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satchmo Offline
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject: Pro-mastering engineer giving advice that differs Reply with quote

from advice I've heard on here.

I just had my bands first EP mastered at *edit* studios in Toronto by a guy who has done some pretty big names, and I'm impressed with the results from him. One of his comments on my mixes sounded a bit against the advice that is normally given on here re: tracking volume in the digital realm.

Here are his words -
"My suggestion next time for tracking and mixing in the digital domain is to get the hottest level happening (short of distortion) because this way you will have the max resolution and punchiest sound possible. The tracks were definitely workable but turning up and compressing the music the way I normally do will really put a microscope on things. Resolution – namely. The quieter that things are in digital the more “grainy” things tend to be. Turning things up just elevates the graininess."

What do you guys think?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

your preamp has noise, so if you turn it up WHILE you're recording, there will be more preamp noise, right? Same damned thing if you turn it up AFTER you record. I don't know how recording hot digitally adds to the "punchiness" of the sound, but I'm more of a lawyer than a sound engineer. Hell if I know; I always try to track as hot as possible so that I can actually SEE the wave files as they're being recorded, lol.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely and wholeheartedly disagree quite passionately. ALTHOUGH:

Disclaimer: (1) Unless he's talking about analog tape (2) "Short of distortion" is what I normally tell just about everyone. But *A LOT* of people don't sense the distortion that's caused by overdriving a mic preamp - At least *one* track of it - Although the effect of it is very easily measurable (even visually using a spectrum analyzer).

Once you go much beyond 0dBVU (especially with many of the popular "budget-friendly" options), you're going to *lose* punch and *lose* clarity while *adding* distortion and noise to the signal.

If you're recording in 24-bit (which obviously, you should) and your converters are calibrated to -18dBFS (=0dBVU), then your signals should be dancing around -18dBFS, as this is where all the rest of the gear is designed to run at. This is how the system was designed. This is how it's done "downtown" - This is normal.

Recording "hot without clipping" is NOT normal.

Mixing is a slightly different story - I could care less if a project comes in peaking at -1 or -10dBFS. As long as it was tracked properly, I can always turn it down if need be.

But "graininess" on a 24-bit recording? C'mon... Maybe if it *peaks* at -24 or something - *maybe* - But as long as it peaks above -47dBFS, it has higher resolution than a compact disc at full scale.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:44 am    Post subject: Re: Pro-mastering engineer giving advice that differs Reply with quote

satchmo wrote:

Here are his words -
"My suggestion next time for tracking and mixing in the digital domain is to get the hottest level happening (short of distortion) because this way you will have the max resolution and punchiest sound possible. The tracks were definitely workable but turning up and compressing the music the way I normally do will really put a microscope on things. Resolution – namely. The quieter that things are in digital the more “grainy” things tend to be. Turning things up just elevates the graininess."

What do you guys think?


I've only found things to be grainy when I use cheap stuff, like the stock EQs that come with Acid (on hot signals, that EQ makes things extra grainy - which is nice for a synth, but not for live instruments), or a cheap interface like the mobile Pre which has a natural 16-bit noise, plus a fairly grainy pre-amp noise.

I can't imagine why someone would tell you to record as hot as possible ... I've heard the difference ... everything gels alot quicker (and is a LOT easier to record) when when you track to 0dBVU - at least for me thats how it is. Even on the mobile pre - I experienced the least amount of pre-amp noise and noise floor when I recorded peaking someplace around -15dB - which is pretty close to 0dBVU (coincidence??)

Maybe the problems he had with your recording have more to do with the way you Eq'd things, or you choice of EQ and eFX or even the microphones and pre-amps you used rather than the actual levels you recorded at. It's a known fact that all plug-in eFX are not made equal.

I don't think that punchiness really comes from the level you record at, rather the sound you captured and the way you compressed, and EQ'd that sound. Given, I wonder if you might have to normalize a track to get it to compress, or react to an EQ the way you want? (i.e. different characteristics on the EQ/Compressor itself in just the level of the threshold -- who knows?)

http://www.digido.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=11

... In all fairness, some music was meant to be smashed ... like metal punk, hard rock, and electronica - but you've got to have a great sound to begin with. What the heck ... try it out on a tune and see if you get the sound you want, or if you end up with mush in the end .... my bet goes with mush

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

woah ... check out the bottom of that link .. waht the heck? LOL
someone needs to do some house cleaning

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi
well i agree with nearly all of what massive has said. that is indeed the old way of analog recording. Maybe he ment a good strong signal level not an almost distorted level? I prefere to have soem breathing room on my mixes peaks between -3 and -6 or less as I prefere to listen to them at that volume before deciding what to do with them especailly if im not familiar with the engineer.

Im sure he ment a good stong clean singal level at the tracking stage. Grainy hmm how quiet are you tracks? maybe they would be grainy if they were really low. I have had soem reasonably quiet albums come though here and they have never eneded up grainy when there finshed and he can "smudge the sound edges" a littel so to speak if they were grainy.


Let me know if you ever find out. Why dont you ring him and clarify it with him then let us know its only a 5 minute phone call

Peace
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to send him an email and see what's what. He did a great job on the CD. Maybe I was tracking in 16bit. I'll have to double check. What's the default setting on Cubase?
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about S/N of your preamps multiplied over a large number of tracks? That's something I haven't heard discussed in all this talk about tracking low at 24bit.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi
thats because SN is not really a mastering issue although it does indrectly effects the sound of the fianl mastered ttracks. that is unless you pipe your mastering work out though hardware like I have to
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Understood, although this thread happens to be about tracking. I think it's in the mastering forum because the original question came as the result of a comment made by a mastering engineer about tracking.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slackmaster2K wrote:
What about S/N of your preamps multiplied over a large number of tracks? That's something I haven't heard discussed in all this talk about tracking low at 24bit.


See...I thought I talked about that. Ok, not so much "talked about" it as sort of half-assed mentioned it so that somebody else could talk at length about it and edumacate me.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slackmaster2K wrote:
What about S/N of your preamps multiplied over a large number of tracks? That's something I haven't heard discussed in all this talk about tracking low at 24bit.


I don't know that this would be much of an issue. Assuming you have reasonably quiet preamps, the sum result would be negligable. Usually, in a complex mix (style depending), not all tracks would be playing at the same time anyway, and with proper editing of dead space makes it even less of an issue.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember reading over and over that on a 24-bit decent interface in a decent room (heck, even in my own experience of a crappy room with a noise floor of -60db), you can still get excellent resolution (perhaps still the best S/N and room noise) , and then best overall clarity/depth when you track to approximately 0DBVU. this could be occasional spikes to -10 on really loud passages, but on the whole, -18dBFS.

maybe the rules change in loud spaces ... but I noticed a big difference in the clarity and resilliance of my vocal and guitar trakcs *the minute* I started practicing this.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RedStone wrote:
I remember reading over and over that on a 24-bit decent interface in a decent room (heck, even in my own experience of a crappy room with a noise floor of -60db),


Good point, the S/N of what your recording in relation to the background ambience would probably be more significant then most decent preamp S/N.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RedStone wrote:
I remember reading over and over that on a 24-bit decent interface in a decent room (heck, even in my own experience of a crappy room with a noise floor of -60db), you can still get excellent resolution (perhaps still the best S/N and room noise) , and then best overall clarity/depth when you track to approximately 0DBVU. this could be occasional spikes to -10 on really loud passages, but on the whole, -18dBFS.

maybe the rules change in loud spaces ... but I noticed a big difference in the clarity and resilliance of my vocal and guitar trakcs *the minute* I started practicing this.

If your converters are calibrated to -18dBFS (most are) then a signal that rides around there is line level (0dBVU). That's how your gear is designed to run. Basically *all* gear. Analog OR digital.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RedStone wrote:
woah ... check out the bottom of that link .. waht the heck? LOL
someone needs to do some house cleaning


Yow... I wouldn't go exploring on any of those... looks like someone hacked that site...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok......... things I've learned.

Don't ask for comments when you can't provide all the info, it makes people edgy and creates confusion.

I think the issue with the tracks I recorded were that they were all in 16bit, not 24. Peaks between -6 and -10 dbfs. They were quiet. Everybody in the LR said they were quiet. So I wasn't terribly surprised when the ME said they were quiet.

He won't comment further on this, as rightfully, making comments on my specific tracks without knowing the entirety of my recording rig and gain staging process would be pointless and would continue this debate without bearing any fruit.

His recommendations that in my specific circumstance that the tracks could have been hotter, and that in the future I should try to make them hotter, are sound.

I still have a whole lot to learn about this stuff.

Thanks for the insight guys.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have a bunch of tracks peaking at -10, you're *still* going to have to turn them down to mix.

24-bit? For sure. But an entire *MIX* that peaks at -10 isn't too quiet by any means. On the contrary - I'd argue that the *best* sounding projects that come out of here were the ones that came in the quietest -- I mean, at "NORMAL" levels.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

satchmo - check out this tune ... all done in 16-bit, 44.1khz on pretty much the worst interface I have ever used (noisy, nasty pre-amps - yuck)

I recorded it all to line level - and mixed to -6dB ... I still have to fix the bass because I use headphones mostly, which are a terribly way to judge bass (haha)

http://www.recordingproject.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=26359

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject: ------------------ Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe this guy is talking nonsense at the highest level.

The worrying thing is he implies that you should be compressing and limiting every track to get the levels "up". Rubbish, unless you want to destroy all punch and transient information in your music from the get go.

At 24 bit resolution you may hit peaks of -12dBFS and this would be perfect.

Mix your mixes at 24 bit(bounce/export at 24bit too) and start the mix with peaking your kick drum at -14dBFS and you will have a nice amount of headroom built into your mix.

cheers

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