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Thread: Getting into the reds on my Tascam M512..to satisfy the hybrid setup

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    Getting into the reds on my Tascam M512..to satisfy the hybrid setup

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    Hey guys
    I am running a hybrid setup here, the M512 into Tascam 238 and A&H ICE16D to DAW.

    Gain matching between the 512 and 238 is pretty smooth and well. But if i would record the same signal to DAW i would end up with a fairly week signal. So i find my self cranking up the gain on the input channel (Buss channel remains on it's nominal level), getting those formidable red peak leds...still, even if most of the signal is "red", it's not clipping the digital side of the chain. but then at least i get a healthy signal..

    Remember that the ICE16D does not have trim/gain control whatsoever..so it is only the mixer and the DAW to play with.

    The signal is going out from the BALANCED AMP outs of the m512 to the ICE16D btw.

    So..is it "not healthy" in any way for my Tascam m512 to record constantly in such high levels? shall i compromise on the signal i get on the DAW in order to record on more "traditional" levels?

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    If it works and the 'redded' signal is in fact clean, then I'd be very happy consistently working with that level. Never does any harm. If it distorts it's bad but if you don't hear it, all is fine.

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    520 here with Ice 16 (not d)
    Msr16 in the mix too. So I’m running a similar setup.
    Not using the balanced outs on the mixer. Just direct outs.

    Long story short..... everything is at the normal nominal levels. No going into the red.

    And yes, by the time it gets to my daw, its a very low signal. But no problem. Every daw has some kind of “clip gain”. Simply adjust in the daw and when it comes back into the mixer all is good.

    The ICE doesn’t need a ‘healthy’ signal. Just needs a signal.

    Rob gave a much simpler answer we’re probably both right.

    On a side note, I love my setup. Easy to go from tape to daw, back to mixer.

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    Your DAW is probably set at +4dBm while the Tascam would be OVU = -10dBm. Not sure about the ICE16 but usually you can change the operating level of the I/O's in your DAW.
    Last edited by Chilljam; 1 Week Ago at 19:39.

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    I dont think on the ice you can change the operating levels. Pretty sure its set at +4

    But..... using the balanced outs in the Tascam, I believe there are level switches to bring it to +4 from -10db

    I remember seeing that in my M520 under the meter bridge. (Unscrew and it hinges back)

    However, as I said earlier clip gain in the Daw works just fine.

    Maybe sweetbeats will chime in.

    He needs his own ‘bat signal’

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFR View Post
    I dont think on the ice you can change the operating levels. Pretty sure its set at +4

    But..... using the balanced outs in the Tascam, I believe there are level switches to bring it to +4 from -10db

    I remember seeing that in my M520 under the meter bridge. (Unscrew and it hinges back)

    However, as I said earlier clip gain in the Daw works just fine.

    Maybe sweetbeats will chime in.

    He needs his own ‘bat signal’
    Its not -10dBV or +4dBu on the balanced outs, the switches on the balance amp PCB below the meter bridge switch from +4dBu to +8dBu. If the audio interface has balanced inputs at a +4dBU nominal level, then the balanced outs on the M-512 should drive them fine without having to push levels such that they trigger the peak indicators on the VU meters.

    So let me make sure of how you have your M-512 setup...you have inputs connected to input channels, you have those inputs' trim levels set appropriately (increase trim level until OL indicator just starts to light on peaks, then you back the trim off a little bit), input faders set to unity gain, and then you have those input channels assigned to PGM groups and panned as needed to get those input sources to the PGM groups you want them to go to, then you have the PGM faders set to something around unity gain, and then on the back of the console you have the BUSS OUT jacks connected to the BALANCE AMP IN jacks, and then you have an XLR to Tascam standard DSUB snake connecting the BALANCE AMP OUT jacks to the A&H interface? Do I have that all correct? And with stuff set that way your signal levels at the A&H inputs is "fairly weak"? Like how weak? What DAW are you using, and is it fancy enough to have input level faders? Or does it rely solely on the interface trim controls (which the A&H doesn't have) or the interface's control panel settings and any input trim range controls (which the A&H also doesn't seem to have)?

    By the way, it was mentioned earlier low signal to the DAW is okay, and while this is true (you can always use the level maximizer utility found on pretty much any DAW these days to maximize the level of any individual track), it is always best practice to try and get as hot a signal into the DAW without clipping as you can...good practice to try and leave a 3dBfs cushion before clipping, but the lower the signal, the less of your digital word or resolution you are using. In order to capture the most resolution and take as much advantage of the analog to digital conversion process, you do want to try and maximize the signal at the converter input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Its not -10dBV or +4dBu on the balanced outs, the switches on the balance amp PCB below the meter bridge switch from +4dBu to +8dBu. If the audio interface has balanced inputs at a +4dBU nominal level, then the balanced outs on the M-512 should drive them fine without having to push levels such that they trigger the peak indicators on the VU meters.
    Damn you’re right again. Either you have a photographic memory or you re-read the manuals right before posting.

    I was winging it from vague memory.

    So the bat signal worked?
    Last edited by RFR; 1 Week Ago at 00:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFR View Post
    Damn you’re right again. Either you have a photographic memory or you re-read the manuals right before posting.

    I was winging it from vague memory.

    So the bat signal worked?
    No photographic memory, at least I don’t think so...sometimes I just remember, other times I open the manual up, or sometimes if I’m not at all familiar I’ll skim the manual if I can get it. I have my manual library on a server I can access via my mobile device. 99% of the time if I’m troubleshooting with someone and diving into the service manual and schematics it is via a 4.5”ish screen. Maybe that’s spurred my memory to be better. The little screen isn’t ideal, but I’m on the go a lot and it’s terribly convenient to be able to have a technical library in my pocket. On the M-512/520 balance amp that was from memory. I studied the balance amp in the M-500 consoles relatively intently and in the 58 to compare and contrast with the LA-40mkI while studying and learning about the balance amps in my prototype “M-__” console...seeing how the proto console design morphed in devices that actually made it to market. The +8dBu thing stick in my memory because that is pretty uncommon nowadays...that was the broadcast standard operating level, and I was surprised to see it in the Tascam.

    Bat signal...no...I just lurk a lot.

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    Well I’d imagine with the amount of times you’ve opened, dissected and rebuilt stuff it almost becomes ingrained like muscle memory.

    So with the switches under the hood, default is +4db? Meaning if you use the balanced out it becomes compatible with pro rather than prosumer gear right?

    For my applications I never used that. My signal flow (generally) goes from console direct outs to MSR 16 inputs. From the tape outs to the ICE 16. From the ICE outs back to the console.
    I’ve never had any level issues in the daw that couldn’t be resolved with clip gain.

    I should mention that I’m not using the ice as an interface . Im just converting tape to digital, storing the wav files onto ssd then putting them into ProTools or Reaper.

    Sorry, I feel like I'm hijacking. But then again, maybe the more conversations that occur can be beneficial to everyone learning something. Even if only what not to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Its not -10dBV or +4dBu on the balanced outs, the switches on the balance amp PCB below the meter bridge switch from +4dBu to +8dBu. If the audio interface has balanced inputs at a +4dBU nominal level, then the balanced outs on the M-512 should drive them fine without having to push levels such that they trigger the peak indicators on the VU meters.

    So let me make sure of how you have your M-512 setup...you have inputs connected to input channels, you have those inputs' trim levels set appropriately (increase trim level until OL indicator just starts to light on peaks, then you back the trim off a little bit), input faders set to unity gain, and then you have those input channels assigned to PGM groups and panned as needed to get those input sources to the PGM groups you want them to go to, then you have the PGM faders set to something around unity gain, and then on the back of the console you have the BUSS OUT jacks connected to the BALANCE AMP IN jacks, and then you have an XLR to Tascam standard DSUB snake connecting the BALANCE AMP OUT jacks to the A&H interface? Do I have that all correct? And with stuff set that way your signal levels at the A&H inputs is "fairly weak"? Like how weak? What DAW are you using, and is it fancy enough to have input level faders? Or does it rely solely on the interface trim controls (which the A&H doesn't have) or the interface's control panel settings and any input trim range controls (which the A&H also doesn't seem to have)?


    YES. you have described it exactly right. While i cannot say the A&H gets a weak signal, because the leds it features only tells you if the signal is there or not (and not the level of it) , the signal i get in the DAW which is Ableton seems week - the small waveform is the first sign of it but ofcourse this is just a hint, when i crank up the level of the signal i can see very well that indeed there is much more headroom to use - and that's when i get into the red zone on my M512.
    I am very, very weak when it comes to DAW (uhm uhm analog freak), but i reckon the tracks faders and the sample gain ("level maximizer" as you say?) both comes only after the recording has been done - anyone here familiar with Ableton might correct me on this.

    By the way, it was mentioned earlier low signal to the DAW is okay, and while this is true (you can always use the level maximizer utility found on pretty much any DAW these days to maximize the level of any individual track), it is always best practice to try and get as hot a signal into the DAW without clipping as you can...good practice to try and leave a 3dBfs cushion before clipping, but the lower the signal, the less of your digital word or resolution you are using. In order to capture the most resolution and take as much advantage of the analog to digital conversion process, you do want to try and maximize the signal at the converter input.

    So what you are saying basically - is that the best practice is to record using my analog gear on it's nominal level, therefor trying to avoid the signal peaks leds, and to maximize the signal level in the DAW? or rather hitting the digital inputs as high as i can and minimize the digital intervention?

    forgive me because English is my second language.

    thanks!!

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