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Misha

Limiter while recording vocals.

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Hi Folks.

Can anybody tell me how I can use a software limiter in Cakewalk in live scenario to reduce clipping while recording vocals (not after the recording)?

Thank you!

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Lower the gain on your interface input tho reduce clipping.

Raise gain with a compressor or limiter by adding them to the fx bin.

You can also raise the gain on the track without risking clipping the input. You can still clip the output however.

Edited by Gswitz

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Gswitz.,

thanks, however this does not answer my question on using a limiter in live scenario, while singing.

 

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Byron,

Thanks.

I guess I am out of luck.  I have read Cakewalk thread from years back... I thought things have changed.

I guess if I want the workflow I am after, outboard is the only choice.  My interface was supposed to have DSP on board, but sadly, that was a Sweetwater misprint. The problem is, I am afraid that average outboard stuff will color and introduce noise to the sound... Probably big bucks outboard limiter/compressors modules will not do that, but I can not afford them :)

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on my roland-quad capture i have a compressor that is after the input but before cakewalk,,

(but i prefer not use it)

Edited by martsave martin s

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A great deal of the OP is managed through mic placement/technique more so than compressors/limiters. There is no reason to run input gain that hot (since it can easily be compensated for in the rest of the signal chain with enough S/N ratio, potentially with a noise gate at roughly -55 dB).

As far as onboard DSP, which interface are you using? I know with Focusrite's the input has "FX (Anlg 1)" versus "Anlg In 1" for situations where you want to pass the FX through the unit to the DAW (without selecting the "FX" inputs, the signal is just what came into the unit). You might want to double-check the manual just to be sure.

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martsave martin s,

Thank you for trying! Roland "capture" line is solid, I had Duo Capture some years back, but also it was pretty "quiet" unit, it was actually hard for me to make it clip  :)

 

mettelus,

I have Arturia Audiofuse. It does not have onboard DSP.  Mic positioning, pop filters, shields, stepping away from mic etc.. sure these things work for me to extent.  Here is the issue. Some of my tunes have both gentle and aggressive vocals.  Lowering the input on interface helps of course, but after using gain in Cakewalk at later stages, brings out room  noise and presence is somewhat lost.  The last time I used hardware limiter/compressor was 20 years back.  I had a beat up, cheap unit from fleamarket.  If I remember correctly, It did what it was intended to do, but the quality for "recording" was less than acceptable. Just want to find a solution of taming natural loudness as it comes, without lowering input below comfort level :)

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Just to be clear, the fact that you cannot use a software limiter on your input to avoid clipping is not a Cakewalk limitation--it derives from the mathematics of the process, and applies to all software.  Software effects work only on digital data--stuff that is not audio at all but numbers that represent it in the computer. So if you send a signal from your microphone/preamp to the audio to digital (D/A) converter in your audio interface that produces a number bigger than the maximum bit depth your software uses to represent sound that is going to cause clipping (lost data) that is irretrievable in the box. Putting a limiter on the digital data stream after the clipping has occurred at the A/D will not bring the lost data back. A hardware limiter is what is needed if you want to avoid clipping on input, since it will act on the analog/electrical signal prior to it reaching the A/D. Technically you will also lose data using any kind of limiter at any point. The power/volume of the original signal is reduced and that is a characteristic of the original sound that the digital representation will not correctly encode--but reducing the analog power low enough to avoid digital overs at the A/D will prevent the nasty artifacts that digital overs produce. As others have noted the best practice is to record at lower input gain (record less "hot") and use a bit depth representation that gives you some extra zero bits at the top. You can then bring up the power of the digital data representation with software overall, or limit the variation between the softest and loudest parts of the recording using a software compressor/limiter.

Edited by slartabartfast
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1 hour ago, slartabartfast said:

slartabartfast,

thanks.

"A hardware limiter is what is needed if you want to avoid clipping on input, since it will act on the analog/electrical signal prior to it reaching the A/D. "

I guess that would be my path. 

 

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In the consolle (mixer) you can control the mic sensivity and with the fader you can control the mic volume (gain).  Good luck.

 

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You might could find a used  Dbx 160 series for cheap.  The 160x was sub $100 originally and gives perfectly good service in the studio and better for live work.

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42 minutes ago, lapasoa said:

In the consolle (mixer) you can control the mic sensivity and with the fader you can control the mic volume (gain).  Good luck.

 

If you are talking about Cakewalk's Console View no you can't.  The audio has already been recorded to disk before it hits the Console. This is one reason in the manual says you have to control volume for input at the source. 

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Make sure when your singing into the mic that you have good headphones and a good monitoring level, reduce the instruments if you have to so you can hear your voice well, in addition, use a pop filter and set it about 4 - 6 inches from the mic. This should enable you to use microphone technique to control the volume of your voice well.

Sing your loudest part and watch the clip levels so it doesn't clip, then do some test recordings. If you set it up right and practice, you won't need a front end compressor or limiter. The trick is getting away from your mic, that way you will record more consistent waveforms with less spiking, you can back off up to 10 inches or so if you need to, depends on your microphone and audio interface etc. Find the sweet spot. The closer you are to the mic the more clipping, dynamics and spiking of the waveform you will get. You will need to be using a condenser with phantom power to get this right.

The worst situation is singing right on top of a dynamic mic and trying to go straight in.

I had some compressors on the front end but I don't use them anymore because I've found the sweet spot for singing. There really shouldn't be much problem in recording straight in if you set it up right, should be a nice, full, even waveform.

The further you go back though, the more the room reverberation will play a part, that may be desirable in your situation or not. You can hang a blanket behind you to cut some of this out.

It depends on your set up but you should be able to find the sweet spot where it all comes together.

One more thing, I've done quite a bit of testing with different microphone screens/reflectors, those things you can buy to put behind the microphone on a stand. My conclusion is they are worthless, they all impart an ugly coloring of the sound that is recorded because of what bounces off them back into the microphone, I don't use them and get a far more natural sound to my voice.

 

Edited by Tezza

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Sing the loud and soft parts at different times with different recording levels. The caveman approach.

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Thank you for replies!

"The caveman approach" LOL! I like that! Actually I sometimes do just that, but as you said, me too thinks it is a caveman approach. That is why I am trying to find a more intelligent way to deal with it.  Seems that outboard compressor / limiter is the way to go. My audio interface has FX Inserts, so that should not be a hard task to connect a Limiter/compressor to the chain, before it hits A/D. I was looking at vintage TL Audio Ivory series 5021 tube compressor, which is 10-18 years young. and priced relatively reasonably. The only thing it does not precisely says it is a limiter, but I think it should do what I am after.  

I am sorry, now I feel that this thread should be outside Cakewalk topics, for some strange reason, I thought that I could use software limiter to limit live input. 

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Hello--

I also want to add that vocal technique needs to be applied as well. For softer parts, sing closer to the mic (not too close or you'll boost the bass from proximity effect). For louder parts, sing farther from the mic. It's a technique that takes practice to do well so the recording doesn't sound like the level is going up and down--just the singing dynamics.

If the singer doesn't have the technique/skill already, I recommend just recording the different levels during different takes. Set up the mic placement for the louder dynamic parts and record those--and the softer dynamic parts after the mic placement is set. If you watch a pro singer sing live, you will see them move the mic away when they belt it, and touch the mic to their lips for the softer parts. Knowing how to do that well is part of being a singer IMO.

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Thank you for commenting.

Sure, I use various techniques, including multi takes on quieter / louder parts, good pop filter, position of mic, stepping away.  Yes, it does help  in most cases, but I still think that outboard compressor should solve most of remaining issues. 

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3 hours ago, Misha said:

Thank you for replies!

"I am sorry, now I feel that this thread should be outside Cakewalk topics, for some strange reason, I thought that I could use software limiter to limit live input. "

This forum is about learning. The topic is fine and the dialog we have  here is just as fine.  There is no reason for you to feel sorry.

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John,

I am not sorry for the post . I am sorry it is in the wrong place/thread in the forum :)

I know Cakewalk community is awesome. I learned about many cool things about music making from the folks here.

M.

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