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Hi
I use fl studio to create some Synth lines and then export them as waves to Cakewalk. We use Cakewalk with these backing tracks on my band rehearsals.
MY PROBLEM: Track levels are very different from song to song and we need to adjust LEVELS everytime we start a song. I realised that the exported waves are not consistent regarding to LEVELS.
MY QUESTION: What are the optimal (or maximum) LEVEL a wave should be exported for Cakewalk mixing?
ALSO: What are the maximum LEVEL the Master Output should be?

Thank you.

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If you are using the wav files in cakewalk to play along with and they wont be getting any further processing like mastering etc, they can be loud but not to the point of clipping/ distortion. If they aren’t consistently matching up they are either exported at different levels or something in cakewalk playback is set differently or?  I don’t know anything about exporting from fl into cakewalk. Maybe set them to good consistent  levels after they are in cakewalk before you need to use them at rehearsals and save that way. Not sure if you are talking about inconsistencies within a songs tracks or between songs. 

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Levels are actually a pretty complex subject if we cover all of the applications. For example, if we are exporting to a streaming service the level may be slightly different than a level for a CD master.

In your case the audio is simply for rehearsal and needs two things. It shouldn't clip and it needs to be plenty loud enough to be heard for rehearsal without turning the volume all the way up. In order not to clip the signal it has to be under 0db RMS in all parts. The track should be mixed and at least partially mastered to trim the peaks to a place where you can bring the volume up to a consistent level without killing your dynamics.

After this is assured, import all tracks . Then either apply the normalize function or automate volume to consistency between tracks. Normalizing will default everything to 0db. To normalize multiple tracks at once hit Ctrl A to select all tracks. There may be other ways to do this in Cakewalk.

 

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I shoot for everything I export to -1dB, using the LEVELS plug-in from Mastering the Mix. If I'm not sure I've done a "hot" enough export, I load the file into Sound Forge or Audacity and just normalize it to that.

If the files you're getting from FL Studio aren't similar in level, you should work on your understanding of FLS' metering and how it relates to mixdowns/exports/renders, whatever they call it.

It's not always the easiest thing to get a handle on. I now set up a dedicated bus for exports and do my exports from that bus rather than Cakewalk's "hardware outputs."

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Posted (edited)

Peak level is only half the issue. It’s loudness that really matters so your tool for the job is using a loudness meter on the master buss. It’s very simple. 
You will put a brick wall limiter first In the bin and set it to ( popular choice) -1.0db. For this I use the free Loudmax limiter . Boost 11 is also good for this. Do not apply any gain. Just the limiter. 

Then a loudness meter after this. I like the You Lean meter it seems the most sensitive to fast peaking. 

So then pick a target of say -14 luffs and set every song to this target by either turning it up or turning it down. The peak limiter will compress any signal over -1.0 db. I rarely have to turn anything up but if you do simply use the master bus gain

. Videos #22 and 24 have details 

Edited by John Vere

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