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Thread: Reading VU meters

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    Reading VU meters

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    I have a question about how to read a VU meter.
    I have been operating under an assumption about the correct use of LEDs on calssic needle VU meters. I know that what sounds good IS good but I have always assumed that a blinking LED is not too bad as long as the needle stays well under the red. Is this right?
    I know some people like to do silly things with their tape because they want some tape "phatness" but I am more interested in the clinical practice. In other words what are they teaching in school in 1979?

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    Well, as far as TASCAM's meters on their mixers and reel to reels go, The needle is showing RMS program content that is full bandwidth and the peak LED is showing transient peaks that are normally set to light when ugly distortion is happening.

    On mixers, there is usually a different setting which is normally higher as mixers have more headroom before clipping is audible compared to tape.

    Each device will be set differently and it's best to get the spec from the owner's manual for the specifics of each piece.

    A general rule for peak LED's is to only have them light on rare occasions and especially for things like cymbals, to not light at all.

    Cheers!

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    How does it sound on play back? If the lights blink and your hearing distortion then you know not to go there. Its about learning how your gear handles the load. In digital...blinking is bad! In analog, occasional blinking can be good or bad depending on the gear, some devices clip gracefully some do not. Train your ears Jake. Solo each track and listen for distortion, but alway print a sample to tape and replay. Sometimes if yoy clip the meter on the bridge, that doesn't mean you've got distortion on tape. Try covering the VU's on everything and turn off the lights and listen. Jedi ear tricks

    Never trust the lights, unless your using calibrated Durrough loudness meters...


    SoMm

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    Never trust the lights, unless your using calibrated Durrough loudness meters...
    I might be wrong here but, doesn't the Durrough's calibration accuracy depend on the the mixer and multi-track to be calibrated too? and if so, the meter's on the deck should be all the accuracy one needs to deal with the issues of overload.

    Though, I do like the look of the Durrough!

    Cheers!

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    Originally posted by The Ghost of FM
    I might be wrong here but, doesn't the Durrough's calibration accuracy depend on the the mixer and multi-track to be calibrated too? and if so, the meter's on the deck should be all the accuracy one needs to deal with the issues of overload.

    Though, I do like the look of the Durrough!

    Cheers!
    Typical meters can have a +/- 3db tolerance, which can get you into trouble with your eyes. Durroughs are more accurate from the get go and when properly calibrated in your system as a whole will be closer than any $16 meter typically stuck in a prosumer console. Better meters calibrate, cheaper ones my give you an impression its calibrated. In analog setups where you have decent headroom its not usually as important, but when you start to mix N match digital, a meter on the wrong side of the 3db tolerance will drive you in circles.

    SoMm

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    Son of Mixerman

    I am kind of getting a mixed message from your reply.

    On one hand you seem to agree with me that the Durough requires a calibrated system to offer an accurate reading of it's own.

    On the other hand, you seem to be fairly certain that the meters on the pro-sumer stuff that we analog cavemen use, me an MS16, ( a $10k consumer toy?) are made with questionable parts and thus incapable of rendering an accurate measurement.

    I believe both Jake and myself both own one inch, 16 track recorders and he has a very high end analog desk called the M600 which under no circumstances could be called pro-sumer and I use a couple of M312B analog desks that when new retailed for close to $4k each.

    While a casette Portastudio may well indeed use budget parts to fit a price point, I think the stuff that Jake and I use, merit slightly more respect then what you seem to offer.

    I would also agree with you that digital's lack of tolerance for overload is a larger concern for the digital user then us analog guys who reside here in the analog forum.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by The Ghost of FM; 10-10-2003 at 16:55.

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    Thanks guys good stuff here, just what I needed.

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    Originally posted by The Ghost of FM
    Son of Mixerman

    I am kind of getting a mixed message from your reply.


    On the other hand, you seem to be fairly certain that the meters on the pro-sumer stuff that we analog cavemen use, me an MS16, ( a $10k consumer toy?) are made with questionable parts and thus incapable of rendering an accurate measurement.

    I believe both Jake and myself both own one inch, 16 track recorders and he has a very high end analog desk called the M600 which under no circumstances could be called pro-sumer and I use a couple of M312B analog desks that when new retailed for close to $4k each.
    I wasn't dissing the quality of anyones gear, Im in that same range of gear myself and Im just trying to highlight the extremes between the accuaracy of durroughs and what you find in recording desks in the under $45 grand range. I don't know the actual costs of every meter in every console so I just threw out a number. But Im fairly confident most consoles do not use $400 each Vu meters if there is going to be very many of them. And prosumer isn't what I would call a toy either, at least prosumer gear from the 80's and before. Newer prosumer stuff I might consider some of it to be a toy.
    Accuracy of 3db is small to some but huge to others so the only way to really get ahead of the game is your ears. I have a console that retailed for over $9000 and I have one meter that is a little off than the rest. Ive had a tech try to calibrate it but...to no avail..its just not as tight as I'd like. I mix sometimes with a drape over the meters and the lights off.

    One of the problems in VU meters and the peak light is that like you said some meters the light means distortion is happening, but in some there still is some additional headroom after that point. You would have to find the specs of the meter to see for sure... or you can go back to hearing instead. Jake has some pretty cool stuff but he is still dating it and hasn't gotten into the marriage part. I see alot of people nowdays focusing on the visual instead of the audio. This means Im going to nudge people into listening before anything. Its part of getting to know the limitation of your gear. Im an analog guy...I like knobs and faders....and lights to let me know if something is on or not. No disrespect intended on my part and I hope this clears my thought up somewhat.

    SoMm

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    Dating?...fuck you, were hitched right by God.

    Well my console was $50,000 new (installed) so does that put me into the pro range? I'm sure you are right abouit the meters SOM, I really don't give a crap what the tape machine meters say, I do things primarily by ear.

    I was really just wondering how it was done in 1979. Just sort of for a standard of reference.

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    Originally posted by jake-owa
    Dating?...fuck you, were hitched right by God.
    Where is your sense of humor Jake?







    Originally posted by jake-owa


    Well my console was $50,000 new (installed) so does that put me into the pro range? I'm sure you are right abouit the meters SOM, I really don't give a crap what the tape machine meters say, I do things primarily by ear.
    It puts your console in the pro range...but again where is your sense of humor???

    I know what desk you have and what recorder you have..etc.. Im trying to run down a ATR60/16 for $1500 bucks right now myself. Trying to have fun Monday morning is like trying to take chew toys away from a pitbull. Maybe you could look up my other posts where I have tried to lure you away for your gear....see the pattern




    Originally posted by jake-owa

    I was really just wondering how it was done in 1979. Just sort of for a standard of reference.
    What were the first 7 words in my first post of this thread?

    In in 1969...1979...1989....Its doesn't matter.

    SoMm

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