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Avoiding distortion

Discussion in 'Recording' started by AKR, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. AKR

    AKR Active Member

    I thought you could simply look at a waveform and tell if your input gain was too loud, causing distortion. Up until recently, this has seemed to work well, but for the past few recordings, I've noticed that I get distortion even when the waveform looks like it easily falls within the limits. Is this not actually a reliable indicator of a safe signal level, or am I possibly doing something else wrong? I'm using all of the same equipment. I haven't dropped the mic or anything. I'm singing in the same position/distance as always.
  2. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I know on my equipment, the A/D converters can clip even though the wave looks reasonable in the DAW.
  3. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    What are your meters telling you?
    What are you using to record ? Pre-amps?
    Please, give us more info, otherwise there will be only speculations...

    Is the control room deactivated? You could get 2 outputs on the same channel outs if it is switched on.
    You might need to assign it to another out.
  4. AKR

    AKR Active Member

    Control room is deactivated. I'm going straight from a SM58 to my Focusrite Saffire Pro24 audio interface. I haven't been watching the meter on the Pro24 because I have my mic set up where I can't see it, but I guess I should take it off the stand and sing while watching it to see what's going on. I just always thought that if the wave looked fine then I was good to go, which seems to have been the case until now. I'll report back when I get a chance to sing and test it.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Different kinds of metering indicate different kinds of level. If you don't understand the meter and its ballistics you are looking at, you can't make appropriate judgments. VU meters have specific ballistics on rise and fall. They don't show peaks at all. Then you have your European-style PPM meters which show you your peak program metering. This does a lot to prevent distortion but also frequently yields lower recording levels. Some meters are electronic and can be varied whereas steam gauge meters, even ones that say VU aren't necessarily true VU ballistics. Some consoles actually have both VU & PPM meters separately or incorporated into a single meter. This gives one a better idea of what's going on tape and/or disc and/or disk. I don't think this requires any further disk-ussions?

    Not being able to see your metering is like allowing your " blind since birth" friend to drive your car down to the local liquor store for a sixpack. Then wondering why he didn't return? Obviously, something wrong with the car as he couldn't quite see the metering.

    You sing in your noisy control room until you have mastered the art of level setting/gain staging. Then you listen to your sound and not the dogs & kids in the background. Once you have figured out how to set your level, check back with us. Don't forget your bathroom is the second door on the left because if you use the first door, your mom won't be happy.

    Watch your aim
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  6. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    It's actually very easy to record a distorted signal while not overdriving the levels in your DAW.

    Try this....turn the gain of your preamp all the way up and the input to your DAW down and scream into the mic. Nice level signal in the DAW that is totally distorted.

    Proper gain structure is the key to getting a clean recording.
  7. jkchuma

    jkchuma Active Member

    Your ears need to be the final judgment every time. Also, don't let your eyes get caught up in the "video game," that is your DAW.
  8. AKR

    AKR Active Member

    I checked the gain levels on my audio interface and I was hitting red. I'm getting into the habit of taking the mic off the stand and going over to my computer to sing and check my gain level. Thanks
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Remember that each piece of gear whether amp head, cabinet, preamp, interface, mixer whatever has its own distortion point and rarely do they all match up unless you have customized the different items. At any of these points distortion can occur. Some DAW programs allow you to customize where the "red" is but thats as close as most interfaces allow you.

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