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#37841 - 10/03/00 12:01 PM recording levels - a standard?
ModHorse Offline
Member

Registered: 10/31/98
Posts: 79
Loc: Fulton,NY,USA
Hey all!
How do you know when you've recorded the "right" level? Is there a standard (in decibels) that a CD should be recorded at?
One time I'll record something and it'll seem too shy and the next time just right. Wondering if there is some "standard" you all use. Thanks for any help.

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#37842 - 10/03/00 05:22 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
Smitty Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/00
Posts: 155
Loc: Holtwood, PA. USA
I usually go with around 0db, if you go much more you will usually clip. That applies to digital, but for analog you can probably go higher and get away with it.
To get the cleanest signal set all of your pre-amp levels to optimum, and then when the signal reaches your recorder you wont need to boost it as much. All amplifiers have a point where when they are driven they distort and produce excess electronic "garbage", one very rough rule of thumb is to go approx 5/8 to 3/4 of a pre-amps max. Most times anything above that produces that annoying hiss we hear in poor recordings, of course a lot of factors come into play here such as the class or type of amp and its power supply. Your ears are probably one of the best judges. You will actually hear the hiss increase when you reach that danger zone. I'm talking about listening to an amps output without program material.
If your material has big swings of volume, its probably best to get a compressor. Depending on how you adjust it, you can eliminate those peak zones where youre input would spike, and a compressor will bring up the sounds that are too loww as well.

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Smitty
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#37843 - 10/05/00 02:40 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
ModHorse Offline
Member

Registered: 10/31/98
Posts: 79
Loc: Fulton,NY,USA
Thanks Smitty

MH

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#37844 - 10/27/00 05:48 AM Re: recording levels - a standard?
MORPH! Offline
Member

Registered: 07/25/00
Posts: 296
Loc: Laguna Beach, California, Unit...
Well said Smitty.

You shoot for >0< a couple or so here and there.

If it goes high and rides 2-4 over for a lengthier duration, pray and it might be OK.

Keeping the bias and equalazation in proper tweaking helps tremendously when you are "riding on the cushion".


Cheezy mics are great . . .
. . . . for beer partys. MORPH!



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#37845 - 10/30/00 01:16 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
Alectroboy Offline
Member

Registered: 10/26/00
Posts: 67
Loc: Virginia, USA
NEVER exceed 0 dB by even a fraction of a dB. You will get digital clipping and it sounds horrible.

Curiously Refreshing Music: http://mp3.com/alectroboy
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#37846 - 11/06/00 05:10 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
Smitty Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/00
Posts: 155
Loc: Holtwood, PA. USA
The reason you can clip when you record with analog (tube) gear is because the tubes have a tendancy to act as a compressor and smooth out the clip in a pleasant sort of way while also adding what most refer to as a "warm" characteristic. Only tubes can give this effect, although there have been computer algorhythms that try to duplicate the effect inside the computer. I have tried one of them and wasnt convinced.

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#37847 - 11/14/00 06:23 AM Re: recording levels - a standard?
RKB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 29
Loc: Easton, PA USA
Quote:
NEVER exceed 0 dB by even a fraction of a dB. You will get digital clipping and it sounds horrible.


I disagree. According to all the documentation I've read and my own experience, there's really about 6db of headroom when recording digitally before you start clipping. My VS-880 registers up to 0db on the monitors, and I've mixed stuff where the levels are pegged and you can't even hardly see any movement on the meters. They just sit up there at 0db, and I've had no clipping. Of course, this all depends on the material on tape. If you're recording cymbals or bells or something with a lot of high harmonics, you can clip at -10 or -7. But I think it really depends on what you're working with, and you should shoot for the hottest levels you can get away with without clipping. Let the mastering room deal with the rest.

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#37848 - 11/16/00 01:17 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
Leon Offline
Member

Registered: 04/14/99
Posts: 585
Loc: British Columbia
>0< Db to me is optimum. At times it can be a little difficult to maintain, particularly when recording vocals. Once you've got your levels set, your pop screen or damper in place, lyrics at eye level, phone off the hook, you know the drill..everything set at the right position for recording and then you go ahead and begin laying down the vocal track not realizing you might be moving ever so slightly one way or another while singing, it's often just enough to put you over the top and into clip country. It can be hit and miss if you're doing everything..ie. all instrumentation and vocals. I've done some where the vocals just couldn't have been better and then a day later, similar track, it's either not there or distorted off the scale. If you're covering the role of both musician/singer and engineer, if you're like me, you're gonna be your own worst critic anyways. Remember, a lot of these artists you hear on the air have got someone doing all the magic for them so just do the best you can with what you've got. You can't expect any more from yourself than that. Good Luck
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#37849 - 11/16/00 01:27 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
Leon Offline
Member

Registered: 04/14/99
Posts: 585
Loc: British Columbia
Modhorse,
Looking back it appears I may have gotten off track a bit. You initially asked about CD recording levels, so if you're talking final mixdown again >0< is my preference but sometimes something within the music will warrant backing off or (tread lightly) moving into the "Danger Zone"...hey you know, there's a possibilty of a song there...Nah..probably 'bin done.
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#37850 - 11/17/00 09:33 PM Re: recording levels - a standard?
MORPH! Offline
Member

Registered: 07/25/00
Posts: 296
Loc: Laguna Beach, California, Unit...
Gentlemen,

No feather ruffleing nah K?
Although I SHOULD HAVE ASKED, I presumed (like a fool)the recording media was mag tape a/o analog circuitry. ie., I quote myself in saying, " Keeping the bias and equalazation in proper tweaking helps tremendously when you are "riding on the cushion"." This obviously refers to mag tape, as there is no stepping bias involved w/DSP.

Smitty threw a dead ringer bullseye about the compression symantics in the nature of analog. Tubes are the extreme example as the electrons are going through vacuum space and hitting the grid, they "pile up on each other" creating the resulted sonic. The characteristic is not limited to only tubes though. When audio signal has capacitence applied to it electrolytically (whoa, I musta misspelled that?) it gets colored with a transient dynamic effect. ie. the punchy sound of a mediocre car power amp. You see? and those yunkers ain't got no toobs! As Back Asswards that it may seem gentlemen, the WTG is 'that danger zone' as far as drum tracks go. MOF, the sonic difference is phenom better than a perfect "text book" digital capture of the same signal! We are the ones with the trained ears, listen to that difference. Digital is a completely different animal. Like Smitty said, in order to achieve those sounds we have been used to hearing with 'big 'n hard' equipment, a texuring need be applied. This is done alogrithmically by a method known as fast fourier transformation or FFT. I do FFT's at work a lot, but let me tell you, when I went to school back in the 80's we had to use a calculator...ugh, not a good memory that is.
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