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Old 11-12-2010, 07:16 PM   #79
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,013

Originally Posted by ringing phone View Post
So tracking levels of -18 on average are ok...and my song sounds quite nice...but then everyone talks about how advantageous it is to leave yourself so much headroom...I think because you then have room to boost your song if you want raise it's volume. But then when I try to give it a 3-6db boost to lift rms from say -18 to -12....the song starts to sound terrible and hot and ugly. So I must be doing something wrong...if I've left all that sweet sweet headroom...but when I start to put my foot in the door of that headroom it starts to sound ugly almost right away. The acoustic guitar stops sounding like a breathing acoustic guitar and starts sounding like some mechanical thing that breathes hot air and fire. I'm recording at 24bit

What would you all say is my problem?
I think you've hit upon exactly what this thread has been getting at-- that it is very difficult to know exactly where something might be going wrong when you are relying solely on digital peak metering.

In a high-end analog world, if you noticed that kind of problem, you could just glance at all the meters and chances are you'd see one of them "in the red", indicating that it was operating outside the range where the designer thought it sounded best (maybe on the console, maybe on a compressor, maybe on an outboard effects box, whatever-- the point is that they all had "target" meters)

The simplest advice in your case is just to keep your levels low and your headroom clean. If you feel the need to maximize levels for final distribution, shoot it to a mastering engineer who has the gear and setup to do that properly.

The longer answer is suss out every single thing that is happening in every track, signal chain, aux bus, and even your digital-to-analog output, speaker amp, speakers, etc. You'll find it eventually.
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