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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 I'm 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

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anonymous Wed, 06/11/2008 - 21:59

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?

anonymous Wed, 06/11/2008 - 23:18

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!

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2008 - 01:44

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.

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2008 - 10:30

okay thanks for the 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...

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2008 - 10:42

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.

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2008 - 11:12

AlTheBear wrote: 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.

i have a behringer autocom pro that is an expander/gate compressor/limiter, i have hardly ever used it 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.

anonymous Thu, 06/12/2008 - 14:48

orbit wrote:
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...

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?

RemyRAD Fri, 06/13/2008 - 02:52

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

Kev Fri, 06/13/2008 - 16:49

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

anonymous Fri, 06/13/2008 - 17:09

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..

Kev Fri, 06/13/2008 - 17:28


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

anonymous Fri, 06/13/2008 - 17:35

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...

RemyRAD Fri, 06/13/2008 - 22:10

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

Codemonkey Sat, 06/14/2008 - 09:50

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.

Kev Sat, 06/14/2008 - 16:46

but that's what the AC coupling is

a simple cap in line is a high pass filter

to pass a signal that can be effected by a 1Hz filter
... well that's getting very close to DC coupled

many digital interfaces wouldn't pass much signal below 10Hz

the violin bow
I say again
look at the area under the graph
it may not be biased as you think

as Remy said asymmetrical distortion artifacts might not be what you want
but asymmetrical waveforms could just be natural for some instruments

the drawn waveforms are not scientific graphs

be aware of DC offset but don't get hung up on it


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