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Stereo-output clips, how to drag down volume?

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Somehow I always end up having mixed things right, and at the end there's a few tracks that I have to add. Now, to avoid the stereo-output from clipping, I have the choice between:


1. pulling down all tracks with a few dB, which is slightly more complicated for volume- automated tracks.

2. Route everything through a bus and drag down that volume, and route it to the output, or

3. Put a gain on the stereo-output and decrease that one.

4. Decrease the stereo-output

5. Put a gain on the master.

6. Decrease the master ( although I learned never to touch that before I was even born)


Which of those is best soundwise, and do you know of any other (simpler) options?

For me, using option 4, when I use endcompression, say adaptive compressor on the stereo-out, the volume does not reach 0dB. But I do want the volume to reach 0dB.


Any thoughts to prevent this from the start when you begin a project? Because there is always a point where you say: this is the right mix. But now louder altogether! Or softer...


Happy 2012

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Don't try to get your mix up to 0dBFS at all.


Don't put anything on the Stereo-Out, except perhaps gain or metering plugs.


If you do this, then you will have plenty of headroom to add more stuff, and the stuff you add will not mess up any threshold-reliant plugins.


Save the rest for mastering, not mixing.

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+1 on mastering as a process done quite separately from mixing.


Regarding output levels...... inserting a Gain plug is hands-down the easiest way to tame levels on the Stereo Out without affecting either quality or dynamics. But there's more to the story. You can create exactly the same result just by turning down the output fader. But if you need to do a quick and dirty "mastering" to get the song up to something approaching real world levels, then using a gain plug to keep the levels from peaking before hitting the limiter will work better. Here's why:


Say you are peaking 4 db into the red on the output. If you simply pull down the output fader 4 dB and then insert a limiter, the resulting bounce will be a mix that peaks at minus 4 dB, since the output fader is taking the limited signal and then reducing it another 4 dB. However, if you leave the output fader at zero and use a gain plug instead to reduce the signal minus 4dB, then a limiter inserted after the Gain plug will limit the signal to zero dB.


Of course, this assumes that you are setting the limiter to peak right at zero, which you might want to avoid so you can contain intersample peaks. Minus .03db will often work to keep that in check.

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