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RICHARD HUTCHINS

Master Gain reads -8.9 when set to mid way..but why?

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Hi all,

This is probably annoyingly simple to answer but I cant find it on the forum, probably using wrong search keywords. My master knob is reading a gain of  -8.9, ( see screenshot) but is set to the default half way mark, the one you get when you double click it. others are all reading zero at the same mark. Obviously when I gain stage at the end these get adjusted up or down but why is the master reading -8.9?

Sorry but I don't understand why! Shouldnt it be zero at the mid way mark.  I don't really understand what the master volume knob does anyway I never really touch it, but if something is wrong with my settings I need to know.

It may ( or not)  help me get to the bottom of why at present, as a complete novice, often I get poor results in terms of getting a good mix of voices and instruments, always a problem for me. This is either a great question, or a really dumb one, I reckon I know which it is!1841991312_masterscreenshot.thumb.png.922cafaf9c6b13c2fcef01ec1466aa9f.png

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Buss Gain are set different than Tracks. The unity is at 3 o'clock instead of 12 o'clock,

Why? I guess because you don't normally need that +18 db of headroom that a track has on a buss because it is being fed by a track that should be in the ballpark and not that far out.

You'll notice track gain is either + or - 18db.  The Buss gain is from - inf to + 6. 

Screenshot (249).png

Edited by John Vere
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I think he means that the Master is set to 0.0, the double-click default, but when he plays the song, the output on the Master is not 0.0, but -8.9. Is that right, Richard?
If that's the case and you want the output higher, turn up the tracks feeding the Master. Unless they're already too high.

Typically, I have a vocals bus, a guitars bus, a synth bus, keyboards, bass, drums and a Master. Maybe strings. All sent to the Master bus. The Master bus is where you would put any mastering plug-ins, and that is output to your main out, your sound card or audio interface. After these plug-ins are manipulated, the volume may go up, and you can reduce that with the Master volume slider. But, there are those who say you should never touch that, it should always stay at 0.0 (unity). More experienced folks than me. Lacking that experience, I do what I want. 😁

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1 minute ago, 57Gregy said:

I think he means that the Master is set to 0.0, the double-click default, but when he plays the song, the output on the Master is not 0.0, but -8.9. Is that right, Richard?
If that's the case and you want the output higher, turn up the tracks feeding the Master. Unless they're already too high.

Typically, I have a vocals bus, a guitars bus, a synth bus, keyboards, bass, drums and a Master. Maybe strings. All sent to the Master bus. The Master bus is where you would put any mastering plug-ins, and that is output to your main out, your sound card or audio interface. After these plug-ins are manipulated, the volume may go up, and you can reduce that with the Master volume slider. But, there are those who say you should never touch that, it should always stay at 0.0 (unity). More experienced folks than me. Lacking that experience, I do what I want. 😁

Yes that's what is happening. The tracks feeding into the master are all set as I think they should be, so average -18 and peak -12 or close to it. So I cant turn them any higher and at the same time stay within the recommended levels.

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29 minutes ago, John Vere said:

Buss Gain are set different than Tracks. The unity is at 3 o'clock instead of 12 o'clock,

Why? I guess because you don't normally need that +18 db of headroom that a track has on a buss because it is being fed by a track that should be in the ballpark and not that far out.

You'll notice track gain is either + or - 18db.  The Buss gain is from - inf to + 6. 

Screenshot (249).png

Thanks John I understand now. ( I think)

I'm recording a song at the moment and it all sounds very "quiet" on playback, after I have made sure there is no clipping and everything is within a sensible range of say -18 av and -12 peak. In other words the vocals sound far away etc.

 

Is this when I need to lift the master gain up or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

 

 

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I took my conclusion from the screen shot. He shows the gain at 12 o clock and it is reading -8.9. which is correct. 

It is true that experienced audio engineers don't touch Master bus Gain or Faders.  

You use your sub busses. This is why sub busses are important for normal complexed mixes.  If your song is quiet it's no wonder as to me -18 is way to low. I use between -10 and -6 with  -8 being perfect. I use the the track gain control to achieve this. I play the song and adjust buy analyzing  the peak and LUFS is averaging for each track.  

I also use Span and the You Lean loudness meter for accuracy  using LUFS or RMS as all it take is one little spike to make you "think" a track is peaking at -2 when in fact there was only one little peak and the average level was really -12. It's a bit time consuming but a properly gained project will almost mix itself. 

First step is before I use compression to tame peaks I will find the peaks and pull them down with a volume envelope or clip gain. It really depends on what the track is. Vocals take the most work. Bass, keyboards and rhythm guitar are usually a steady level.  Drums are a problem child and usually need lots of compression to keep them up there without peaks. 

But the goal is 20 tracks that all are steady at -8db. 

Then I use the sub busses to mix the parts usually with the Vocals at unity and a little pull down on the rest. 

On the master I now use the  free LoudMax limiter. Then the You Lean loudness meter to tell me my true peak level and LUFS which I go for 1.0 peak and - 12 LUFS.  So easy to dial this in with the Loud Max.  

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20 minutes ago, RICHARD HUTCHINS said:

I'm recording a song at the moment and it all sounds very "quiet" on playback, after I have made sure there is no clipping and everything is within a sensible range of say -18 av and -12 peak. In other words the vocals sound far away etc.

I think the "-18 and -12 peak" refers to recording level, not necessarily the output level. Right, Cactus?

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I got those parameters from a tutorial, ( creative sauce I seem to recall. )

 

I set the audio interface output for various instruments and the vocals to achieve average -18 and peak -12. Is this what you mean when you say its way too low?

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Everybody's different but if I recorded that low I'd then have more work to do to get levels where I need them for the Master.

If my goal is a -1.0  12 LUFS master then I need to feed it a good healthy signal. If all my tracks were  recorded at -18 I'm WAY off the mark. 

-8 is very safe as far as I'm concerned. -2 is a bit to close as example but not over the top yet.  

Insert a Soft synth and feed it a midi track with the velocity at around 100. It will probably output closer to -2.0 db by default.  It's probably not clipping the meter either.  

 There's plenty of articles and Tutorials about mixing and level and its all over the map so take it all with a grain of salt.  A lot of these ideas are coming from different situations and systems.  I just know what work for me coming from Analog equipment both recording and Live Sound mixing. My masters are nice and loud at -12 LUFS and they are totally safe from clipping @ -1.0 db true peak level. None of my tracks or busses are clipping or even close at -4 db even. You can actually hit 0 without a clip but that's not a good idea. 

It's not "wrong" to have to turn up the Gain on the Master Buss but it's not how most people would deal with a quiet song.  

It all boils down to healthy track output levels, effects in the correct place in the signal chain, sub busses for adjusting sections and a good limiter and analyzers on that Master buss. 

Edited by John Vere

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I would add that from a practical and quick workflow  point of view is safe to record each of your audio tracks at a "good" level, not worrying to much about the reading of the meters; not too low, not too high.

From that starting point you can build your mix step by step: i.e, grouping similar instruments into buses, then routing those buses to a Preview bus (one that you can adjust before sending it to the Master bus). As you build your mix you just go adjusting everything according to your needs, checking as you go that the Master Bus (stuck at 0 db, ) have enough output.

Remember that this master Bus should be further processed to attain optimal levels (that's the Mastering process - another chapter).

You'll see that building your final mix is a dynamic process, not a rigid one: you go from track to buses, back and forth, adjusting it as you go.

... and it should be fun! :) 

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