DAW levels

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by joseph, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. joseph

    joseph Member

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    Most of the guys here know this, but for newbies like me....

    Often on the web, you'll see advice to get your individual channels to peak at -6 to -3 db, and then mix for -3 to 0 db.

    However, as pointed out at http://www.fxpansion1.com/mixing_with_bfd.pdf and probably elsewhere,
    you lose a lot of clarity and definition that way.

    It takes more restraint, but it's much better to peak individual channels at only -12 to -15 db - ie, the faders are LOW... and also, none of the faders should be higher than the master level fader (or at least, not too many faders, and not for very long).

    As pointed out, you can always boost the level of the final mixdown track itself. But allowing yourself this vast clean headroom (one of the advantages of digital over tape analog) will make things sound incredibly better....kind of like replacing a set of rusty strings (I'm not kidding!).
     
  2. scottl

    scottl Member

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    Joseph,

    I don't think I'd agree with this. The piece you reference is talking about summing many drum mics. If I were recording a guitar I would certainly go hotter. No summing. No less than -6 for me. Regardless of what that pdf suggests, resolution is a factor. Why throw away the resolution for no reason?? As long as you don't clip, the hotter signal will always get more clarity than less..... Fact.

    ;)
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    You're confusing optimal recording levels with mixing levels, and the manual addresses that a little earlier in the section.

    It's not really saying anything new, just common sense digital mixing advice. E.g.: You're better off mixing to the system's limit rather than running tracks so hot that you need a limiter. Signal-to-noise is not a factor in the 32-bit floating point digital realm. If you have only three or four drum tracks you can run each of them hotter than if you had eight or 10. Etc.

    I thought it was accurate, but as a manual not as clear as it could have been.
     
  4. scottl

    scottl Member

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    Ah... Ok. I thought I saw the manual say that resolution is not really a factor?? That is not true.... Better resolution is always better. Whether it is audible is another story... ;)
     
  5. joseph

    joseph Member

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    Well, they are fundamentally drum people after all :D.
    I had some songs, 8 or so tracks, where the individual channels were peaking at 0 db, and the summing fader therefore pretty low. Went back and re-mixed them as described above, huge improvement in the overall sound quality even though the relative mix among the instruments was unchanged.
    Also, my setup is all direct in - guitar, bass, BFD, soft synths - no microphones, so the need for maximizing gain at the preamp stage is not a concern.
    I just posted this, because it won't occur to most guitar oriented musicians that your sound gets better as you turn things down.
     

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