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Thread: Levels, levels, what the devil?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesfordan View Post
    OMG, you're Al Bundy, aren't you!?!
    There was that whole episode where Kelly was on the sports quiz show and she crammed and studied and learned all the right answers, but somebody told her something new, so when it came time for the final question, she had forgotten the one fact she knew before the whole thing started.

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    yes....

    I dont touch the ReaperDAW sliders at all until mixing.

    it is nice having some meters on the front end hardware, and not overdriving the chain of outboard stuff....getting a nice fat wave going...

    or if just using the interface pre ...keep the clip led from blinking. turn up the headphones if you want louder...if you have tiny weeny wave you can normalize it later...get it big and fat.

    stay on topic... no Congressman Wiener jokes please...

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoolCat View Post
    yes....

    I dont touch the ReaperDAW sliders at all until mixing.

    it is nice having some meters on the front end hardware, and not overdriving the chain of outboard stuff....getting a nice fat wave going...

    or if just using the interface pre ...keep the clip led from blinking. turn up the headphones if you want louder...if you have tiny weeny wave you can normalize it later...get it big and fat.

    stay on topic... no Congressman Wiener jokes please...
    I do get those tiny weeny waves, even though my signal appears to be healthy. I still don't quite know what's the normalize thing is about. When I import a song, it will have huuuuge tracts of land. Er, I mean, waves.


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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesfordan View Post
    I do get those tiny weeny waves, even though my signal appears to be healthy. I still don't quite know what's the normalize thing is about. When I import a song, it will have huuuuge tracts of land. Er, I mean, waves.

    There is a maximum level of signal you can have before it starts clipping. Let's call this 100. When you record, your peaks will be lower than this (assuming that you are not overloading the crap out of it). Sometimes very low. When you normalise, in essence you are increasing the level of the signal so that the loudest peak is just on the 100 mark.

    When you import a song, it has been through a mixing and mastering process, and has had an assortment of normaiising, compression & limiting done to make fulll use of the bandwidth available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoolCat View Post
    I dont touch the ReaperDAW sliders at all until mixing.
    Why not? Won't hurt anything. Adjust input gain at the interface or whatever in order to maximize S/N without clipping. Adjust the DAW faders and whatever is on the analog output side for what you want to hear while tracking.

    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    Let's call this 100.
    Why wouldn't we just call it it 0dbFS like everybody else?


    The first rule of analog gain staging is to try to get as much gain as we need as close to the source as possible without pushing later stages past their limits, and try to avoid turning things down just to turn them back up later. The point being to get as far above the noise floor as possible without unwanted distortion. With modern interfaces, the noise floor is pretty low anyway, but the distortion we get from (trying to) go beyond the limit is really nasty and therefor pretty much always unwanted, so the priority is to avoid clipping and we can often get away with leaving even kind of a lot of "headroom" to CYA in case of really unpredictable inputs. And then once it's gotten into the ADC without clipping, you can pretty much throw that first rule out the window and turn it up or down or down and then up or whatever else without too much trouble as long as you keep it in a floating point environment. We usually try not to send anything bigger than 0dbFS out our DAC, because that'll give the same nasty unwanted distortion, but it will only affect what we hear, and not really damage the digital signal at all. The first rule does sort of apply once we're back in the analog realm heading toward the speakers, but again that is more of a monitoring issue and aside from possibly obscuring our perception so that we can't make the best-informed decisions, it doesn't directly affect the recording itself, so we can get away with a bit more noise and even distortion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
    Why not? Won't hurt anything. Adjust input gain at the interface or whatever in order to maximize S/N without clipping. Adjust the DAW faders and whatever is on the analog output side for what you want to hear while tracking.


    Why wouldn't we just call it it 0dbFS like everybody else?
    because if someone doesn't 'get' normalisation it might help if the numbers were more like the way in which people are used to seeing magnitude displayed. There's plenty of time for further leanring to take place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
    Why not? Won't hurt anything. Adjust input gain at the interface or whatever in order to maximize S/N without clipping. Adjust the DAW faders and whatever is on the analog output side for what you want to hear while tracking.

    .
    I dont ever need to, I prefer to try to Track in mono and just keep the volumes best I can (around -12 with peaks hitting -6 or something).... for REAPER its just a "reel to reel" to me, hit Record....roll the tape....

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    because if someone doesn't 'get' normalisation...
    Valid. I was kinda just playing with you. Thus the emoji.

    In code, it’s usually called 1. Well, -/+1 with signals swinging around zero. A sample with an absolute value of 1 represents the biggest value the ADC can accept and the DAC can put out, and most of what we work with are fractions. That’s not particularly useful to us on this side of the screen, though, so we use dB.

    The most basic normalization is just scanning the file, finding the loudest sample, and then adding gain or attenuation until that one sample is as loud as it can be. There are ways to normalize to other target levels, and even more sophisticated processes where you measure the average (RMS) of the whole file and then adjust gain until that reaches some target. In every case, though, all it’s doing is like “I want it to be this loud, how much gain (or attenuation) does that take?” and then doing that. Most of the time it’s not really necessary until/unless you really do need to meet a specific target, but when you’ve got different tracks with vastly different levels or something that’s just way off, it can be a quick and convenient way to just get everything more on an even playing field.

    Quote Originally Posted by CoolCat View Post
    for REAPER its just a "reel to reel" to me, hit Record....roll the tape....
    I guess if you’ve got other ways of monitoring, you can use whatever “faders” that gives you instead. If you are really shooting for the mix to just work with faders at unity, we can kind of get away with that a bit more specifically because it’s NOT tape and we don’t have to hedge against the hiss quite so much, but then you mentioned adjusting input levels to meet some kind of arbitrary levels (which average -12 for a lot of drum tracking is not going to give you 6db headroom, and will probably clip, but...) and most times that is not going to get you a good “faders up” mix.

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    In any system where the level controls affect only playback, we have to watch the levels at a point where the controls do affect the level. In everything I have used for recording (the Fostex MR-8HD and the Tascam DP24), the sliders affected record level, so I had to be careful where I set those controls along with the "master fader" to keep from clipping, since there is no way to "unclip" something once clipping has been introduced into the recording; you have to record the offending track again - hopefully at a better level. I am sure that I could learn to operate a system where the faders affect only playback, since my goal would still be to listen carefully to not clip during my recording. I also want to back off the record level enough to leave a bit of headroom when recording, so I don't "push the envelope" while recording.

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    Having a preamp with In & Out meters helps, it feeds a comp that has output metering and sent out.

    My interface is pretty cool as I can select if I want to view the VU to read IN signal or OUT signal .....when Tracking can select signal In....when mixing select it to signal Out.

    then Reaper/DAW has its meters....which Ive started learning more about the LUFS and all that.
    watching the needles on older 60's and 70's stuff I see the meters play around -6 to 0, pop rock etc..(not classical) watching the needles recently seems everyone wants to blink the red led's near clipping, using the small space that the clip lights respond to but are not actually clipping sound yet.

    setting things at -13 or -14 LUFS seems to put the meters at the 0 to -6 area, none of the clip leds blink and it might be placebo but it seems to sound better.

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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