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Metering on stereo bus question


blackmagicdisco

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Hi,

 

One more question for tonight! So I finished a new remix and was preparing it to go off for mastering. Usually I allow a certain amount of db free on the master fader using the readout above the meter, thinking this was the right thing to do. Anyway I decided to put an actual meter plugin on the stereo bus instead this time. What I found was that the peak meters were going into the red despite none of my channels clipping audibly or going into the red on their individual meters. I understand from reading now that the meter plugin gives me a pre fader reading as does the built-in meters on the individual channels. So what does this mean for my music? Is something somehow clipping, or should I ignore it if the individual channels are fine? Most of my instrument channels are in the yellow, but I was always under the impression that was fine. Have I been doing it wrong all this time?! :)

 

Thanks,

 

Justin

www.soundcloud.com/blackmagicdisco

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What I found was that the peak meters were going into the red despite none of my channels clipping audibly or going into the red on their individual meters.

Yes, and that's expected: you are summing a bunch of audio signals together, and the sum is bigger than each one of its parts.

 

I understand from reading now that the meter plugin gives me a pre fader reading

The plug-in gives you a reading of the level of the signal at the point where the plug-in is inserted. So you're only looking at the level of the signal after the previous plug-in (if any) and before the next plug-in (if any). If you insert that meter plug-in on the last insert slot on that channel strip, then you're looking at a pre-fader level.

 

as does the built-in meters on the individual channels.

Built-in meters display post-fader level by default. Those meters show you pre-fader levels only if you customize the transport bar to see the pre-fader mode button, and turn that pre-fader mode on.

 

So what does this mean for my music?

First of all Logic uses a 32 bit floating point engine that makes clipping inside Logic impossible unless you're doing it deliberately (using a clipper or a bitcrusher etc..) or you're using the i/o plug-in, or some 24 bit fixed point plug-ins (are there still any of those out there? Not sure). So the only place you can clip is the output of the Stereo Output channel strip. So as long as those built in meters don't hit 0 dB FS, you're not clipping.

 

Another way to make sure you're not clipping is simply to use reasonable levels and reasonable practices. If you've recorded your tracks peaking at -8 dB FS, and you're not using EQs to boost stuff at +8 dB or compressor with a make up gain of +8 dB, then you shouldn't even have to monitor your levels with plug-ins, as you know you're staying below 0 dB FS.

 

Now for the scientific at heart who simply wants to never, ever reach 0 dB FS and be 100% sure he does not, you would need to insert a level plug-in in between every single plug-in on your mixer, on all channel strips, and monitor your level on every single one of those plug-ins. IMO that's overkill and not necessary in music production, as long as you follow reasonable recording and processing practices.

 

Also read: Guide to Levels in Digital Audio

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Two other things that may interest you.

 

For some reason, using the REGION Bounce in place feature does a funny thing and kind of limits the mix to 0dB (provided it isn't too far into the red.

 

The other is exporting a mix as a 32 bit floating point file. Many DAWs are able to play them back and even allow the signal to be adjusted to a non clipped state.

 

However, it is best to avoid all that to start with.

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thanks for the info guys. Yeah im always careful about not overloading plugins, most of the ones I use have input and output monitoring and I make sure im not overloading each one in the chain. So basically, if im not overloading plugins, my channel and stereo out faders arent hitting the red, then im good to go!

 

thanks,

 

Justin

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