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Gain staging Problem, HELP!!!!!!

jadedsean

Active Member
Hi Guys i am wondering if someone could advice me on a mixing issue in Reaper? So basically i started a new mix recently and gain staged everything using clip gain with Klanghelm VU meter, however i am now using some emulation plugins that require -18db and i wanted to check that my Bus is outputting that -18db. After checking this on the Klanghelm i noticed that the needle is barley moving and when i try to increase the trim option on the plugin i am seeing red on my Masterbus. Any advice guys i would love to get this solved.
 

DovesGoWest

Senior Member
Ok so with the meter on the bus and ensuring calibration is -18 adjust the source track clip gain so that the needle hovers around zero

That’s it
 

Breaker

Active Member
So you have set your individual tracks to -18 but your master bus is hit harder than that?
Put a gain plug-in as a first insert to your master bus and trim it down (do this first to any other buses between your tracks and master).
 

AudioLoco

Senior Member
So you have set your individual tracks to -18 but your master bus is hit harder than that?
Put a gain plug-in as a first insert to your master bus and trim it down (do this first to any other buses between your tracks and master).
Or even better, use those "faders" thingies before hitting groups or the master bus. :)

It is not a technical "mistake" to use gain plugins on everything as you have 64 bit internal floating point processing, but it is not ideal to have it as a main workflow in my experience.
It is more of a "fix" if you exceed 0db on the master or want to use certain "needy" plugins that want less amplitude fed to them.

Most mix engineers would trim on a channel basis first rather than touch auxes/groups or the master.
 

Breaker

Active Member
Or even better, use those "faders" thingies before hitting groups or the master bus. :)

It is not a technical "mistake" to use gain plugins on everything as you have 64 bit internal floating point processing, but it is not ideal to have it as a main workflow in my experience.
It is more of a "fix" if you exceed 0db on the master or want to use certain "needy" plugins that want less amplitude fed to them.

Most mix engineers would trim on a channel basis first rather than touch auxes/groups or the master.
A matter of preference of course, but I like to have my faders more or less at unity gain after gain staging.
 
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jadedsean

jadedsean

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Thank you guys for the suggestions, so just to be clear, when in started this mix i used clip gain in Reaper to hit -18 on the tracks, after processing the tracks the needle barley moves. When i put my VU meter before any processing it still barley moves, i am not sure what i have done wrong. To further investigate this a made two quick videos, the first one i disabled all processing on the bus and got rid of the clip gain and tried to balance the section using on the bus using clip gain again.You can see the VU meter on the right is the first in the chain and the left is at the end. You can see i am hitting the master bus to hard but the VU meter is not being push to hard. The second one is with all my processing on and i just brought up master volume on interface to match the same level. Sorry for the bad quality video but i made on my phone, the best i could do at the moment.
 

DovesGoWest

Senior Member
Ok I’m a little confused are you gain staging on the source channels where the audio is or on a group bus that multiple channels go into?
 
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jadedsean

jadedsean

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Ok I’m a little confused are you gain staging on the source channels where the audio is or on a group bus that multiple channels go into?
So, i gain staged on individual tracks rather than the buses, possibly the wrong move but i was not sure. I have now tried to put a gain plugin on the buses and balanced out the levels on my processing and then i have a VU meter at the end. This seems to be working but i wonder if i am creating any bad artifacts in doing so?
 

DovesGoWest

Senior Member
So, i gain staged on individual tracks rather than the buses, possibly the wrong move but i was not sure. I have now tried to put a gain plugin on the buses and balanced out the levels on my processing and then i have a VU meter at the end. This seems to be working but i wonder if i am creating any bad artifacts in doing so?
Right gain stage each track, after that it’s not really gain staging. So each gain staged track goes into a bus the whole purpose of the faders at this point is to balance the tracks so level in the bus is correct. Do not use gain plugin , balancing the tracks is mixing. Now if you have multiple buses go into a single bus you use the faders of the buses to balance them

Also when you gain stage the source tracks make sure your trying to get the needle to be on average around zero if it blips above and below that’s ok. Your not trying to set it so it peaks at zero
 
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jadedsean

jadedsean

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Right gain stage each track, after that it’s not really gain staging. So each gain staged track goes into a bus the whole purpose of the faders at this point is to balance the tracks so level in the bus is correct. Do not use gain plugin , balancing the tracks is mixing. Now if you have multiple buses go into a single bus you use the faders of the buses to balance them

Also when you gain stage the source tracks make sure your trying to get the needle to be on average around zero if it blips above and below that’s ok. Your not trying to set it so it peaks at zero
I tried and still its barley registering on the buss and clipping the master bus like crazy. So on the VU on the Master bus i see its creeping up, however, if my emulation plugins are not seeing -18 coming in from lets say my strings bus then they become void, or am i wrong here? I was under the impression that using a gain plugin is a better option than just using the volume from the bus, after all aren't gain and volume two different things?

I should have mentioned when i started this project i normalized all the tracks, maybe this is a reason for my downfall?

Could i scrap the gain plugin and use a trim plugin instead?
 
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AudioLoco

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I tried and still its barley registering on the buss and clipping the master bus like crazy. So on the VU on the Master bus i see its creeping up, however, if my emulation plugins are not seeing -18 coming in from lets say my strings bus then they become void, or am i wrong here? I was under the impression that using a gain plugin is a better option than just using the volume from the bus, after all aren't gain and volume two different things?

I should have mentioned when i started this project i normalized all the tracks, maybe this is a reason for my downfall?

Could i scrap the gain plugin and use a trim plugin instead?
Don't normalize tracks. No reason in the whole world to do so.
You are raising the volume of everything just to have to lower it back in order to have a correct gain staging....
 
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jadedsean

jadedsean

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Don't normalize tracks. No reason in the whole world to do so.
You are raising the volume of everything just to have to lower it back in order to have a correct gain staging....
Yes i realize this now but can't go back on it, any other suggestions?
 

DovesGoWest

Senior Member
I tried and still its barley registering on the buss and clipping the master bus like crazy. So on the VU on the Master bus i see its creeping up, however, if my emulation plugins are not seeing -18 coming in from lets say my strings bus then they become void, or am i wrong here? I was under the impression that using a gain plugin is a better option than just using the volume from the bus, after all aren't gain and volume two different things?

I should have mentioned when i started this project i normalized all the tracks, maybe this is a reason for my downfall?

Could i scrap the gain plugin and use a trim plugin instead?
Ok, can you msg me and send 2 or 3 stems and I can recreate locally and see the issues
 

JamieLang

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Without downloading your attachment...are these drums?

Basically--you can't use a VU for drums. Never could.

It's because VUs were not fast enough...and measured "volume units" not peak levels.

You need a peak ballistic meter like your DAW's for that. Now--the problem you're trying to solve here...that doesn't help because if you set an unprocessed snare drum to PEAK at -18DBFS, it would be SOOOO quiet...so, I'll just tell you how I do the leveling--I use something that isn't drums...put the VU on the master, and start pushing up the sustaining instruments--guitars, bass, pianos, strings--and get it so the VU is bouncing around 0VU...then start pushing drums up to relatively appropriate levels. I mean relative to the tracks that are already up.

In a pinch, if a drummer records crazy hot/clipping...I'll just reduce all the drum tracks equally by 10db as a starting place. You DO NOT want to "normalize" levels, because all the mics of the drum kit don't have the same level--if you say NORMALIZED to -10dbfs, it would make the high hat crazy loud relative to the snare. To some degree you want to maintain the kit balance.

The good part about digital is that as long as you're making an attempt and you get it in the ballpark, you're fine. It's not like analog where you were fighting constantly to squeeze everything in between the noise floor and distortion.
 
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jadedsean

jadedsean

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Without downloading your attachment...are these drums?

Basically--you can't use a VU for drums. Never could.

It's because VUs were not fast enough...and measured "volume units" not peak levels.

You need a peak ballistic meter like your DAW's for that. Now--the problem you're trying to solve here...that doesn't help because if you set an unprocessed snare drum to PEAK at -18DBFS, it would be SOOOO quiet...so, I'll just tell you how I do the leveling--I use something that isn't drums...put the VU on the master, and start pushing up the sustaining instruments--guitars, bass, pianos, strings--and get it so the VU is bouncing around 0VU...then start pushing drums up to relatively appropriate levels. I mean relative to the tracks that are already up.

In a pinch, if a drummer records crazy hot/clipping...I'll just reduce all the drum tracks equally by 10db as a starting place. You DO NOT want to "normalize" levels, because all the mics of the drum kit don't have the same level--if you say NORMALIZED to -10dbfs, it would make the high hat crazy loud relative to the snare. To some degree you want to maintain the kit balance.

The good part about digital is that as long as you're making an attempt and you get it in the ballpark, you're fine. It's not like analog where you were fighting constantly to squeeze everything in between the noise floor and distortion.
Actually not drum related but nevertheless thanks for the input and interesting information, I can now utilise this info when processing drums.
Cheers
 
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