What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred?

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Saxon1066
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2004/03/16 04:26:05 (permalink)

What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred?

I've heard various things about optimum recording levels for Sonar, but would like to know what others aim for. One person in this forum shoots for peaks at close to 0 to track, then mixes down to -10.

My guitar teacher, who thinks he's the ****, says to track at -12 for headroom. Whatdya think? Anybody use limiters to set their tracking peaks?

Bill
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    tor
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 07:51:56 (permalink)
    Generally you should record as hot a signal as possible without distorting it.
    My guess is that you would get a very low volume recording and mixing down
    to a max level around -10dB.
    That's why you use compressors, to lift the overall volume while keeping tops from peaking over 0dB.
    3-5 db is enough headroom I believe.......
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    Waltenstein Studios
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 08:02:08 (permalink)
    I generally aim for the -5 to -10db range when tracking, although sometimes that's not enough, particularly with inexperienced performers who don't know how to give you a solid level when sound checking.

    As for mixdown, I just try to keep it under -0.1db. Sometimes if I don't have the time to play the song one more time before exporting to WAV for mastering, I'll cheat a little and place a limiter like Waves L2 on the main out bus and have it do nothing but ensure -0.1 is never exceeded. i.e. - no gain, only reduction. Still, when using this shortcut technique, you don't want to be sending overs too often anyway. The idea is not to apply limiting, but merely to ensure distortion-free output. Generally turning down your master bus level is a good idea if you're close.

    As for using limiters during tracking, I have a drawmer mx30 outboard comp/lim, but I don't use it for limiting. I use it for compression only (I find the limiting has too many artifacts and sounds unnatural). In addition to that, I will sometimes set my pre-amp to do some tube compression on the input stage (assuming a little crunch is okay for that signal). But no limiting for me during tracking.
    < Message edited by Waltenstein Studios -- 3/16/2004 8:05:50 AM >

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    cAPSLOCK
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 12:05:51 (permalink)
    Similar thoughts about this here. I track as hot as possible, and when I am ready to mix I paste -10 into all the TRACK levels and start there. That way I don't end up fighting with the top limit of the faders while mixing. I mix to several busses in groups (drums, vox, guitars, and so on) apply some light compression and limiting (and EQ and verb or whatever), and send all the mixbusses to a single output and aim for that to be around -5 to -.5. If I am going to bounce digitally I make sure I dont clip and bounce. I do any 'mastering' (quotes since usually I would prefer tracks to be mastered elsewhere, or will save the heavy work for when the track is done). Sometimes I will send the mixbusses to groups on my mixer and sum them on the board sending them back to a channel that records the output.

    When I wasn't quite as good at mixing and had the sort of problem where you turn up all the tracks over and over until you have no more headroom I would even actually group all the faders (relative mode) and pull them downagain retaining my mix and gaining headroom. That was enough trouble to help me learn not to get myself in that position. ;)

    cAPS
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    ohhey
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 12:18:20 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066

    I've heard various things about optimum recording levels for Sonar, but would like to know what others aim for. One person in this forum shoots for peaks at close to 0 to track, then mixes down to -10.

    My guitar teacher, who thinks he's the ****, says to track at -12 for headroom. Whatdya think? Anybody use limiters to set their tracking peaks?

    Bill


    First of all gutiar teachers always think they are the sh!t.. LOL. You don't have to use a number for this. As long as you don't clip (go over 0) you will have a usable track. Now, if you are recording at 16bit you will want to try to keep the signal as hot as you can safely becuase the quiet end of 16bit can get a bit grainy. At 24bit you can record at just about any level and still get good quality sound. It just might make it hard to mix if you get one that is too low, so again just keep a good level and you will be fine. As for mixing it depends on what you are going to do for mastering. If you are going to have someone else do it you might want to leave them 10db or so. But keep in mind the sound and even mix relationships can change when you apply a master compressor. If you have a DAW like Sonar it's better to go ahead and put the master compressor on the stereo buss while you are mixing so you hear what you are going to get. Mix as loud as you want the final product to be without cliping. If you miss by 1 or 2 db that's OK, you can normalize that up later but no more then that or tone and mix will change a little. With a DAW it's no be deal to re-run a mix so go for it.
    #5
    yep
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 13:15:40 (permalink)
    If you record at 16 bit it's worth taking the time to really get the level as high as you can before clipping. With 24 bit, you get so much extra headroom that tracking with peaks at -6, -12 or even -20 is fine, but it will make mixing easier if all of your tracks are at similar levels. for a variety of technical reasons, recording hotter (at 24 bits) isn't going to result in appreciably better results if you're going to be mixing tracks and mastering to 16 bit (for CD). So if the source is really hard to control, like clean guitars or amatuer singers, go ahead and leave enough headroom to be safe. Cheers.
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    Waltenstein Studios
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 13:43:32 (permalink)
    "... it will make mixing easier if all of your tracks are at similar levels..."

    This is why SONAR has a Gain slider, in addition to the standard Volume slider for each track. If you have level differences between tracks, use the Gain slider to bring each of them to nominal levels before mixing. The Gain is your "pre-effects" volume, so if you're not using it before mixing, chances are your effects aren't getting the proper level of signal to maximally hear their results. After your Gain is adjusted, then your effects bin, THEN use the Volume slider for mixing and all's well.

    Walt Collins - downtempo/groove/dance music
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    Saxon1066
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 14:02:19 (permalink)
    Waltenstein: And the Gain slider has nothing to do with recording input levels, right? (Dumb noob question.)

    Ohhey: I'm wondering why you need to mixdown to -10db for premastering. I'm planning on sending my mix out to a mastering house. What do they do that needs so much headroom?

    I'm definitely using 24 bit. Why not? My problem is a singer and a guitarist who perform at wildly varying levels. They're good musicians, very expressive, but the quieter passages get lost, and they "can't help it." So, if I set the peak levels even close to 0, there are still too-quiet phrases.

    Maybe a compressor on the signal going in?
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    ba_midi
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 14:35:45 (permalink)
    I tend to approach each track with a level that will fit in the mix better down the line. In other words, I try not to make each track so hot that I later have to reduce the level anyway. We're working in the digital domain, so as long as you get a 'good' signal (meaning not TOO low, not TOO high, avoid clipping for sure), levels are managable in many ways.

    I tend to mix as I go, so to speak. IOW, I set levels based on the sound I'm looking to end up with. I usually have a 6 bus drum setup (4 busses for various parts, like Kick on one bus, cyms on another, toms another, etc) and they all go to a 'drum bus' (composite of the other busses) plus a drum aux bus (sometimes more than one) which is used as a send (insert) for FX, again going to the "drum bus" composite - which then goes to a Master Bus (as do my other busses or outputs). The Master goes to the hardware audio.

    With that setup - I tend to keep the drum mix in the -6 to -10 range. I usually stay around -6 for other tracks as well, so that the "master bus" doesn't get saturated. I also almost always start with a master limiter of some type (classic master limiter, PSP Vintaage Warmer, etc) so that I don't blow anything out while recording or audition plugin sounds.

    But, everyone has to develop an approach that works for both the particular project and an approach that works for your particular workflow style, IMHO.


    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066

    I've heard various things about optimum recording levels for Sonar, but would like to know what others aim for. One person in this forum shoots for peaks at close to 0 to track, then mixes down to -10.

    My guitar teacher, who thinks he's the ****, says to track at -12 for headroom. Whatdya think? Anybody use limiters to set their tracking peaks?

    Bill

    Billy Arnell (ba-midi)

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    Thanks for listening - Let's Dance to the rhythm of life! :)
    #9
    Waltenstein Studios
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 14:50:59 (permalink)
    The Gain slider does not affect the recording level. When you record a track you're creating a WAV file. This WAV's contents is dictated by your signal path, including your mic, preamp, hardware insert effects, and your A/D conversion. If you want your WAV to be hotter, you need to turn your gain up on your hardware preamp, reposition the mic, turn the instrument up, etc.

    When you're mixing, you're playing back all your already-recorded WAV files and balancing them against one another. The Gain slider adjusts the volume of the WAV that is fed into your effects bin for that track. Then your effects do their thing and (hopefully) don't change the nominal volume level by much. Then you use the track's Volume slider to balance your track against all the other tracks.

    Walt Collins - downtempo/groove/dance music
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 16:01:46 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066
    I'm definitely using 24 bit. Why not? My problem is a singer and a guitarist who perform at wildly varying levels. They're good musicians, very expressive, but the quieter passages get lost, and they "can't help it." So, if I set the peak levels even close to 0, there are still too-quiet phrases.

    Maybe a compressor on the signal going in?


    Compression is not the best tool for correcting this. This is exactly what you want to use the gain control for. You can either draw in or automate a gain envelope to change the relative levels of different sections of the song, then process, edit, and mix to taste.

    You could also try tracking the song in sections, with different levels, possibly even different mics for quiet vs. loud sections.

    Some prefer to use light hardware compression or limiting on the incoming signal to even things out before it gets to disk, but that works better for smoothing over incidental inconsistencies, not for clobbering whole passages of songs with wild level changes.

    You can use compression to to great effect to change the dynamic "feel" and "pulse" of the performance, but it doesn't usually give very good results when used as a sort of automatic volume control. Cheers.
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    RRabbi
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 16:09:57 (permalink)
    I have a question relating to all of this... From what I can understand the RECORDING LEVEL is not based on using any sliders in Sonar 3, but rather adjusting the levels on the input device (mine being a Motu 828 MK2). That said, when doing the initial recording should I leave the faders for each track at 0db? And then just keep an eye on the graphical display of volume levels, and THEN if I see it creeping up over 0db I decrease the gain in my Motu 828 MK2?
    Because If I lower the fader down to -10db or -5db in Sonar, does that REALLY effect the actual volume of the recorded track. I mean, if I slide the fader up wouldn't it just start to clip if the signal was too hot from my Motu?

    I'm full of dumb questions this month... heh
    Dave (RRabbi)
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    Waltenstein Studios
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 16:13:44 (permalink)
    Your settings in the SONAR track will have zero impact on the recorded sound. The only thing that matters there is your input hardware, and the settings on your sound card if they add any gain/reduction.

    Walt Collins - downtempo/groove/dance music
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    #13
    RRabbi
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 16:29:40 (permalink)
    That said, when you record in Sonar, do you leave the faders at 0db, and then ride the gain on the input device (in my case the Motu 828 MK2) to make sure it doesn't clip? Or is there an easier way to do this?

    Dave
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    ebinary
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 16:32:49 (permalink)
    Ohhey: I'm wondering why you need to mixdown to -10db for premastering. I'm planning on sending my mix out to a mastering house. What do they do that needs so much headroom?


    They don't need headroom: The key is not to overcompress your mix prior to mastering. Preserve dynamic range - which means don't turn down the volume unless you have to to avoid clipping.

    Any mastering house can turn down the digital volume later, but intentionally reducing overall volume is intentionally losing dynamic range. Of course, that said - you have a buttload of extra dynamic range when working in 24bit and targeting 16 bit, so in most cases it won't matter. if you are using 16 bit, though, squeeze out everything up to -.1db

    Eric
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    Saxon1066
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 17:03:47 (permalink)
    Here's something I always wanted to know: on commercial rock recordings, I've noticed (I think) that when the vocals come in, the levels of all instruments drop back into the background. Ten, during instrumental passages, like between verses, the instruments come back to the forefront.

    How is this achieved? Do the mixers use automation (or in the old days, a steady hand) to drop the instrument levels and raise vocal tracks at the right times? Can you get the same effect by mixing good levels with the vocals in, and using compression to keep the overall song level when vocals are out?

    I'll have to deal with this eventually.
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    SteveD
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 17:21:32 (permalink)
    Just to clarify...

    The Gain Slider referred to earlier is actually called a Trim Control.

    There is also the ability to make manual Clip Gain Envelope adjustments.

    These are two separate mixing and editing tools.

    As far as mixing the vocalist and Guitarist tracks that contain wildly varying volume levels, a good compressor, properly adjusted during mixdown (not tracking), will be able to raise the quiet sections to a desirable level, while automatically decreasing the level of the loud sections into a more even performance without undesirable artifacts (squashing/pumping/distorting). The compressor will perform much better if you first apply some Clip Gain Envelope corrections to manually adjust the obviously high and unruly transients.

    If you're tracking at 24 bit depth, there's no need to track at hot levels or use analog compression that gets printed to disk. Just leave your track faders set to 0.0db and turn down the preamp gain so the peaks don't exceed -6db. We're not tracking to tape here. There's no audible advantage or natural compression from a "saturated" digital track at 24 bit depth like there is when printing to tape. Tracking at 16 bit depth is a different story. Stay as far away from the noise floor as you can without clipping.

    I do track vocals and drum overheads with a limiter just for clip protection... but not for compression. When all goes as planned, that limiter is never activated. Then, if a pesky peak sneaks through, the track is not lost due to digital clipping.

    I tend to keep mixing levels around -10db to allow room for mastering. I started doing this at the advice of Bob Katz and other mastering engineers, but do it now because I sometimes master my own projects, and I have learned why they ask for the headroom. The keyword here, is want vs. need headroom. Of course they can turn it down for you if they have to. Check it Eric... it's in Bob's book.

    If the multi-track mix doesn't sound loud enough to you at -10db, turn up your monitor power amp. It will sound exactly the same to you, and provide plenty of headroom for mastering. The last thing that a mastering engineer wants to do as the FIRST thing he has to do, is decrease the average volume level of your mix. That's an unnecessary DSP operation. The fewer of those the better.

    When mastering, the final level is raised to compete with commercial CDs with a limiting threshold of -0.3db. I try hard not to flat top the master, but sometimes the client won't have it any other way.

    The loudness war continues.

    EDIT: A good range for peaks in a 24 bit depth stereo mix before mastering is -10dBFS to -3dBFS.

    EDIT: I corrected the above paragraph on mastering limiting threshold to show a value of -0.3db instead of the -3db value I typed in error. Thanks Eric!
    < Message edited by SteveD -- 3/17/2004 12:15:49 PM >

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    jazzbass12
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 17:22:04 (permalink)
    Waltenstein;
    When you say gain slider do you mean Trim control? How do you adjust this if you need the mixer slider up to hear the track??
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    ebinary
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 19:15:43 (permalink)
    I tend to keep mixing levels around -10db to allow room for mastering. I started doing this at the advice of Bob Katz and other mastering engineers, but do it now because I sometimes master my own projects, and I have learned why they ask for the headroom. The keyword here, is want vs. need headroom. Of course they can turn it down for you if they have to. Check it Eric... it's in Bob's book.


    Ah crud.. if Bob say so its probably right. Sorry ohhey.

    I'll have to re-read that section, because I'm still not sure what the advantage of losing information prior to mastering is. In the extreme case where the mastering engineer says "i wouldn't change a thing", he in fact will have to add 10db of noise floor to normalize the recording. That seems pretty ugly.

    Eric
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    ebinary
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 19:17:47 (permalink)
    When mastering, the final level is raised to compete with commercial CDs with a limiting threshold of -3db. I try hard not to flat top the master, but sometimes the client won't have it any other way.


    Hey Steve,

    Why limit yourself to -3db, rather than -.1 db when mastering? Seems like thats a lot of room you can use to avoid the "flat tops"

    Eric
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    Augster
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 19:41:33 (permalink)
    In 24-bit, I track somewhat hot, -3db to -1db peaks. I play/sing a bit before recording to see where the peaks are. ESPECIALLY if I'm going to really chunk a palmed guitar. That's the recording phase.

    Then, I pull the volume down so the peaks are around -9 or -10. I do this for each track. This way, the Master should be out of the red when you play the entire song. Now, I mix. Move stuff up, move it back, etc. etc. Once I have everything mixed together how I like it, with fx, eq, compression, etc., and the Master is still under 0db(hopefully) I adjust the volume of each track to bring it up pretty close to 0db, usually moving sliders in .5db increments. So, after I have it mixed, "turned up", and ready for export, I export it to a stereo wav file and open up Soundforge. Throw the wavehammer on it, and now it's CD quality LOUD. The smooth compression setting in WH hasn't disappointed me yet. YMMV.

    I'm at work right now, where is that Trim/gain control? I never see it and have to adjust everything with the fader. Is it "hidden" somewhere? THANKS!
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    Waltenstein Studios
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 20:19:59 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: jazzbass12

    Waltenstein;
    When you say gain slider do you mean Trim control? How do you adjust this if you need the mixer slider up to hear the track??


    Yes, I mean the Trim control. Not sure what you mean with the rest of your question though. What is a "mixer slider"? If you're saying that your tracks are too low of a volume to hear, my suggestion is to record them hotter via manipulation of your recording hardware during tracking. If that still doesn't do it then try turning the volume on your monitors up!

    Walt Collins - downtempo/groove/dance music
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    #22
    yep
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 20:31:00 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066

    Here's something I always wanted to know: on commercial rock recordings, I've noticed (I think) that when the vocals come in, the levels of all instruments drop back into the background. Ten, during instrumental passages, like between verses, the instruments come back to the forefront.

    How is this achieved? Do the mixers use automation (or in the old days, a steady hand) to drop the instrument levels and raise vocal tracks at the right times? Can you get the same effect by mixing good levels with the vocals in, and using compression to keep the overall song level when vocals are out?

    I'll have to deal with this eventually.


    Usually, they're mixed that way on purpose. indeed, listen close and you'll hear that the mix is always changing, drums come up slightly during flashy fills, the bass drops back when the string swells build up, the guitar riff leads off right out in front, then gets pulled back on the slider and with a hint of reverb as the it repeats through the prechorus, etc. etc.

    You can also use a compressor with a sidechain so that compression is triggered on the instruments whenever the vocal comes up. this is called ducking and is used widely in radio voiceovers, paging systems that also play background music, and stuff like that. For an actual song, though, most mixers like the improved control of actually mixing it on the board, just the way they want. Cheers.

    and PS- good of you to notice that. there's a lot to be said for asking the right questions.
    < Message edited by yep -- 3/16/2004 8:33:33 PM >
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    Saxon1066
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 21:19:59 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: yep

    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066

    Here's something I always wanted to know: on commercial rock recordings, I've noticed (I think) that when the vocals come in, the levels of all instruments drop back into the background. Ten, during instrumental passages, like between verses, the instruments come back to the forefront.

    How is this achieved? Do the mixers use automation (or in the old days, a steady hand) to drop the instrument levels and raise vocal tracks at the right times? Can you get the same effect by mixing good levels with the vocals in, and using compression to keep the overall song level when vocals are out?



    Usually, they're mixed that way on purpose. indeed, listen close and you'll hear that the mix is always changing, drums come up slightly during flashy fills, the bass drops back when the string swells build up, the guitar riff leads off right out in front, then gets pulled back on the slider and with a hint of reverb as the it repeats through the prechorus, etc. etc.

    You can also use a compressor with a sidechain so that compression is triggered on the instruments whenever the vocal comes up. this is called ducking and is used widely in radio voiceovers, paging systems that also play background music, and stuff like that. For an actual song, though, most mixers like the improved control of actually mixing it on the board, just the way they want. Cheers.

    and PS- good of you to notice that. there's a lot to be said for asking the right questions.


    This is getting more complicated than a newbie could have imagined. The final mixdown itself, then, is like conducting an orchestra, bringing up the string section, then quieting it down, so the piano can roll over it, then a nod to the percussion to blast in, then everybody down to pianissimo. Thank Sonarus, God of Sound, for automation.

    Is there any compressor plugin than does this "ducking"? If you duck it yourself (quack), isn't it painstaking work to get it to around the same total loudness when the vocals are in and out?
    #24
    SteveD
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 22:13:00 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: ebinary
    Hey Steve,

    Why limit yourself to -3db, rather than -.1 db when mastering? Seems like thats a lot of room you can use to avoid the "flat tops"

    Eric

    Eric,

    You are SO RIGHT!

    That should have been -0.3db... not -3db! What a difference a decimal point makes!

    Well since I started typing this before I realized why you were questioning it, here's why I limit to -0.3db instead of -0.1db...

    From the Waves L2 Ultramaximizer manual:
    "For commercial Audio CD, some mastering engineers recommend a ceiling of
    –0.3 dB to be safe from distortion due to playback system deficiencies." - Page 18
    ----
    Personal advise to me from Bob Katz on my "24/96 Question" topic on the Mastering WebBoard:
    "Using the L2 and the Weiss, I have not gotten bitten with audible problems with the L2 ceiling set to (minus) 0.3. This seems to prevent 99.9% of intersample peaks in typical material from overloading the output of the SRC." - 12/21/03
    ----
    My own personal experience:
    I have found that limiting to -0.1db at sample rates greater than 44.1khz many times causes overs in CD Architect PRIOR to sample rate conversion. Yet, if I convert to 44.1khz before loading the file into CD Achitect, there are no overs.

    I could understand overs resulting from disturbances or slight changes during sample rate conversion, but -0.1db in Sonar should be -0.1db in any other audio application supporting the same sample rate... right?

    Wrong!

    I actually contacted Peter Haller at Sony Digital Media and described the problem. He had me send him 2 second clips of each example. Peter had the samples analyzed and there were in fact overs that could be detected on both the 24/96 file as well as the 16/44.1 file. However, in the 16/44.1 file, they were "hidden due to either metering conventions, internal limiting, or requantization".

    To correct the problem, the analyst recommended that I "prep the tracks with more headroom (-1.5 dB or so) and add gain in CDA if desired/necessary." - 12/26/03
    ----

    The Moral of This Story:
    Not all playback systems and peak meters are created equal.

    These are the reasons I set my mastering peak limiter to -0.3db.
    < Message edited by SteveD -- 3/16/2004 11:28:06 PM >

    SteveD
    DAWPRO Drum Tracks

    ... addicted to gear
    #25
    SteveD
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 23:24:07 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: ebinary
    I'll have to re-read that section, because I'm still not sure what the advantage of losing information prior to mastering is. In the extreme case where the mastering engineer says "i wouldn't change a thing", he in fact will have to add 10db of noise floor to normalize the recording. That seems pretty ugly.

    Eric

    That's actually a good point Eric, so I went back to re-read it myself. Here's the quote:
    ----
    Peak Level Practice for Good 24-bit Recording
    "...there is a lot of room at the bottom. and you won't lose any dynamic range if you peak to -3dBFS or even as low as -10dBFS: you'll end up with a cleaner recording. ... A digital mix mix that peaks to -3 dBFS or lower makes it easier to equalize and otherwise process without needing an extra stage of attenuation in the mastering." - Bob Katz, Mastering Audio - the art and the science, Page 65
    ----

    So the acceptable range for peaks in the stereo mix before mastering is -10dBFS to -3dBFS.

    SteveD
    DAWPRO Drum Tracks

    ... addicted to gear
    #26
    yep
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/16 23:25:12 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Saxon1066
    This is getting more complicated than a newbie could have imagined. The final mixdown itself, then, is like conducting an orchestra


    Exactly! and it's not really THAT laborious, and it's actually pretty fun and extremely rewarding when you nail it. Plenty of demo mixes basically take a "set it and forget it" approach. Nothing wrong with that, but it tends to sound rather dull, and fails to showcase bits that are sometimes the coolest part- i.e. that wicked bass fill is buried in the mix until you turn it up so it pushes everything else out of the way. solution: just turn up the bass on the fill! Or another "static mix" classic: The kick-ass guitar riff that sounds so awesome the first time it kicks in starts to turn pretty mind-numbing by the twentieth time it comes around at the exact same level. So you move it in and out, ever so slightly, and, viola! The listener keeps shifting focus to other instruments, and then gets to hear the guitar riff for the first time all over again, instead of for the tenth.

    The thing of it is, when you play live, this stuff is happening anyway. There's seperate sources for every sound, for the guitar, the keys, the hat, the bass, the other guitar, the vocals, the snare, the kick drum, the other other guitar, and all of these things are individual sources coming from human musicians all listening to each other and playing off of each other in dynamic, subtle, exciting ways. But then you go to record it, and you only got two speakers to get all that wild energy to come out of, and everybody's playing one at a time with a click in the headphones, and nervous about their sound and focusing on not making mistakes, and all that stuff, and it ends up a totally different vibe from those beery, sweaty, bright lights, dark corners, dancing people nights in the local club. So the trick is to find creative ways to capture and/or fake that energy and vitality that happens in the room when it's really hot.


    Is there any compressor plugin than does this "ducking"? If you duck it yourself (quack), isn't it painstaking work to get it to around the same total loudness when the vocals are in and out?


    Plenty of compressors and gates have a side chain. You can run a search on "side chain" or "sidechain" on these forums to find detailed techniques. If you use busses and groups, and stick with a pretty similar set of changes for every time the lead vocals kick in, it's not that tough. And when you think about it, how long does it take to track four or five instruments for a three minute song, presuming you have the whole arrangement, solos, intros, etc. already worked out? Two days? Three? Seven? Isn't it worth it to spend an extra few hours mixing it right? And to tell the truth, if you track four or five songs first and then mix them all after, the first mix usually takes anywhere from a few hours to a day, and then the subsequent ones kind of fall into place in an hour or two apiece. Try it, you'll like it. Cheers.
    #27
    Saxon1066
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/17 00:56:05 (permalink)
    Thanks for the insights, yep. Actually, sending the rhythm section to a separate bus that drops down a bit during vocals won't be that tough at all (universal bussing is one of the coolest Sonar features). And within that submix, it won't be too hard to push up a cool drum fill for a few seconds.
    #28
    jazzbass12
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/17 07:44:10 (permalink)
    Waltenstein:
    What I ment was the fader control. If I read your post correctly, you had said to adjust you trim (Gain) first then you faders.
    So how do you adjust the trim if you have the faders down? Do you adjust all the trims so they so 0?
    I might sound ingnorant but, I am just trying to understand the concept.
    I have never used the trim controls before.
    Thanks
    #29
    ebinary
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    RE: What Recording and Mixing Levels preferred? 2004/03/17 07:56:25 (permalink)
    That's actually a good point Eric, so I went back to re-read it myself. Here's the quote:
    ----
    Peak Level Practice for Good 24-bit Recording
    "...there is a lot of room at the bottom. and you won't lose any dynamic range if you peak to -3dBFS or even as low as -10dBFS: you'll end up with a cleaner recording. ... A digital mix mix that peaks to -3 dBFS or lower makes it easier to equalize and otherwise process without needing an extra stage of attenuation in the mastering." - Bob Katz, Mastering Audio - the art and the science, Page 65
    ----

    So the acceptable range for peaks in the stereo mix before mastering is -10dBFS to -3dBFS.


    SteveD,

    Ah, that makes sense in 24-bit land, where you have enough headroom to accomodate a Mardi Gras mask. My original comment was to squeeze right up to -.1db (ok now modified to -.3db), only if you record in 16-bit. Phew!... glad I don't have to question the gospel of the big Bobcat.

    And my issue of raising the noise floor does not exist when mastering a 16bit product from a 24 bit source - you'll just be be attenuating less.

    Eric
    < Message edited by ebinary -- 3/17/2004 8:02:47 AM >
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