View Single Post
Old 11-08-2010, 12:55 PM   #34
Human being with feelings
jnif's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,042

Originally Posted by Lawrence View Post
Just send a steady tone into a preamp, so that the VU meter needle is sitting right at 0, send it to the DAW, with no trim or gain on the output if it has an output trim knob and see where it lands on your DAW input meter.

It should land at -20, -18 or -15 depending on your converter hardware. If it lands somewhere nutty like -10 your analog gain staging is probably off somewhere. If tracking through a console or similar the path(s) should be calibrated all the way through to the daw where you set input fader and maybe bus output fader to unity gain and hit that mark from a 0 reading on a VU meter.
I have only little experience with analog recording, preamps and mixing consoles. However, I would like to undesrtand how these recommendations translate to typical home recording setups. Like electric guitar plugged in directly to some audio interface (hi impedance input with internal preamp).
Should I set the output level of the internal pre-amp so that guitar track's recording meter in Reaper does not go above -20 dBFS?

If yes, then what is the reason for that? I have always thought that modern audio interfaces (even inexpensive ones) can record at very high quality also at -1 dBFS levels. Can you show some real measurement data that show how recording at -20 dBFS is better than recording at -1 dBFS?

I think that real scientific measurable facts and human psychology are somehow mixed in this this discussion. For example I agree with this comment:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
If nothing else, it at least makes it easier to mix, since you can just throw up all the faders to zero and still have headroom to work with, as opposed to constantly having to crank down the master fader and/or re-mix every time you add new processing.
But isn't this only a human workflow thing? Humans tend to make better mixing decisions when there is more headroom to work with. If track meters are all the time close to clipping, then humans may get confused and start using improper (bad sounding) methods to keep the master bus levels below clipping. This has nothing to do with accuracy and quality of analog signal chain or DSP math inside DAW.

I admit that I have a lot to learn in this subject. So, I might have understood some of this discussion totally wrong. Hopefully I will learn something in the end.

jnif is offline   Reply With Quote