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  #1  
Old 05-22-2004, 07:55 AM
MarkPresti MarkPresti is offline
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Default Recording levels

I have been recording stuff and i have never had anything mastered. Should my recording levels be as hot as i can get them or should i leave a fair amount of room for them to be mastered? Most of the time i try to get my inputs as hot as possible (-6db to 0). Is this recommended or should i keep them a little less hot? thanks
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2004, 08:14 AM
AverageJoe AverageJoe is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

well, your recording levels have actually nothing to do with your final mix levels. Those can always be adjusted with the faders.

Regarding recording levels, there's a lot of opinions out there. One is to record as hot as possible so as to use up all of your 24 bits (assuming you are recording in 24 bit). The other popular opinion is to only record about as hot as the track will need to be with the fader at unity. This idea is popular with those who believe the tradeoff in lower resolution is worth it because of what the PT mixer does to the sound when the faders are all over the place (PT then has to do lots of math to change levels, it makes it sound worse, yadda yadda yadda). There have been a few supposed definitive tests regarding this but I don't think anyone ever changed their opinions.

Personally, I usually record fairly hot, unless I'm doing a part that I know is going to be way back in the mix. It's obviously important to leave some headroom for spikes in your audio.

As to the other question about levels of your mixes for mastering, if you are taking it to a pro mastering engineer, he/she probably won't care where the levels are. There are a few on this board who strongly advocate no plugs on the master fader in your mix. I don't agree. I will put some light compression across the bus if I feel it needs it. I don't ever touch the master fader when I mix so the fact that the plugs are post fader on the master doesn't matter. I usually make my mixes on the hot side, but I leave some room for the mastering process.

That's my opinion, and it works great for me. ymmv.
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Old 05-22-2004, 12:39 PM
Chris Cavell Chris Cavell is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

0dB on a VU meter is typically around -18dBFS on a PT meter...if you're pushing your gain to the point where the tracks are being recorded between -6 and 0, you're probably encountering analog distortion at the preamp. Once the tracks are inside PT and if mixing entirely inside PT, you can get the levels as hot as you wish so long as you don't exceed 0dBfs at the output or between any plugs etc...
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Old 05-22-2004, 03:05 PM
where02190 where02190 is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

For the 001 and M-box 0dbu=-18dbfs
For the 002/002R 0dbu=-14dbfs

Your nominal(average) levels should follow the 0dbu references, both for recording and mix levels. For mixing, start with faders set to -10, and balance accordingly. Don't reduce level with the master fader to prevent overloads, lower the individual track faders. Lowering the master fader does not compensate for summing overloads, a common mistake in DAW mixing.

By using these reference levels as guidelines, you then leave adequate haedroom before clipping when recording, headroom for the mastering process, and still achieve good bit capture and optimal audio quallity.
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Old 05-23-2004, 09:40 AM
Chris Cavell Chris Cavell is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

Quote:
Don't reduce level with the master fader to prevent overloads, lower the individual track faders. Lowering the master fader does not compensate for summing overloads, a common mistake in DAW mixing.


Decide for yourself...but at least understand how it works first before making a comment like that.
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Old 05-23-2004, 12:45 PM
where02190 where02190 is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

I very well understand how it works, and further more have done intensive testing to determine what exactly is the best method, with myself and other trusted enginners in blind tests, and we ALL agreed the best results came from keeping the track faders at a level so that the master buss does not get overdriven rather than simply lowering the master fader, which as any first year audio student knows does nothing to the incoming level.


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Old 05-23-2004, 01:01 PM
Gunnar Hellquist Gunnar Hellquist is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

Hmm. where02190 ?

You must be hearing something I cannot hear. And something that the people at Digidesign probably doesn´t hear. And something that the design of ProTools is supposed to prevent happening. How come you are so very different? Could you give some more info on the test you are referring to as well as to your general experience in the area. Exactly what hardware and software setup did you try and what where the other conditions, as for example what people where listening.

If you have tested on an analog board, I all agree with you. The summing bus there can be overdriven and that will generally be a bad thing. Except sometimes when you use the unlinear behaviour of the bus to get as some special effects.

As for the design of the summing bus in ProTools (which behaves very differently from an analog summing bus, at least in the mixing boards I have built), see the last number of DigiZine. There is an article there under the heading Tech Talk. That article makes a lot of sense to me as an old electronics engineer and software designer (I worked on the computer systems for one or two nuclear power plants as well as for general industrial process control). According to that article, which I have to repeat makes a lot of sense to me, the PT summing bus cannot be overloaded. Period.

And while you are at it, could you give your name as well. Mine is below.

Gunnar Hellquist
amateur musician and recorder
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Old 05-23-2004, 01:18 PM
Chris Coleman Chris Coleman is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

Quote:
For the 001 and M-box 0dbu=-18dbfs
For the 002/002R 0dbu=-14dbfs

Nick - we went over this like 2 months ago:

It's either "+4dBu = -14dBFS" or "0dBVU = -14dBFS", (because 0dBVU is basically synonymous with +4dBu, referenced to 1.23 volts), but it's absolutely NOT 0dBu = -14dBFS. If you'd like for me to go on and on about voltage references, pro audio standards, and Digidesign's specifications again, let me know and I'll just quote the last series of postings on the topic of calibration...but the short truth is that your above information is flat-out incorrect, so please stop posting it. The fact that you keep doing so somewhat mystifies me.
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Old 05-23-2004, 02:28 PM
Chris Cavell Chris Cavell is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

Quote:
I very well understand how it works, and further more have done intensive testing to determine what exactly is the best method, with myself and other trusted enginners in blind tests, and we ALL agreed the best results came from keeping the track faders at a level so that the master buss does not get overdriven rather than simply lowering the master fader, which as any first year audio student knows does nothing to the incoming level.



Your post implies that you have absolutely no clue how the summing buss and master fader work in Pro Tools LE...you can't possibly think of it as "incoming level"...it's floating 32 bit! You also state in a single sentence that you understand "very well how it works" and then imply that the master bus can be overdriven. "Overdriving" the 32 bit floating point summing bus in LE is a mathematical impossibility with the limitation of 120 summed audio sources placed on LE. There may be ways of summing even more than 120 identical sound sources in LE...I'll see, and get back to you on just how far you can go before clipping the summing bus.
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Old 05-23-2004, 02:45 PM
Chris Cavell Chris Cavell is offline
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Default Re: Recording levels

Nope, I can't find any way of getting around the 120 voice limit in LE....oh well, I was really hoping to actually clip that summing buss...guess I'll have to wait for digi to let me use more tracks.
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