What is your mixing workflow?

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LupineSound
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What is your mixing workflow?

Post by LupineSound » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:13 am

Currently, I'm recording everything with the signals as hot as possible (without clipping) into a Digi 002R. When it comes time to mix, I'm pulling faders on my screen. It kind of sucks. I'd rather use my ears than my eyes. So I need to get some physical faders. I'm not sure what the correct way of doing this is. I know that if I had some sort of USB mixer/controller, I could control the on-screen faders that way, but I've noticed from the "post your desk" thread that many of you have analog boards. So how does that work? Sorry if this a noob question.

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Re: What is your mixing workflow?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:59 am

shithead wrote:Currently, I'm recording everything with the signals as hot as possible (without clipping) into a Digi 002R.
why are you doing this? if you're recording at 24 bit, which in 2011 i imagine you are, there's absolutely no reason to be recording stuff right up to 0dbfs. and in fact you will probably find everything sounds a whole lot better if you peak a lot lower, like -12. really.

you don't have to take my word for it, there's plenty of discussion on the subject. start here:

http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index. ... 5038/7683/

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Post by Bro Shark » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:02 am

I bought a Presonus Faderport so I could use my ears and not my eyes. It's a cool little device. Cost like 100 bucks.

Yeah, don't record "hot" into pro tools. Huge mistake.

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Re: What is your mixing workflow?

Post by wren » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:48 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:
shithead wrote:Currently, I'm recording everything with the signals as hot as possible (without clipping) into a Digi 002R.
why are you doing this? if you're recording at 24 bit, which in 2011 i imagine you are, there's absolutely no reason to be recording stuff right up to 0dbfs. and in fact you will probably find everything sounds a whole lot better if you peak a lot lower, like -12. really.
Yup. Not only that, but in my experience (and this could just be my imagination, but...) a lot of plugins sound better when they're fed lower-level signals. So if you're attenuating the sound at the faders, any plugins you're using on those tracks are still seeing those hotter levels.

If you have tracks that were recorded really hot, using some kind of gain trim plugin on every track to bring the volumes down to about -12 peak sounds better to me than than turning the fader down to about -10. Again, could just be my imagination, but I'm definitely gonna keep doing it.
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:54 am

recording at lower levels is All Win No Lose. your analog gear is running at the levels it was designed for. you're not stressing your converters. you don't have to worry about clipping your plugs or the master fader. you don't have to put in gain plugs or try and mix with your faders all down at -15. All Win!

sorry for going off topic shithead, i know you weren't asking about any of this stuff. it's important though.

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Post by LupineSound » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:28 am

Holy shit. I had no idea. I always thought you wanted to capture the signal hot to ensure the best signal-to-noise ratio. This explains why the master volume track was always overloaded and I had to turn down every track during mixing. (I am recording at 44.1KHz / 24-bit, BTW)

Already, I've learned something to make mixing easier.

That Faderport looks like a nice inexpensive solution to my fader dilemma.

Thanks for all the advice.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:24 pm

shithead wrote:I always thought you wanted to capture the signal hot to ensure the best signal-to-noise ratio.
with 24 bit you have so much headroom (footroom actually) that s/n ratio is basically a non-issue. so long as you're using enough bits to capture the entire dynamic range of whatever you're recording, you're not losing any resolution whatsoever.

i recorded a sort of free jazz record awhile back, the guys would go from all out raging to whisper quiet on a dime. as it was all improv, i had no idea what was going to happen from one moment to the next. i set the levels so they were peaking at like -10 on the raging stuff. the quiet stuff was peaking at like -30. it all sounded fine, the quiet stuff wasn't "grainy" or "lo res" or whatever.

unless you're recording at this place, the noise floor of your room is likely going to be way higher than the noise floor of your pres/converters...

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Post by jhharvest » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:40 pm

Hmmm. I read a bit of that prosoundweb discussion on tracking at lower levels and most of it appeared voodoo instead of science. I'm not really a fan of voodoo personally. I wonder if someone has done science on this contentious issue?

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:15 pm

i don't think it's really a contentious issue. you should read the whole thread, there's some great posts by some real smart folks in there. and just try it yourself. track a session at lower levels and see if you don't think it sounds better. and makes it easier to work.

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Post by ott0bot » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:54 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:i don't think it's really a contentious issue. you should read the whole thread, there's some great posts by some real smart folks in there. and just try it yourself. track a session at lower levels and see if you don't think it sounds better. and makes it easier to work.
oh my does it sound better. After a year or so of tracking with my 003r at hotter than needed levels, and overloading the mix bus, I went to keeping the peaks below -6 dBfs and RMS level in the -12 to -15 level. It did wonders for my mixes. Much cleaner sounding, more dynamic range, and now I can leave my faders in the DAW at unity gain and just make a few adjustments to keep the mix bus at a good level to leave headroom for mastering.

I will say this. Better quality converters can be pushed a bit further with good results. I purchased a Lynx Aurora 8 to expand my set up a few years back and you can slam those things to -0.1 and still retain good sound quality....so my home mastering jobs can make use of outboard gear.

anyhow....
having a desk and using your sends from the interface makes mixing much more fun, thats for sure. Finding a board that is decent enough quality, that you can actually afford is the tricky part. For me personally...until I can afford a decent board, I'm stickng with mixing in the DAW and using my outboard gear to either print effect tracks, or use as inserts when a few ms of latency isn't a big deal.

Getting a controller definately can be handy, especially for writing automation. Those presonus fader ports are pretty decent, and you can get more elaborate stuff like the Euphonix controllers, or the Control 24 and have control over plug-ins and what not.

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Post by No Wave Casio Kitsch » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:39 pm

jhharvest wrote:Hmmm. I read a bit of that prosoundweb discussion on tracking at lower levels and most of it appeared voodoo instead of science. I'm not really a fan of voodoo personally. I wonder if someone has done science on this contentious issue?
It's not voodoo. Generate a signal at 0 dBVU and send it into a DAW or something digital with half decent meters and see where 0DBVU is on the dBFS scale. It will vary somewhat but I guarantee it will be nowhere near 0dBFS! On the Alesis Masterlink it seems to hit about bang on -15dBFS. On the MOTU 2408mkIII it was more like -18dBFS.

Try it. It will change they way you record forever.

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Post by jhharvest » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:54 pm

Right, I get you. So basically it's because of the disagreement in converting analog voltage to digital. This wikipedia article clarified it for me.

I got confused on what the actual issue was because in the prosoundweb discussion people were talking about using gain plugins after tracking to "prevent overloading the mix bus" even though no actual clipping was occurring, or that "plugins sound better when given less bits". Hence my suspicion of voodoo.

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Post by cjogo » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:20 am

One reason we have stayed with the Roland VS --love the automated 48 channel board ~~! And yes keep those levels lower than the analog days --- we had to learn years back switching over to the digital world .....
whatever happened to ~ just push record......

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Post by knobtwirler » Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:13 pm

Wow, good discussion on printing at proper digital levels. How about everyone's mixing workflow?

Levels are a good place to start, and end. Without the proper levels, the mix won't end up magical. Here's something I do when it's time to make sure the mix is done and looking at the Master Fader levels: I make a TRIM group of all tracks (whose output feeds the Master Fader or mix buss directly) except FX returns and then pull my mix down if it peaks above -5dbU. Ideally, I try to keep my kick and bass in the -10 range on the Master Fader and build on top of that while creating the mix. If it sounds great but peaks too high I'll bring it down overall to more manageable levels.

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Re: What is your mixing workflow?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:17 pm

shithead wrote:Currently, I'm recording everything with the signals as hot as possible (without clipping) into a Digi 002R. When it comes time to mix, I'm pulling faders on my screen. It kind of sucks. I'd rather use my ears than my eyes. So I need to get some physical faders. I'm not sure what the correct way of doing this is. I know that if I had some sort of USB mixer/controller, I could control the on-screen faders that way, but I've noticed from the "post your desk" thread that many of you have analog boards. So how does that work? Sorry if this a noob question.
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