Old 11-15-2010, 12:23 PM   #81
Gizzmo0815
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My thoughts...

When tracking a collection of instruments I find that I have to plan ahead a bit. Based on what I know of my converter, my preamp and my microphones I have to do a bit of pre-tracking organization of sound levels, if that makes any sense.

For example, if I were tracking a piece consisting of a kick drum, snare drum, high hat, acoustic guitar, bass guitar and a vocal, I can work out a few things in my head before I start recording.

Acoustic guitars tend to be a little soft...and for this particular piece the guitarist is strumming with his fingertips. As the "engineer" I know that getting my mics and preamps to get this sound into the converters at a hot level would be difficult without really pushing my gear. I know that an acoustic, strummed with fingers, and with a given mic and a given preamp just won't be very loud, so I plan on having the recorded guitar peak at say...-14dbfs on the digital meter and the RMS will be at around -20dbfs. Knowing this...I can effectively build the rest of the arrangement around this (the softest) track. If the guitar is peaking at -14. I probably don't need the kick and snare to be peaking at -3dbfs. And I certainly don't need my bass to have an RMS of -8dbfs. Rather, I'll set up my kick and snare to peak at say -10dbfs, and my bass to peak at say -12dbfs (with an RMS of say -20dbfs). I can record these elements a little higher because I know that I'll likely be adding some compression to the bass to even out the note volume and possibly compressing the kit a little bit to give it some character. (This is all hypothetical...I'm just trying to help show why it's not always necessary to record so hot)

This way all of the instruments are being recorded at a reasonable comparative volume and are pretty much already balanced. If the same band were playing live in a bar they wouldn't play at all different volumes, they'd balance themselves out so that all parts could be heard equally.

Once I've got the tracks recorded in this manner. I've got plenty of headroom because the sum total of the instruments are peaking at say -8dbfs and the RMS is bouncing nicely at around -18dbfs (I know this because I have my PSP vintagemeter sitting on the master bus, and the needle is bouncing around 0 (because it's calibrated to -18dbfs!).

And then, once I've carefully planned and recorded my tracks I can move on to the next process...completely destroying my mix by overprocessing it with 300 plugins :-D
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