View Single Post
Old 11-08-2010, 04:08 PM   #38
Human being with feelings
jnif's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,042

Originally Posted by ngarjuna View Post
Don't confuse peak dB with average. 0 VU = -20 dB is referring to an average level not a peak (which is why someone in this thread pointed out that if you're only watching peak meters, you can crudely estimate by aiming your peaks for -6 to -12 or thereabout). Peak meters and average meters are not the same thing. Old VU meters (which is what the whole professional industry is built on) are average style meters.

But to answer your question more directly: you would want to aim your average level on the recording meter for whatever you are using for 0 VU (many indeed use -20 dBFS).

All of this has been very well explained in this thread; re-read post #16 by Yep where he explains specifically the scientific reasons (with excellent background for the uninitiated) behind your question. It's not psychology, it's a simple matter of electronics.
I re-read the post #16. The history lesson of analog recording was nice but the discussion about levels in digital domain was mostly speculation. For example:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
, there is a lot of potential for the analog front-end to crap out before the digital system ever gets a chance to meter it.
Yes, a lot of potential to get bad recording but do these problems occur in real world when using modern audio interfaces below clipping level? Can you show some measurement data where distortion caused by signal below clipping level is shown? And of course in this case the recorded signal has to be a real signal from some mic, instrument or mixing/effect device. Not some unrealistically low or high level signal that has to be amplified or attenuated unrealistically in the pre-amp.

Another example:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
There is also the problem of internal digital processors-- are you certain that every plugin you're using has good floating-point internal calculations? And if so, what about your saturation/compression/analog-ifier/guitar effects? How do they know when to start "saturating"? What about the cutoff filters on your AD and DA converters? What about inter-sample clipping that the digital system cannot detect?
All of this is still speculation.
Most users probably don't know answers to these questions and answers depend very much on what plugins are used. Some plugins may be designed so that input signal levels are assumed to be close to clipping. Thus, it would be not wise to give a general recommendation to use lower signal levels.

jnif is offline   Reply With Quote