Setting Levels

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Caine Dreiling, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. Caine Dreiling

    Caine Dreiling Active Member

    Jan 16, 2004
    Mobile, AL
    Home Page:
    I thought I had a reasonabel grasp on setting levels until recently. I purchased an MX2424 with the analog i/o card for recoridng in a cafe. The unit is set for -20 dbfs, which comes to +4 dbu for a console that has a max output gain of 24 dbu. There is where the trouble begins. If I send a signal out of my mackie 1402, (I will be using a midas venice for recording) no matter how much gain, the meters on the 2424 never get to 0 db. If I remember correctly, a level going out at 0 db on the mackie would read -18 or -20 on the 2424.----Hence -20 dbfs.

    That aside for a second.

    I have been running live sound for about 10 years now and have, within the past 18 months, begun recording. I have always set my trim levels to bounce around unity, or 0 db on the meters. If the instrument of vocal gets too much over 0, I will back the trim off a hair. Never have I had any problems with too little gain in mix.

    To the heart of the matter.

    Am I setting my levels correctly?

    For recording in protools, there is no number markings on the level meters, so I simply adjust so the signal is as hot as possible without touching red. I don't have outbooard compression yet, and my mic pre's have no meters other than clip indicators. I have been considering building or purchasing a set of real vu meters. There again, I would not know how to properly use them.

    Should the levels be set to bounce around +15 or +20 on the vu meters?
  2. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :D You sound like you want to take advantage of the additional headroom, like when you run up the PT levels. Take a steady tone, say 1khz. Apply the 1KHZ tone to any input, and align your mixer so that when the input and output are in their unity position, the meters should read 0 for VU, +4db if it is an LED meter. On the recorder, there should be a mark at -18 dbfs that at detent (unity) should show your signal to be aligned.

    You can drive the input harder, but for music use 24/44.1 to record. This gives plenty of headroom, and the 24bit will give a lower noise floor. Other than that, you should be able to set and forget. When mixing, work in the 24 bit settings, then applying your EQ, and compression/limiting etc. You will see higher levels, but still try to stay conservative. When you go to make CD you can regulate the level to where you want it when dropping off the extra bits to 16.

    Hope this helps,

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