Gain Staging.

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Gain Staging.

Postby davidgary73 » Sun May 04, 2008 1:28 am

Hi, i read about gain staging and that often relate to a mix, which is the standardize practice, keeping a -6dbfs headroom of the overall output for mastering.

I seldom do mixing or mastering but mostly music arrangement. In your recommendation, do i follow the same standard of keeping -6dbfs headroom on all plugin instruments tracks, audio tracks, main output track when sequencing or recording?

How about bouncing to wav/aiff for individual tracks for mixing? -6dbfs also? Would it be advisable to push my track level to -3 to -2dbfs when bouncing to wav or aiff while leaving it to the mix engineer to produce the -6db headroom for mastering?

Do share your insights.

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David Gary
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Postby davidgary73 » Tue May 06, 2008 10:44 pm

Anyone??? Please help.
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Postby pantomimeHorse » Wed May 07, 2008 3:59 am

I would say that -3.0dB room on a mix out of Logic that you're
sending to mastering would be fine.
-
As long as the dynamics are how you want them in the song, the
levels in the individual channels are not something I'd worry my
head about too much.
-
Just give your mastering engineer that bit of leeway, especially if
he/she's new to your tracks. Give him/her 24-bit
if you can.


-
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Postby davidgary73 » Wed May 07, 2008 4:48 am

Thanks pantomimeHorse. Just wondering what levels should i bounce my tracks to before mixing begins?
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Postby pantomimeHorse » Wed May 07, 2008 5:22 am

davidgary73 wrote:Thanks pantomimeHorse. Just wondering what levels should i bounce my tracks to before mixing begins?


When you say "... bounce my tracks to ...", I'm not getting your drift.
-
Do you mean "what level should they be peaking at in each channel ?"
-
Or, are you referring to creating audio tracks from Logic instrument
channels, and then bringing them back in for a mixdown which is audio
only ?
-
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Postby davidgary73 » Wed May 07, 2008 5:44 am

pantomimeHorse wrote:
davidgary73 wrote:Thanks pantomimeHorse. Just wondering what levels should i bounce my tracks to before mixing begins?


When you say "... bounce my tracks to ...", I'm not getting your drift.
-
Do you mean "what level should they be peaking at in each channel ?"
-
Or, are you referring to creating audio tracks from Logic instrument
channels, and then bringing them back in for a mixdown which is audio
only ?
-
C


Yes sir. You got it right. Sorry that i was not clear.

What level should they peak be at in each channel and also bounced levels of the audio from logic instruments, bring them back for a mixdown as audio?
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Postby pantomimeHorse » Wed May 07, 2008 7:03 am

Other people's mileage will vary on this, David, but how I usually
begin a mixdown (remember, I'm principally a dance producer, so
some of this s#!+ won't stick) is by creating a kind of "half-mix".
Everything I want is in there but I try to keep channel levels VERY
low and just rack the monitors up a tad so I can hear what's going
on.
-
At this point, I've usually got kick and bass hitting around -3.0 or
-4.0, with everything else being played with as seems fit.
-
When the balance seems heading for OK, I start to deal with drums
on a bus, same with bass and lead synths. This gives me what I used
to have on my old hardware desk: mix groups. Very useful.
-
I then start to move the levels up so the Aux's from my busses are
giving me around -2.0 to -2.5, without touching the Aux gain, which
I leave at 0.0.
-
At this point in the mixdown, I can tell what needs a bit of top here,
a bit of cut there, etc etc I also decide on the route for any sidechain
stuff for ducking, if needed, and listen carefully to the sum of my
sends to the sidechain bus and what I call my "Clean" bus - anything
that's going to end up going straight to Outs 1-2.
-
Then, and only then, do I begin to see how the groups' levels can move
up to give me around -3.0 on the outputs.
-
Hope this helps as opposed to confuses ! !

-
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Postby David Nahmani » Wed May 07, 2008 7:10 am

davidgary73 wrote:What level should they peak be at in each channel and also bounced levels of the audio from logic instruments, bring them back for a mixdown as audio?


Why would you bounce your tracks before mixing? Don't bounce anything, just mix. It doesn't matter what level your audio tracks or software instrument tracks peak at (although it's usually better if they don't go into the red). Just mix them so the whole sounds good. Use your ears, not your eyes or your brain.
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Postby davidgary73 » Wed May 07, 2008 7:28 am

David wrote:
davidgary73 wrote:What level should they peak be at in each channel and also bounced levels of the audio from logic instruments, bring them back for a mixdown as audio?


Why would you bounce your tracks before mixing? Don't bounce anything, just mix. It doesn't matter what level your audio tracks or software instrument tracks peak at (although it's usually better if they don't go into the red). Just mix them so the whole sounds good. Use your ears, not your eyes or your brain.


Thanks pantomimeHorse for the info. Will learn about using buss more. Thanks heaps.

Hey David, thank you for writing. I'm basically not doing the mixdown. I'm bouncing my tracks as audio files for my clients as they will take the audio to their studio to do mixdown. So just want to know what is the best level to bounce my logic instruments as audio. I will occasionally do mix in logic for TV commercials.
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Postby pantomimeHorse » Wed May 07, 2008 7:45 am

And, FWIW, David N is absolutely right:

Mix with your ears - wear a blindfold for final mixdown - good training.

-
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Postby David Nahmani » Wed May 07, 2008 7:53 am

davidgary73 wrote:Hey David, thank you for writing. I'm basically not doing the mixdown. I'm bouncing my tracks as audio files for my clients as they will take the audio to their studio to do mixdown. So just want to know what is the best level to bounce my logic instruments as audio. I will occasionally do mix in logic for TV commercials.


Oh OK - well then you have two options that you should discuss with the person who's going to mix your files (they should know what they want/need).

1) Bounce each individual track close to the level they should be at in the final mixdown. That way the mixing engineer will have to position his faders at around unity gain to get a good mix.

2) Bounce each individual track at 0 dB and let the engineer position his faders however he wants for the mix.

If you can, try to talk to the guy(s)?
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Postby Ashermusic » Wed May 07, 2008 8:02 am

Even if you are doing your own mix, I prefer to bounce or export all my software instruments to audio so I am mixing apples with apples instead of apples with oranges. And yes, I try to tweak the software instruments and plug-in output so that except for transients snare hits and the like, they each fall between -6 and -3. Also it frees up the CPU for more FX oriented plug-ins.

I am convinced that these practices lead to better mixes. Of course, folks like David love music that I hate and am not called to work on so my approach may not apply to those genres.
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Postby davidgary73 » Wed May 07, 2008 8:04 am

David wrote:
davidgary73 wrote:Hey David, thank you for writing. I'm basically not doing the mixdown. I'm bouncing my tracks as audio files for my clients as they will take the audio to their studio to do mixdown. So just want to know what is the best level to bounce my logic instruments as audio. I will occasionally do mix in logic for TV commercials.


Oh OK - well then you have two options that you should discuss with the person who's going to mix your files (they should know what they want/need).

1) Bounce each individual track close to the level they should be at in the final mixdown. That way the mixing engineer will have to position his faders at around unity gain to get a good mix.

2) Bounce each individual track at 0 dB and let the engineer position his faders however he wants for the mix.

If you can, try to talk to the guy(s)?


Basically the mix engineer is not in reach because they are from either Hong Kong or Singapore. So i will follow your advice on bouncing each individual track near 0 db in wav files and let them do the level adjustment. Thanks David for helping me out. Atleast am super clear now on bouncing audio for my clients work.

Thanks again David.

Btw, i bought your book. Awesome book. Now reading it for the 2nd round before signing up to take the logic pro 8 certification level 1 exam here in Malaysia.

Cheers
David Gary
Last edited by davidgary73 on Wed May 07, 2008 8:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby davidgary73 » Wed May 07, 2008 8:23 am

Ashermusic wrote:Even if you are doing your own mix, I prefer to bounce or export all my software instruments to audio so I am mixing apples with apples instead of apples with oranges. And yes, I try to tweak the software instruments and plug-in output so that except for transients snare hits and the like, they each fall between -6 and -3. Also it frees up the CPU for more FX oriented plug-ins.

I am convinced that these practices lead to better mixes. Of course, folks like David love music that I hate and am not called to work on so my approach may not apply to those genres.


Hi Ashermusic. Am still a long way from mixing. Will sure to keep learning to be better in mixing too. Currently, am learning to keep my logic instruments level properly at -6 to -3 db plus having a headroom of -6 db on main output. Also am reading up on Bobby Owsinski "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook". Got so much to learn.

Cheers
David
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Postby Ashermusic » Thu May 08, 2008 5:23 am

davidgary73 wrote:
Ashermusic wrote:Even if you are doing your own mix, I prefer to bounce or export all my software instruments to audio so I am mixing apples with apples instead of apples with oranges. And yes, I try to tweak the software instruments and plug-in output so that except for transients snare hits and the like, they each fall between -6 and -3. Also it frees up the CPU for more FX oriented plug-ins.

I am convinced that these practices lead to better mixes. Of course, folks like David love music that I hate and am not called to work on so my approach may not apply to those genres.


Hi Ashermusic. Am still a long way from mixing. Will sure to keep learning to be better in mixing too. Currently, am learning to keep my logic instruments level properly at -6 to -3 db plus having a headroom of -6 db on main output. Also am reading up on Bobby Owsinski "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook". Got so much to learn.

Cheers
David


For me, doing my own mixing sometimes became a necessity when the budgets for projects starting shrinking. Mixing was the part of the process that was the least intuitive for me and I feared I could not learn to do it well.

Like most things in music, the key turned out to be hard work. I mixed, listened to other stuff, read stuff, and then mixed some more and gradually got better. I still do not consider myself an engineer and on any decently budgeted project I will hire one, but when I must do my own, my clients are not complaining about my mixes and I have even had some compliments form some real engineers.

10% inspiration, 90 % perspiration. So, rock on David :)
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Postby davidgary73 » Thu May 08, 2008 5:59 am

Ashermusic wrote:For me, doing my own mixing sometimes became a necessity when the budgets for projects starting shrinking. Mixing was the part of the process that was the least intuitive for me and I feared I could not learn to do it well.

Like most things in music, the key turned out to be hard work. I mixed, listened to other stuff, read stuff, and then mixed some more and gradually got better. I still do not consider myself an engineer and on any decently budgeted project I will hire one, but when I must do my own, my clients are not complaining about my mixes and I have even had some compliments form some real engineers.

10% inspiration, 90 % perspiration. So, rock on David :)


Thank you Ashermusic. Will surely keep learning and keep improving. Just tried New York style compression (read in Bobby Owsinski book) and is amazing on drums. More to learn..awesome.

Thanks again everyone. Thanks heaps.

Cheers
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