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Old 10-19-2006, 09:29 AM
Sput Sput is offline
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2

Hello All,

I have some concerns about tracking levels into protools. I am on a mission which involes more dynamic range and less mud in my recordings. So I have a few questions. For instance-What exactly does Calibration level in the preferences settings 6.4 pro tools mean. Mine is set to 0 db.....I have been told that I should track around -18 dbfs. If that is correct should the calibration number in protools read -18dbfs... I have been told that the _18dbfs refers to the analog world of mixing where -18dbfs represents odb in the Analog world....Supposedly by tracking at -18dbfs I will have much more headroom to play with during the mix phase...Is this true....Well, I did a small test yesterday and recorded some vocals at a much lower level --around -15db meaning I watched my protools meters whenre the signal looked about 3/4 way down and then compressed and all that in protools and added reverb and for some reason I feel like I can hear my reverbs much clearer...Is this possible? Have I all this time been missing out on the beautiful sounds of pro tools..? Another reason I am concerened about this headroom issue is beacuse I produce music for Film and Television as well as recording artists and with film and tv, I need my mixes to have more headroom because additional processing may occur for the piece upon inclusion to the film or tv show......

Please assist, and thanks for your help


PC-3.06 GHZ
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:55 PM
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albee1952 albee1952 is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Norwich, CT
Posts: 37,522

My big question is: what bit rate do you record at? I recommend always recording at 24 bit as it yeilds more headroom. As for the calibration question, I doubt I am qualified to answer but consider a few things. -18dbfs is an older record level recommendation based on 16 bit recording and as a way to make sure you did not hit 0dbfs which will clip in digital(and digital clip sounds really bad). my method which works for me, is to record above halfway on the PT meters and not try to slam the input too hot(to avoid clipping). As you add plugins like EQ and compression, the track level will increase. The more tracks you have, the more audio you will be cramming thru the mix buss. With a 32 track session of fairly hot signals, I have ended up with crunchy sounding mixes. The solution to that is to reduce all audio tracks by a few db (3-4 will usually do it). You will know instantly if you dropped the level enough as the mix will immediatly sound cleaner. SInce you are recording for video, you should also record at 48K instead of 44.1K(I bet you already knew that). Higher is better but for most popular music, 48K sounds fine(assuming good recording techniques and gear are used). I have been very happy with the sound of PT. Hope I helped your thought process.
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Old 10-19-2006, 09:58 PM
12thandVine 12thandVine is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: The Fabulous Gold Coast
Posts: 59

Hi Sput ...

As you are doing stuff for film and broadcast, I would recommend you take a trip over to dr sound's Sticky on room calibration (part of the overall calibration picture) on the DUC's Post & Surround forum ... assuming of course you haven't been there already.

A search of that forum on these issues should also turn up lots of helpful info that will assist you clarify calibration and help you meet your deliverables specs.

You might want to have a look at the legendary Bob Katz's insights into calibration ... here's a link as a start:


FWIW, personally, I find it's so much more rewarding to work on material that's got headroom. To me it often 'sounds better' and has more dynamics. But, I'm only a humble mastering engineer so what would I know.

Hope this helps. Happy calibrating.

Kind regards,

Paul Blakey
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Old 10-20-2006, 08:36 AM
Sput Sput is offline
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2

Well thanks guys as I need alll the help I can get...I will check out this link and travel over to SURROUND FORUM today for sure..:) I am finding right now as I attempt to do more complex mixes I am finally enjoying the headroom..It really helps may the mic quicker and more fullfilling...Strange isn't it, how everyone has hot is better tattooed on their forehead.:)

Thanks again,

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