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  #1  
Old 10-27-2008, 02:50 PM
spaceman spaceman is offline
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Default Best Recording Levels

When recording parts that are not going to be upfront in the mix are best results got by recording quite low level into PT and not needing to make big fader changes.

or....is it best to get the audio hot into PT and take the faders down more?

I remember reading about this on the DUC a few years back but interested to know the present standard peeps are going for......
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2008, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

I am always of the opinion that hot levels are better across the board. But I would say the reason is because of noise.

At some point you are going to say "I need more of that" and either turn up the fader, or use compression, or maybe put in an effect and you are going to end up gaining up on a noise floor to acheive the higher db desired. Multiply that over several tracks and you have added alot of noise to your mix.

If you need a softer sound, compress for it. If you need less db in the mix, turn down the fader. But it's always better to record hot and turn it down than to record low and turn up the noise floor.

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Old 10-27-2008, 04:19 PM
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O.G. Killa O.G. Killa is offline
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFord View Post
I am always of the opinion that hot levels are better across the board. But I would say the reason is because of noise.
What noise? Your mic preamp that you are cranking up is going to have more noise in it than your protools system. Most mic preamps have a noise floor of about -90dB, protools is around -118dB to -120dB. Your mic and mic preamp will have AT least 30dB MORE noise in it than your DAW. So, if you are trying to record at louder levels the only thing you are doing is putting MORE NOISE into your tracks because you are turning your mic preamps up to get the signal as hot as possible without clipping.

If you are recording into a DAW, you are NOT USING TAPE. There is no need to record as hot as possible since there is no tape noise/hiss to compete with. You are only going to make your recordings noisier by turning up the preamps.

Calibrate your studio and everything will fall into place. The 192IO is set from the factory to -18dBfs (on the PT meter) = +4dBu = 1.228 Volts = 0 VU (on an Analog VU meter).

This means, the old analog technique of "keep the needle right around 0 on the VU meter" translates to "Keep the signal right around -18dB on the Protools meter (which is just under halfway up the meter)".

Some of the best tracking engineers I've seen, record everything with the faders set to "0" and change the mic preamp gain to place things proper ly within the mix WHILE TRACKING. Most people today don't really do this because pulling the fader down in PTHD doesn't really effect the sound of the track (until you get down around -90dB on the fader). Whereas on an analog console as soon as you start pulling the fader down you are changing the sound (since the fader is a voltage controlled amplifier/variable resistor).

So, to answer the original poster's question... if you are going to record and mix completely in the box you are better off keeping the levels lower for better Signal to noise ratio and to keep intersample peaks from clipping plugins and such.

Last edited by O.G. Killa; 10-27-2008 at 04:20 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:43 AM
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.G. Killa View Post
What noise? Your mic preamp that you are cranking up is going to have more noise in it than your protools system. Most mic preamps have a noise floor of about -90dB, protools is around -118dB to -120dB. Your mic and mic preamp will have AT least 30dB MORE noise in it than your DAW. So, if you are trying to record at louder levels the only thing you are doing is putting MORE NOISE into your tracks because you are turning your mic preamps up to get the signal as hot as possible without clipping.

If you are recording into a DAW, you are NOT USING TAPE. There is no need to record as hot as possible since there is no tape noise/hiss to compete with. You are only going to make your recordings noisier by turning up the preamps.
OG, I hate to say it but I absolutely disagree. Digital noise is just as prevelant as it was on analog tape. It's different noise but it exists all the same. I have beautiful mic pre's (avalons and focusrite ISAs) and they don't make tons of noise, but the reason is because I give them hot signals to begin with. Yes, if you whisper a track off a synth into a mic pre and then boost it to hell you are going to get mic pre noise.

The other thing I am talking about is RF noise, noise from unbalanced cables, bad power noise, cell phone noise, cross talk, there are so many different ways noise can become part of your mix, and like I said, as soon as you compress and boost the output gain, you are going to boost the noise that always exists in your recordings.

Now headroom is another thing entirely, and so is dynamic range, another reason to record hot so that you can fully benefit from the dynamic range of sounds - example is a synth sound with a cool reverb or delay built into the sound that slowly fades away into nothing.

Another reason is that I paid good money for my preamps and the sound of a good tube really helps any mix as far as I am concerned. Sterile digital recordings need all the harmonic help they can get.
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:35 AM
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Quote:
Digital noise is just as prevelant as it was on analog tape. It's different noise but it exists all the same.
Can you elaborate on this phenomenon?
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:12 AM
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

I wasn't under the impression that it was a phenominon, and I thought I explained myself well enough. Although I will say that I shouldn't say that digital noise is the SAME as analog noise, or tape hiss, because well... it isn't. It also isn't as loud. So for that, I should correct myself.

Maybe it's bad converters, or maybe bad power supply, or not enough grounding, like I said earlier crosstalk, rf noise in cables, cell phone noise. I don't know how many times I have had client's cell phones -> specifically AT&T do that stupid rhythmic beeping sound before they ring, while the client is recording. But that's beside the point.

If you haven't experienced digital noise, then you are lucky.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:04 PM
RickD16v RickD16v is offline
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFord View Post
OG, I hate to say it but I absolutely disagree. Digital noise is just as prevelant as it was on analog tape. It's different noise but it exists all the same. I have beautiful mic pre's (avalons and focusrite ISAs) and they don't make tons of noise, but the reason is because I give them hot signals to begin with. Yes, if you whisper a track off a synth into a mic pre and then boost it to hell you are going to get mic pre noise.

The other thing I am talking about is RF noise, noise from unbalanced cables, bad power noise, cell phone noise, cross talk, there are so many different ways noise can become part of your mix, and like I said, as soon as you compress and boost the output gain, you are going to boost the noise that always exists in your recordings.

Now headroom is another thing entirely, and so is dynamic range, another reason to record hot so that you can fully benefit from the dynamic range of sounds - example is a synth sound with a cool reverb or delay built into the sound that slowly fades away into nothing.

Another reason is that I paid good money for my preamps and the sound of a good tube really helps any mix as far as I am concerned. Sterile digital recordings need all the harmonic help they can get.
I totally agree with you Dr Ford. The idea that just because the second means of recording is better than the first doesn't mean you should not optimize things and just sacrify -XXdB of dynamics.
I think it's quite absurd: you have here people saying "oh, we have here so much more dynamics than CD.....let's continue as if we had only 16 bits to play with & sacrify the rest..."

Really quite amazing how many people don't get it: it's not just ONE SNR we're playing with here, it's the first PLUS the second...the digital support may be better than the analogue in terms of noise it still DOES have its own noise etc and that is being ADDED to the analogue source. Whether the analogue source had less dynamic range or not is completely irrelevant. When you record at -18dBFS you better have a bloody good justification for it and so far i haven't heard of anything measured, just impressions & possibly mere myths.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:53 AM
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Shifted Music Shifted Music is offline
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Well I for one have noticed increase in bass definition and width utilizing more headroom than less. This is in regards to mixing in the box and for when hitting master faders, busses or whatever.

Purely subjective... no null tests or anything. Just my ears which are easily discounted by anyone wanting to justify how they do things.

Maybe its old school thinking since I have been digital since 1998.

But the important part is - it works for me.

When I have read the breakdowns of why lower levels and more headroom are recommended in regards to voltage and converters and +4 gear interacting with the converters optimum operating levels. It makes sense to me.
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  #9  
Old 11-29-2008, 08:54 AM
MoritzRock MoritzRock is offline
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Smile Re: Best Recording Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.G. Killa View Post
What noise? Your mic preamp that you are cranking up is going to have more noise in it than your protools system. Most mic preamps have a noise floor of about -90dB, protools is around -118dB to -120dB. Your mic and mic preamp will have AT least 30dB MORE noise in it than your DAW. So, if you are trying to record at louder levels the only thing you are doing is putting MORE NOISE into your tracks because you are turning your mic preamps up to get the signal as hot as possible without clipping.

If you are recording into a DAW, you are NOT USING TAPE. There is no need to record as hot as possible since there is no tape noise/hiss to compete with. You are only going to make your recordings noisier by turning up the preamps.

Calibrate your studio and everything will fall into place. The 192IO is set from the factory to -18dBfs (on the PT meter) = +4dBu = 1.228 Volts = 0 VU (on an Analog VU meter).

This means, the old analog technique of "keep the needle right around 0 on the VU meter" translates to "Keep the signal right around -18dB on the Protools meter (which is just under halfway up the meter)".

Some of the best tracking engineers I've seen, record everything with the faders set to "0" and change the mic preamp gain to place things proper ly within the mix WHILE TRACKING. Most people today don't really do this because pulling the fader down in PTHD doesn't really effect the sound of the track (until you get down around -90dB on the fader). Whereas on an analog console as soon as you start pulling the fader down you are changing the sound (since the fader is a voltage controlled amplifier/variable resistor).

So, to answer the original poster's question... if you are going to record and mix completely in the box you are better off keeping the levels lower for better Signal to noise ratio and to keep intersample peaks from clipping plugins and such.
Hi!
Pretty much all well said,
However yeah there are engineers that try to do recordings and mix the signals in with the faders at zero as some tried to do this also in the analog domain in the past... put the faders at zero and you got the mix type of thing right??
In digital is almost kind of possible, in analog well there is the noise to deal with, however in my opinion anyway, this barely works in term of the right gain structure an recording levels (at least if you don't have a channel fader to dictate your level to tape that is, if you do then yes that is well possible..

Now, as i always known it (am i wronG here??)

0dBU=0.775V. +4dBU= 1.233... Volts Right??? (0VU at +4dBu)

And as Mr Bob katz says in his wonderful book when recording at 24bit, a signal level that reaches -48dBFS is a full scale 16bit recording (144-96=48)
Lots of good records where made on Adats 16bits... so take it from here at -18dBFS you are well up there... headroom is your friend, well.... at least is some peoples friend...

Good thread but, Still amazes me how some people are just argumentative and don't like to learn stuff from people with more experience...

Pass it on, i will be happy to listen...
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2008, 01:25 AM
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Default Re: Best Recording Levels

Guys,

Remember that one track of 24 bit audio is a different story than mixing 100 tracks of 24 bit audio to produce one final track of 24 bit audio.

If you're only recording that one 24 bit track of audio and are going to master that; sure, just try to record it with as many bits as possible. Bottleneck is either the A/D converter (having approx 120dB dynamics) or something before that. Either way you still have to decide how much dynamics your FINAL track should have, for example going to 16 bit CD you'll have to compress it to 96dB anyway so it does not matter much whether you succeed to record 120dB dynamics. Yes there are better formats but you get the picture; and to think one step further: how is the end product going to be enjoyed? With a large scale PA that can actually put out all those 120 decibels? If not, when for example enjoyed in a common living room "reasonably loud" (say, 85 decibels) it's still not going to deliver everything that is possible IN THEORY.

That said, more dynamic music will sound more dynamic but what's the point in trying to capture +100dB dynamics when virtually nobody ever hears it?

And back to the another point; mixing tracks together. Digital audio mixing is pure math, like it or not, IOW summing zeros and ones together. And summing more tracks will always requre longer word length for the result track! So if you take a hundred tracks of 120dB audio, how many bits will you need if the master buss cannot be allowed to clip? How many bits will you have to "bring down" the final track to make it fit into 24 bits? Does it sound better or worse compared to "bringing down" the tracks before mixing them together?

Do you really need/want to mix together tens of tracks of +100dB dynamics? Really never use compressors? Ever thought about the usable "real world dynamics" that you want your track to feed the mix buss? Isn't it more common to be wanting "lead vocal to float on top of the mix" rather than have crazy dynamics going from whispering that is almost non-audible to shouting that loud the listener turns down the volume?

Really, come on, think about this. Complain about dynamics when you think that you're going to record a track that is too flat. It's like using 60's gear with today's artists. Not going to happen very often. If you need more dynamics, you'll know it before you hit record.

But if you feel you're recording nice sounding track that feels dynamic enough, then everything is all right and you can move on. No need to tweak where the benefits are minimal.
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