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Old 05-27-2019, 09:11 AM   #1
sjs94704
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Default I'm just checking myself about the use of FADERS vs VOLUME plugin

As I am just learning mixing, I'm gonna take a shot at this and say that I think that when I want to control the overall volume of the song from start to finish that I would use the volume plugin. For example, in my song template that I use, there is an INSTRUMENT BUSS track that all of the instruments are sent to. We all know that there is that spot of -18 db that we are (at least I have been told) is the 'sweet spot'.

So, I use the Volume plugin to be sure that the song stays very close to -18 db.
I realize that this idea might be subjective and that people might have varying opinions on this idea. I also know that there is no 'rule' that says it must be at -18.

It is only when I want the volume of certain instruments or maybe a vocal to go up or down in just part of the song that I would use the FADERS.

Do I have this right? If not, I would be grateful for some clarification.
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:16 AM   #2
serr
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Originally Posted by sjs94704 View Post
We all know that there is that spot of -18 db that we are (at least I have been told) is the 'sweet spot'.
That's miscommunication. The -18db bit comes from RECORDING. It's a suggestion for setting a level when you aren't sure what the max volume of occasional peaks might be. If you set the recording preamp trim to achieve an rms level of -18db, chances are good that any surprise peaks will not clip.

The point in that is to not clip. The target of -18db rms is a guess that helps achieve that. It's not a target level to shoot for itself. Also note the rms part! That means average, NOT peak.

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Originally Posted by sjs94704 View Post
Do I have this right? If not, I would be grateful for some clarification.
Don't clip your recorded track. That's the point.

Once the audio is recorded, that's that.
If you accidentally clipped something, it's baked into the recording. Turning the level of the distorted recording down (to -18db or wherever) will do nothing to fix it. That ship has sailed at this point.

As for entertaining a suggestion of a difference between turning down the gain of a track with a plugin vs. the track fader...
No difference. (Run a null test to prove it to yourself if you don't believe it. )
There is no downside to adjusting track volumes with the channel faders.
In fact... that's literally what they're for and the first and foremost thing you do with a mixing board!
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:34 AM   #3
ashcat_lt
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The whole point of the Bus is to have a single fader to control that entire group. I would probably just use that.

Times I can think of where that might not be the best choice:

A) You find yourself moving that bus fader by an extreme amount so that it is either way up or way down. The faders are a little easier to adjust when they're closer to 0, so you might adjust something before it gets there.

2) You have some level dependent plugins as insert FX ON the bus track, and for whatever reason you want to adjust the level before it gets to those FX.

In most cases it's probably better to adjust the levels coming from the individual tracks first so that you don't have to worry about it at the bus, and it can just be used for small aesthetic adjustments.

But sometimes we get ourselves in those spots and don't really want to go through all the trouble of moving all those individual faders and worry about how that might affect sends and compressors and whatever. In those cases, you only need to specifically add a Volume plugin if there isn't already something in your FX chain that can do the job. If your bus already has 3 plugins, each with its own Input and Output Gain parameter, then you definitely don't need to add another one.


I hope that helps some, but here's a little thing I like to remind people sometimes: The JS Volume Adjustment plugin is not just a Volume plugin. It is also a Hard Clipper. The Maximum Volume slider is a real, nasty, mean, digital clipper. You know how people talk about the horrible things that happen when digital clips? That's what it does. It defaults at 0dbFS, and as long as you never get there, it's perfect clean gain. But that defeats about half the point of the Floating Point mix engine. To be safe, whack that all the way up so it can't clip unless you do something completely stupid. Then save that as the default preset for that plugin and never worry about it again.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:56 PM   #4
sjs94704
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Yeah! All your information helps!

And, I just wanna take a minute here and thank ALL of you who have been answering my questions. While I might be using Reaper for much different purposes than most, I must say that because of ALL of you who have contributed along the way have helped me a lot!

For me, I buy pre-recorded music that has each instrument on separate tracks and I put them in Reaper and sing to the music. With your help I have learned to enhance these tracks a bit a well as what to do with my vocals.

Thanks again to ALL of you! (Kenny G too!)

-Steven
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:37 PM   #5
ashcat_lt
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Frankly what you do isn't significantly different from what most of us do. Some of us may also do other things, and there are a few specialists who never touch this stuff, but I think the vast majority of us end up at a point where we have some more or less finished tracks that we then want to mix together.
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:14 PM   #6
Greg Savage
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I just adjust my faders (keep it simple).

I've heard that -18db is important if you plan on processing through a lot of plugins and that most plugins operate better at -18db... i don't notice the difference. Most big-time engineers I've run into rolls their eyes and just say "just don't clip, that's all that matters"
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:52 PM   #7
Judders
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Quote:
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I just adjust my faders (keep it simple).

I've heard that -18db is important if you plan on processing through a lot of plugins and that most plugins operate better at -18db... i don't notice the difference. Most big-time engineers I've run into rolls their eyes and just say "just don't clip, that's all that matters"
A lot of plugins that emulate analogue gear have -18 dB RMS as their 0 dB VU for the emulation, which is where I think this originated. But some are calibrated to -21 dB, -12 dB etc. and some have variable calibration you can adjust yourself.

I personally like to keep the faders around unity so that I get the most resolution when it comes to ride them (with a Faderport). I'll typically use item volume and plugin output levels to trim the level hitting the fader when setting up a preliminary static balance.
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