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Thread: Single track levels are good/low, but Master track level/sum is high?

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    Single track levels are good/low, but Master track level/sum is high?

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    I am using GarageBand 11 to record our band with an 8-track digital interface (zoom r16). We have leveled all the channels going into the interface on a mixer. When I record the tracks (8 tracks simultaneously), the level meters in GarageBand (little level meter on the left side of each track) show a normal input, mostly low (=green) and only very rarely going to yellow, but definitely never red. But the master-track still shows a rather high overall level, going mostly into yellow and hitting red quite often, even without any mixing or mastering. I have to turn the single tracks way down to reach a masterlevel that doesnt go into red. If I leave the levels of the single tracks at a "normal" level and then add the masteringtools (1.channel eq, 2.compressor, 3.multipressor, 4.second compressor, 5.limiter) this reults in quite heavy limiting, which leads to audible "pumping" noise.

    Why is the mastertrack-level so much higher than the single tracks and why do i have to turn the single tracks to an "unnormal" low level to get decent results?

    Thanks for any advice!

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    Each track level meter indicates a voltage level. Total Voltage goes up with the next track

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    Maybe post a screen shot of where your faders and levels are for each track. Like Garww said, the master bus basically sums all the other channels. Some fx can raise volume, and then you mention "masteringtools (1.channel eq, 2.compressor, 3.multipressor, 4.second compressor, 5.limiter)" -- these can all raise volume. You shouldn't be using any of those unless you know what you're doing with them (using 2 compressors and a limiter sounds like overkill and sure to raise the signal). Also if you are using any guitar sims check the patches on them. Many times they are too hot by default from the manufacturer and you have to lower the master within the plugins. This goes for drums, keys, etc. Any virtual instrument.

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    Every doubling of track count, if all recorded and mixed at about the same level, yields approximately +3dB of overall level. Just back off your channel faders a little if it starts getting too high on the master meter. If your channel faders end up too low then pull clip gains down (if there's such a thing in GB). Eight tracks adds about 9dB at the main meter. Countering that is pan law, which cuts the level of centered tracks (relative to hard panned tracks) by 2.5dB-6dB.

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    Thanks a lot for the comments! I guess I just had a misconception about the levels. Now I understand, of course, that adding tracks, even if they are low on level will eventually lead to a high(er) total. stupid me! :-)
    I guess thats like having several glasses all filled just with a little water and if you pour them all together in one glass, the glass might be full! :-)
    Sorry, I'm just a beginner...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    If your channel faders end up too low then pull clip gains down (if there's such a thing in GB).
    What exactly do you mean by "pull clip gains down"? In GarageBand I can add a "utility"-plug-in called "gain", where I can reduce (or higher) the gain of the individual track. Is this what you mean?
    I read somewhere, that it's a good method to reduce all the individual tracks to the same lower level, say -10db. first you check all the tracks and find the loudest part, say -3db or -4db etc. and then reduce each one according to the highest peak, so a track that peaks at -3db you'd have to reduce by 7db to get to -10db, a track that peaks at -5db you'd have to reduce by 5db to get to -10db etc.
    Do you think that's a reasonable method?

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    ..."Do you think that's a reasonable method"?

    No. Tracks are often doing different things and will have more weight and also less weight. Try tracking and mixing without meters

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zabriskie View Post
    What exactly do you mean by "pull clip gains down"? In GarageBand I can add a "utility"-plug-in called "gain", where I can reduce (or higher) the gain of the individual track. Is this what you mean?
    I read somewhere, that it's a good method to reduce all the individual tracks to the same lower level, say -10db. first you check all the tracks and find the loudest part, say -3db or -4db etc. and then reduce each one according to the highest peak, so a track that peaks at -3db you'd have to reduce by 7db to get to -10db, a track that peaks at -5db you'd have to reduce by 5db to get to -10db etc.
    Do you think that's a reasonable method?
    I wouldn't over think it. Start by mixing down (turning loud things down) rather than mixing up (tuning quiet things up). Get a decent balance without using any dynamics processing. If you're still running out of headroom it might be worth considering a gain adjustment early in the plugin chain, like you describe. Ideally, if you track at appropriate levels in the first place you won't run out of headroom unless you start pushing faders up.

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    ok, thanks a lot for the comments!
    I'll just go ahead and try...
    :-)

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