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Old 6th December 2010
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camus's Avatar
Originally Posted by Morten ➡️
There's a huge thread here about gain staging in the digital realm. In another thread some are lauding it as being among the most valuable tips they've ever come across on GS.

If I understand it correctly, on a channel basis one should regard the equivalent of analogue 0dbfs as -20db RMS in the digital realm.

I don't see how this can apply to purely ITB mixing.

Shouldn't plugins be hit at 0db peak? I've found almost all plugins to work fine, if not their best, that way.

What I do is make sure all signals (from recorded clips or midi instrument output) are close to 0db (peak), then simply use the faders to make the master hit close to 0db peak. I don't see any other meaningful way of doing it unless certain plugins benefit from lower levels. There will be differences in behaviour from say a compressor or guitar amp modeling unit, but that is almost always a question of internal tweaking (if necessary adjusting the input signal to the desirede range). As a mixing recipe, I just don't see the idea of maintaining -20db RMS - on the contrary why not rather watch the peaks and take full advantage of the available bit range?

Flame away.
1. There is no such thing as analog 0 dBFS. dBFS is a measurement of decibel amplitude levels in digital systems.

2. Why on earth you would want every channel on your DAW to peak near 0 dBFS, only to have to pull all the faders down to ridiculous levels like -25 in order to keep your master buss from overloading, I have no idea.

3. How much you fudge around with levels AFTER they have been recorded doesn't matter as much, as most of the S/N issues with modern 24bit recording lie within the analog gain-staging portion of the production chain. Nudging everything close to 0 dBFS after they are recorded (which I presume is what you are doing) offers zero audible benefit and alot of major workflow headaches later. Especially if you need to spit stuff out to analog hardware anywhere in the process.