Why SHOULDN'T I touch the master fader?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by AKR, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. AKR

    AKR Active Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Home Page:
    People say to turn up/down each track individually. Why? Sometimes, I'll be trying to get the levels right and they'll all end up right relevant to each other, but be too high as an entire mix. Why not just turn down the master? Is there actual logic to this, or is this just recording dogma? Thanks.
  2. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

    Dec 28, 2007
    Paris, France
    If it's too loud to your hears, you should turn the volume knob down.
    If individuals levels are too loud, you should not try fixin that by turning the master down but turn the tracks down. Why? Because turning the master fader down would not stop bus distortion from happening, but simply turn the volume down after the mix bus has been overloaded.
  3. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    it kinda sounds like you are just lazy =)

    You should adjust each track properly, so everything fits together in the mix. If you still have clipping on the master output, then yeah go ahead and lower it.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    There is a very important aspect to what we refer to as " gain staging". This makes sure that you have optimized the level from the noise floor to its greatest output capability or headroom. On some hardware oriented consoles & computer-based software, you may find the output fader to have different calibration markings than the other mixing faders. Mixing faders frequently have their unity gain point indicated at 2/3's of the way up. Whereas the master output fader may have its zero unity gain point indicated at the very top. And in the land of gain staging, you do have some room to move albeit it may not be much. When you are moving faders, any faders, hardware or software, by more than 10 DB, you are either increasing the gain & increasing the distortion. Or you are decreasing the gain, lowering the distortion level but increasing the noise. You can learn how to jostle your gain adjustments for the best performance and customized for your particular source or application. You see in old school consoles, tweaking gain can change the timbre or quality of the sound based upon the design of electronics. This is less of the case in the software where most things are linear. Depending on how you adjust preamp gains can make the difference between a great recording and an awful recording. So, no fake stuff, it's real important. And not all equipment is created equally. And even if you set your gains correctly, quality equipment as opposed to entry-level equipment may have a difference in headroom from 5 to 15 DB better. But even if you can't afford the higher quality equipment, setting your gains properly may increase the noise by increasing your headroom. The Headroom is really the difference and so, if you learn how to manipulate your gain, you can run your preamps at lower gain stages which, while destroying your signal to noise ratio a little, you pick up the headroom you need. I can usually tell when I am listening to amateur engineers. You can hear the loss of headroom. They may have optimized their gains but they're output amplifiers may only be capable of +18 DB while the more quality oriented equipment is capable of headroom to +28 DB. That's a 10 DB difference in headroom even though the gains are adjusted to unity. So this can be deceiving to the unknowing. So if you're willing to give up 10 DB of signal-to-noise ratio you can gain 10 DB of headroom. Noise is not always the problem. So if your audio sounds like a crowded bus, tweak your gains differently.

    I don't take the bus.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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