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Thread: limiter question

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    limiter question

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    I have a few tracks I've finished which are just Vocals/Electric Gtr. On these particular tracks I leave the vocal at unity gain and mix the guitar from there.

    I usually find that my track very rarely peaks on the master over -8dbfs, more like an average of -10. I'm then forced to use a tonne of input gain on my limiter to boost the volume (about 11 db) I've read a few threads and been told by some friends not to slam the input gain as this can be detrimental to audio. It takes about 7dbs of input gain before I actually get any gain reduction on these specific tracks

    I've gain staged everything correctly with my absolute peaks not going over -6dbfs and an average level of -12.

    should I track hotter? (since it's just two tracks) or should I just raise those faders and back off on my limiter. How many dbs of input gain is too much. The type of music is acoustic, buckley esque type stuff.


    all help massively appreciated
    “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

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    It's less about the input gain going into a limiter, and more about how much gain reduction the limiter is applying to the signal. Assuming that your noise floor is relatively low, feel free to crank up the input gain as much as you need to in order to achieve your desired amount of gain reduction. It's only when the limiter springs into action (i.e. reduces the gain) that you'll hear any effect on your audio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davecg321 View Post
    How many dbs of input gain is too much.
    None. If there isn't any gain reduction happening, then you're just turning up the volume. There shouldn't be any change in the audio if all you're doing is adding input gain. However, if you're using some plugin that has an innate sound character, then there will be a difference. I can't imagine a limiter would color the sound though.

    Just raise the input gain until you get a couple db's of GR.

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    As Andrush says, unless the plugin you're using imparts some particular character, raising the input gain whilst still staying below the threshold should have no measurable negative effect on the audio.

    If your master is miles shy then there's the potential for signal to noise ratio to be low and hiss to be heard.
    If that's the case then, yeah, you should probably aim to track a little hotter next time around but, from your description, it doesn't sound like that is the case.
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    should I track hotter?
    Nope.

    But tracking levels and mixing levels aren't necessarily comparable.

    If you track your vocals at (let's pick a relatively 'normal-ish' number of) around -12 or -10dBFS - and the guitar for that matter (which few will argue is a reasonable place to be with a reasonable amount of headroom on the input stage), you've got a nice signal going to digital - and then all the rules change.

    If it's a "band" (drums, bass, vocals, keyboards, etc., etc., etc.), you're almost certainly going to be bringing the faders below unity to start mixing. With a guitar & vocal, you can certainly go *above* - or use any number of gain stages -- some of which will of course affect what happens after (such as raising the gain before a compressor as opposed to dropping the threshold).

    If you're talking about input gain digitally, you're fine there. Or at the object level (if you have that capability). Or the track fader, if there's a "gain" plug, etc., etc., etc.

    The big thing is getting the analog signal in there "safely" - Then do whatcha gotta do. Raise the faders, automate a curve upwards -- whatever works in the chain you're creating.

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    limiters can definitely 'color' sound.
    even if they are doing zero reduction.

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    I'm using the Fabfilter L limiter. I believe this is know for being fairly transparent...
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    Quote Originally Posted by davecg321 View Post
    I'm using the Fabfilter L limiter. I believe this is know for being fairly transparent...
    Ignore your friends who say not to drive the input, that's how proper mastering limiters are designed to work. Until reduction starts to happen it's just clean gain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davecg321 View Post
    I'm using the Fabfilter L limiter. I believe this is know for being fairly transparent...
    Yup. My favorite limiter by far. It's a hungry bastard though so I don't use it during tracking. Causes a bunch of latency. Fine for home mastering though.
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