Old 06-04-2007, 07:34 PM   #1
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Is there any benefit to keeping levels down when doing vinyl/cassette transfers? Or should I aim for 0db, as the source material is already mastered?
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Old 06-06-2007, 07:36 AM   #2
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There's really no benefit to shooting for 0db if you're recording to 24/32bit.

I do a good bit of vinyl/tape transfers and find it best to shoot for a few db below 0 (-3 to -6 is fine) to avoid peaks. Then normalize to bring it to 0db.

The aim is to get the input hot enough to avoid the noise floor, low enough to avoid overs.
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Old 06-06-2007, 12:51 PM   #3
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I take it the tapes you are transferring have no reference tones on them?

What I do in that case is make a cassette where a 1khz tone is recorded onto the cassette at Odb. To make the cassette I set the cassette machine to whatever passes for standard on it's record level, usually 7 out of 10 or hopefully there's a mark on the dial/trim faders.

I then turn up or down my tones in the computer until they are at 0db on the cassette deck. I now know where the reference volume between the two systems is. If the tones are -18db from 0db digital, then I know my systems reference is -18(Pro Tools HD Standard). (You might have to fiddle with things in the analog domain if your system is +4 and the cassette deck is -10. In which case you'd have to turn up the cassette deck by 12db and down the output of your computer 12db to correct for the difference using a mixer or something.)

If I then play any cassettes back directly into Pro Tools, with NO pre amp gain of any kind, I know I'm getting the referenced right level. Your peaks might never go higher than about 8db over whatever the reference level was, but in a 24bit system that's not an issue. If your cassette deck has a volume output, it should be set to whatever it's nominal reference setting is, but it's rare to have that on consumer gear.

You don't, and shouldn't slam things anymore 'cause you will be puching both your analog and digital gear into ranges where they are not performing optimally. In this day and age, that's not a big deal, most gear is robust enough that you can't screw it up. But it might make the sound thinner, edgier, or any number of other nasty adjectives.

In the mastering fascility I work at, cassette and vinyl trasfers usually end up peaking atabout -10 digital, I use the -18 refernce point. I then clean up any problems and turn the volume up in mastering with the good gear/plug-ins.

There was another thread in this forum about levels worth checking out.
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Old 06-06-2007, 02:46 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys - good to know.
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