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Old 12-23-2006, 09:02 PM
mahler007 mahler007 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 314
Default Question about final levels and monitoring

Hi Protools,
I have a question, and please forgive the prelude...

Many times here on the DUC, I've read posts about people having problems with their final bounce levels- mostly that they are too low, and how they can go about possibly raising them...

I seem to have the opposite problem. I monitor from my 002 through the D/A of a Rosetta 200 and a pair of Genelec 1031As. I love the Rosetta and the Genelecs- I know from many years of listening through garbage that they are awesome, and I'm happy to have them, but here's the catch...

After mixing, I bounce and then always listen to my bounce on my iPod. I'm sure many of you shudder at such a thought, but I have to say that listening on semi-crappy headphones on an iPod can be quite revealing- sort of like listening through a pair of Auralex monitors, I guess. Whenever I do this, however, I always notice a lot of distortion at high volume levels. I find that I rarely need to use a limiter or compressor to make things louder, as my bounces are more than loud enough.

But why, when my levels both within PT, and on my Rosetta, and on my Mackie 1202 which receives the analog signal from the Rosetta all read 0 DB, do I get distortion at high volume levels when listening on my iPod?

When I listen to professionally released albums on my iPod I get no distortion when I have the pod maxed (which is most of the time...) A few albums here and there can't always be turned up all the way, but more than enough, with my Zeppelin and Hendrix tunes, as well as most others, raising the volume all the way yields a distortion free sound that is both loud and beautiful.

My mixes are just loud! Maybe sometimes (if I'm lucky) they are beautiful, but still i get distortion when I turn up the pod past 3/4 of the way. Is there a discrepancy between what PT registers as 0DB and what the iPod can accurately handle?

If anybody has any insight on this, I'd appreciate hearing it. Many thanks, and happy holidays to all...

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Old 12-23-2006, 09:29 PM
M.Brane M.Brane is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: 1hr N/W of LA LA land
Posts: 1,999
Default Re: Question about final levels and monitoring

Your mix can clip even though the PT meters never did. This is because the PT meters measure samples, and not signal. Many cheap DACs will crap out trying to recreate a hot,fast signal that was perfectly fine inside the box. I have experienced this myself with more than just my iPod. It's likely that these kind of signals blow right past the meters on the Mackie too. The Rosetta can probably handle the occasional illegal signal gracefully so you don't notice the clipping there.

If you can wrap your head around Paul Frindle's posts in this thread you'll begin to understand why hot levels are not so good.
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Old 12-23-2006, 09:51 PM
grindx grindx is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 185
Default Re: Question about final levels and monitoring

What type of file are you loading into the iPod? Uncompressed? (non mp3?)

I worked extensively with Genelec 1029A's, 1030A's and 1031's. I seem to remember them rolling off at about 50Hz. Do you have a sub? Maybe there is something going on down there.

What type of dynamic FX are you using when you mix? How much, if any, compresson on individual channels?

Don't forget that Led Zep and Hendrix were professionally mastered.
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Old 12-23-2006, 10:28 PM
mahler007 mahler007 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 314
Default Re: Question about final levels and monitoring

hey y'all,
Thanks so much for your posts- just so you know, I am importing 44.1/16 aiffs to my iPod, and I tend to gently roll off a lot of the sub 100 hz stuff, mostly because I'm recording solo guitar or small acoustic ensembles, and I've noticed that when I leave those frequencies in, they eat up a lot of sonic space without really adding anything to the mix.

As for the Rosetta being able to gracefully handle "illegal signals," are you saying that its D/A converter (and perhaps the soft limiting feature) makes them sound ok through my monitors even though the bounce (within Protools, which is pre-D/A conversion) is having problems? I can see how that makes sense...

I took some time after recently moving to calibrate my setup and make sure that the "VU" meters between my different pieces of gear (my pres, the Rosetta, ProTools, the Mackie, a couple of other outboard pieces) all seem to be in sync, and they now indeed seem to be so. As a result, when I'm tracking, I never seem to get any sort of distortion if I'm mindful, and when mixing I'm careful to never go into the red on tracks, plugins, or the master.

As I stated before, levels are no problem, so I don't mind bringing them down if that's what's recommended (as per Paul Frindle's post), or simply not using the Massey Limiter plugin or the L2 on my final bounce's master I guess I'm just curious as to why there's a discrepancy between PT's output meter and what I'm hearing...

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Old 12-23-2006, 10:51 PM
M.Brane M.Brane is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: 1hr N/W of LA LA land
Posts: 1,999
Default Re: Question about final levels and monitoring

Well not many pieces of gear made in the last 20 years or so have true VU meters since VUs are useless for detecting clipping of fast transients which is critical with digital. VUs are slow, and have a limited operating range. For instance a snare drum that shows 0VU is likely peaking at +12 or more, and a soft steady-state signal much below -20 won't even register. VUs are good mud detectors though, and give you good idea of the overall perceived loudness of the program. Most everything these days has peak meters, but even those are slower than some transients.

That's a good catch on the subsonic stuff too. Fast subsonic signals can be quite troublesome because you generally can't hear 'em.

I have a cheap Toshiba DVD player that actually sounds very good on stuff that was mastered before the "volume wars", but sounds like ass with most newer recordings. It just can't deal with stuff that's been wicked-up to 0dbFS. It doesn't sound "crackly", but just sounds really harsh, and small. Movies sound fine, but then movie soundtracks are generally not mastered with high volume in mind.

Think about the price/size difference between your Rosetta, and the iPod. Obviously if the iPod could do DAC as good as the Rosetta the Rosetta would likely be a lot smaller, and cheaper.

The problem with the PT meters is that they are before the DAC.
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Old 12-26-2006, 03:24 PM
SDDP SDDP is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Los Angles, CA
Posts: 576
Default Re: Question about final levels and monitoring

Just out of curiosity, what other meters are you using? Spectrafoo? or Dorrough Digital Meters?
I do mostly Post for TV and always use meters on Digital Dorrough meters, which simultaneously show program material content average loudness and peaks along with the Yamaha 02R meters to see where stuff is hitting at, averaging, etc. Also, incase of you didn't know this, on your Master Fader, if you hold the apple then click the mouse over the small window that shows the volume and its number, you can toggle between volume, Peak, and delay, set it to peak and it shows you the exact peak of what is going through the master fader channel and by clicking on it with the mouse zero's it out.

You might find those to be a better way to see where your true volumes,loudness, peaks, and averages are at.

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