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Peak levels question effecting average ?

I hope you can take a few min to help clarify this for me. I am new to recording and am trying my best to learn. I am recording into a digi002r/ada8000 using Pro Tools in my DAW. I have the snare, BD, sm tom, Med Tom, Fl tom, lt overhead, rt overhead miced. I have recorded the drums separately from the guitars bass and vocal tracks which were recorded through a GT Brick pre. All my compressioneqeffects are done in the DAW. When recording the drums should I shoot for as high a peak as possible to 0db or should I look for -3 to -6db peak? What should the peak relationship be from each level? When I recorded the Bass drum and snare peaked close to -1 but the other levels were closer to -4 or -5db. Should I try to match peaks for each level? Even though you normally want the Bass drum and snare louder? The reason I ask is after final bounce the mix is not as loud as I would like. The master level is not clipping and I am peaking at about -1db and the level seems to stay at -3 to -2 almost all the time. Would lower initial peaks for the Bass drumsnare been better? Would that have allowed me more room to increase the final mix level? I know I can compresslimit the hell out of the track to get higher levels but I'm just wondering if my initial recording is hampering the final mix. If you get a chance and have nothing better to do please listen to the final song Breathe. Please don't be too hard on me this is only my 4th or 5th try at this! Thanks in advance for any help!


anonymous Wed, 07/20/2005 - 04:03

i've read that you should aim at getting the digital levels peaking as close to 0dB without clipping as possible, but keep in mind that 90% of consumer cd players have op amps that run out of headroom before the digital level hits 0dB, and therefore if you want a mix that translates well it's best to aim for an average (rms) value around -18dB on the final mix, and then you should be ok with the peaks getting right up to 0dB. hope that helps.

anonymous Wed, 07/20/2005 - 11:51

I'm a little confused here. If my average is up at say -3db with peaks at -1 on the master, why is the bounced mix volume not loud enough? If I was averaging -18 I dont think it would be very loud? Is the final volume attained some other way than getting the average mix as high as possible without clipping? What am I missing?

anonymous Thu, 07/21/2005 - 03:00

-3dB is pretty damn close to the loudest you can possibly be. that's the dynamic range inherent in your (and everyone elses) digital system (are you workinng at 24 bit or 16 bit? if it's 16 bit, you're not using your DAW's dynamic range to it's full potential). are you complaining about the level of your mix when burnt to cd or are you still in your DAW? if it's the DAW then turn up your monitor level, if it's a burnt cd and you're comparing it to commercial cd's, you're level will be lower because it hasn't been mastered.
hope that helps. i'm downloading your mix now (slowly on my cheapo dial up connection)

anonymous Fri, 07/22/2005 - 08:07

I am working 24 bit 48.1 the volume in DAW is fine, very loud no problem just when burning to CD it is way lower and does not sound as good. Sounds like a commercial CD in the DAW "at least volume wise". I gather that it's this Mastering procedure that brings up the volume to the commercial level. Is Ozone a reasonably good Mastering plug in? Will it do what I am looking for?

anonymous Sun, 07/24/2005 - 17:11

mastering isn't a plug in. it's a skill, and usually involved alot of extremely expensive equipment and a meticulously designed room. if you go to a good mastering engineer your mix (however good or bad it is now) will end up sounding MUCH better than doing it yourself, so if you care about the mix, (and if you have the budget)get it mastered properly. it's pretty me!

Kurt Foster Sun, 07/24/2005 - 17:48

Is it my imagination or is this a common problem in PT?

I read a lot of posts where people complain that they mix right up to 0dB yet get lower playback levels on the CD in PT. What's with that and how could that be right, or even good? I never have this problem with Cubase. Is this something that is happening during an internal "bounce" in PT? This just seems to me like one more good reason not to go with PT.

For the record, I come out of Cubase via the s/pdif out to a stand alone Fostex CDr burner (which I also monitor the DAW through). I can just set a limiter with a fast release at -6.0 dB across the 2-bus and pack the crap out of the meters (to the point where there's no dynamic range if I want) ... and I get killer sounding Cdr.'s.

vinniesrs Wed, 07/27/2005 - 22:18

I've played around with various tools for mastering. Not ozone but t-racks and cool edit, and a variety of stand alone processing. The best results I've had have been with a combination of computer process and analog gear. As a non-mastering engineer I found that the process was time consuming and involved a lot of re-doing stuff. To top it off I know that if I had a better monitoring system and a better room, I would have to re-do stuff again.
Mastering is as much an art as is being a musician. If you want to get the average levels up go ahead. If you want your mix to come alive in a way that you didn't think it could, hire a pro.

As an aside, I locked myself in a studio for two years. I ate. I slept. I played, I tracked, I mixed, I played, I mastered. I saw no one unless they came to see me. Even my mom had to come and see me. I met my wife to be in the studio. I wouldn't leave with her until we had been seeing each other for a month. I was a hermit. I was an obsessive compulsive freak of nature but I learned a ton as a result. The most important thing I learned is what the limitations of my skills and setup are. They work together as a package. I understand you're new at this and want to learn? Send one copy to a pro, and keep another copy to master on your own. You'll know why you sent it to the pro when you get it back, and you'll be glad you spent the money, and you'll have learned neat stuff too..

If you wan't a decent to not bad mastering job, I'll do one of your tunes for free. I'm busy so it may take a while, but what the hell It'll be fun! :lol:

anonymous Wed, 07/27/2005 - 23:40

Is it my imagination or is this a common problem in PT?

This certainly isn't a common problem.. I've had it a few times in PT where i've done a mix and the level has looked like it was close to 0dBFS but the thing it was pulled back a tiny bit cause of 1 or 2 clips in the song.
The only way round it is to compress the stereo bus. Create a master fader and compress it, i dont mean really hammer it i mean just very high threshold low ratio around 1:1.8 or somthing fast attack unless you have drums in it in which case i'd suggest abit longder attack, medium release..
That way u can really crank the volume and not worry about those 1 or 2 clips. Compression is frowned on my some and loved by others.. personally i think it's great in the right circumstances!
Don't forget tho, if you have compression on say a kick, and you then compress the stereo bus the compression levels will be multipled together.
1:5 x 1:10 becomes 1:50! pretty harsh compression..

If all that fails (it should deffinatly help though) export to an AIFF and burn to a CD on the computer basically without going through external CD burners, sometimes there are trim stages in the setups and also on some software so be careful they aren't messing with the mix.

Hope that helps