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What level do you aim for when recording hardware into daw?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page Previous  1, 2 [all]
Author What level do you aim for when recording hardware into daw?
BenA718
rekko wrote:
Hello everybody. As the title says, what sort of volume level do you aim for when recording hardware into your DAW?

I am typically looking for an average of -9dBFS on my master bus.

To achieve this I get each track to average at -14dBFS. (My nearfield monitors are calibrated to 70dB at -14dBFS with pink noise)

Tracks are sent to buses for individual processing and then those buses are bused together. (example: I have separate buses for kick and snare but those feed into a single bus for all drums). This gain staging keeps my levels consistent.

Each of those main buses then go to four final ‘mix bus’ buses. Each bus is crossed over at a different frequency and have slightly different processing. I have one for low frequencies, low mids, upper mids, and high frequencies. Thsese mix buses then go into my master bus. Typically this is also where I add Waves NLS for coloration.

Gain staging is very important to maintaining the dynamics of your mix, but level is only a small part. EQ, dynamics processing, and automation make that static mix come alive.
dubonaire
BenA718 wrote:
Typically this is also where I add Waves NLS for coloration.


Your post was interesting and I'm not in anyway trying to be smart, but I really do find the idea of an analogue summing plugin to be amusing.

I do wonder though, if I'm using analogue-modeled plugins on my individual tracks and busses, what exactly is it that an analogue summing plugin will add, given that I already have 'analogue warmth' modelled on my individual tracks and busses?

I also wonder how much analogue modelling a signal can take. I guess everything needs to be dialled in fairly subtly.
BenA718
dubonaire wrote:
BenA718 wrote:
Typically this is also where I add Waves NLS for coloration.


Your post was interesting and I'm not in anyway trying to be smart, but I really do find the idea of an analogue summing plugin to be amusing.

I do wonder though, if I'm using analogue-modeled plugins on my individual tracks and busses, what exactly is it that an analogue summing plugin will add, given that I already have 'analogue warmth' modelled on my individual tracks and busses?

I also wonder how much analogue modelling a signal can take. I guess everything needs to be dialled in fairly subtly.

Horses for courses. Grab a free demo and try it, I suppose! smile

The NLS is subtle, which is why I like it. The way I have it set up in my template is each mix bus has its own console chosen for that frequency band; the EMI handles low mids differently from the SSL, for example.

There is no right or wrong and having channel strips on the instrument buses would probably have the same effect, but a) that’s a lot more CPU overhead just for running audio and b) the NLS has several desks modeled so I don’t need to purchase multiple plugins. Plus, to my ears, I prefer the sound of all of the buses being summed together instead of being processed separately. But your mileage may vary, and other cliches!
dubonaire
BenA718 wrote:
dubonaire wrote:
BenA718 wrote:
Typically this is also where I add Waves NLS for coloration.


Your post was interesting and I'm not in anyway trying to be smart, but I really do find the idea of an analogue summing plugin to be amusing.

I do wonder though, if I'm using analogue-modeled plugins on my individual tracks and busses, what exactly is it that an analogue summing plugin will add, given that I already have 'analogue warmth' modelled on my individual tracks and busses?

I also wonder how much analogue modelling a signal can take. I guess everything needs to be dialled in fairly subtly.

Horses for courses. Grab a free demo and try it, I suppose! smile

The NLS is subtle, which is why I like it. The way I have it set up in my template is each mix bus has its own console chosen for that frequency band; the EMI handles low mids differently from the SSL, for example.

There is no right or wrong and having channel strips on the instrument buses would probably have the same effect, but a) that’s a lot more CPU overhead just for running audio and b) the NLS has several desks modeled so I don’t need to purchase multiple plugins. Plus, to my ears, I prefer the sound of all of the buses being summed together instead of being processed separately. But your mileage may vary, and other cliches!


I sum through an analogue desk, but it's not special and I might not always do that. I've contemplated the Neve summing desk. I really appreciate your post and might try that path.
BenA718
I have a 16 channel analogue desk as well, it's an old Mackie, and it definitely works great for summing but the amount of cabling required is nuts! lol

I did an entirely analogue mix a few years ago and there were things I liked about it and things I didn't. Overall, my impression was that it's a fun skill to have but not worth it for the compromises it imposes, at least in my case. If I had a huge desk I might feel different.

For mixing synths, I find that reamping the synth tracks through a mic'd amp and blending those tracks into the direct tracks adds much more than analogue summing does.

One thing that an outboard analogue desk does add is the trace amounts of noise which I feel is probably the real Secret Sauce here ... I don't like dead silent tracks, and a bit of noise really glues together a mix!

This is something I mixed last year using the method I described above. WARNING: this is straight up neoprog stuff so if you don't like late 60s/early 70s English prog you will probably find it very boring and pretentious! smile

[s]https://soundcloud.com/as-follows/purple-prose[/s]
Zerius
@BenA718 is that SoundCloud track, the stereo output recording of your mackie mixer ?
BenA718
Zerius wrote:
@BenA718 is that SoundCloud track, the stereo output recording of your mackie mixer ?

No, that mix was done ITB.

This is one of the analogue mixes I did through the Mackie.

[s]https://soundcloud.com/as-follows/the-eye-of-fire-and-fear-part[/s]
dubonaire
BenA718 wrote:
This is something I mixed last year using the method I described above. WARNING: this is straight up neoprog stuff so if you don't like late 60s/early 70s English prog you will probably find it very boring and pretentious! smile


Not a prog fan but I don't find it boring or pretentious, or at least I don't care if it is pretentious.

I've only listened to it on computer speakers and it sounds OK on those so my guess is it's really well mixed.
Hermetech Mastering
Sounds great on the ATCs here too. Good stuff.
BenA718
Hermetech Mastering wrote:
Sounds great on the ATCs here too. Good stuff.

Thanks! I saw the equipment list on your site, very impressive!
Hermetech Mastering
BenA718 wrote:
Hermetech Mastering wrote:
Sounds great on the ATCs here too. Good stuff.

Thanks! I saw the equipment list on your site, very impressive!


Cheers, yeah I had to sell my modular to obtain a lot of that. smile
leeski
Thanks for the Tips you lovely Peeps nanners
DickMarker
I aim for about -18dbfs but don't sweat it if peaks get a little hotter now and then depending on the material.
Personally I just find things come together a little better mixing-wise when RMS is around that level. No idea why, just what works best for me after plenty of trial and error.
calaveras
that whole thing about recording hot to 'get all the bits' is trash. I heard that from some Guitar Center dork decades ago and it screwed up my first few years of digital recording.
You want to leave headroom for transients that are too fast for the meters to catch. Think of the strike of a pick on guitar strings. Stick on cymbals especially ! But also even vocals and other stuff you would not consider having a transient attack do in fact have quick bits of detail that fly by too fast to register on the peak reading, VU calibrated meters.

Also, every time you double your number of tracks you lose 3db of headroom. Then you have to pull down the faders to avoid clipping the mix if you recorded too hot! It will sound better in the long run if it all just goes though at 0 gain 0 attenuation.

I aim for -18dbfs as this works best with my external gear and internal plugins. Though ironically some plugins seem to have been engineered for -3dbfs signals! They don't respond until you are clobbering them with level.
(like Logic's native compressor plugin!)
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