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Recording levels...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Prahas David Nafissian, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Prahas David Nafissian

    Prahas David Nafissian Active Member


    I'm using a small set of speakers (Sound Blaster CT-38).

    When I play certain youTube or Netflix vids, I get a very
    large, loud, clear sound.

    But when I record my own music, I start to red-line and
    get distortion in the speakers at a much lower volume level.

    Does anyone know why?


  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Most likely the videos have had their audio properly mixed and mastered.

    #1 I hope you don't have your speakers on while recording. It will indeed cause feedback and distortion.

    #2 if you are redlining you need to turn the input level down.

    #3 You could be playing at a sound level, that your equipment and room cannot handle.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    if your recording digitally you wanna make sure your tracks input levels are between -22 and -15db, and that the finished mix/master never hit the 0db mark, and clips.
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    You've discovered the difference between average levels and peak levels. Average levels are mostly what sounds loud, even when peak levels make the meter go higher.

    During the recording and mixing process you will be dealing with signals that have higher peak levels so you need to leave yourself more headroom. Tracking and mixing with average levels around -18dBFS is normal. You might have to raise your speaker volume above normal while mixing. You can use compressors and limiters to reduce the peak level and increase the average level in the mix process. You get your final loudness after the mix is done, in the mastering phase.
  5. Prahas David Nafissian

    Prahas David Nafissian Active Member

    Thanks guys! I feeling like I'm getting somewhere.

    A bit more info: I am recording a solo piano piece
    with a virtual instrument in MuLab. So it is all internal.

    @bouldersound: I feel like you are touching on the issues
    most closely. I will read up on compressors and limiters.

    Can you say more about how I get the "final loudness in the
    mastering phase?"

    Of course, with piano, a challenge is there is a wide dynamic
    range... the pp sections sound too low volume if there are
    ff sections (which you avoid clipping).

    If you can say something specific to solo piano recording
    (internally) this would be super too.

    Thanks again, one and all!

  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Maybe you can reduce the dynamics via MIDI, before the performance becomes audio. I think the velocity sensitivity can be adjusted on some keyboards/controllers, so a given difference in velocity can be a larger or smaller difference in volume.

    I'd be cautious about compressing or limiting a solo piano piece. It would be easy to do more harm than good. If at the end of mixing (so to speak, as it's solo) your audio is peaking well below 0dBFS you can certainly boost it to peak just short of 0dBFS to make it louder without altering the dynamics. To get it louder than that will mean using compression/limiting or some other process that affects dynamics.
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    If it's all internal, lower the output of the piano simulation. Then if the problem is still there, it might be an audio card buffer problem. If the buffer is to small the simulation don't have enough time/space to create the sound properly. Note that a too big buffer setting might result in latency, and creating a delay between the time you hit a note and the time you hear it.

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