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Thread: Metering in digital domain

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    What the meter displays, for example 0dBVU, is the level, not gain. The input preamp adds gain as needed to make the signal the desired level. Where you get a unity gain setting is on the faders where it is the 0dB point. It just means the fader isn't adding or subtracting any gain and the signal passes with its level unchanged.

    I would say you're setting the input gain for a level of 0dBVU on your meter. That probably comes out as +4dBu at the outputs to the converters. Depending on the converters that may end up in the vicinity of -18 to -12dBFS.
    If i adjust the converters preamp level that would boost the signal above the -18 to -12dbfs then right? I think the preamps in the allen heath mixer that use has less noisy pres so i adjust the gain with the mixer preamp and leave the converter pres down, also a lot say that recording with a level of -18 to -12dbfs is pretty much where it needs to be for digital recording, would that sound to be true in this situation?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
    No, what I'm saying is most plug-ins sound exactly the same no matter what level you throw at them. Now, this is not true for all plug-ins, but it is for most of them. This is very easy to test for yourself, and I urge you to do that. It won't take long, and you'll learn something very important about how your audio software works. See my article and video linked above for more info on how to test this. I promise it's well worth your time. At least if you want to know the how and why aspects of audio.

    --Ethan
    So how do we know which plugins do and which plugins don't? Should we test each one? Logic, then, would dictate that it's better to just practice conservative levels.

    A little FYI, if I may.

    Just so everyone knows, Ethan prides himself on being an audio myth debunker. To my knowledge he's never made a hit record and the things he says pisses off a lot of the the people that do, because they vehemently disagree with him on much of his "debunking".

    I can list at least 5 or 6 of them off the top of my head, and these are people ranging from having 50 years in the business, to top 10 hit maker engineer/producers. There are epic threads all over the internet forums where Ethan and his adversaries battle out these points of contention.

    My opinions are somewhere in the middle.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo Facta View Post
    So how do we know which plugins do and which plugins don't? Should we test each one? Logic, then, would dictate that it's better to just practice conservative levels.
    Anytime you are using a plugin that is an emulaton of real gear and the way it acts there is going to be a simulated 0VU point well below 0dBFS to allow you to push into the simulated headroom to get that distortion that comes from pushing levels into gear

    Many plugin manufacturers use -18dBFS as simulated 0VU. Waves emulations do although it is user definable if you want to change as do UAD with the exception of their tape sims Studer 800 and Ampeg ATR 102 which use -12, satson, SK note, IK etc all have emulation plugs and this concept of simulated 0VU and simulated headroom and distortion is now very common in plugins

    So if you are using any emulation plug anywhere in the chain you are going to need to be aware of the levels going into that plug to get the result you want, regardless of what the recorded levels were

    Also, while converters may be clean all the way up to 0dBFS, if you are using any analog equipment in your recording or mixing chain it will usually be looking for a signal of 0VU based on a voltage measurement so if you are going to 0dBFS on your digital meters you could be pushing levels of +22dBU into that gear which could make it sound pretty bad

    I like the master meter in REAPER which allows you to define where 0VU is. it will still give you the dBFS scale as well but you now have a reference as to where 0VU levels should be. Satson's Sonimus metering is also useful for this at the track level

    Long story short, if you shoot for levels of around -18dBFS (RMS not peak) you will never go wrong and you can always bring the finished mix up to more commercial levels at the final stage once the two track mix is finished

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    Yeah, I have neve heard of this simulated 0VU as you call it. That's because plugins use floating or fixed point binary math internally. I'm going to have to go ahead and call BS on that one.

    Translating 0dBfs to dBu depends on the calibration of the hardware. For instance, my Aurora 8 clips at +20 dBu. This means that when the daw is outputting 0dBfs, I will read a level of +20 dBu at the outputs of the converters.

    Regarding plugins, I doubt this simulated 0 VU. Has anyone else ever heard of this? I stand here willing to be corrected. As far as i understand it, the internal calculations are all carried out in binary numbers in what amounts to base-2 arithmetic. In floating point math, values representing the positive and negative phases of the wave form are represented by a positive or negative integer between 1 and -1, which is full scale (0dBfs). Levels greater than full scale can also be temporarily calculated in floating point math but at that point the code must be properly written so that he result is less than 1 or more than -1 at the output. Some plugins do it well, some add distortion and some just crash. This, of course, all depends on the proficiency of the developer. On top of that plugins will often have internal precisions greater than the recorded audio and will often dither at the output. This is another area where distortion. An creep in.

    All plugins are not created equal.

    Plugin guys, if I got anything wrong please correct me. I am not a programmer.

    Cheers

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    Sorry Bristol poss. Didn't see you were talking about saturation emulations. In that case it make sense. Damn phone foruming!

    I retract my criticisms of your post.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo Facta View Post
    Regarding plugins, I doubt this simulated 0 VU. Has anyone else ever heard of this? I stand here willing to be corrected.
    From the waves Kramer Master tape manual:
    features a modeled analog VU meter, where 0 dBVU = 1.23Volts RMS = +4 dBu at 1 kHz. Using a 700 Hz tone at -18 dBFS, input and output levels are equal. The default VU meter calibration is -18 dBFS = 0 dBVU, which we found to be optimal for achieving the desired sound when the meter action hovers around 0 dBVU. For hot digital signals peaking close to 0 dBFS, this will require lowering your Record Level proportionately to achieve “proper” tape sound.
    From the waves SSL bundle:
    3. An Input Trim Button enables you to trim the input to the channel by 18db. The
    plug-in is aligned so that -18 dBFS = 0.
    From the UAD System manual
    Operating Levels
    Except as noted in Table 4 below, the internal operating level of all UAD Powered
    Plug-Ins is –18 dBFS. 0 dBFS is calibrated to +4 dBu with 18 dB of headroom,
    so 0 dBFS is the equivalent of +22 dBu in the analog domain.
    and so on

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bristol Posse View Post
    From the waves Kramer Master tape manual:

    From the waves SSL bundle:

    From the UAD System manual


    and so on
    The tape saturation plugins were the ones I was referring to. I dont know any of the math behind digital recording or much of the technical side but that is why these forums help. I have been getting the mixes to sound better and better the more I learn about this stuff. It really seems like little mistakes that I make ruin my mixes. Although I can add that when im mixing I use my ears more than anything. But I really think there is a technical side to this that cant be overlooked.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo Facta View Post
    So how do we know which plugins do and which plugins don't? Should we test each one?
    Yes, unless you're happy to remain ignorant about how the tools you use actually work. The same applies to outboard gear too. Push it and see what happens. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't, but at least you'll know which end is up.

    Just so everyone knows, Ethan prides himself on being an audio myth debunker. To my knowledge he's never made a hit record and the things he says pisses off a lot of the the people that do, because they vehemently disagree with him on much of his "debunking".
    Ah, another hater intent on discrediting Ethan. Nice. Didn't you hear the war is over? Regardless, maybe 1.5 Million views on YouTube and elsewhere doesn't count for much these days, but I'd call that a hit. Most views:



    Newer render with much better quality:



    I was designing audio gear and producing music for national jingles and soundtracks while you were still in diapers:

    Ethan's Audio and Music Bio Page

    And the list of your hit records can be found where? Not that how many "hit records" one has produced affects the validity of their arguments. But you brought it up.

    if I got anything wrong please correct me. I am not a programmer.
    No kidding. As it happens, I am a programmer. Look, whoever you are, if you don't have anything to offer but insults and accusations, you could avoid embarrassing yourself by just staying out of it. The people I "piss off" are those who hold strong opinions, but lack the knowledge and foundation to understand the science or express themselves intelligently. So all they have left is insults. Sound familiar?

    You would do well to read the article I linked to previously, and try to understand it. For extra credit, read and understand my and read it all the way through.

    --Ethan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bristol Posse View Post
    Many plugin manufacturers use -18dBFS as simulated 0VU ... if you shoot for levels of around -18dBFS (RMS not peak) you will never go wrong and you can always bring the finished mix up to more commercial levels at the final stage once the two track mix is finished
    Yes, but understand that the concept of RMS and average levels derives from the need to know how loud something sounds. And when used for setting levels, it's really only appropriate for analog tape recorders. With digital systems, the audio is perfectly clean right up to the point of hard clipping. So all that really matters with DAW software is keeping the peak levels safely below Digital Zero. If you can hit 0 dBFS without distorting anything in the analog path, or being so far down the analog noise floor is a factor, record levels don't matter. The notion that DAW software has a sweet spot is definitely a myth, though - again - some plug-ins add intentional analog "flavor" that increases at higher levels. Other 32-bit plug-ins are not affected.

    --Ethan

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    Quote Originally Posted by offcenter2005 View Post
    If i adjust the converters preamp level that would boost the signal above the -18 to -12dbfs then right? I think the preamps in the allen heath mixer that use has less noisy pres so i adjust the gain with the mixer preamp and leave the converter pres down, also a lot say that recording with a level of -18 to -12dbfs is pretty much where it needs to be for digital recording, would that sound to be true in this situation?
    I don't know what converters you have so I don't have any idea what the correct settings would be. I take it you're going from an A&H mixer into an interface, perhaps the ADA800 on the gear list in your sig line? Are you using the TRS line inputs? If so then +4 is probably where you want to set the knob (since presumably you're sending it a +4dBu signal). If you're using the mic inputs there may be too much gain even with the knob all the way down.

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