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Can someone explain -18 db mixing?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by XxSicRokerxX, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    It was defaulted to - 12 so i changed it to - 18 but no difference occured. :(
     
  2. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    It's not so easy, actually it is pretty confusing :loco: :lol:

    I've read that article couple of years ago, it's great. If you want to get more technical, try also

    http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-db-volt.htm

    No, don't use drive knob for this. It's not that hard to read Satson manual, it's not big at all you know ;)

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/58318924/Satson-Manual

    Look under no.7, there are calibration settings, and set it to -18dBFS, if it isn't that way already. Don't use drive knob, use tone generator, or the file that The-Zeronaut posted.
     
  3. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    OK thx man :D set it to -18 but still nothing changed like with the PSP. What exactly should be happening? Man this stuff is confusing.

    Stereo Channel (Tone Generator 1Khz @ 0db) - 0db Fader
    Master Buss (PSP or Satson with -18 Calibration) - 0db Fader
    =
    Toneport VU Meters are showing 0db
    Satson - +4db
    PSP VW - 0db

    Whats do i need to do to get things to read properly?
    :loco:
     
  4. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    Tone Generator@-18dBFS, not 0dBFS.

    Better yet, just download this, don't use tone generator. Import it to your DAW, and don't touch any fader.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    edit: just did the test myself. Everything is fine on my side.

    Attention: if you are using Cubase, it should be noted that if you use its built in test generator, Cubase' peak meter will read value which is -3dB lower when comparing to the one you have set in test generator if a track you are using it on is mono, and if your pan law has been set to -3dB (which is default setting if I am not mistaken). So, when you are doing calibration, make sure the track you are using for calibration is stereo!

    That's why it's generally better to use .wav -18dBFS sine wave @1kHz when calibrating, to avoid any confusion.
     
  5. Plendakor

    Plendakor Member

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    So if mine is calibrated at -12, i'll get befenits if I set it to -18 ?
     
  6. hurdy

    hurdy Sup

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    you'll gain more headroom if you set it to -18
    meaning you will probably not need to touch any faders (except for mixing) as all tracks will most likely sum in2 the master without clipping
     
  7. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    OK Great :D Thx man, the wave seemed to help. Now with all my faders at 0db in Cubase 5, i imported the stereo file. My Cubase meters (channel and master) read - 18db and the Satson, PSP meters show 0db. Seems like my Toneport VU meters reflect dbFS and not true VU (-18). Oh well, maybe those cant be changed. I just did a test with a dynamic guitar riff. How do you know where to set the trim knob when 1 part of the riff is staying on -3 on the Satson and then on mutes its hitting between 0 and +3. Cubase channel is a peak meter and its hitting - 4.7 as a peak.
     
  8. Nimvi

    Nimvi Member

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    Experimentation and taste really :) It's okay if the loudest parts go a bit over 0 VU and the softer parts are a bit under it.
    Keep in mind that the respective plugins/hardware we are setting these levels for are designed to work best AROUND the 0VU level. They still have a ton of wiggleroom above and below that, so if the needle bounces to +3 every now and then, that's perfectly fine. At times even desirable.

    Many of the plugins that care about their inputlevels are colouring plugins. For those it can add to the flavour to push a bit over that 0vu point, to get them to colour more and in some cases add some subtle compression. If this colouring and compression takes place less on quiet sections, and more on the heavy parts, it can create a nice vibe and additional depth to those sections.
    So the VU meter going to +2/+3 on heavier sections can actually add to the dynamic feel of the song.

    It speaks for itself though that those leveldifferences should be within reason. If there is like 20db difference between parts, you should probably do some pre-fx volume automation on the troublesome parts. Bass and vocals are often prone to this issue in my experience.

    Because this thread is turning into a bible, I'm going to say this again: these are GUIDELINES. They make for an excellent startingpoint for your mixes, but that doesn't mean that your mix will instantly be shit if you stray from it a bit. The point of using this technique is not to cling to a standard out of principle, but to understand WHY you are using that standard. In this case the answer is simple: because many pieces of equipment and plugins are designed to work optimally at that level. But maybe you like the way a certain plugin sounds when it is being pushed past its comfortzone a bit. Maybe that is exactly what that vocal during the chorus needs to stick out a bit more. So don't be afraid to try! I'm sure the 0dBVU gods won't strike you down for it :)
     
  9. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    ^^Yeah, agreed totally.

    The whole idea in the analog world with 0VU metering was/is that it is an average around which most of good equipment work best. Most of that equipment could/can take up to +20dB before going to shit (0VU=+4dBU; most of good equipment could go up to +24dBU, some even more), so those 20dB are your 'reserve'.

    Problem in the digital world is that a lot of people are shooting for 0dBFS peak, because they think it's the same way as analog.
    But above 0dBFS there is no any 'reserve', it's just straight digital clip.
    So the idea with setting up these levels (even if your plugins are not coloring plugins), is that you shoot for 0 VU, with a few peaks going over it here and there. But you are perfectly fine, just as you would be in the analog world, if the VU meter needle occasionally jumps to +2/3/4 VU.

    There is a recent saying for digital meters - yellow is the new red :D

    As Nimvi said, this is important to understand (as to why), not just some blind rules to follow.
    Hope this helps.
    -------------------------
    edit:
    it is tougher to set up the VU meter on transient rich material (snare, vocals, guitar DI). When you record guitar DI, my recommendation is to not bother with the VU meter (I don't use it while recording anything, too), just shoot for between -12 and -6 dBFS peak on loudest parts, because its transients are quite sharp.
    Come mix time - then use the VU meter, to prepare your tracks (meaning, set the optimal volume levels) for further processing.
    Oh, and you'll see how that VU needle will move a lot less when you reamp/put amp sims on those DIs. Just goes to show how 'dynamic' metal distorted guitar really is.
     
  10. heshian46

    heshian46 Member

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    Really im just trying to get a grip on all the terminology. Im having a hard time following the discussion here.
     
  11. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    What you need to know:
    • 0 dBFS is the highest possible level in digital gear. Above that, all hell breaks loose.
    • 0 dBVU (=+4dBU) is the optimum level for most of analog equipment, where its s/n ratio is the best.
    In digital world we try to sort of mimic that operational level.

    Since the analog and digital world are not relative to one another, people have tried to come up with some sort of 'artificial' standard(s), about which we are talking in this thread.

    In any case, just imagine -18dbFS RMS to be your new 0, and work from that. Shot for that 0 in your mixes, just as you would shoot for 0 on an analog console meter.

    See my previous post for some clarification on that.
     
  12. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    Ok, so with my settings and results on my last post. My levels are are floating around 0dbVU but on my cubase channel my peak is - 4.7. Is it Safe to adjust my trim until my highest peak hits -6 max? And do you measure the peaks over the whole song and adjust until the highest peak hits -6 max?
     
  13. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    'Safe' :lol:

    If it's a DI signal, it is quite dynamic, so yeah, play the whole song and set it to peak -6/-12 dBFS max, quieter parts are ok to be lower than that.
    If you happen to use the VU vst meter on transient rich material, such as the snare for example, try to set its level so that its most loud hits are around 0VU, not all the hits (I'm talking about mixing).

    Really, one should not be overthinking about this stuff. This whole thread, although its topic is quite important, could actually be summed up to 'imagine -18dbFS RMS to be your new 0. shoot for that new 0 most of the time', and that's it.
     
  14. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    HAHA Thx man!
    They not DI's. They are amp distortion tracks. Pretty solid until the occasional chug, then it peaks to -4.7. So i should just trim it down a bit i guess.
     
  15. XxSicRokerxX

    XxSicRokerxX Gabriel R.

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    Alright, I'm the OP and this is what I've learned (in case some of you are still confused and correct me if I'm wrong).


    [​IMG]

    As you can see the dbVU meter is showing about 0 dbVU (which is about +4dbU).
    The Superior Drummer Kick track is hitting -6dbFS peak value (it looks like its at -18 if you look at the bar but thats because it just hitting and i didn't capture the snapshot while it was full. But it definitely hit at about -6 dbFS)
    Now on the Master(2bus) the yellow represents RMS. As you can see it is about -18 dbFS (when you look at the dbFS peak numerical value graph)

    Now as UROS explained, "it is tougher to set up the VU meter on transient rich material (snare, vocals, guitar DI)." When I did this same thing on a snare, once I set the Snare track to hit 0 dbVU, my dbFS (peak) was hitting pretty high in fact it was much louder than the kick track, this is something you have to be careful about, use your ear.

    Try to maintain a -18 dbFS average (including masterbus) when mixing (That way when it gets mastered there is enough headroom).
     
  16. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    ^^^^^
    Looks about right man. Only comment I have is : it looks like your using your faders to set levels. Have you tried leaving them at 0 and using a trim plugin (if your channels don't have em) and get the same level with them?
     
  17. Uros

    Uros Sonic Incision

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    ^^yeah, the point is to hit plugins with 0VU, it's not the same as just pulling channel fader down. Channel fader regulates the volume level after all applied plugins, not just its input level. Get your signal to around 0VU before it even reaches any plugin.
     
  18. XxSicRokerxX

    XxSicRokerxX Gabriel R.

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    ahh haha, my faders are all at 0, it just looks that way in reaper hehe, I used FreeG to balance out the levels.
     
  19. Nimvi

    Nimvi Member

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    Looks good to me Sic :)
     
  20. OneDaySky

    OneDaySky Clint

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    Ohhh im having fun with this now :D Im using Steven Slate Drums and the levels arnt as dynamic as real drums. So im making Kick play 8th notes and snare 4th notes., loop a couple bars (RMS Reasons) Solo Kick adjust level coming in from SSD and fine tweak with Trim knob. Kick sits @ -18 RMS (Ozone 4 RMS) and close to 0dbVu on Satson with a peak value of -9.2 on the channel. I do the same with Snare and get same RMS of -18, Satson is foating between - 7 and -10 (Not sure if this right?) with a peak of -6.7

    Then Send em Both to a Group and trim it down to -18 RMS(Ozone)

    Am i on the right track? Not sure about the snare yet though.


    EDIT:
    I must add, that im finding this technique really useful on distortion guitars :D numbers are matching up and i feel way more confident assigning plugins now :D
     

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