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gainstaging and vibe in the digital domain
Old 2nd February 2007
Gear Nut
vandertone's Avatar
🎧 15 years
gainstaging and vibe in the digital domain

Hello Mr. Killen,
great to have you here
I really would find it helpful to know something about your take on gainstaging in the digital domain.
It has been discussed alot around here so it would be great to hear your opinion
on that.
For example, would you lower levels in your busses when your master is getting too hot or do you manage it to always leave enough headroom from the very beginning?

Another thing is what would you do when you get not-sooo-great recordings
to mix as a lot of us find it not-sooo-easy to get vibe into poorly recorded material,
especially working digital.
I´m asking cause in another thread you mentioned that you prefer to
stay in the daw to avoid additional conversions.

...aaaand if I´m allowed just one more:
Since you started your work on big analoge consoles, is your protools mixer build similar to a real console like let´s say (emulating with plug ins) an ssl or do you go different ways?
Thank you in advance for your expertise.

....aaand,excuse my grammar.
Old 3rd February 2007
engineer / producer / mixer
Kevin Killen's Avatar
🎧 10 years

When I am tracking in the digital world I really pay close attention to my levels. I tend to use additional outboard meters, VU and PPM to avoid clipping. I find that most reponses in the DAW are too slow to accurately measure peaks. So I think a safe harbor would be -2 to 0 . Unlike analog, digital distortion is not attractive and cannot be undone, whereas analog is so forgiving in that regard. If you tend to push your levels, perhaps consider using the "soft limit" feature on the A/D convertor if available.

In mix mode I create subgroups and a master fader associated with it. I select pre fader metering in my pref's and I check to see how much additional gain I am getting based on the processing I am using. Periodically checking for peaks allows me adjust the overall gain down without affecting the internal balance. I do not like to see the plug ins register "peak overs" to me that just indicates that i need to pay more attention to a particular element in the mix. And like hardware, I believe that software has a threshold point where it no longer sounds good.

In general it is better to give yourself more headroom in the beginning, gain can always be made up later , particularly with great affect in mastering.

In terms of mixing on a console versus in the box: Certainly a console has a more intuitive layout for me ( i did spend over twenty years on them !) and it is certainly easier to do multiple things at once but I do use a surface controller when mixing ITB. At least that way I "feel " in a more familar environment. The DAW's afford me the chance to work on mixes until I get stumped and move and revisit them so in terms of time, they can be a lifesaver.

Old 4th February 2007 | Show parent
Gear Nut
vandertone's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Thank you for your detailed answer

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