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Old 11-10-2010, 06:39 AM   #63
Human being with feelings
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 21,502

"Joe Meek" says it (again) ...

Many people assume that digital recorders and DAWs should be driven up to maximum - so that all 24 bits of sample data are used - in order to get the maximum dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio from the digital system. On a digital recorder or DAW, the top of the bargraph meter represents "FSD" or "Full Scale Digital" - in other words, the onset of digital clipping! These meters are typically referenced such that -18dBFS = 0dBu, so in analogue terms, FSD is actually equivalent to +18dBu, which is a very high level and which in most analogue gear is within a few dB of clipping.

Signal-to-noise ratio and distortion in most analogue gear are optimum at around +4dBu, which is why most meters are calibrated such that "0" VU corresponds to +4dBu.

Now whereas digital users like to see their bargraphs bouncing up to within a few dB of the top, most analogue users work at more restrained levels and analogue meters generally cover a smaller range. In other words, while a DAW meter may cover the range from -40dBu to +18dBu, analogue meters may only cover the range from -24dBu to +12dBu. This problem is compounded when (as with the Joemeek twinQ and oneQ ) mechanical VU meters are fitted that only cover the range from about -16dBu to +8dBu.
Other than that, get good monitors and use your ears.
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