Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

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akpasta
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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Fri May 24, 2019 9:24 am

I'm Painting Again wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:16 pm
akpasta wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 9:13 am
There's another thing I am just now noticing....

On the initial recording in question I was able to set the master on my garage band at 0db without any clipping. I think I was confused about something. It seems my initial transfer was done "properly." But I'm noticing something new...

I have some other demos mixed from the 388 to garage band just via the main RCA L/R outs to a computer via RCA to headphone jack and they are much fuller and dynamic than the song I transferred via 8 track bus-out to the m-track 8 to garage band, did overdubs on and mixed down via garage band.

- It could either be RCA L/R Outs on the 388 versus the RCA bus outs for each track, maybe going through the master channel on the 388 adds some punch and color.

- It could be a difference of running straight to the headphone jack on a computer versus running through the M-Track 8 audio interface.

- It could be a difference of computers/versions of garage band. The fuller 2-track version was mixed to a VERY old macbook that is using old garage band that exports to mp3 at 320kbps. The new computer with the new garage band only allows a mp3 mix at 256kpbs. A funny little devolution, maybe meaningless, maybe not.

I need to experiment a little more to see exactly where the difference is. Does anyone have any ideas?
it's probably not the software

hard to say what it could be - could be just the different material was recorded differently - ya know?

I do know that the 388 only outputs the EQ on certain outputs - that might be the problem ?

also headphone outs definitely sound different than line outs pretty much every time - I'd suggest just putting the same signal through each and comparing to see what exactly the differences are

and that's the thing..

to really get it the way you want you gotta spend time listening to every setting trying EVERYTHING - like no one can tell you a right way - especially with old analog gear - each unit sounds different and it's not about some "right way" but training your ears to compensate for what's going on in front of you in real time with the specific tools you have at in hand to achieve the results you want
Thanks for the advice. It's really hard to know without experimenting with all possibilities. Another thing I noticed is adjusting the Master slider in garage band has no effect on the volume of the mix down when I export. That's weird right?

Also my digital tracks are clip free after all, I pumped the master slider and it's clip free. I must've heard some distortion from what I was using to monitor once and it spooked me. Next I suppose I'll try increasing the volume of my individual tracks in garage band and seeing if that helps, they're pretty much all below 0db.

I'll also try the direct channel outs instead of the busses, maybe I get some more oomph there.

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by I'm Painting Again » Mon May 27, 2019 5:57 pm

like I said one of those out types does not have the EQ on them so note that

I don't know garage band so I'm not sure about the specifics

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Wed May 29, 2019 10:23 am

Hey Everyone,

I have an update for you on some things I learned.

1. I realized that when transferring from the 388 to garageband via the M-audio M-Track 8, the M-Track 8 channel knobs should be set all the way at zero. All they do seem to do is add extra gain that must be compressed/limited on the computer and kills sound quality. You get good levels just going through the interface with no additional gain added at each channel

2. I've now got tracks on the computer that peak at 0db on each track and 0db on the master. So that is all good. I can get a mix down that is just as loud without any clipping.

3. However, when I compare the M-Track 8 digital transfer to 388 main out mix down via analog audio (388 RCA main outs > 1/8" headphone jack on computer) the latter has WAY more depth to it. The digital transfer sounds squished. I talked to another friend and he said that's just how these things sound unless you get a super expensive high quality interface. The one I bought of course, is fairly cheap.

any advice?

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed May 29, 2019 12:51 pm

it's weird to me that all your tracks are peaking at zero on the channels and the master is not over - sounds like something might be limiting the signal at 0dBFS in your computer

but like I said I have no idea about garage band and don' know the program material so it's hard to say

that might cause the symptom you're describing however

try keeping the input average halfway up the channel meters and peaks like around -10 to -6 on the computer channels and then see if that clears up the squishiness

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Wed May 29, 2019 2:11 pm

I'm Painting Again wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 12:51 pm
it's weird to me that all your tracks are peaking at zero on the channels and the master is not over - sounds like something might be limiting the signal at 0dBFS in your computer

but like I said I have no idea about garage band and don' know the program material so it's hard to say

that might cause the symptom you're describing however

try keeping the input average halfway up the channel meters and peaks like around -10 to -6 on the computer channels and then see if that clears up the squishiness
so you're telling me that in garageband my individual track levels should peak at -10 to -6? That's way way way low. I think I'd have to adjust the recording level in my system settings to get them that low. I was told my system settings recording volume should just be up all the way. Should I really go this route?

I'm very used to the analog world where you really want your VU meters just kissing the red to get the best saturation. Am I correct that in the digital world it's almost the opposite, that you want your levels quite low?

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed May 29, 2019 4:18 pm

typically people do this if you're tracking to a DAW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hxMidhTLa8

this ensures plug-ins, the mix bus, and the faders are working optimally

I have no idea if what you're doing will sound better or worse - but I know when my digital tracks are all up at 0dBFS it sounds bad

try doing a mix where the tracks average -20 to -16 and peak at -10 to -6 and just see if it sounds better

if it's too quiet add gain on the master as to not allow clipping there and then compare

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by floid » Wed May 29, 2019 6:19 pm

akpasta wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 2:11 pm
I'm very used to the analog world where you really want your VU meters just kissing the red to get the best saturation. Am I correct that in the digital world it's almost the opposite, that you want your levels quite low?
The best saturation, aka distortion, aka getting as high above the noise floor as practical. This is good on tape. On digital, not so much. Hopefully someone can post a good link to a proper explanation, but digital 0dB is not the same thing as 0dB on a V.U meter. In digital, 0dB is the absolute max signal level before you encounter digital clipping. It's all ones, no zeroes, you can't get any more ones or any less zeroes. Digital cannot go to eleven. So you never want to hit that absolute max level. Digital clipping is bad. Which is why you want peaks hitting -6, -10, somewhere in there. And rms levels, which are similar to what your v.u. meter is reading, will be significantly lower than that.
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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by floid » Wed May 29, 2019 6:37 pm

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:52 pm

Thanks for all the tips! I get the idea now.

My final question is about garageband. All the volume indicators on the master volume and track volume display "Db" but they don't tell you what kind of decibels, is it analog DB or dbFS? The latest thing I tried was making sure the tracks in garage band are around -10db when I transfer from tape through my interface. I am assuming they are dbFS. Is that a correct assumption?

Also, when I record this way, the visual wave forms in each track are tiny, hardly visible at all. But... it's -10db, which is where I'm supposed to be...right? I dunno!

Also, I notice when I do a 2-track mix down via audio cable (RCA to 3.5mm headphone cable) I can get SUPER loud levels without any digital clipping. But I guess this is because I'm transferring an analog audio signal and not a digital one, right?

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by I'm Painting Again » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:39 pm

I'm Painting Again wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 4:18 pm
typically people do this if you're tracking to a DAW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hxMidhTLa8

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:23 pm

akpasta wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:23 am
Hey Everyone,

I have an update for you on some things I learned.

1. I realized that when transferring from the 388 to garageband via the M-audio M-Track 8, the M-Track 8 channel knobs should be set all the way at zero. All they do seem to do is add extra gain that must be compressed/limited on the computer and kills sound quality. You get good levels just going through the interface with no additional gain added at each channel

2. I've now got tracks on the computer that peak at 0db on each track and 0db on the master. So that is all good. I can get a mix down that is just as loud without any clipping.

3. However, when I compare the M-Track 8 digital transfer to 388 main out mix down via analog audio (388 RCA main outs > 1/8" headphone jack on computer) the latter has WAY more depth to it. The digital transfer sounds squished. I talked to another friend and he said that's just how these things sound unless you get a super expensive high quality interface. The one I bought of course, is fairly cheap.

any advice?
Good on point 1, good job. The less you have to turn stuff up during the transfer, the better.

As to 2 and 3, you are definitely TOO LOUD. You want to be AWAY FROM THE RED in digital mixing at all times. I saw that video "I am painting" posted, it is a good primer for digital audio levels and stuff.

Rule of thumb: When mixing ITB (In The Box aka inside the computer), you want to have your MIX OUTPUT (this is, the mix after all is processed etc.) hitting 06 dBFS PEAK. Do not worry about Avg levels. EVER. Your job is to make it SOUND GOOD, not to make the meters look good.

My usual mix level starting point is:

If under 24 tracks to mix - all faders start at -12 on their markers. I then take the lead vocal or lead instrument and mix around it, which likely means turning the other instruments DOWN from -12 (the LOUDEST fader set at -12).

Once I have a good sounding mix, I check the MASTER OUTPUT, this is post fader and post Master buss processing, and just note where the mix is sitting. But, this is after a few hours of working on the mix. Again, this is just to see the overall level situation.

IF the overall mix is not getting me ANY -6dBFS PEAKS on a meter set on my PRINT TRACK, I then do usually group the tracks and bring them up. If, conversely, t=I am hitting that -6DBFS or above on the PEAKS, I turn down all the tracks. Remember, do NOT turn down any effects AUX tracks, as these will get different levels once you change the individual tracks together, and still sound correct, if the adjustment is minimal. If not, I go and adjust all the SENDS until the effects again sound as they should. This takes a little practice, but it has worked like a charm for me for years.

The reason your digital mix sounds SQUISHED, is because it is. And digital sounds shit compared to analogue, which usually can take more abuse. Digital overs / clipping sound HORRIFIC, so avoid them. Unless you are doing that as an artistic expression, and you cannot get your sound without that digital clipping.

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by floid » Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:51 pm

akpasta wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:52 pm
Also, I notice when I do a 2-track mix down via audio cable (RCA to 3.5mm headphone cable) I can get SUPER loud levels without any digital clipping. But I guess this is because I'm transferring an analog audio signal and not a digital one, right?
You're talking about sending your mix to the mic input on your onboard soundcard? How do these tracks meter when you open them in your DAW? How do the waveforms look in the editor?
Here's an image of a wavefile with progessively more and more limiting applied.
https://images.app.goo.gl/XLuiG5kuWhXy42fF8
I'm wondering if there might be some form of brick wall limiting before the analog >digital conversion.
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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:45 pm

floid wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:51 pm
akpasta wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:52 pm
Also, I notice when I do a 2-track mix down via audio cable (RCA to 3.5mm headphone cable) I can get SUPER loud levels without any digital clipping. But I guess this is because I'm transferring an analog audio signal and not a digital one, right?
You're talking about sending your mix to the mic input on your onboard soundcard? How do these tracks meter when you open them in your DAW? How do the waveforms look in the editor?
Here's an image of a wavefile with progessively more and more limiting applied.
https://images.app.goo.gl/XLuiG5kuWhXy42fF8
I'm wondering if there might be some form of brick wall limiting before the analog >digital conversion.
Ya, you can barely see the wave forms at all in garage band when the tracks are -6 to -10 "db" whatever that is in garageband, db or dbFS I dunno. Seemed odd to me too but everyone here is saying you need to be that low.

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by I'm Painting Again » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:38 am

watch the video :hammer:

the meters on channels of a DAW are typically in dBFS - 99% of the time - there are plug in virtual analog VU meters out there though

I believe you're not wrong in the low levels looking sketchy - I've looked at the documentation for the gear you're connecting

studio gear has no standards so there will be all types getting connected when it's technically incompatible

two of the main types you'll come across are sometimes referred to as "+4dBu balanced professional" and "-10dBV unbalanced consumer"

the 388's RCA outs are unbalanced -10dBV type and the M-Track 8's inputs are 1/4" balanced +4dBu type - they're incompatible

it will work together but it won't be optimal - you'll always be hitting your DAW lower than what's ideal

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the best way to connect them will be to make two snakes and get a bump box with 1:1 transformers that convert -10 to +4

like so:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... el-shifter
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
the two snakes should be:

1) 8x RCA to TS with a 19" fan (all male)

&

2) 8x TRS to TRS with a 19" fan (all Male)

RCA end attached to the 388 and TS side attached to the "-10" female jacks on the bump box

the TRS to TRS goes from the "+4" female jacks on the bump box to the 1/4" line-ins on the M Audio

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

if you don't wanna go through the expense of doing it correctly - you can hit the converters low and use digital gain to bring them up without much trouble - you can also use the front knobs on the mTrack8 - you should try one with the knobs and one with internal gain to see what sounds better to you - the knob gain might be more colored if I had to guess - but that's not bad or good - only u can decide

in this case your single snake should be wired like #18 on Rane's chart here:

https://www.rane.com/note110.html

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


1.228 Volts RMS = +4dBu
.775 Volts RMS = -10dBV

analog 0VU will be either of those depending on what type of device it is/outputs it has

in dBFS - 0VU it's wherever your particular converters and DAW read when you show a test tone at the amplitude of one of those two operating levels to the input

this typically falls in the neighborhood of -20dBFS to -12dBFS

remember what a test tone is - it's a constant amplitude sine wave - one volume - so it can be a good representation of average level - its peak is its average

when you look at DAW meters the top of the bar that represents the signal is the peak and often (when not using test tone - you're just looking at program material) you'll need an RMS type meter to see the average level - in Logic for example there's a darker blue bar in the middle

like so:

https://macprovid.vo.llnwd.net/o43/hub/ ... mage_4.png

the line that separates the light blue from the dark is the average level

this is where you want your music to be -- at that -20dBFS to -12dBFS sweet spot - with the peaks of the indicator hitting in the -6dBFS range

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Re: Tips for Dumping 388 > M-Track 8 > Garage Band

Post by akpasta » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:37 am

I'm Painting Again wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:38 am
watch the video :hammer:

the meters on channels of a DAW are typically in dBFS - 99% of the time - there are plug in virtual analog VU meters out there though

I believe you're not wrong in the low levels looking sketchy - I've looked at the documentation for the gear you're connecting

studio gear has no standards so there will be all types getting connected when it's technically incompatible

two of the main types you'll come across are sometimes referred to as "+4dBu balanced professional" and "-10dBV unbalanced consumer"

the 388's RCA outs are unbalanced -10dBV type and the M-Track 8's inputs are 1/4" balanced +4dBu type - they're incompatible

it will work together but it won't be optimal - you'll always be hitting your DAW lower than what's ideal
I watched the video right after you posted it. I get it.

As for hitting the DAW lower than what's optimal: I'm hitting it HOT. With all DAW channel knobs at zero, and the Mac OS input volume at full (as the M-audio web site recommends), I'm still too hot in garageband- tracks spike at 0db(fs?) or thereabouts. I have to reduce the Mac OS input volume by about 20% to get the individual track channels at -6 to -10 dbfs. The result is visually small wave forms for each track. Does that matter?

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