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Thread: Metering in digital domain

  1. #31
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    Ok. Since we have completely lost track can we start talking about how these threads become like a living thing that spreads like cancer? WHO GIVES A SHIT! You guys are obviously knowledgeable but how about talking like normal people and not freaking robots. I dont follow anything on people who try to disprove others recording theories. To actually be creative and make things sound good does it have to be this complex? I bet all of you have a ton of useful advice individually but get you in the same thread and it turns to dick swinging. Entertaining but not educational. No offense to any of you. Can we get back on track and talk about what this was about to begin with?
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbsy View Post
    By all means like "analogue warmth" or "tape saturation effects" or anything else--lots of good recordings use such things. But don't try to make the jump to pseudo science to justify it--just say "I like that sound".
    You totally get it.

    --Ethan

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    Yes, but understand that the concept of RMS and average levels derives from the need to know how loud something sounds.
    I'm using RMS level as a measure of whether my equipment is getting 1.228 volts RMS where it will operate at it's most linear and optimally in terms of S/N ratio (or not as the case may be if I am looking for distortion). On my converters that could equate to -14dBFS RMS or -9dBFS RMS depending on how I have them calibrated but I still shoot for around -18dBFS RMS out of convenience just so I don't have to pull the gain down on all my tracks since I will use mostly emulation plugs in the mix

    If I'm using an analog emualtion plugin then I'm looking for a level that will emulate the level where the plugin will operate at it's most linear and optimally in terms of emulated S/N ration (or not as the case may be if I am looking for emulated distortion)

    I believe this is why it's important to understand every part of the signal chain, both analog and digital, so you don't unintentionally add unwanted noise and distortion to your recordings and mixes.

    If your signal chain is comprised of an interface whose preamps and coverters are calibrated to be clean up to 0dBFS and all non emulation plugins then yes so long as nothing goes above 0dBFS you can record at pretty much any level you choose

    If you are using any analog gear in the signal chain that will begin to add distortion the further you go above +4dBU (0VU) or any emulation plugs that will add emulated distortion the further you go above an emulated 0VU. Then being aware of appropriate levels becomes important

    Since many people use more than just an interface and plugins that have no level dependent distortion built in, it is very important to understand the implications of gain staging and levels can have and how and why to control those implications to get the result you want in your final mix.

    If I run a +22dBU signal out of a preamp into a compressor expecting an input level of +4 dBU I will get a great deal of distortion. If I run that into a converter, so long as I stay below 0dBFS I'll get no clipping and a great digital representation of a very distorted signal. Is that what I want? maybe maybe not but I need to understand my signal flow to get the result I need

    If I run a -0.1dBFS signal out of a track into a plug in compressor emulating analog gear's response to hot signals that is expecting an input level of -18dBFS, I will get a great deal of distortion. So long as I stay below 0dBFS I'll get no clipping and a great digital representation of a very distorted signal. Is that what I want? maybe maybe not but once again I need to understand my signal flow to get the result I need

    I think that is really the point of this thread and why in 24 bit recording, many people use the -18dBFS RMS as a "sweet spot" as you say. You're covered if you use emulation plugs or other analog gear, you don't have pull the gain down radically on your tracks to avoid clipping the master when mixing and you leave your self plenty of headroom for any sudden enthusiastic note, hard struck string etc that might clip a hotter recording.
    Last edited by Bristol Posse; 06-28-2012 at 13:25.

  4. #34
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    ^^^ I agree with all of that. The only thing I'll mention is that I record most things at 16 bits because the Wave files are then 2/3 the size of 24 bits, and in turn I can run more tracks for the same CPU usage. Even with "only" 16 bits you can still record softer than -10 and be well above any noise from the medium. But really, setting record levels isn't that complicated.

    --Ethan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    . But really, setting record levels isn't that complicated.
    --Ethan
    And yet so many of us shoot ourselves in the foot when we're starting out because we don't understand what it means or how it applies to our gear and software

  6. #36
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    ^^^ Indeed. This is one of the "problems" with the democratization of recording gear. Years ago when it cost $10k and up for even a modest home recording setup, people were serious about that much commitment and learned enough to really understand the process. Today, anyone with a home computer and $200 for a sound card and microphone, and basic software, can own a recording studio. This is great! Hence the usefulness and need for audio forums like this one.

    --Ethan

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    Ive just come to the conclusion that Ethan is a thread jacker. You took over a thread that you selfishly used to promote yourself. Get over your self indulgent agenda! You seem to do this to promote yourself and in the process make the art of record ing seem like the myth. I want to soak up information but it first has to interest me. I cant imagine being a musician that would have to analyze things to the point that it becomes a laboratory study and not an art form. It all just seems a bit too obsessive. Even if a song SOUNDS fantastic and sucks, it still sucks. All this for a gain staging question and by the time I waited to have a conversation about it Ive read 100 other posts that actually helped me. Also there have been albums in the last ten years that have been major successes on very limited studio setups. I also think that to spend so much time running numbers in ones head will destroy inspiration. I did get the answers that i was looking for. But it could have taken less time and also have taken this thread to more interesting places than it did. I give you respect because its due for the work you put into something you love. But you interjecting on numerous threads I have read leads me to believe you are trying to sell something.
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  8. #38
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  9. #39
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    I didn't insult anyone.

    I just stated that you have opposition.

    I'll say for the third time now that my views are somewhere in the middle which means I agree with some of your arguments and disagree with others.

    I'm a fair guy, but I thought people on here should know that you DO have opposition to your views and the opposition comes from respected pros, not just forum pedants.

    For me, I'm sick of science and the soul destroying MINUTIA that we obsess about on these forums and would rather get on with the pleasurable experience of making music and making decisions on what I HEAR. Forest for the trees on here, as usual. God, are we getting to the point where we don't use a plugin until we null test it? I really don't care that much to take the time. My ears are good enough for me.

    Excuse me while I go mix a record.

    Cheers

  10. #40
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    Lightbulb

    I'm really surprised - and a bit disappointed - to have my posts called thread jacking. In fact, everything I've said here applies directly to the topic at hand. I have more to offer below which I hope you'll consider. I really hate making enemies, especially in a forum discussion with one of my customers, but this myth is so prevalent that it really needs to be busted and stopped from being repeated. Don't we all want to know the truth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    This has come in handy a few (hundred thousand) times:
    Proper Audio Recording Levels | Rants, Articles
    John, in that article you suggest that people prove for themselves that recording at lower levels sounds better by using a splitter to record the same microphone to two tracks at once at different levels for every track in a song. Have you ever actually done that? I did, and the results confirm what I've been saying in this thread. Since it's not practical for me to record an entire band just to test this, I did the next best thing: I played each track of an existing song one by one and re-amped them into one microphone and recorded at two levels. Whether this captures the same sound as a microphone on a singer or drum set is irrelevant. The source simply is what it is, and a re-amp source is as valid as any other to disprove this myth. I used the 8-track "master" of an old Motown hit that made the rounds a few years ago.

    The photo below shows the setup with my large JBL 4430 loudspeaker and a precision DPA 4090 microphone 18 inches from the center of the horn's throat. I set the levels so that one track of each recording peaked at least higher than -6 dBFS, and the other was about 20 dB below that. I didn't change the record levels as I recorded each existing track to the new pair of tracks. I even recorded at 16 bits instead of 24, to make this a worse-case test.

    I rendered only 25 seconds of the tune, but the files are still too large for this forum to accept. So I put them in a temp folder on my own web site:

    http://www.ethanwiner.com/levels-mixa.wav
    http://www.ethanwiner.com/levels-mixb.wav

    Your mission is to identity which mix was made from files recorded so they peak near 0 dB, and which mix came from the files that were recorded around -20. To me they sound exactly the same, but maybe others here have better (and younger) ears than me. I will mention that when I nulled the two mix files, the residual (difference) was down around -50 dB.

    A few years ago someone rightly criticized my Dither Report article because the comparisons were for different parts of the song. So I re-did the examples and re-wrote the article. This is how science is supposed to work when new information is learned.

    --Ethan

    levels-test-setup-jpg
    Last edited by Ethan Winer; 07-03-2012 at 14:53. Reason: I decided to turn this into an article, so I moved the linked Wave files to a permanent place on my web site.

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