Metering

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
29,786
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
In my years of downloading every free plugin that I can find, I have amassed a lot of stuff that I have never used. Just checked the giant Melda bundle that I downloaded long ago and there a couple of metering plugins in there. Going to try and figure that stuff out. Likely I have other metering plugins as well....
 

Hanson

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 3, 2016
2,039
Mesquite, Texas
I pretty much use the metering in my DAW. I’ve used this software for so long that I’ve learned how it reacts for input and output. I do have several 3rd party plug ins that I’ve used in the past and like a lot, I’m just to lazy and forget to fire them up when I’m focused on tracking and I’m very familiar with the existing meters anyway.

The Waves VU meters with an actual needle were kind of cool and seemed very accurate.

On input I know a lot of guys that play it really safe for tracking, keeping the signal far below ever coming close to clipping. I’ve learned my way around my set up to where I probably track a little hotter than others, but I’m in no way going to clip the input signal.
 

simoncroft

Still playing. Still learning!
Silver Member
May 30, 2013
20,307
SE England
In the modern world, where analogue equipment is increasingly an expensive and rare encounter, I'd suggest sticking with PPMs (Peak Programme Meters). While incursions into the red zone are fine, any peak above -0.5dB is best avoided. When laying tracks, software plug-in limiting is of no use, because the peak overshoot will have already occurred. Better to back off the physical level on the input of the audio interface.

Even the in the 1980s, we used to joke that VU metering stood for 'Virtually Useless'. Actually it wasn't, because, as @El Gobernador has explained, if you put a little too much level onto an analogue tape, all you got was a soft saturation. Sometimes, that created a desirable effect. Whatever, VU metering doesn't have much relevance today, IMO.

If you're worried that recording at conservative levels to avoid any chance of ugly overshoot distortion is reducing the resolution of your recordings (which certainly happened when engineers were so scared of digital distortion, they were often making 12-bit recording's when digital first came in), I suggest you change your Preferences. Providing you have the processor/storage capacity, recording at 48kHz/24-bit will give you better resolution, particularly when you come to sum all those tracks together at mix time.

And it's at mix time that all you're plug-ins come to the fore. Now, you can control the dynamic range of each track/group, and the output bus.

While there is something slightly satisfying about seeing a mix that constantly meters at -0.5dB, that tends to get a bit wearing on the ears, so you might want to back the levels off and preserve some dynamic range. In particular, if the next stage is 3rd-party Mastering as a prelude to a track being released, there's not a lot a Mastering house can do for you if you deliver a WAV with about 2dB dynamic range!

Better to use little or no mix bus compression and deliver a track that the experts have a chance to finesse.
 

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
29,786
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
In the modern world, where analogue equipment is increasingly an expensive and rare encounter, I'd suggest sticking with PPMs (Peak Programme Meters). While incursions into the red zone are fine, any peak above -0.5dB is best avoided. When laying tracks, software plug-in limiting is of no use, because the peak overshoot will have already occurred. Better to back off the physical level on the input of the audio interface.

Even the in the 1980s, we used to joke that VU metering stood for 'Virtually Useless'. Actually it wasn't, because, as @El Gobernador has explained, if you put a little too much level onto an analogue tape, all you got was a soft saturation. Sometimes, that created a desirable effect. Whatever, VU metering doesn't have much relevance today, IMO.

If you're worried that recording at conservative levels to avoid any chance of ugly overshoot distortion is reducing the resolution of your recordings (which certainly happened when engineers were so scared of digital distortion, they were often making 12-bit recording's when digital first came in), I suggest you change your Preferences. Providing you have the processor/storage capacity, recording at 48kHz/24-bit will give you better resolution, particularly when you come to sum all those tracks together at mix time.

And it's at mix time that all you're plug-ins come to the fore. Now, you can control the dynamic range of each track/group, and the output bus.

While there is something slightly satisfying about seeing a mix that constantly meters at -0.5dB, that tends to get a bit wearing on the ears, so you might want to back the levels off and preserve some dynamic range. In particular, if the next stage is 3rd-party Mastering as a prelude to a track being released, there's not a lot a Mastering house can do for you if you deliver a WAV with about 2dB dynamic range!

Better to use little or no mix bus compression and deliver a track that the experts have a chance to finesse.
Naw, it was just me *****ing about LUFS and stuff and then Pazman explained it all and I was like "WTF?" and then I was *****ing about mastering and then I just got one of the Izotope mastering things and I thought it sounded fine so I declared the song done. I tend to be fairly conservative with regard to levels and rarely have any trouble with that.

I can gmail you the finished product if you like.

My drummer said "well we can all listen to it to make 100% sure...." and I replied "Nope. It's done. I'm not touching it again. " lolololololz
 

simoncroft

Still playing. Still learning!
Silver Member
May 30, 2013
20,307
SE England
Naw, it was just me *****ing about LUFS and stuff and then Pazman explained it all and I was like "WTF?" and then I was *****ing about mastering and then I just got one of the Izotope mastering things and I thought it sounded fine so I declared the song done. I tend to be fairly conservative with regard to levels and rarely have any trouble with that.

I can gmail you the finished product if you like.

My drummer said "well we can all listen to it to make 100% sure...." and I replied "Nope. It's done. I'm not touching it again. " lolololololz
OK, I totally get that, Brad. The meters you need, and the standards you work to for streaming services, are different than the ones used for CD. I've only done it a few times, and I found it tricky to create a fully compliant mix. One track took me maybe five goes before I met all the parameters.

The truth is, your track will be accepted even if it's a mile off spec, but whatever happens to it next will be decided by some algorithms, rather than you.
 

Dadocaster

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2015
29,786
Sachse TX behind the cemetary
OK, I totally get that, Brad. The meters you need, and the standards you work to for streaming services, are different than the ones used for CD. I've only done it a few times, and I found it tricky to create a fully compliant mix. One track took me maybe five goes before I met all the parameters.

The truth is, your track will be accepted even if it's a mile off spec, but whatever happens to it next will be decided by some algorithms, rather than you.
This is what I was trying to say even if I did not express it particularly well. I am usually quite eloquent, if you ignore the profanity.
 

pazman6

Senior Stratmaster
May 28, 2014
2,182
Prairieville, Louisiana
If you want to hit the streaming targets it is almost easier to put your mastering chain on the master mix bus with settings close to what you normally use, and then adjust gains in the mix to hit the targets and get it sounding close to what you want for the final to sound like. Then turn off the mastering stuff and export the song. If you send it off to be mastered then all of that may have been fruitless, if you do it yourself, then it should work out ok.

You can hit the targets for streaming by setting the limiter peak level and then adjusting the threshold on the limiter to get the LUFS level correct, but that sometimes changes the relative levels of stuff in the mix and it sounds off -things start jumping out or disappear that didn't in the mix. Then you have to use EQ or multiband compression to make further adjustments or go remix the song. And it usually takes numerous tries like Simon said to get it right and sound good.
 

stratology

Strat-Talker
Apr 8, 2007
412
Ireland
Back in the days of rolling tape, you worked in the red...a lot. Saturating tape. Digital doesn't do that.

OK, can of worms here.

Most DAWs have either 32bit or 64bit internal floating point processing. Meaning, as long as you're in the DAW, you can't peak/create overs/digital distortion by going over 0dBFS.

You can test that: stick a gain plugin on a channel, and boost the gain by some ridiculous amount, like 80dB. Then stick another gain plugin on the master bus, and attenuate the gain by the same 80dB. You will hear zero digital distortion, regardless of the red meters on the faders, or what meters at any place between the gain plugins show.

But:
- some plugins are modelled to emulate analog gear. So to give the plugin model the same gain that the analog gear sounds best at, you can aim at hitting it with around -18dBFS.
- when you go out of the DAW, into a D/A converter, you want to make sure to stay below 0dBFS, to not create digital distortion by hitting the converter too hard.
That's what the recommendations above that suggest something like a limiter on the master bus, to keep things below -0.5 dBFS, are about. If the goal is to create an mp3, I would stay even lower than that.
 

drp146

Strat-Stalker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
590
Oklahoma
In the modern world, where analogue equipment is increasingly an expensive and rare encounter, I'd suggest sticking with PPMs (Peak Programme Meters). While incursions into the red zone are fine, any peak above -0.5dB is best avoided. When laying tracks, software plug-in limiting is of no use, because the peak overshoot will have already occurred. Better to back off the physical level on the input of the audio interface.

Even the in the 1980s, we used to joke that VU metering stood for 'Virtually Useless'. Actually it wasn't, because, as @El Gobernador has explained, if you put a little too much level onto an analogue tape, all you got was a soft saturation. Sometimes, that created a desirable effect. Whatever, VU metering doesn't have much relevance today, IMO.

If you're worried that recording at conservative levels to avoid any chance of ugly overshoot distortion is reducing the resolution of your recordings (which certainly happened when engineers were so scared of digital distortion, they were often making 12-bit recording's when digital first came in), I suggest you change your Preferences. Providing you have the processor/storage capacity, recording at 48kHz/24-bit will give you better resolution, particularly when you come to sum all those tracks together at mix time.

And it's at mix time that all you're plug-ins come to the fore. Now, you can control the dynamic range of each track/group, and the output bus.

While there is something slightly satisfying about seeing a mix that constantly meters at -0.5dB, that tends to get a bit wearing on the ears, so you might want to back the levels off and preserve some dynamic range. In particular, if the next stage is 3rd-party Mastering as a prelude to a track being released, there's not a lot a Mastering house can do for you if you deliver a WAV with about 2dB dynamic range!

Better to use little or no mix bus compression and deliver a track that the experts have a chance to finesse.
Still playing, still learning. I would add "Still teaching", because I've learned some things from your posts.
 


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