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  #1  
Old 01-13-2014, 05:11 AM
CraigForVoiceovers CraigForVoiceovers is offline
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Default Audio level low

I installed Pro Tools 10 yesterday on my Macbook Pro running Mavericks. I'm using the Mbox as the interface (not the mini). I turn the mic gain all the way up and the meter in Pro Tools barely gets into the yellow. Don't know enough about PT yet to figure out how to get a digital readout of the meter. I'm sure the gain should not need to be turned up that high.

I'm using an EV RE27 mic that does not need phantom power (although I turned it on on the Mbox and of course, it made not difference)

Is there some sort of gain adjustment in PT that I'm missing?
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2014, 05:37 AM
musicman691 musicman691 is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigForVoiceovers View Post
I installed Pro Tools 10 yesterday on my Macbook Pro running Mavericks. I'm using the Mbox as the interface (not the mini). I turn the mic gain all the way up and the meter in Pro Tools barely gets into the yellow. Don't know enough about PT yet to figure out how to get a digital readout of the meter. I'm sure the gain should not need to be turned up that high.

I'm using an EV RE27 mic that does not need phantom power (although I turned it on on the Mbox and of course, it made not difference)

Is there some sort of gain adjustment in PT that I'm missing?
No gain adjustment in PT - as the manual says it's all done by your outboard gear. Not knowing the exact model of Mbox you have check and see if it has a line/mic switch for the input you are using; that might be in line when it should be in mic position. Either way it's not necessary to go hard into yellow and you certainly don't want to hit red. Yellow is the new red. As long as you're getting a clean signal recorded into the computer then you're golden.

You can up the level in PT with gain plugins and such but all that is is a math operation on the already digitized signal. It will not boost your input.
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  #3  
Old 01-13-2014, 05:58 AM
CraigForVoiceovers CraigForVoiceovers is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Thanks for your response. I figured it was all about the outboard gear. There are three Mbox models, the mini, the regular Mbox and the Pro. I have the middle model. I know that going way into yellow is unnecessary but I don't think that it should be necessary to have the gain pumped up to max on the Mbox. I was speaking normally to loudly into the mic to get that level. If I want to record something quiet, I don't think I'm going to have enough signal to maintain an acceptable S/N ratio. I don't believe there is a mic/line switch on the Mbox.

I did notice just now that the manual shows that the gain knob has an in and an out position. It suggests that if the signal is too hot, that you can pull the knob out to the second position to attenuate the signal by 20dB. I suppose that could have been pulled accidentally so I'll have to look at that when I'm back in the studio.

And one more thing, with the gain level at max (without having checked the in/out position yet) the clipping light goes on when I speak. That, combined with a relatively weak level on the Pro Tools end is a problem.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:06 AM
musicman691 musicman691 is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigForVoiceovers View Post
Thanks for your response. I figured it was all about the outboard gear. There are three Mbox models, the mini, the regular Mbox and the Pro. I have the middle model. I know that going way into yellow is unnecessary but I don't think that it should be necessary to have the gain pumped up to max on the Mbox. I was speaking normally to loudly into the mic to get that level. If I want to record something quiet, I don't think I'm going to have enough signal to maintain an acceptable S/N ratio. I don't believe there is a mic/line switch on the Mbox.

I did notice just now that the manual shows that the gain knob has an in and an out position. It suggests that if the signal is too hot, that you can pull the knob out to the second position to attenuate the signal by 20dB. I suppose that could have been pulled accidentally so I'll have to look at that when I'm back in the studio.

And one more thing, with the gain level at max (without having checked the in/out position yet) the clipping light goes on when I speak. That, combined with a relatively weak level on the Pro Tools end is a problem.

Thanks again.
If the clipping light goes on only occasionally that's not too bad of a problem. But you're missing one of the points I was trying to make - if you have a clean signal recorded then it doesn't matter how low the level is. Especially with today's electronics; it's not like tape of years gone by.
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:03 AM
CraigForVoiceovers CraigForVoiceovers is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

I did understand your point but I was clarifying that I can't always guarantee a very low noise level so the only way to make up for that is by having a relatively, and I emphasis relatively, hot signal coming from the mic (without risking clipping of course)

I have heard much about S/N ratio in electronics but for the home voiceover studio world, voice "signal" to surrounding mic noise is just as important, to me. If there is a risk of noise in a room, whether it be a vent whose air can't be turned off, minimal traffic noise, etc, the ratio of the voice input to the mic relative to that noise must be high.

This home studio (which incidentally is a friend's home studio) is not optimal but for now is what she can afford. I agree that under optimal conditions a lower signal is perfectly acceptable.

I think I'm on track here but I'm certainly open to more input if I'm overlooking something here. And again, as always, thanks for your responses.

One more thought, if the gain on the Mbox is turned up all the way, aren't I risking introducing more of the noise floor from the Mbox into the mix (no pun intended)?
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2014, 07:53 AM
musicman691 musicman691 is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigForVoiceovers View Post
I did understand your point but I was clarifying that I can't always guarantee a very low noise level so the only way to make up for that is by having a relatively, and I emphasis relatively, hot signal coming from the mic (without risking clipping of course)

I have heard much about S/N ratio in electronics but for the home voiceover studio world, voice "signal" to surrounding mic noise is just as important, to me. If there is a risk of noise in a room, whether it be a vent whose air can't be turned off, minimal traffic noise, etc, the ratio of the voice input to the mic relative to that noise must be high.

This home studio (which incidentally is a friend's home studio) is not optimal but for now is what she can afford. I agree that under optimal conditions a lower signal is perfectly acceptable.

I think I'm on track here but I'm certainly open to more input if I'm overlooking something here. And again, as always, thanks for your responses.

One more thought, if the gain on the Mbox is turned up all the way, aren't I risking introducing more of the noise floor from the Mbox into the mix (no pun intended)?
As evidenced by the clipping light coming on you do have a hot enough signal going into the ad converter inside the Mbox. So once again - there is nothing to worry about.

As for introducing more of the noise floor with the level all the way up - you are but you are also introducing more signal so the signal to noise ratio will stay about the same (it might differ a little but not enough to worry about). You also have some confusion about signal to noise from the point of view of electronics to acoustics. A rise in the noise coming from your room acoustics can't be helped by electronics (at least without going to something like iZotope RX). Raising the mic signal will only raise the acoustic noise along with it. To lessen the effect of room noise you need to acoustically treat the room. Or at least use something like the sE Electronics Reflexion filter. See this: http://www.seelectronics.com/reflexion-filter-pro
You will need a substantial mic stand to work with this.
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2014, 08:11 AM
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Default Re: Audio level low

If your signal is clipping in PT mixer window, it's pretty darn hot and your problem is in the output stage. Check your connections, how have you set up your monitors?
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  #8  
Old 01-13-2014, 09:21 AM
Bookerv12 Bookerv12 is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Hi,

Definitely post back and tell us about the input pad switch.
I had a similar call from a guy who had the same concerns with a similar mic.
Different interface, but when I went to look, he had the input switched to line instead of mic.
I know that's not what your problem is, but keep in mind that you are using a dynamic mic, that won't have as much output as say a condenser.
If you have it maxed on gain, hold the mic close to your mouth, and shriek, you should most likely see the meter hit the red in software. The peak light on the interface does not necessarily line up with the software meter. That just tells you that the little pre-amp is getting into clipping.

I would expect to see that mic get into the yellow at a lower interface setting, but there are a lot of variables.

Make sure the cables are all good.

Post back.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:08 AM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

Some more random thoughts; getting the signal into the yellow is correct and that means the input path is likely okay. You could be more clear on exactly what you mean by low level; as in low in headphones? Low in monitors? Are you using the MIX knob on the Mbox correctly? Are you using some monitor/routing utility(I don't use an Mbox so am not up on how that gets handled these days). If its low in phones or speakers, tell us what exact phones and/or speakers you have. If its speakers, are they powered(or separate amp) and are your connections balanced or unbalanced? The more detail you can offer, the better chance we have of giving good advice
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:44 AM
CraigForVoiceovers CraigForVoiceovers is offline
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Default Re: Audio level low

I did realize after my last post that a LOWER gain and a LOUDER voice would improve the acoustic S/N ration. Sorry about that.

All the cables are brand new (doesn't necessarily mean they aren't bad)

The recording area will be treated but for now we're just working on getting proper signals to ProTools. My friend has a very awkward setup but we have to do the best with her limited resources. It's a Manhattan apartment...enough said.

There is no input pad switch on this Mbox. The inputs are the XLR/TRS combos so When an XLR cable is connected it operates at mic level and when a TRS cable is used, it operates at line level. So that's not an issue. I'm using an XLR cable from the mic to the Mbox.
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