...

you've got to keep in mind that when a track is mastered it is typically compressed two times before gain is added and the whole shebang is limited. Literally sheering off of waveform and technically distorting the signal.

So if the raw track has clipping/distortion already. The resulted mastering job would sound gritty(er) since you'd be to sheering off more waveform to achieve the same results.
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