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  #1  
Old 01-07-2015, 06:18 AM
budda963 budda963 is offline
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Default The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

I’ve been searching, to no avail, for the answer to this question. When its suggested that you gain stage your tracks to -18db rms, how are you measuring rms?

For example, BlueCat’s DP Meter Pro has a “Max” RMS reading and an “Average” RMS reading. I’ve been using the Max reading which usually results in my VU meter hitting 0dbvu during the loudest parts of the signal.

On the other hand, if I use the AudioSuite Normalization set to -18db RMS, the end result is much much louder than the previous method. (btw this is averaging the entire signal right?) I’m afraid if I start using this then I will be hitting everything way too hard.

I have developed different “rules” for what I do with different types of tracks and generally like what I’ve been getting (yes, yes mix with your ears i know lol) but I’m curious to know everyone else’s method. Especially from those of you who use a mixture of analog and digital and more especially from those of you who use Nebula3 and other analog emulations.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:35 AM
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Drew Mazurek Drew Mazurek is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

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Originally Posted by budda963 View Post
When its suggested that you gain stage your tracks to -18db rms, how are you measuring rms?
Not a lot of time right now but.....

When you hear -18dB, they're referring to peak dBFS, not RMS. That's because Pro Tools' default calibration is for -18dBFS to = +4dBu or 0dB VU which is of course the standard professional nominal operating level.
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2015, 01:38 PM
cananball cananball is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

Gain stage your tracks? Not really sure what you mean by this. You can gain stage your analogue gear (or digital chain) by making sure they are all operating at the same nominal level.

Are you talking about mixing to a target level? Best way to achieve a target level is to set you monitors to a the same level every time and mix by ear. That is whatever level gets you to your target loudness. Read up about room calibration to see what I mean.

Don't get all crazy trying to normalize every file to a specific level. Set your monitors and mix, use your ears, clip gain and faders and don't clip.
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Old 02-26-2015, 09:32 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

I fly by the seat of my pants to some degree. For me, recording levels are just into the yellow. That generally leaves me plenty of headroom for some EQ boost or compression(with gain makeup). Master track is never allowed to hit red, and if the final will be mastered by a real ME, I make sure peaks are no hotter than -6. Not technical, but it serves me well
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:59 AM
Bill Denton Bill Denton is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

Try these levels...

Tracking - Average level around -15 to -18 dBFS.

Mixing - End up with peak levels of -3 to -6 dBFS.

Mastering - End up with peak levels as close to 0 dBFS as possible without clipping.

Do what you have to do now, but in the future stick to these levels through the process...don't go too high or too low at any step.

Keep in mind those are the levels I use, based on info from people I trust in such matters. Others may offer different sets...as long as they are close to those above they should be okay,

EXCEPT...

I strongly recommend you not go above 0 dBFS anywhere until you fully understand the inner workings of your DAW or you could well end up with digital distortion, which is not pretty...
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Last edited by Bill Denton; 02-27-2015 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:27 AM
mesaone mesaone is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

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Originally Posted by budda963 View Post
For example, BlueCat’s DP Meter Pro has a “Max” RMS reading and an “Average” RMS reading. I’ve been using the Max reading which usually results in my VU meter hitting 0dbvu during the loudest parts of the signal.
Max readings on that meter indicate the highest peak and RMS levels detected. They only change when they're exceeded or manually reset.

For what you're doing, you should set the scale to RMS +3. You're probably more interested in instant peak levels and average RMS levels. Just make sure your monitoring system is at the right level. Max RMS isn't the ruler you should use, since music is dynamic and there will be sections that exceed your target. Long-term is a more important figure here, this is where the histogram in DP Meter is super useful.

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Originally Posted by Bill Denton View Post
Absolutely do not go above 0 dBFS anywhere or you will get digital distortion, which is not pretty...
Well, not anywhere. Exceeding 0 dBFS doesn't result in clipping in Pro Tools 11 (or any floating point mixer) unless you do it on the master - then you're clipping the DAC. You can go a couple hundred decibels over zero on a track, as long as you bring it down below zero before conversion then the signal will remain intact.
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Old 02-27-2015, 02:31 PM
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Bob Olhsson Bob Olhsson is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

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Originally Posted by mesaone View Post
...You can go a couple hundred decibels over zero on a track, as long as you bring it down below zero before conversion then the signal will remain intact.
Only if you aren't doing any signal processing beyond the most trivial math.
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Old 02-27-2015, 02:32 PM
Bill Denton Bill Denton is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

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Originally Posted by mesaone View Post
Max readings on that meter indicate the highest peak and RMS levels detected. They only change when they're exceeded or manually reset.

For what you're doing, you should set the scale to RMS +3. You're probably more interested in instant peak levels and average RMS levels. Just make sure your monitoring system is at the right level. Max RMS isn't the ruler you should use, since music is dynamic and there will be sections that exceed your target. Long-term is a more important figure here, this is where the histogram in DP Meter is super useful.



Well, not anywhere. Exceeding 0 dBFS doesn't result in clipping in Pro Tools 11 (or any floating point mixer) unless you do it on the master - then you're clipping the DAC. You can go a couple hundred decibels over zero on a track, as long as you bring it down below zero before conversion then the signal will remain intact.
C'mon, mesaone...you're going to rue the day you posted that!

You know that, I know that, but do you really think folks who ask these types of questions can grasp the subtleties of that fact?

"But this guy on the DUC said you can go as loud as you want to!"

I will modify my statement a bit, but it's always a good idea to consider your audience...
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Note that all opinions, observations, whatever, in this post are mine, unless I'm being mean or am wrong, in which case it's somebody else's fault. I do not work for Avid (their loss)...my only relationship with Avid is that of a customer (when I'm not too poor to buy stuff, like now)...and that hot administrative assistant...that's more of a "thing" than a "relationship" (that should keep them guessing for a while...)

Just rockin'...what more is there?

Bill in Pittsburgh
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  #9  
Old 02-27-2015, 02:57 PM
mesaone mesaone is offline
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Default Re: The FINAL Gain Staging Question (hopefully lol)

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Originally Posted by Bill Denton View Post
do you really think folks who ask these types of questions can grasp the subtleties of that fact?
Yes, I do.

I think people who ask questions about gain staging have already demonstrated a bit of awareness of the concepts. Otherwise, they would be blissfully unaware of the term "gain staging" and not have asked the question to begin with!
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