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A little something about gain-staging, for those who don't know

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by AudioPhile777, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Sam Bottner

    Sam Bottner Member

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    nice article, very helpful
     
  2. reg3n

    reg3n Señor Miembro

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    i loved that read, thanks!
     
  3. SimonTaddio_Qc

    SimonTaddio_Qc Headbanger

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  4. wibi08

    wibi08 Member

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    thx, great article
     
  5. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    Fully agree with that article. First thing I do in any host is turn the track faders down to about -15db. In fact, it's one of the first tests of a host for me: if I can't select all the faders at once, and drag them all down in one quick motion... that host is a piece of shit and I will never use it (I'm looking at you Propellerheads' Record!!)

    In my mind, I'm creating headroom. "But.. but... now it's too quiet?!?!" - turn your damn monitoring solution up!!

    I didn't learn this until about four years into my music making career. So I listen to all the stuff I made pre-2004 ... and I just think what garbage.
     
  6. Star Ark

    Star Ark Member

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    Aiming for -18 peaks when tracking has really improved my sound, and if you haven't already started tracking that way and are reading this article you better start now. The same goes for peaks on plugins, stop the red lights flashing.

    Also character plugins are supposed to sound a certain way depending on outputs/makeup gain levels, so bear that in mind too. Plugins known/marketed for transperancy probably only sound worse when pushed
     
  7. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Sorry Drew, I'm gonna have to call you out on this one, because it's just wrong.

    Now, faders don't operate in the same capacity digitally as they do in the analogue world, so his mantra of setting levels with the mic preamps and keeping the faders at unity isn't exactly applicable to you for the same reasons. However, the whole idea of this, and the relevance of it in the digital world, is to trim the gain before you insert any plug-ins.

    Dropping all your faders down a certain amount not only loses resolution for you when mixing, but it's POST all your processing, which entirely defeats the point. You may still be clipping the living shit out of all your virtual gear before it gets to that fader.

    So what you actually want to define a shit DAW by is one that doesn't have immediate trimming capability right at the top of the channel mixer.

    To continue on from this, Stav suggested when setting up the board (or the DAW) for a mix, literally setting all the faders to unity, and chasing the general balances with the trim pots. So literally you will have your mix there, balanced as you'd want it, without even having used a single fader. The idea of this is that you have plenty of motion in each direction to compensate for those little fine adjustments you'd need to do. If you think about it, just turning up everything on the mic pre, then reducing it again on the fader to form your mix only works against itself as a principle. You're cranking the gain, then turning it down with a variable resistor. The goal should be to use the faders as little as possible. Certainly not as relevant in the digital world, but the core concepts themselves still make sense from a workflow perspective.
     
  8. [UEAK]Clowd

    [UEAK]Clowd Member

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    in Cubase you have 6 pre-fader and 2 post-fader inserts, so this isn't strictly true. I would imagine its actually the same thing as using the trims??
     
  9. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Mixing by strictly using the post fader inserts makes no sense whatsoever. Not only because there are 2 of them, but also because the output gain of your last plug-in becomes your fader, and the fader itself only functions as a retarded trim pot. So no, it's not the same thing at all.
     
  10. [UEAK]Clowd

    [UEAK]Clowd Member

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    wow I worded that completely backwards huh. in fact, I actually have no clue what I was on about. that made no sense!! lol disregard plz.

    edit: however, as long as you record everything at a proper level, shouldn't this matter a whole lot less?
     
  11. AudioGeekZine

    AudioGeekZine arsehole know-it-all

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    [quote='[UEAK]
    edit: however, as long as you record everything at a proper level, shouldn't this matter a whole lot less?[/quote]

    you still want to be at unity gain through each step of processing until the final balance at the fader.

    So you something that was tracked too hot. You use a trim/gain plugin as the first insert to pull it's level down to around -16dB.
    Repeat for each track.
    Wherever you add processing the input and output levels should be balanced.

    This isn't taught right or well enough in schools and there are a lot of self taught experts that are completely oblivious to gain staging.

    This was a fantastic article and I'll definitely be spreading the news.
     
  12. drew_drummer

    drew_drummer Dancefap

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    Ermz, by dropping all my faders down, I am ensuring that I have enough headroom to mix with. And with a 64bit mix engine and using plugins coded for use in a 64-bit mix engine, chances are you're not going to peak anywhere except the master output.

    1. I leave everything at zero when I check the incoming levels. I make sure I peak at about -8db to -6db.
    2. I record my material.
    3. I THEN turn all my faders down to -16db to give headroom for the mix, and I turn my monitors up to account for loss of volume.

    Let me be clear - I KNOW he's talking about signals hitting plugins, and I always do that too. I was adding an extra point... and just worded it wrong. I should have said "I fully agree with that article.. also..."

    The problem I have with the way most people mix - they leave all their faders at zero... add a bunch of compression and EQ, and then wonder why they've got no headroom and their kick is getting lost in a cloudy mix.
     
  13. xFkx

    xFkx gain induction

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    I'm with Ermz, i've got most of my faders from -6 to 2 db in a mix, and if i solo a channel and bring it to unity it will not clip itself or the 2bus, also I constantly check if the insert plugins aren't clipping between themselves.

    That's how I roll. :Smokedev:









    * I still make shity mixes though :D
     
  14. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    So Ermz and AudioGeekZine, what you guys are saying is - keep channel fader at 0, and use trim plugin on insert to bring channel level to around -16dbfs RMS, and start from there?
     
  15. visceral

    visceral Member

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    Hmm...this is interesting indeed. Nice find. Now I just need to put this to the test.

    So say Im tracking a bass DI. It should peak around -16dB itb? It just seems so low, but the logic seems to make perfect sense.

    Cant wait to experiment!
     
  16. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    16dbfs Peak or RMS? Peak seems too low indeed.
     
  17. AudioGeekZine

    AudioGeekZine arsehole know-it-all

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    -16 dBfs (the average [not absolute] peak level, not RMS) would be 0 VU.

    from the article:

    The downside. You may need to crank your monitors to hear everything like you're used to. Listening to something mastered will blow your head off at that level.
     
  18. setyouranchor

    setyouranchor Celestial Recordings

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    This article and this thread has helped me a heap! Thanks OP and thanks guys :)
     
  19. HandsOfDespair

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    There is a producer ( I don't remember who, but he produced a ton of stuff), that the first thing he does when he mixes is insert ''trim'' on every track of his session, and then mix using it. Seems logical now.
     

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