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What do your waveforms look like?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by orbit, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. orbit

    orbit Guest

    So I was wondering if anyone is like me and records oh say drums and in Cubase it ends up looking like its clipping all over the place, but doesnt sound like it...if this is confusing ill post pics later but im at work right now...

    anyone have any arguments for or against this practice? basically my preamp is feeding a real hot signal but sounds fine...

    just lookin for a baseline consensus or something <shrug>
  2. mhutch

    mhutch Guest

    There is a slider in Cubase on the bottom right corner of the screen that adjusts the waveform size. Maybe see if that is turned all the way up?
  3. orbit

    orbit Guest

    yeah i know what you're referring to...but no thats definitely not the case...

    ive just noticed that i can drive the preamp loud and it sounds fine (at least it doesnt sound like clipping) so i am assuming that cubase just assumes its clipping or something???

    i guess maybe a better way to phrase it would be, does it matter if your waveform comes out looking like its going off the wave block? ive always assumed that if it does that its clipping...but you cant hear any clipping so i just am not sure what the basis of setting my mics to is supposed to be....

    do i just set them so that they are decently loud, or should i strive to ensure that the biggest peaks never appear to go past the top/bottom of the wave block?
  4. mhutch

    mhutch Guest

    Personally I never worry about the waveform itself. I get levels from the meters when the audio is actually going in. Another thing that might make the wave do that is if you have a compressor or limiter on the signal. If you compress a track like crazy it will look like it's going off the wave block, but won't sound like clipping.

    But, I'm not a pro like some around here, so maybe there is a better answer for you out there. Good luck!
  5. AlTheBear

    AlTheBear Guest

    Yes you are definitely clipping. Be sure to keep an eye on your levels going in as there's really no need for your peaks to be going past around -12dbfs. There's plenty of headroom as long as you're recording at 24 bit. The reason you probably don't hear the clipping is the fact that drums are very transient in nature and drum transients are so fast that you can't tell it's clipping. If your preamp sounds better cranked up look into getting some line level attenuators so you can crank the pre without clipping your a/d conversion.
  6. orbit

    orbit Guest

    okay thanks for the explanation....it seemed very illogical to me that i should get away with such a noob tactic as ignoring the fact that my wave blocks look all crazy (at times)...and its always only the drums...

    i dont suppose turning the input down in cubase would have the same effect?

    here's what im talking about...on the C1 and the sm7...hell even happens on the bass a little i guess

    so one more thing Al, you are saying that its definately always better to have all your tracks hitting around -12 and then post recording do some compression and what not to get things a bit louder and such? this is something that has always been a big question to me...
  7. AwedOne

    AwedOne Guest

    I use Cubase, and I usedto record my drum parts really hot and my waveforms looked like you describe. Since I started backing off the input gain and put the faders at -6db, instead of at 0db, the drum tracks sound much more open and immediate. I can actually hear the sound of the room, and I can mix drums much more upfront w/o them sounding choked off. It also makes it much easier to edit individual hits as you can see them better.

    Try it and see.
  8. orbit

    orbit Guest

    i have a behringer autocom pro that is an expander/gate compressor/limiter, i have hardly ever used it actually...do you think that could be useful as far as what you are talking about?

    i originally bought that compressor to serve as a bass guitar direct box into my soundblaster when i was like 17 (im 24 now)....why i thought that was a good idea, i havent the slightest clue.
  9. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006

    i'd stay off the autocom for now. i (along with many many others) record a clean track first -- no effects, no compression, no eq, etc.

    then, on the computer, i add whatever I need. why limit your options before you even start, ya know?

    sell the autocom to some live-sound engineer.
  10. AlTheBear

    AlTheBear Guest

    This is something that I try to go by. It allows me to add compression, eq, and many more tracks without worrying about clipping at any stage. If you need things louder just turn up your speakers. During tracking I wouldn't worry about the printed volume of your tracks being low. I believe -18dbFS is actually 0dbVU in the digital world so that's leaving you 18dbFS of headroom for mixing. During the mix process is when you start adding compression and eq, but not necessarily to make it louder. The whole louder thing can be done so easily with amp/speaker volume or by a mastering engineer. If you're doing everything at home, just know to leave yourself some headroom throughout the process. If you're trying to compete with ultra loud modern rock masters, the best thing you can do isn't to try to get it as loud, but make it sound as good as possible with all those evil dynamics intact. If you want to hear it squashed to hell and back, then upload your stuff to myspace and listen to that glorious crushing.

    Right now might not be a bad time to research the K-System for metering and monitoring volume. Look (Dead Link Removed) here when you have a chance.

    PS: Looks like you have a little dc-offset problem on the bass. Search this forum about dc offset and see what you can do to get that fixed, because that's going to limit your headroom as well. Headroom is a beautiful thing... like fitting a big girl beneath that mixing board at a live show... why not treat yourself?
  11. orbit

    orbit Guest

    oooooooooooooooh so THAT is what that weirdness is...i was always like "looks like my bass track is trippin on acid or something" - thanks for the tip...ive always heard DC offset but had no idea what it was or annnnything...

    thanks Al!
  12. orbit

    orbit Guest

    when i use the remove DC offset processing in Cubase the waveform still looks the same?
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I love these kinds of discussions.

    A certain amount of light clipping can be tolerated on transient drum tracks. Clipping can be artfully used and has been for many, many years. A good example is FM radio. Composite clipping of the baseline signal has been used to keep levels higher for rock stations since the distortion levels can be better tolerated for that kind of program content. But hey, a lot of you guys are really over recording to the point where you have killed all of the snap and punch from your sound. You need headroom for that sound. AND 24-BIT DOES NOT GIVE YOU MORE HEADROOM! LET'S MAKE THAT PERFECTLY CLEAR. It's a confusing mockery of the real truth. Your analog portion of all analog electronics, microphone preamps et al. is only equal to approximately 16 to 18 bit word depth. What you get is a greater lower processing extreme for you folks that under record in level.

    This is where proper gain staging makes all the difference in the world. I'll cheat with crappy preamps to make more headroom rather than more level. And I am one of those engineers that still believes, when judging your demographics and what your primary playback devices will be, for most popular styles of music, i.e. rock-and-roll, 16-bit, 44.1kHz sampling is more than adequate and outperforms all prior noise reduction-less 24 track analog machines & 2 track analog machines. So I don't have any problem with that. Neither should you. If you have problems with that, you are over recording and overblowing your preamps. No reason or need to do that in digital recording. You're already guaranteed a minimum 96 DB signal to noise ratio at 16-bit. That's 96 DB of dynamic range. Rock-and-roll recordings only have approximately 15 DB of dynamic range on a good day. It only sounds like they have more when engineered properly. The only distortion I get is on purpose. Well most of the time. Because when it's live, it's still on Memorex. Even though I use to prefer Scotch to vodka or Ampex.

    Neet Engineer
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  14. orbit

    orbit Guest

    thanks again for some great knowledge Ms David :)

    how about this DC offset thing though? when i applied it in cubase there was no discernible change of the waveform
  15. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    many input sections will have a capacitor couple
    most DC offset should not be there anyway

    some sounds do have a bias to them
    many wood wind and brass instruments seem to have more on one side of the 0 point

    don't put all you faith in the screen draws

    be aware of DC offset and what it is
    and why it can be bad for headroom
    but don't get overly hung up on it
  16. orbit

    orbit Guest

    Kev, I am not sure what you mean by "most input sections will have a capacitor couple" - do you mean inputs on preamp or a/d converters or what exactly?

    also, at this point DC offset is nothing i know about but Al was saying there looked to be a small DC offset issue with my bass track. i tried using Cubase's remove DC offset but nothing changed.

    I run my bass generally just straight out of the bal line out on my GK combo amp and i dont mic the speakers i just unplug them so they dont get into the drum mics..
  17. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001

    a transformer couple mic-pre with not carry DC offset through it
    the magic of a transformer

    DC coupling will
    a straight wire is DC coupled

    AC coupled is something like the Transformer
    a capacitor

    there is often an AC coupling at the input ... or now I think of it ... the output of an audio section

    because I said input I focus on that

    If phantom volts is to be applied to a Mic then the Mic-pre gain stage needs to have the DC phanton stripped off
    this might be done with a capacitor on each of the differential input legs to the gain stage
    pins 2 and 3

    that's an obvious DC offset

    but music can have the small DC offset issues that Al pointed to
    and bass can do this

    watch a speaker move out of a bass cabinet ... E130 E 140 JBL often do this
    a few reason for this
    but lets not look now

    this offset probably won't make it through the Mic and Mic-pre combination

    here comes the DI
    a Transformered DI is cool (AC coupling)
    but other DI methods may sneak the DC offset through

    even so
    " using Cubase's remove DC offset but nothing changed "
    this could be that even though there is a high of wave form imbalance there may be an eveness of
    area under the graph
    and so no DC offset

    all why I said not to get too hung up on the offset thing
    it's cool to get more knowledge on this as it can be diverse and complicated

    otherwise let the equipment do it's job

    I fear I'm not helping here
  18. orbit

    orbit Guest

    its okay - i appreciate the effort on your behalf, Kev :)

    one thing though is that damn wouldnt ya know it, im probably one of the least savvy people i know when it comes to electronics things...anything to do with power/wattage/ohm/resistance/balanced/unbalanced - all this stuff somehow goes right over me no matter how many people have explained things to me...
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    You will typically see a DC offset when utilizing extremely inexpensive entry-level sound cards. A common problem with Blaster style equipment. This DC offset appears to be above or below the centerline of the display. It is generally a consistent level of offset. Many transform functions in software automatically null it out. For instance when you normalize or modify level, etc.. Some actually have a specific function to remove DC offset from the recording. Unless the offset is really bad, it generally only makes for asymmetrical distortion artifacts which isn't quite the distortion you want. Generally if you're recording sounds awful, it's not the DC offset. If the engineer offset.

    Offset put offer
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  20. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Record silence. If it's wildly off then worry. If it's the sound itself, forget about it - it's the singer/instrument.

    Our violinist has a violin with a pickup - the sound from that? Alternates to being almost all positive or negative depending on the direction she's bowing. With a spot of reverb it can sound awesome.

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