Tip stolen from Val Garay by yours truelly

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by RecorderMan, May 28, 2002.

  1. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    Here's a great (I'n my humble opinion) tip I stole from Val Garay.

    Val by the way is a great (one of the greats) engineer...and a world class asshole (that's why I don't care about "stealling" this tip).

    This is for basic tracks and beyond, and it invloves the monitor ballance. It goes like this:

    When you are setting up the board for a tracking date set all of the monitor return faders thus:

    1. Place the fader for the kick drum return @ 0db.
    2.Place the fader for the snare drum return @ -5db.
    3. Place ALL other faders (Bass, gtrs, ect...everything) @ -10db...in straight line.

    What this will do is give you a very proper gainstructure reference. You then ballance all the signals to tape so that it sounds like you would want at the final mix with this monitor ballance. I know this goes against that "maximize all bits/hotest signal to tape" stuff...but the trade off is in many ways superior. The kick, being low freq. in nature will have 10db to start with over the other tracks, same with the snare, and since they're very dynamic and transient they need the extra level relative to a high rmxs signal like a bass or gtr. Also, a great side benifit, every time you switch to another song, you'll have a slamming abllnce in no time flat. You'll be suprised at how well this works if you try it.
  2. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Cool, I'll have to try that next time. When I'm mixing I'll start with the vocal peaking around -4VU or the kick drum hitting around -10VU so I don't overload the bus with everything else by the end of the mix. Someone once told me that you need about 1dB per track. It makes some sense.
  3. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    yeah...this method I described above really is about starting that way when you track. It was developed during the days of tape. By setting the kick (monitor) @ 0 then the snare@-5 then everything else @ -10, you're set up to put the right levels down to tape with respect to headroom and, ect. This can bemodifeid fot the digital age.

    Wkat's more important here is the concept of pretty much flatlining (as much as possible) your monitor faders, when you get sounds, so that there's a quick no guess way to get that balance back fast every time. You'll be suprised at how much more freedom you have as an engineer with clienst if you get things great & fast. That's one reason why I have drummers just play "the song(s)" instead of burning them out one drum at a time.
    It's not the pieces alone but how they work together as a whole , that counts.
  4. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    I'm bumping this up....because you have to believe me when I say that this tip is something you could never discover after a whole career in this buisness...and it is truelly effective, almost to the point of paradigm shifting.
  5. HiString

    HiString Guest


    Dumbo here, (aka me), is trying to get his/my head around this.

    Firstly, I have a Soundcraft 24/8 inline console. Normally, when I track I set my fader to 0dB and adjust input gains as necessary. When playing back, I usually try to keep my faders initially at 0dB, adjust the "tape input trim" as required and only then use the faders for final balncing.

    Can you run this by me again, so that this old muso (40 yrs playing but fairly new to recording) can see how it would apply to my set-up.


    HiString :cool:
  6. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    On an in-line board, there is usually another set of controls (level & pan) for the sound you hear in the control room. That's what recorderman is talking about. You set those up like he shows, then you adjust the main faders and input trims till the mix sounds right.

    It's a good trick and it'll keep you out of trouble most of the time when you're tracking. When you flip the board to use the large faders for mixdown, everything will line up pretty well for your final mix and you won't hafta get extreme on any track levels.
  7. HiString

    HiString Guest


    Thanks Harvey.

    HiString (aka Ausrock)
  8. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    Thanks Harvey.
    When do I get the wisdom to comunicate consisely, as you apparrnetly do.

    Any way. To make this perfectlt clear:

    When Tracking:
    1. First, before anything else, Adjust the monitor level faders as such:
    Kick Drum @ 0db (Odb on the fader)
    Snare Drum @ -5db
    ALL ELSE @ -10 db

    2. Adjust levels and balance "to tape" so that things sound fat and balanced.

    3. Doing this will:

    A. Create proper headroom depending on the inante characteristics of each type of source track.
    for example: A Kick drum is very transient and with lots of low frequency information (compared to say a marshall gtr track). If It's monmitor fader is at 0db, and the bass, vocals, gtrs, keys...ect....are at -10db, it's got enough headroom right off the bat with out having to over compensate "to tape"
    B. Also since most people start off getting sounds/balance with the kit before the "other stuff" thjis sets you up for a potentially great balance.
    C. From overdubs on...you'll have FAST roughs up. The great balance you achieved in tracking will be there quickly.

    Getting a good FAT kick with the bass aroound it supporting the vocal is a quick way to make the mix pump...nad this will help.

    Try it
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