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Old 11-07-2010, 08:49 PM   #25
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 21,513

Originally Posted by kelp View Post
What I'm getting here first and foremost is to understand and listen to what the hell I'm doing, and when in doubt, less is more!
Using VU's is a tried and true method but as yep says, fewer people have them. But even with those you still have to understand what you're looking at.

For example, in analog you're probably not going to set a "popping funk bass" to where the VU needle is jumping to 0 or +2 because the transient will be far beyond that. You'll track, on the VU, lower. In that case you probably will use the daw peak meter to confirm where your transient peak actually is relatively speaking. Many console meter bridges also have peak meters so that's not uncommon, to use both.

To see that effect, shout (quickly, like a quick "hey!") into a mic plugged into a daw meter that shows peak and rms on the same meter and notice how wide the gap is. Do the same singing or with strings or similar and it closes considerably. A pure tone would put them generally in the same place.

So even in 1975 with VU's some people (recording at home) were taught to "shoot for 0" with no regard for the ballistics of the VU meter and how it relates to specific source signals, not really understanding what they were looking at... using the default "go for 0" formula. But the VU's had a little "peak" light that tells you when that transient is going too far... so if they paid attention to that, they'd back it down anyway.

With smoother signals like vocals you have to worry about that much less - assuming you're not right up on the mic singing a very dynamic performance. In those cases I always set level through the chorus so I get the loudest parts, and set levels based on that.

What "worries" many people is when the softer parts go way down lower, so they push the louder parts right up near digital 0 when they probably should be asking the singer to lean in a little closer on those parts... or tracking them separately or manually riding the gain during the performance.

Last edited by Lawrence; 11-07-2010 at 09:58 PM.
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