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kd_rome
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Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:36 pm

Hi guys, I've been reading other threads about gain stage and the Logic Gain Plugin utility but still seem to get different results.

I have 2 tracks that are at -0.2 at the output but I need to get them to -3 or -4 before sending out for mastering, I have tried:

1) Gain plugin on each audio track set to -5 (i understand this is the correct step)

2) Lower -5 on each track fader

3) Gain plugin on output before Izotope Ozone

4) Lower Output fader

It doesn't matter what I try, the resulting audio track sounds different from the original one, I load both tracks on a new Logic project, lower the original track with the Gain Plugin to match the level of the second one and then flip phase on the second track to see if they cancel each other and they don't.

All the tracks have their own plugins like compressors or eq and the output track has the Ozone plugin.

What do you guys think?
 
Benco
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:52 pm

hi

the easiest way to lower the gain to -3 -4 db is some gain change on the master channel. I personally prefer not changing the master fader, but using gain plugin on insert.
I don't see why you need to put gain plugin with -5db on each channel. This may add additional problems to the mix.
Lets say some channels are send to bus with compression on it. That way you have to change the compression settings too, because
the compressor will receive different level and so on..

hope it helps

B
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fisherking
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:55 pm

why is ozone on the output? if you're going to be using professional mastering, there's no point in running a mastering app. you're compressing, limiting, etc..doing the things your mastering engineer will do.

try going back to the mix as u like it. turn off ozone6. bring the master fader down a bit...see if you can get what you want.

whatever else, turn ozone off. if you compress too much, etc...your mastering engineer won't be able to do much.
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kd_rome
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:08 pm

fisherking wrote:
why is ozone on the output? if you're going to be using professional mastering, there's no point in running a mastering app. you're compressing, limiting, etc..doing the things your mastering engineer will do.

try going back to the mix as u like it. turn off ozone6. bring the master fader down a bit...see if you can get what you want.

whatever else, turn ozone off. if you compress too much, etc...your mastering engineer won't be able to do much.


With Ozone off I'm at -6 but when I sent the tracks out for mastering in the past I was asked to leave Ozone on rather than send the track dry. ( i was using Ozone as a reference of what I was trying to achieve)

I think the engineer felt there was enough headroom in the previous tracks I don't know.

Benco wrote:
hi

the easiest way to lower the gain to -3 -4 db is some gain change on the master channel. I personally prefer not changing the master fader, but using gain plugin on insert.
I don't see why you need to put gain plugin with -5db on each channel. This may add additional problems to the mix.
Lets say some channels are send to bus with compression on it. That way you have to change the compression settings too, because
the compressor will receive different level and so on..

hope it helps

B


Hi Benco, thanks for the reply, my bus are for reverb only so no compression there.

I've read in the other threads that the correct procedure was to put a gain insert in each track and not in the master.

I'm going to try to put a gain plugin on the master and let you know how it sounds!

Thanks!
 
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fisherking
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 4:10 pm

that makes no sense. the ONLY reason to send a file with ozone on is to SHOW what you're trying to achieve, but the file the mastering engineer works from should have it off. if your guy wants you to leave it on...you may want to find another person to master. you're doing his job for him...
Last edited by fisherking on Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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David Nahmani
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 4:49 pm

kd_rome wrote:
1) Gain plugin on each audio track set to -5 (i understand this is the correct step)

2) Lower -5 on each track fader

3) Gain plugin on output before Izotope Ozone

4) Lower Output fader

It doesn't matter what I try, the resulting audio track sounds different from the original one,

That result is expected, since you're messing with the gain staging at multiple points in your Mixer.

I have no idea why you're taking steps 1, 2, 3 and 4. What are you trying to achieve? Is there an issue you're trying to solve? There's no reason to mess with your gain staging unless you're having a specific issue, but you haven't described one.

fisherking wrote:
that makes no sense. the ONLY reason to send a file with ozone on is to SHOW what you're trying to achieve, but the file the mastering engineer works from should have it off.

+1. Either you use Ozone, or you use a mastering engineer - not both.
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kd_rome
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:22 pm

David Nahmani wrote:
kd_rome wrote:
1) Gain plugin on each audio track set to -5 (i understand this is the correct step)

2) Lower -5 on each track fader

3) Gain plugin on output before Izotope Ozone

4) Lower Output fader

It doesn't matter what I try, the resulting audio track sounds different from the original one,

That result is expected, since you're messing with the gain staging at multiple points in your Mixer.

I have no idea why you're taking steps 1, 2, 3 and 4. What are you trying to achieve? Is there an issue you're trying to solve? There's no reason to mess with your gain staging unless you're having a specific issue, but you haven't described one.

fisherking wrote:
that makes no sense. the ONLY reason to send a file with ozone on is to SHOW what you're trying to achieve, but the file the mastering engineer works from should have it off.

+1. Either you use Ozone, or you use a mastering engineer - not both.


Ozone is used as mix buss compressor and eq, not as full mastering tool, I could be using an API 2500 or any other compressor, that's why the engineer (and he's very reputable and well known, that's why I'm not naming names) preferred the track with it.

Anyway to answer David's question, I finished my mix and need to drop 4dB, I read your posts about adding the Gain plugin to each track but I'm not happy with the result because it's quite off. I don't use all 4 steps together, I tried each one independently.

Thanks
 
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:52 pm

that's the point, you should NOT be compressing the mix, and if you're using EQ, it should be subtle. keep your channels as they are, and turn down the MASTER fader (or the OUTPUT fader), until you get what you want. you may need to tweak a few things with ozone off...but you should not be compressing in advance of your mastering peep compressing...
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stardustmedia
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:16 am

After the mix is done. Just lower the master fader, or add a gain plugin on the master output.

Before & during the mix, you already should start gain staging. Then you won't need to think about it afterwards ;)

And: Always take away limiters off the master. EQ and comp can be an exception, only leave them there when you really know what you're doing. If unsure, make two bounces.
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keano12
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:23 am

I've read if you are starting a mix place a trim plugin on each track and shoot for -18db across for each track as this is optimal for plugins and leaving headroom.

Is this the same as puling the faders down? Same results?
Last edited by keano12 on Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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David Nahmani
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:17 pm

keano12 wrote:
Interesting. I've read if you have a rough mix and the master is clipping to place a trim plugin on each track and reduce all the same level say -10.

No! In a nutshell, what you're saying is: "if you're happy with your mix, but it's too loud, change your mix." It doesn't make sense. I suggest: "if you're happy with your mix, but it's too loud, turn it down." Better, yes? 

The problem with trim plug-ins on each individual track, is that if you have any plug-in in your mixer that is level dependent, such as compressors, limiters, noise gates, distortion, guitar amp emulators, transient designers, envelopers, de-essers etc... then those plug-ins will affect the signal in a different way and therefore make the mix sound different. All your careful dialing of your threshold knobs are now wrong. Your guitar amps and other distortion, tape emulations etc.. now sound different. 

Even if you placed a gain plug-in at the top of the Stereo Out as I've seen suggested, you'll affect the sound of your mix because all the plug-ins inserted after that gain plug-in will no longer process the signal in the same way.  

Let's go back to basics here for a second. Before you do anything, I would recommend you: 

  1. Determine what the issue is.
  2. Determine how to solve the issue.
  3. Determine which tool to use. 

So in your example: 

  1. Issue: the stereo output channel strip is clipping.
  2. Solution: lower the level of the stereo output until it no longer clips.
  3. Tool: volume fader on the Stereo Out. 

It really is as simple as that. Now your mix will be lower but will sound the same, minus the clipping. 
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keano12
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:29 pm

This does sound simple. I am definitely confused. I read so many posts about gain staging. I was told to record close to -18/-15 then gain stage tracks leaving faders at 0 and have all tracks hitting -18 then... go ahead and mix and add plugins. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z56XJAOad2k&t=541s

So there is no need for this?
 
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:39 pm

keano12 wrote:
This does sound simple.

Because it is. Really.

keano12 wrote:
I am definitely confused.

Because many people make it sound complicated, mostly because they don't fully understand it, and also many people like to think that if they do something quite time consuming like that, surely it will impact their mix in a positive way, when that's far from the truth.

keano12 wrote:
I read so many posts about gain staging. I was told to record close to -18/-15 then gain stage tracks leaving faders at 0 and have all tracks hitting -18 then... go ahead and mix and add plugins. 

So there is no need for this?

No. First of all those are recipes, and the people who suggest those recipes have no idea what you're doing. It's as if I said "you should always finish a dish with a bit of salt and pepper, it really makes the flavors stand out", and you're listening, and you apply that recipe, only the dish you're making is vanilla ice cream. You don't gain stage the same way for classical, jazz, pop and EDM. You don't use the same RMS to peak ratios. Etc etc...

The only absolute rules in Logic Pro X are:
  1. Don't clip when recording (your recording should peak below 0 dB FS). 
  2. Don't clip your Stereo Out channel strip. 
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keano12
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:42 pm

Interesting. Thank you. Btw way I need to change the my original post I wasn't clipping the master I meant. If recording tracks (bass, guitar etc) before mixing use a trim plug and shoot for -18db supposedly optimal for plugs and headroom. 

Sorry about that.
 
Alex_oz
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:42 pm

interesting topic. I have exactly the opposite situation. My mix is low -16db. LUFS Integrated - 32.3. Could I add a gain plug in to lift it to let's say -10db without affecting the sounds quality? Output and Master faders are already at 0db
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Alex_oz
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:45 pm

keano12 wrote:
I've read if you are starting a mix place a trim plugin on each track and shoot for -18db across for each track as this is optimal for plugins and leaving headroom.

Is this the same as puling the faders down? Same results?


This could make sense if tracks are bounced in place where gain change is not affecting plugins but i always prefer to move the fader down.
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Ploki
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:07 am

1+2) if you're compressing submixes and lowering the gain of individual tracks, you will affect how compressor on submixes works, hence, no cancel on phase flip
if you're using any non-synced modulation FX, reverbs, tapes, whatever, the bounce wont cancel with itself anyway, despite the gain structure.
Using gain for lowering gain 5dB or using a fader will be identical.

3) if you're lowering the gain of tracks or submixes while blasting everything into a compressor like ozone, the material will be compressed differently and will not sound the same.

4) should work fine. lower the master VCA instead of output.


Alternatives:
- export to 32bit FP, every mastering engineer worth their name will be able to work off -0.2dB 32bitFP file...
- export to 32bit FP, then lower the gain outside logic...
- do not use ozone on the master bus if you are sending it for mastering. If i get stuff to master i can do stereo bus EQ and compression myself. With most likely better suited tools.

kd_rome wrote:
Ozone is used as mix buss compressor and eq, not as full mastering tool, I could be using an API 2500 or any other compressor, that's why the engineer (and he's very reputable and well known, that's why I'm not naming names) preferred the track with it.

Ozone is not a hardware API 2500.
sorry be harsh, but to put it bluntly: If you don't know what you're doing (Which given you have issues with something as fundamental as few dBs of gain change) do not put stuff on the stereo bus
Last edited by Ploki on Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:08 am

Alex_oz wrote:
interesting topic. I have exactly the opposite situation. My mix is low -16db. LUFS Integrated - 32.3. Could I add a gain plug in to lift it to let's say -10db without affecting the sounds quality? Output and Master faders are already at 0db

export at 32bit FP, open in just about any external editor, normalise to -3dB.
You can also pull up the master fader or the output fader, or add a gain plugin as the last plug in the chain. any of these will work
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David Nahmani
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Re: Pre Mastering Gain Stage options

Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:00 am

Alex_oz wrote:
interesting topic. I have exactly the opposite situation. My mix is low -16db. LUFS Integrated - 32.3. Could I add a gain plug in to lift it to let's say -10db without affecting the sounds quality? Output and Master faders are already at 0db

If I understand correctly, you want to apply 6 dB of gain on your mix? Meaning, your mix peaks at -16 dB FS on your Stereo Out and you want the mix to sound the same, but to peak at -10 dB FS instead? Raise your Output fader to + 6 dB. It really is as simple as that.
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