Recording level and Mastering level issues...


Feb 9, 2005

Thanks again for the continued support. I continue my quest [I wont get into it, email me if you are curious].

Is it safe to say-that is NOT a good idea to record a dialog take, and set the recording level to just shy of 0db, turn around and encode the file for internet delivery with the same output level....To me this causes major problems during playback on portables, low quality computer monitors, etc.

I am being challenged and I am trying to gather information to write an essay that properly addresses this issue.

My method is to record the dialog take with -6db as a reference [recording] level. This leaves me some 'headroom' to bump up the output level during mastering and encoding if I choose to.

The challengers are not clear with this because when they load a commercial audio track [a track from a cd], and view it in a Wave Editor, the file peaks at 0db. My explanation to them is the audio is compressed during mastering. This makes a major difference and is not the same as capturing their dialog at 0db and outputting/encoding at 0db, without proper compression.

The test I put to them is try listening to their uncompressed master on a protable mp3 player or through an inexpensive set of computer speakers. They will notice the master volume CANNOT be increased anymore than 25% [9'oclock position], without major distortion.

Does this make sense to you, the pro's?

Thanks again,


Massive Mastering

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2004
Chicago area, IL, USA
I got a little confused somewhere in there - But if it helps, I'm all about conservative tracking AND mixing levels. I shoot for peaks no higher than -6dBfs at any time.

If you need "backup" - Do a search for a white paper on D-to-A reconstructive distortion by Nika Aldrich.

Or let them know that a 24-bit recording that PEAKS at -47dBfs has higher resolution than a CD.

This is just another side-effect of the volume wars...