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Al Robbins

Clip automation (gain) and Gain Staging relationship

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Thanks to Mike at Creative Sauce and his videos - I used Clip Automation-Gain on a vocal track. There were a few parts that were a little louder.  I just reduced the gain by 2db - 3db on the louder parts so that it sounded pretty close to the same.  Really cool now that you can see it change the wave file.

I began my gain staging. My question is - does the Clip Automation-Gain have any relationship to Gain Staging? 

I started my gain staging process with the gain knob in the Console view.  Seems to my ear, that the 2db - 3db cuts I made translate through when changing the gain on the gain knob in the Console View. 

To clarify:

In the track view - using the Clip Automation-Gain, it shows a 0db line - that line does not change when I turn the Gain knob in the Console view (when I am gain staging). No matter what I set the Gain knob to, I can still hear the cuts I made on the Clip Automation-Gain line so I am guessing there is not a relationship between the two. 

Does my question make sense?

thanks,

Al

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Normally with gain staging you use track gain (and this is certainly what Mike is using in his video).

Track gain is not the same as clip gain.

Clip gain is applied first, then it goes into the track gain.

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An important point to remember is that clip gain is pre-effects. So for example if you have level-dependent effects like compression or distortion as an insert effect, altering the clip gain will alter how the effect reacts.  You can use this to good effect, like with amp sims - ramp up the clip gain, and it's like increasing the drive control.

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^^^ Was just about to make this point before Craig beat me to it.

An alternative to clip gain is to use a gain plugin such as the (free!) ones from Blue Cat. I do this on every vocal track because instead of pulling an entire clip up or down, I can precisely automate gain for both large and small sections regardless of clip membership.

Often, I can avoid using a de-esser this way. Putting it in front of the compressor means I'm not constantly re-adjusting compressor threshold as I tweak the track. Plus I don't have to rely entirely on the compressor for leveling, allowing for less-brutal compression ratios. The Blue Cat gain controls are more useful than a plain old volume knob, as they can be scaled (set min/max levels) and ganged (multiple tracks from one knob). When controlling more than one track, one can be opposite the other, i.e as one goes up, the other goes down.

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Now days, almost every single plug in has input control, as long as you recorded at a decent level and are not blowing meters up, you shouldn't have to use clip gain a whole lot unless you are using it as an effect.

That's just my 2 cents anyway. The days long ago when some plug ins had no way to control their input gain was essential.

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Thanks everyone for the tips and advice.  The parts I used clip automation gain were subtle so it doesn’t sound weird - like loud and then soft, just a few small cuts - seem to be on consonants that the vocalist made louder. This is the first time I used clip automation gain. In the past, as bitflipper said, I have used the free plugins from Blue Cat - free g for gain staging and their gain plugin, did some serial compression (subtle moves) and got the vocal track sounding pretty decent. Hopefully this clip automation gain helps. And if not, heck, I can delete the clip automation. For me, it’s always good to hear from the forums. You all have a wealth of knowledge that has helped me a great deal!

 

Al

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