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Reasons to track at lower levels

Hey guys,

I know we've been discussing that in different threads over the years but I just thought we could do a fresh discussion to see if things have changed and put all our reflexions to a single thread.

Beyong the obvious reasons of going over the digital limit of zero db many of us still have the reflex of recording hot from old habit from the time it was important to do so when dealing with tapes saturations and noises floor..
Commun tracking levels I follow now is record at -18 average levels with peaks around -12db.
Please correct me if any other target would be better.

Here are a few ideas to why it is important to record at lower levels today :

  • Most audio interfaces preamps (specially budget ones) have a sweet spot that is a lot lower than we think.
  • Having many tracks recorded at high levels would mean lowering the DAW faders or gains. in case of the faders, it disminish the easiness of working automations. Altought using gains would be a better choice it still adds more processing to be done by the DAW.
  • Many plugins perform better at lower gain. Now this is a fairly new Idea I got from a few read and youtube views. Here's an simple explaination :

Please feel free to say if I forgot something, I'd be happy to correct the OP for future references.


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