Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Cool Character
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by Cool Character » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:08 am

I have a couple of questions:

If a track goes in the red, but the master isn't, will there be clipping?
How about if the Db meters are red in a device, but not in the track?

Tone Deft
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by Tone Deft » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:16 am

not really but nothing's foolproof to a talented fool.

in my experience you won't but when I see red in the meters I know levels need to be chilled out. it gets to the point where you lose room to adjust your levels.

better yet, you own Live, go try it and let us know!!
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mike_o
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by mike_o » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:11 am

Tone Deft wrote:not really but nothing's foolproof to a talented fool.

I'm calling that the greatest post of all time 8)

josephjobling
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by josephjobling » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:08 pm

Cool Character wrote:I have a couple of questions:

If a track goes in the red, but the master isn't, will there be clipping?
How about if the Db meters are red in a device, but not in the track?
yes you will still get clipping - i found this. i never used to pay attention to clipping on the channels and just used to turn the master down. I found that when i rendered the track (export in live 8) that it sounded different (in a bad way). this was as a direct result of my channels clipping.

db2
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by db2 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:28 pm

Tone Deft wrote:running the master low and the tracks hot is a lesson everyone learns eventually.

hitting alt and any peak readout to rest them all is a great tip to know.
What's this trick now?

agentwonderbread
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by agentwonderbread » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:28 pm

I generally find that the best general practice to squeeze mix, space and overhead out of live -and most DAWs for that matter- is to keep most channels under 5/8 of the way to 0db and then push the master bus to bring things to ideal peaks.

I suppose, in a few rare cases, the only way (actually, I don't believe this as I say it- but am just trying to go along with the idea) to get the volume you want is to slam the fader through the ceiling- but there's a lot of volume controls along the signal path worth looking into before doing this. Clip volumes, effects input output vols, compressors and everything else. What about output on the synth plugins etc etc.

In answer to the question- yeah, it's probably gonna clip and tired ears will often misinterpret some more subtle forms of the distortion produced... so that you REALLY notice it 2 days later in the car driving to the meeting with the people who wanted to complain about your otherwise "slammin'" mix.

I probably just drifted off topic... but I feel the above strategy allows for a more comprehensive mixing ideology. I won't go into mixing clinic mode- but why is the track so loud? Could the same effect be accomplished via some subtractive eq ing? I know we often reach for compressors and loud things when looking to make tings louder- but conflicting frequencies, 9 of 10 times, will be the reason the bass isn't doing what it did when you first had the idea etc.

db2
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by db2 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:30 pm

As I understood it the software still has a summing bus that adds the channels together before going through the master channel, and if you're pegging red on the master at 0db then you're also overloading the mix summing bus, regardless of whether or not you turn the master down. I learned this from many mixing tutorials that actually covered summing busses and proper levels on digital systems.

Is this not the case with Ableton? It would be helpful to know. I haven't upgraded to 8 yet, and one of the simplest reasons I want to is group control of volume.

Now what's this alt trick?

michaelandrews
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Re: Lowering the master level to avoid clipping...

Post by michaelandrews » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:52 pm

db2 wrote:Now what's this alt trick?
It allows you to instantly reset the peak metering in the Session View mixer. On Mac I think it's "Option". If you havent seen the peak metering, make sure you pull the mixer section all the way up and out to display things that may be hidden. This peak meter resetting is essential for doing mixes to see where the absolute highest point of the channel's volume is.

Personally, in Live 8, I always put Limiter on each channel and make sure there is not GR happening. I always leave the faders alone and do volume changes with Utility or Limiter until the very last step when I'm adjusting final levels for mixdown and mastering. This way, I don't interfere with automation when doing the final leveling work for the track as whole.

If you are using Live 7 or earlier, you can achieve the same effect as Limiter with Utility and the peak meter. Let the track play through (or through it's loudest part) with Utility as the last item in the chain. If it goes over 0.0 dB the peak meter will turn yellow and show the amount it went over in dB. Then you can use Utility to pull it down by the same amount. So, if the track goes over 1.50 dB, you can pull Utility's Gain parameter down 1.50 dB and ensure that you won't have any clipping once everything sums to the master (especially important if you aren't using any mastering plugins).
Ableton wrote:Since version 7, Live uses double precision (64-bit) summing at all points where signals are
mixed, including Clip and return track inputs, the Master track and Racks. Mixing in Live is
thus a neutral operation for signals mixed at any single summing point. Please note that, while 64-bit summing is applied to each single mix point, Live’s internal processing is still done at 32-bit. Thus, signals that are mixed across multiple summing points may still result in an extremely small amount of signal degradation. This combination of 64-bit summing within a 32-bit architecture strikes an ideal balance between audio quality and CPU/memory consumption.
This is from the Live 8 manual (obviously true for Live 7 as well). I'm pretty sure this means that the channels have twice the headroom (bitwise) of the master output once rendered. I'm nearly positive I read somewhere else in the manual or something that said it doesn't matter how "into the red" the channels themselves go, they have an infinite amount of headroom. 0.0 dB is there basically only as a reference point to keep levels in check and keep you from pushing all the levels up further and further.

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