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Track Levels, Fader Adjustments

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Ripeart, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member


    I remember reading somewhere about something derogatory happening to the audio signal in a DAW when you move a fader from unity. I thought I remembered that it introduced some phase shifting or a deterioration of resolution? The general idea is not to record levels too hot so as to avoid dropping the faders too much so as to avoid overloading the mix bus. However I don't remember why it was considered bad practice to pull a fader down too much.

    Can someone please enlighten me on this subject?

    Thank you.
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

  3. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I'll tell you what amazes me: people will happily run their audio through oversampling compressors, linear phase EQs, pitch correction plug-ins etc. without giving a single thought to the complex number crunching FFTs / windowing / iFFTs that might entail. But then it gets to the channel fader, and you don't trust the software to scale the numbers down with a simple multiply...???

  4. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    Heh, oh I trust my DAW, possibly too much.

    I think what I was remembering is that the farther away you move from unity the less resolution the fader has. It becomes harder to make fine manual level adjustments when your far away from unity. Although in my software I can just type in a number.
  5. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    This is possible of course: depends on your DAW. Reaper allows the control curve to be specified: setting the curve to "1" will make it totally linear, so 3dB of gain change will require the same amount of fader travel regardless of the starting point. Personally I prefer to have a bit of a curve for finer control around unity.

    As you say however: type in the numbers and it will make no difference anyway.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This was absolutely something that many engineers heard with Alsihad/ Pro Tools TDM systems 16 and 24 888, including myself. Its been hard for me to trust DAW's after that expensive lesson. If you never owned a Pro Tools rig back then, you couldn't know what I was talking about :) I started using Pro Tools in 1999 and hated what it did to my music. When you moved the faders, something happened that wasn't pleasing. The plug-ins were also effected and the whole thing was far from sweet.
    I'm not going to get into a summing war here but there were hundreds of engineers and topics discussing this. Its a big reason why third party converters, clocks and alternative summing systems evolved and why PT HD was born. Since Pro Tools HD, it doesn't seem to be an issue like it was but there are still people that are suffering from PTSD (pro tool stress disorder) that have a hard time trusting ITB being 100% choice.

    Hybrid is now more about flavor, sound designing and tricks.
  7. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    Thank you so much for that. I thought I was going MAD. I posted the same question in the Motunation forum and got kind of a blank stare. Well - it was a helpful blank stare. (Not bad-mouthing those guys, they are the best)

    So glad that you jarred my memory. Thanks again!
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Any current version of a DAW shouldn't have that issue. Early DAW's (like Alsihad and others) were treated like they were analog mixers but the algorithms weren't ready for prime time yet. If all the dynamic adjustments were made on outboard equipment things weren't as noticeable as when faders were moved. IMO that has since been rectified by the big name players and by plucky little folks like Reaper. Though it isn't my main DAW I do really like Reaper.
  9. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    You lose 1-bit of amplitude resolution with every 6dB of attenuation in 24-bit fixed point audio. In 32-bit floating point, however, the noise floor moves proportionally to the level, so internally within the DAW, the effect is negligible as most DAW's are running between 32-bit (FP) and 64-bit. That is the main advantage of running a DAW at a floating point bit depth.

    There is no phase shift introduced. That, indeed, is nonsense.

    Cheers :)
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I should clarify my statement:
    I've never heard phase shifting either, only annoying zzzzz and unpleasing "digital irritant" that happened when I moved faders. The ugly also increased with more plug-ins added. This was with Alsihad.
    I don't notice that previous unpleasant sound with Sequoia 11. 32 bit has obviously made a big difference. I still hear something though, that has a errr, that is in a mass amount of music today. But, it could also be all the compressing that is everywhere.
    Reaper is also one of my favourite DAW's.
  11. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    I know what you're talking about. It's sort of like a zipper noise, right? You get the same sound when you adjust the head amp gain on a Yamaha LS9 (which is why they're awful for live recordings).

    There should never be any noise when you move a fader in a DAW. If there is, there is something seriously wrong. There's no way you could live with it either, particularly if you're using volume automation. My gut tells me that it's probably related to CPU strain or a buffer setting that is too low.

    Cheers :)
  12. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Zipper noise is caused by a lack of control signal smoothing: a series of instant jumps in gain produces a series of little clicks. Gain changes need to be smoothed with some kind of low-pass filter to avoid this effect.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    To clarify,:
    The fader noise that is mentioned (those that hear this in Alsihad) is not the sound of the fader actually moving. It happens when the fader moves away from unity, to a new location other than its original position (a stationary / static position). This is not a sound that you hear while you are moving the fader.
    At that point the sound would, lets say "change" and become less open or washed or more zzz (like something was chopped and moved of axis) The more tracks and the more plug-in added, the worse your digital mix sounded. By the time you were at the 2-bus, well... welcome to the Pro Tools sound and the search for better plug-ins (P.A.S.) or G.A.S).

    The sound I'm talking about is not obvious. The general public would not be able to identify this either. Its something you only hear if you are in the zone and referring back to mixes that you saved before you made these subtle changes. Its a combination of things. :)

    Personally, I sometimes think its why we are making tracks so bright these days. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. I'm trying to relieve this extra brightness by using a combination of analog tools now via summing OTB.
  14. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    Makes sense. Thanks IIRs.

    Cheers :)

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