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Another gain-staging question...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ThirdBird, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    I have heard that when recording to digital, you want you levels to becoming in at -18 to -20 with peaks around -9 or 10....

    If I wanted to add a digital pre-amp and/or digital compression when tracking do I want the signal to those plugins to be at -18ish, or do I want the end result to be at a higher volume?

    My guess is that the pre-amp would increase the peaks and compression will limit them, so where can I expect levels to be at so that the track isn't too hot and it will mix well?

    Thank you for any help, and sorry if I sound noobish.
  2. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    Are you adding hard ware or software to your chain?
  3. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

  4. GeckoMusic

    GeckoMusic Guest

    My advice is don't record any plugin effects. You can add them later just as easy. And if you don't print them, you can take them off when they inevitably don't work in the mix.

    In the digital domain there is loss of quality from the A to D conversion, and low bit depth scaling. (such as level mixing 16 bit audio)

    You can minimize the quality loss of the A to D conversion if you keep your level coming into the audio interface high, but not clipping.
    Once it is in the DAW everything is processed in 32 bit, so the quality loss from level mixing is not an issue.

    Gain staging is important on the analog side to keep SRN in order, but on the digital side it does not effect quality audibility unless you are doing very extreme processing. Levels are only important on the digital side if the result is what you want. For example, a peak shaping plugin may expect that the meat of the audio is at -6dB, and shape the sound above that. In this case if your peaks only come up to -6, then they will not be shaped.

    Was that your question?

    In summary, don't sweat gain staging on the digital side of the A to D.

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