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Old 10-02-2007, 07:49 PM
bukman bukman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 109
Default Does a red peak on a track mean the same as on the Master

Hi all,

I have been told that when recording a track you need to keep incoming levels hot to ensure the noise floor impact is minimised.
I am doing this okay however when I am mixing and adding some eq or compression etc it seems the track is so hot that minor adjustments take the track into the red very quickly (I have PT set for pre fader monitoring). Note I am talking about individual track levels here and not master levels which I have under control.

My question is whether the peak in the individual track should be as a concern compared with the master level peaking?
I am imagining it is the final output that is the key to be careful about digital distortion etc however maybe I am wrong.
What does overloading an individual track do to the audio given I have not yet peaked the output stage?
Once I have recorded should I switch to post fader monitoring and only worry what comes out the end of the fader? I am really not sure what the track pre fade peak means once audio is tracked.

Anyway if track peaks are something to avoid which I assume is the case (and I need to monitor pre fade) then how do I overcome the dilemma of needing to record hot but then having little bandwidth to then play when it comes to plug ins and effects? Is there a way to keep some bandwidth during recording for processing later but not having the noise floor come into play.

Or is there a plug in that can transparently reduce my recorded track level down so I can apply decent amounts of effect without worrying about the peak coming into play. eg. the digi eq's have an input and output level adjustment. If I drop the input level down does this color the sound at all or is it a transparent level reduction? This seems the only way I see to open up some bandwidth.

I am sure it is a stupid question but I am a little confused. I hope someone can shed some light for me.
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:04 PM
M.Brane M.Brane is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: 1hr N/W of LA LA land
Posts: 1,999
Default Re: Does a red peak on a track mean the same as on the Maste

Tracking as hot as possible is an old-school digital technique from the 16bit days. There is absolutely no good reason to track hot in 24bit. The noise floor of your mics/pres is well above the noise floor of the converters. Do yourself a favor next time and track with peaks around -12dbFS. This will leave you plenty of headroom for processing/mixing, and your mic pres will likely sound much better when not cranked up so high.

What to do with what you have? Use the trim plug on an insert. If you have any kind of dynamics processing that you don't want to readjust put the trim after those. That is if they're not clipping. You could also use the Audiosuite gain plug, but any dynamics processing would need to be readjusted due to the reduced gain.

A few clipped samples on a single track is not going to be noticeable, but the cumulative effects of many tracks clipping will create a "hard" sound that is far worse than anything gain reduction will do.
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:13 PM
bukman bukman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 109
Default Re: Does a red peak on a track mean the same as on the Maste

Thanks M.

Its funny how some tip you hear no matter how long ago can stick in your head but technology moves on.
Your advice will reduce a lot of my frustration. Aside from the confusion about the right levels to use I was going loopy continually clearing the red peak lights.


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