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inconsistent peak db at playback

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hello,

beginner question i don't find a solution to: how come my peak volume reading is completely inconsistent from one playback to another? i don't change anything, stop playback, start again and max db shows completely different levels (sometimes they vary more than 3 db without changing a thing). this is driving me crazy. how to know reliably, how loud the track actually is? how to know if i'm not clipping already if the metering is completely off which i wouldn't know? is there a solution to this?

thanks for help!

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Try bypassing all effects and see if the peak value now remains consistent. 

When levels dance around on their own, it's almost always a plugin that's the culprit. Assuming we're talking about audio tracks, which will always be consistent with no fx. But if we're talking about a soft synth, then it's likely due to some randomized modulation within the synth, in which case a limiter might be the easiest solution.

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i see, thanks for your fast replies. i'm using many midi-tracks so that's obviously the cause. will export to audio i guess and try it out. thanks!

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Slightly fluctuating levels (+/- 3 dB) while tracking shouldn't be a problem.  Like he said, freeze soft synth tracks and also commit external hardware synths tracks to audio as well.  Then the only fluctuations should be random and non-synchronous modulation from your FX, again likely no more than +/- 3 dB.

Slightly fluctuating levels (+/- 3 dB) while mixing down shouldn't be a problem either.  You can always use compressors and limiters to avoid more extreme volume fluctuations that mess with the relative levels you are seeking.

Finally,  as long as you have left good headroom, there shouldn't be any problems mastering your mix with 3rd party FX that have decent dynamic processors - or even the ones available in Cakewalk.

Good luck.

 

 

 

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In addition to the things noted above - I would like to add that sample libraries for drums can produce these kinds of differences, between one playback and the next, of the exact same midi data.

In this case, it can be because of the round-robin samples using different sample files every time, some of which will be at different volumes.  I found this with several different libraries, including those that play as Kontakt instruments, as well as those from soft synths, such as Steven Slate Drums.

For drum sample libraries in particular, this is often simply how it is.  It is of no particular consequense, to have those fluctuations, as they still fit in the mix just fine.   Much better than having that machine gun effect from years prior, before round-robin sample playback became available.

Many of the currently available premium drum sample libraries have quite a few different samples of each drum kit piece, which is a good thing - it just means there will be, and deliberately so, slight variations in volume between them, to best represent what happens when a real drummer plays.

Anyways, the above is common, and I do not view it as an issue, for me.  :) 

Bob Bone

 

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