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to " VU " or not to " VU"

Member for

21 years 2 months
Hi, i'm trying to understand how important a VU meter on a mic pre is, to some of us,,

Myself , I beeing novice and all, will probably depend on it until I know what things need to use "pad " or not, etc,,,
that's why I ordered mine with VU's

Seeing there are many products out there that are VU less, is this a big issue? do we preffer it on or off the unit?

Also, the " phase switch" is this a switch one uses often?

Thanks for your help, I appreciate any and all views

Sanity Inn

" Logic rules, emotion wins "


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 06/21/2003 - 10:59
thanks scenaria,

OK , let's use this example,
say I have a VU less mic pre, I have my guitar plugged into the DI at 0db pad, ( should be -15db) to me it's sounding nice, I route this to my VS-880 and I set levels there....

I can understand your point on levels at the next source, but what if was recording distorted signal unknowingly,,, or would it be obvious?

thanks again


Member for

20 years 9 months

realdynamix Sat, 06/21/2003 - 11:12
:) Hi! I'ma gonna jump in here head first. One question though, does the unit have an output level control?

Let's say the output is fixed at +4db. If you jack in your guitar, and bring up the level, and watch your downstream metering, you should be able to tell if you need to use the pad by the amount of gain you are using. If it overdrives at a setting outside of normal (too sensitive), then you click in some pad. Things change a little if it has an output control, because you may want to overdrive somewhat for some effect (saturation).

Any help? I just topped a tree, and this distraction really helps with the pain, LOL.


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 06/21/2003 - 11:21
Rick Ty ,

I'm slowly saturating this stuff, lol,,

OK to make it simple I went with the Sebatron vmp20002 VU, VRS non VU, as the novice , i wanted some point of refference.
I'm trying to understand the over all " real need " of the unit having one and buying the extra cost of it rather then saving money on the VU less version.

I figure this unit has 1 gain control called output level, but I think I know what you mean with the Gain knob and then an output knob, which I understand both have pros and cons,,

I'm trying decipher whether I actually needed the VU's and will consider this in future units I plan on

did you care to touch on whether a unit really needs a phase switch?

I appreciate your time

Sanity Inn

" Logic rules, emotion wins"

Member for

20 years 9 months

realdynamix Sat, 06/21/2003 - 12:00
:) Ahhh more pain relief. The switch, it is a convenience. If you had to do a phase reversal, you can use a modified well marked cable. But, if you are going to use a bunch of them, the switch(s) would be preferred.

I think the VU necessity is for systems where inputs need to be monitored at the source, where outputs go to unity gain fixed type installations. Like a radio station, TV v/o room, or small installation where operators need input control, with everything else located elsewhere. They are pretty though.


Member for

19 years

byacey Sun, 06/22/2003 - 08:55
When I built my preamp I added a metering circuit as well as clip LEDs. After using it for awhile I found the meters do not offer much in the way of useful information unless you are blindly sending a signal from a remote location and you want to ensure that there is signal at some sort of reference level. The LED clip indicators on the other hand are far more useful.
Bill Y.

Member for

18 years 5 months

Richard Monroe Wed, 07/02/2003 - 03:02
I find vu meters very useful, but that is because I am hearing impaired, and I have to track largely by the numbers, which is why I'll never be a pro engineer. Sometomes it can take me a month of trial and error to get mic placement right on a given source. When you're going from an outboard pre into a standalone (a recorder mixer thingy??!), you're mission is often to send the standalone the hottest possible signal to bypass the cruddy pres in the standalone as much as possible. This means you will come pretty damn close to clipping the outboard pre. In the end, I don't think it matters whether you have vu meters or LED meters, or just a clip indicator. What matters is how truthful those indicators are, and how much headroom you have beyond the indicated clip level. God, I envy you guys with good ears!-Richie

Member for

18 years 6 months

vinniesrs Sun, 07/06/2003 - 03:27
Sanity, I don't think you need the vu meters, but the phase switch is somethin I wouldn't turn down. If you are really serious about making quality recordings, you need to be on top of the phase issues from point 1. Yes, it can be done with a cable, but a switch is way faster and allows for quick finding phase problems while setting up.

Member for

19 years 7 months

sdevino Tue, 07/08/2003 - 16:41
If your studio is well calibrated then you do not need the VU meters on the pre (except as noted above). A well calibrated DAW will use a calibrated line level test signal usually +4dBu to set the DAW meters to between -16 and -20 dBFS, lets say -18dBFS for now.

That means if you track at about -18 dBFS on yor DAW meters your mic pre will be running around 0VU.

0 VU will give you max head room with resonable signal/noise. -18dBFS will give you excellent head room on the DAW and probably close to 90dB s/n. Basically the DAW wil be very happy so now you can track a little lower for more headroom and extra clean sound or a little more aggressively depending on sound.

The Sebatron allows you to run the pre hot (slightly overdriven) or very clean. Depending on how you set the pad vs output level.

If you run your levels this way it takes about 5 seconds to set level and you can place mics and set drive levels for taste and sound quality without worrying about the converters.

Its funny but you actually get more performance from your converters by leaving some headroom than by tracking hot.