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Where in the chain, do I place my meter?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by redrabbit, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. redrabbit

    redrabbit Active Member

    I just purchased a Logitek outboard LED meter -- 4 channel (as in two stereo metered pairs).

    On one pair, I want to meter the outputs of a hardware synth or other analog source before my outboard mixer (which has no meter).
    On the other remaining meter inputs, I want to meter the mixer's output.......before it reaches my DAW's soundcard.


    What is the proper way to send a signal to the outboard meter? Would just using a "Y" cable be ok? or should I use a distribution amp? (see mixer's signal chain below)


    What reference should I use, to adjust the meter's calibration? (it is adjustable from -20 to +10)
    Do I feed it a -20dB uncorrelated pink noise (or other signal) from my DAW. (I'm really confused about what signal to send it, and what I should do with that signal. I've tried getting that info from B.Katz's book, and have found the 83dBSPL for my monitor level...but past that, I'm stuck.)
    signal chain:

    Source (synths, mic pre's) to---->
    [place meter here]
    Mixer (Rane SM 26b) to---->
    Mixer (another Rane) to---->
    Splitter/distribution amp (another Rane used this way) to---->
    up to 4 stereo destinations: DAW, [meter], monitor amp, etc.


    How do I send a duplicate signal to the meter and to the mixer, from my outboard synths....without a dist. amp, or a proper mixer that has the necessary extra outs?

  2. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    I use -20dB sine wave

    A Y cord is a good start to get to know things and test some ideas out.

    show a link so I can read up on this LED meter thing.

    The DAW output is easy BUT the multiple Synths before the mixer could be hard
    ... as you really need a seperate 16 x 1 switcher.
    probably a little over the top for this application.

    Money would be better spent getting an input for each synth
  3. redrabbit

    redrabbit Active Member


    "I use -20dB sine wave "

    So you send it the sine wave, and adjust your meters to read....what?
    "The DAW output is easy BUT the multiple Synths before the mixer could be hard
    ... as you really need a seperate 16 x 1 switcher.
    probably a little over the top for this application. "

    I have a all synths into a patchbay before going to the mixer, half-normaled, so it's not too hard to patch (or split) each one to the meter one-by-one, and check the signal.

  4. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    A typical line up might be
    -20dBFS = +4dBu

    but I'd need to know a little more about what and why you are doing this.

    a similar thread at another forum

    you have 3 pairs of meters
    I would use one pair at the output of the DAW
    might use one pair at the output of the Rane's ... switchable
    ... and one patchable at the patchbay

    in fact all of them at the patch panel could be a good start until you have a clear idea of their eventual use.
  5. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    Why the meter between the synths, preamps and the daw? When you record to the DAW, don't you monitor through the recorder? Why woulden't you just put your meters on the output of your recorder and check your levels there? If you are worried about clipping the inputs of the DAW, raise the level of your pre or synth until you clip, and then back off a little. So as Kev says, just calibrate the meter from the DAW to -20=+4 and you shouldbe fine.
  6. redrabbit

    redrabbit Active Member

    I'm worried I might clip , or get distortion from my synths, before that signal enters my daw....as some analog synths + effects can produce a rather "hot" signal. Also, those Rane's can add gain. I don't often hear distorted sound, but I'd like to see what's going on, to verify.


  7. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    The DAW will have a margin indicator.

    For PT it is Apple click at the top of the fader.
    This number ... say 6 ... will show that there is still a margin ... headroom ... of 6db below 0dBFS.

    If the analog stage is clean all the way to an equivalent of 0dBFS,
    then the take is good.

    The margin indicator can be reset clicking the number ...

    it is correct that internaly the Rane might have trouble with headroom.

    then you will need to trim the meters to suit the headroom of the Rane.

    Why track into the DAW through the Rane ?
  8. redrabbit

    redrabbit Active Member

    Because I have only 3 stereo analog inputs on my soundcard (RME), and about 6-8 synths that want some place to go....yes, I could go without the Rane SM26b submixers and do a lot of jack swapping, and rendering to virtual tracks, but having lots of realtime control over the whole lot, is nice...and the Rane's are handy that way.

    I just thought of something....if I am not positive of the optimal gain settings when a signal is passing through all those outboard electronics (the reason for the meters), I could wait until I am ready to render , then bypass the rane for each synth-to-virtual track render.
    BTW...is there an easy test using a multimeter or whatever, to read/determine the actual amount of gain produced by a mixer that is able to "add gain" ? (the "gain" pots do not give any indication of how much .....The Rane's manual says each mono input (pot) is capable of:

    "..each stage has a gain range from Off to +12 dB minimum, allowing level matching of -10 dBV equipment to +4 dBu gear."

    (so.... I am trying to optimize the whole analog signal chain, and trying to avoid the situation of adding too much gain 'here' , and compensating for it by reducing it 'there'.......and visa-versa.)

    Randy =RR=

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