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Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
vvaterspots
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Post by vvaterspots » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:36 pm

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Last edited by vvaterspots on Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

UKRuss
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Re: Headroom

Post by UKRuss » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:42 pm

No difference.

You understand headroom correctly, it really is the db gap left between 0db and your highest peaks once the track has played through. Live's meter will show this as the -db figure in the top indicator next to the meter.

Norm would be to leave around 3db headroom for the mastering engineer to play around with, if you are just mixing down you can use this headroom to boost your own level using a limiter for example to get your mixdown to a reasonable volume for playback.

Maco
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Re: Headroom

Post by Maco » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:01 pm

Image

tlennon
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Re: Headroom

Post by tlennon » Tue Jun 01, 2010 10:50 pm

^ Good one Maco. :lol:
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sweetjesus
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Re: Headroom

Post by sweetjesus » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:02 pm

Here's what I don't get about headroom in the digital world...


Why would a mastering engineer need us to turn down a mix and give him 3db (which I usually do by chucking a Utility plugin on the master and taking it down a few db), instead of doing so themselves using a trim/gain reduction plugin?

I understand in the old days it was about making sure you don't raise the noise floor from tape etc.. but these days as long as there's no clipping, the headroom shouldn't matter, no?

Tarekith
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Re: Headroom

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:08 pm

When we ask for lower mixes (I usually as for -6dBFS) is just to make sure we get a file that is not clipping in any way. The actual number doesn't matter, it's just to insure that people aren't mistakenly (or not) clipping the master channel in their DAW before rendering. For most experienced musicians, it's an obvious thing "don't clip, duh". But you'd be surpised at how often we get sent stuff that's obviously clipping bad, but the artist didn't hear it.

DangerousDave
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Re: Headroom

Post by DangerousDave » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:43 pm

Tarekith wrote:When we ask for lower mixes (I usually as for -6dBFS) is just to make sure we get a file that is not clipping in any way. The actual number doesn't matter, it's just to insure that people aren't mistakenly (or not) clipping the master channel in their DAW before rendering. For most experienced musicians, it's an obvious thing "don't clip, duh". But you'd be surpised at how often we get sent stuff that's obviously clipping bad, but the artist didn't hear it.
AHA. I have also wondered this for a long time. So there is no other benefit sonically to say, mixing with a 3 (or 6) db headroom and then mastering?

BTW, I have read your mixing/leveling/mastering tutorials Tarekith, and they are great btw, this is just always something I wondered.
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Tarekith
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Re: Headroom

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:56 pm

DangerousDave wrote:AHA. I have also wondered this for a long time. So there is no other benefit sonically to say, mixing with a 3 (or 6) db headroom and then mastering?
No, there's no real difference sonically between -3dB and -6dB. It's just a safety net if you will.

leedsquietman
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Re: Headroom

Post by leedsquietman » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:47 pm

You still need to watch levels even if your peak ceiling is -3dBFS instead of 0dbFS, if you send a hypercompressed file with a peak of -3 or -6dbFS it will still sound clipped/distorted and the mastering stage won't be able to make it sound a lot better - some tools, such as certain expanders (called de-compressors) can help a little but aren't a magic cure - you need some transients in your music for it to sound punchy, otherwise it's one big AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH.

Some people still whack on the gain and have high RMS levels with hypercompressing and think because the peak level is -3dBFS they are fine - No. Less is more in terms of sound quality at the mix stage. Having a limiter flat top all your audio files at -3dbFS is not a good solution.

IN the mix, I always try and leave at least 5dB of headroom in the master, and don't use a limiter on the master in most instances (I use a meter like SPAN to make sure I'm not going above the -5dB and reduce the channels if necessary), I sometimes use a limiter on the drum buss because fast transients occur on many percussion instruments and drums.
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simpli.cissimus
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Re: Headroom

Post by simpli.cissimus » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:57 pm

I turn down all faders of all tracks together, till I get -5or6dB...!

Is this O.K. too...???

How loud should a single track be...?

Some people go for -12 some -18, but I also have read that
some others go for 0dB and then turn the master down to around -6dB.

Which way is the best ???

I would like to clear this out once and for all...

Thank You...
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Tarekith
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Re: Headroom

Post by Tarekith » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:01 pm

Leave the master fader at 0dBFS, and turn down the channel faders until the master meter is peaking around -6dBFS.

simpli.cissimus
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Re: Headroom

Post by simpli.cissimus » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:42 am

Thanks I keep doing this...!

...but what do you think about the other way...?

Making sounds loud to 0dB and then going to turn the fader down on the master,
till you reach -6dB.
Maybe not with the fader but with an utility tool.

In the end you get also the level at the needed value.
But is this any different in any way...?

I would like to know what you think about this way, Tarekith.
No! I'll never use the Push-App Live 9 !!!

Tarekith
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Re: Headroom

Post by Tarekith » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:48 am

As long as you're not pulling the master fader down more than 3-6dB, I don't think it's a big issue. I personally like leaving it at 0 as then I always have a reference point, but you don't HAVE to.

leedsquietman
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Re: Headroom

Post by leedsquietman » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:55 am

For the reason I mentioned in the last post.

Should you ever work on an analogue console it is also good practice to leave the master fader at unity gain (0dB) and reduce the individual track channels and/or group busses. Also on a Protools HD rig, this analogue approach is recommended because it uses a fixed point calculation on it's DSP chips, as opposed to 32 bit floating point. So it's a better habit to do things this way, old fogeys like me who were brought up on analogue consoles and analogue tape appreciate this, you younger guys who have only known digital are tempted to just hit the master fader, on 32 bit float this is acceptable but it's a bit of an easy way out and would kill your headroom in analogue systems and while not kill, it would degrade sound quality a bit in a DSP based rig with fixed point processing, such as Protools HD, Pyramix DSP, SaDie, etc.
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Tarekith
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Re: Headroom

Post by Tarekith » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:56 am

Agreed, it's more for consistancies sake.

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