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Normalise Regions for gain staging not working as expected


JoshJ
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Trying to use Normalise Regions Gain to gain stage into my plugin chain at -16. I've done the following and dont seem to be getting to 0 on the VU or -16 on the channel meter. Where have I gone wrong?

Normalise Regions Gain = -16db

VU meter (calibrated to -16) = reading of -8vu (nowhere near 0)

Mixer channel peaking at -22

 

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Thanks, but I’m confused. If I set the region peaks to -16, the VU should be hitting at 0 and channel meter at -16. And that isn’t happening so looking for an explanation. Besides how does average loudness corresponds to a -16 peak value? 

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1 hour ago, David Nahmani said:

What VU meter is that?

I’m using the Waves and TB Pro Audio VU. Booth have the same readings 

4 minutes ago, polanoid said:

Average loudness and peak value don't really "correspond"

-16 should = 0vu right? As I’ve calibrated the meter to -16. that’s what I meant by correspond..

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15 minutes ago, joshj said:

I’m using the Waves and TB Pro Audio VU. Booth have the same readings 

-16 should = 0vu right? As I’ve calibrated the meter to -16. that’s what I meant by correspond..

"A common misconception is that loudness and True Peak are dependent on each other, but this is not the case. It is possible, for example, for a piece of audio to have a maximum True Peak measurement well below spec, but for its integrated loudness to be several LKFS above target. A different piece of audio with the exact same integrated loudness could have a much higher maximum True Peak value."

https://nugenaudio.com/loudness-true-peak/

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47 minutes ago, David Nahmani said:

In digital, gain staging is normally done with peak meters. 

I’ve seen a lot of people doing it with VU meters in digital also, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m still confused because I thought if I have it calibrated to -16 that means 0vu should = -16dbfs 

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2 hours ago, joshj said:

I’m using the Waves and TB Pro Audio VU. Booth have the same readings 

-16 should = 0vu right? As I’ve calibrated the meter to -16. that’s what I meant by correspond..

-16 RMS will correspond to 0VU w/ your calibration. -16 Peak is a different measurement -- that's what you see on the meters in the Logic mixer.

Check out Logic's Multimeter plugin, you can see both RMS and Peak side-by-side to get a better idea of how they correspond.

Edited by matthewbarnhart
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51 minutes ago, joshj said:

I’m still confused because I thought if I have it calibrated to -16 that means 0vu should = -16dbfs 

A peak meter and a VU meter don't just measure the same thing with different units, they actually measure different things. The peak meter measures only the peaks of the signal, while the VU meter integrates the waveforms to measure an average that was one of the first attempts to give an idea of the loudness of a signal. 

Different signals have a different peak to average relationship (referred to as the crest factor).

The relationship chosen for the calibration of the VU meter (0 VU = -16 dBFS) is true only for the calibration signal (often a 1 kHz sine wave). 

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Like David says. If you have a sine wave at -16 dB and you're calibrated to -16, it will show 0 dB in a VU meter. Pink noise at -16dB will show around -7 on a VU meter. If what you're attempting to do is reach an average level of -16 dB, you're going to want to see the meters on the mixer, hovering around -16 dBFS all the time with some peaks going higher (around -12 or -10). So like on a distorted electric guitar, you'll see it remain pretty steady around -16 but on a bass, it will likely fluctuate more with higher peaks while on a snare, you'll almost always see peaks around -12 or -10 or more. I've seen several YouTube tutorials where they say "plugins are optimized at -18 dBFS and that's where you wanna be for proper gain staging" and I guess if that's a thing you're going for, that's likely where you want to be. Generally in Logic, faders at 0, you're seeing the meters always within -18 to -12, you're in good shape. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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19 hours ago, matthewbarnhart said:

-16 RMS will correspond to 0VU w/ your calibration.

This is where Ive been getting confused. I thought the db calibration value you can edit on the VU meters was dbfs, not db VU. So if I'm purely using the meters for gain staging across multiple group buses and most plugins want -18dbfs, should I be setting my gain based on the RMS (average) or the peak level? This is where I'm also getting bit confused. Some people suggest using RMS but then there will presumably be some peaks that far exceed that -18dbfs and cause possible aliasing with saturation plugs. 

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5 hours ago, JoshJ said:

So if I'm purely using the meters for gain staging across multiple group buses and most plugins want -18dbfs, should I be setting my gain based on the RMS (average) or the peak level?

You're overthinking this way too much. If you're keen on normalizing, then use the default average loudness of -23 LUFS for individual regions in Logic, that way any peak will still be within analog parameters. Then start using your ears and don't mix with your eyes only.

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Also worth noting that a lot of saturation plugins have oversampling as a variable option or built in at a specific rate which is meant to reduce aliasing. Some plug-ins name it differently (for example FabFilter calls it Quality in Saturn 2).

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I believe that one day, the person who started this whole -18 dBFS gain staging trend for DAWs will come out and state that they are sorry for wasting everyone's time, that it was a dumb idea to begin with, and that they were wrong. 

Kinda like Bill Burr ended up apologizing for passwords that look like aH7G%$i#Gj&7^f: The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time

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1 hour ago, David Nahmani said:

I believe that one day, the person who started this whole -18 dBFS gain staging trend for DAWs will come out and state that they are sorry for wasting everyone's time, that it was a dumb idea to begin with, and that they were wrong. 

Kinda like Bill Burr ended up apologizing for passwords that look like aH7G%$i#Gj&7^f: The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time

So I am very curious about this as I am getting back into music and more serious about it.  I think that you could get very very confused on this(AS I DID) by going down the rabbit hole of gain staging.  

My question is do we want to try and keep our faders at unity until we get to the point of doing our first rough mix? and use tools like Normalize Regions Gain or adding a gain utility to our channel to keep the levels down for headroom?

Sorry trying not to Hijack.  

Thanks!

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2 hours ago, David Nahmani said:

I believe that one day, the person who started this whole -18 dBFS gain staging trend for DAWs will come out and state that they are sorry for wasting everyone's time, that it was a dumb idea to begin with, and that they were wrong. 

Agreed.

I started recording nearly 30 years ago, so proper analog gain staging was drilled into my head early on as my workflow. There's no reason for digital natives to bother, so long as their converters don't clip.

Edited by matthewbarnhart
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5 hours ago, dubsak said:

a lot of saturation plugins have oversampling as a variable option or built in at a specific rate which is meant

I’m using IZotope Neutron Exciter. It doesn’t have an oversampling option and I don’t think it has it built in 

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3 hours ago, David Nahmani said:

do you want us to continue discussing this here

Sure. I’m enjoying the discourse. Have been getting bit confused with it all. If we could reach a definitive gain stating setup for Logic as the Solution, that would be great also (Individual tracks Normalised to x peak/loudness, Buses normalised to x peak or VU, etc)

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3 hours ago, matthewbarnhart said:

no reason for digital natives to bother

The impetus for this post was I started looking more into aliasing supposedly having the negative affect of flat mixes (plenty of YouTube content on this from relatively reputable sources). I usually normalise my regions to -16 Peak but I’m using more saturation in my template these days so thought I better give the gain staging another look. 

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6 hours ago, triplets said:

start using your ears and don't mix with your eyes only.

Supposedly the unwanted artefacts of aliasing are cumulative. So using my earls alone presumably would be a challenge. Having a target reference would help and to reduce decision fatigue. The Normalise Region function is helpful. Hornet make a couple of plugins that normalise the signal to a target also.

Edited by JoshJ
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5 hours ago, David Nahmani said:

 

I believe that one day, the person who started this whole -18 dBFS gain staging trend for DAWs will come out and state that they are sorry for wasting everyone's time, that it was a dumb idea to begin with, and that they were wrong. 

is there a recommended Peak value to aim for into plugins then?

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