Using meters when mixing

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by bewarethanatos, May 31, 2006.

  1. So, I know a general idea is to keep your mixes peaking at around -3dB on mixes ITB. Some people told me to keep drums peaking at -12dB so there's enough room to put all the other instruments in.

    Now, if you start mixing drums and bass first, it's relatively easy to anticipate final levels, but my question is, if you start mixing from the vocals and bass, or some other place other than drums, what do you want your levels peaking at, initially?

    Is -3dB a good final peak for a mix? Too hot? Anything you think I should know, regarding mixing ITB?
  2. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    I'm really more in the postproduction realm, but what I've read and experienced is, why use the meters at all? If its distorted, its too hot, if you can't hear it, its too low. Find the balance that suits your ear. In feature mixing, the room is calibrated to a particular level, so if I mix dialog to a level that is pleasing to my ears, thats the level that it should play. If it was just a matter of mixing by numbers, anyone could mix with a chart and and a good set of meters. This is, of course, an over simplified answer, but I've heard more than one good mixer say,"use your ears, not the meters". Some go so far as to put black tape over the consoles meters. I sense you were looking for a more concrete by the numbers approach, but its not that kind of work that we do.
  3. stickers

    stickers Active Member


    (didnt even read the post, just the subject line and I am know im right)

    Your friend always and forever,

  4. You're being a real douche lately, stickers.
  5. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    And to all the people that saif i wouldnt amount to anything, Beware proved them all wrong.

    Im a douche!

    Your friend always and forever,
  6. djrr3k

    djrr3k Guest

    As long as you aren't distorting your output your fairly safe anywhere between -10 and 0dB. Just keep in mind that there is no exact formula. Depending on the genre of music it differs. If I'm doing something Jazzy or full of dynamics I might have the peak of the track hit up around -1 or edging on 0 then not use a lot of compression in mastering. If I'm doing a metal track I will mix a little more quiet then slam it in mastering to make it incredibly loud and consistent the entire track. It's all about what your after.

  7. No, seriously. I asked a simple question and I get "GAY!"

    This is a website designed to help people, not for you to masturbate your post-count by replying "GAY!" to posts you never even read.

    If you think you don't agree with something I said in my post, let it be known, and explain yourself. That's called constructive criticism. What you're committing is blatant douche-baggery. I don't care if it's not a "mature" thing to say. Show me you're an adult, and I'll consider taking it back.

    And no, CharlesDayton, I wasn't looking for a concrete by-the-numbers approach to mixing. Am I to believe from your post that no one checks their meters at all, or has any sort of idea when they're going to mix where they want their initial mix to peak at before all the other instruments are added in, or has a level they like to be hitting when they're finished mixing? I don't have a fancy room that's calibrated, so I have to check my meters to make sure I'm not clipping anywhere. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for the answer, Ryan.
  8. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    You don't need a meter to tell you you are clipping. You can hear it. In the old days when you were mastering for an acetate disk, you would have to make sure your levels woulden't push the lathe through the master. Are you mastering for vinyl?

    "Some people told me to keep drums peaking at -12dB so there's enough room to put all the other instruments in."
    "Is -3dB a good final peak for a mix?"

    It seemed to me you were looking for specific numbers.
  9. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    I dont think my original comment of "GAY" needs anymore explaination.

    In the future, try not to make gay posts, Butters and you won't recieve my highly regarded and sought after advice and constructive critisism.

    " Show me you're an adult, and I'll consider taking it back. " I hope this doesn't this involve me pulling down my pants? :shock:

    Your friend always and forever,


    ps. as long as you are not peaking who cares...
  10. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    generally speaking -3dBFS should give some headroom and should give a little more than 3dB headroom in the following analog stages
    ... if the set-up is typical (that's in the hands of the designer).

    Even so there can be a difference between in the way some plugs handle the maths as things get near 0dBFS.
    It's an area that is hard to follow as people have different ways of explaining things and their emphasis and secret agendas can be an influence.
    It's is possible to spend 24/7 reading forums and whites papers and publicity notes about this stuff without really learning anything.

    You have chosen to mix in the box so accept it. Be sure to have NO Red lights and keep every plug or summing stage at -3dBFS or better (lower) and I'm sure you will be happy. I have tried the same mix at -6dB and then at -9dBFS ... bringing the final stage beck up to the same levels and as high as -0.6dBFS for a maximised pass, for a n Audio CD.
    I couldn't identify any specific differences.

    side note :
    even though we are talking about MITB you should always give the extension or comparator when using dB's
    for the thread here it is dBFS.
    dBu, dBm, dBv all have different meanings and dB means nothing unless you give all the detail within the sentence.

    hope that makes some sense
  11. There are really no specific rules on how to mix. It's all in what it sounds like and what works for you. A lot of it depends on the dynamics of what you're mixing as well.

    Personally, I mix my tracks at very low levels, to avoid clipping, while keeping my master level just below the clipping range. When in doubt, mix low. Mixing low isn't going to really effect your overall volume, but will avoid the clipping problem. Also, don't forget about compression. If a track has too much dynamic range and you can get the overall volume up high enough without clipping, then compression can be your best friend.

    With that said, sometimes clipping CAN be ok. There are exceptions to EVERY "rule". The bottom line is, if it sounds it. If you're not sure what sounds good, then you need more experience. Just get in there and do it. You'll figure out what works for you.
  12. See, these are the kind of replies that are helpful!
  13. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Id knew you come around realize I was right.
  14. You know stickers, I used to think you were helpful and nice from the posts I've read on here. I think this is a great forum. A total n00b can get help without being talked down to.

    Yet, for some reason, "GAY!" seems to be a totally acceptable response for you. Care to expound on that?

    Whether or not "GAY!" to you means the same as what the other posters opined, your method of delivering it is less than appropriate.
  15. Well. That's the least we can do. Sorry that other guy is being a jerk. I see no cause for that.
  16. Ihatethatstickersguy

    Ihatethatstickersguy Active Member

    I signed up just to say, sir, you are a complete moron.

    Yes, you, a big moron.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    So let me get this straight....Your sole intention for signing up here wasn't to ask for assistance, nor to provide any assistance, but to respond to the ramblings of a troll from 7 years ago? facepalm

    Get lost.
  18. Ihatethatstickersguy

    Ihatethatstickersguy Active Member

    So let me get this straight as well... You waste your time replying to a useless post like mine.

    But since you're so interested and clearly have some free time on your hands here it goes.

    I never reply to any forums, the only one I'm registered and made a couple reviews is on Ultimate Guitar.

    I simply had one of those troll hating moments and felt like replying even though it was pointless alright. This post actually did help me, but reading that guy's replies got me angry and since I couldn't throw dog $*^t at him, I just had to type something against him so I could release my anger. Now that I think about, it was stupid, but hey, everybody has moments of stupidity.

    These people always ruin healthy discussions on forums, it's a shame computers don't come installed with some sort of electric shock device that would activate every time you trolled a discussion.

    Anyway, have a nice day.
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    I LOVE Meters

    first i want to say i love meters. they light up. they move back and forth or up and down. i like mechanical VU meters, i like program meters. i like voltage meters and i like bargraph meters. i like meters because the give me something to watch while i listen to music.

    about stickerguy.
    we have moderators and administration here and they do a pretty good job of weeding that kind of stuff out but sometimes they choose to ignore an objectionable post or two in order to leave content intact. forums like this go nowhere when there's huge holes of deleted posts. responding to trolls is like feeding the bears. if you do it they will come back. one recent troll drove us nuts for a week or two until everyone got a clue what he was doing. he posted again last week and got no response and now he's gone. that's the best way to handle it imo. peace out howdy
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I LOVE the Meters also. A fine band in the New Orleans swamp funk and R&B groove. Allan Toussaints' backing band as well as Dr. Johns on occasion. Nothing to do with this post but then very little ever was.

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