Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

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infiniteB
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Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by infiniteB » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:16 am

I usually record my tracks with fader starting out at -6, or even -12db, giving headroom to the master output. However, there's a track that I am sending to a mastering engineer (as a test track to see what skills are there), which is peaking at -3. Although this can be worked with, I want to give him a master track peaking at -6 or below... since my project has many, many tracks, what's the best way to bring the master to peak at -6, while keeping its fader at 0? The utility plugin? Something else? any help would be greatly appreciated...
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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by infiniteB » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:39 am

group all tracks then reduce fader of the group fader before sending to master?
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Muzik 4 Machines
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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by Muzik 4 Machines » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:48 am

lower the master fader before bouncing?

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by Tarekith » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:04 am

Either of those will work. If you're only lowering it -3dB, should be an issue to just lower the master fader. Otherwise, select all the track headers in session view, then lower one fader 3dB. The other faders will also lower by that same amount.

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by Muzik 4 Machines » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:56 am

i prefer lowering the master as lowering all tracks, when some have automation, is a real PITA IMOHO(and experience, but i think live handles that way better than logic does)

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by infiniteB » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:38 am

Makes sense. I was going to lower the master fader, but the request from the potential mastering engineer was to keep the Master at 0. I understand what was meant now, though.
One question though. If I were to lower each track, even together, wont lowering all tracks uniformly by Xdb, after having already mixed them, change the scope of the mix, as opposed to lowering each one a certain percentage of db(s), since each track is relative to the others? Or am I looking at this wrong?
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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by grooverb » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:39 am

Leave your master fader at 0dB, and do all your adjustments on the channel faders.

If you're lowering all the channels in unison, i.e. select all the faders and bring them all down together, the only thing that will change will be the volume you are hearing, so you can compensate it buy turning the sound output up a bit on your AI. If you go through the tracks 1 by 1 then you'll probably put your mix out, but dropping them all at the same time means you'll be able to drop the combined output without affecting your overall mix down.

Its a good idea to listen to your tracks at different volumes anyway. You want to double check your mix down in as many ways as possible. Don't use your master fader to adjust the final volume of the track. You'll just be turning down a signal that's too hot with out actually dealing with the cause.

I read an article ages ago that said stick your drums and bass at about -8, and then start adding your other instrument and reducing the channel faders together to keep it about -6. Been doing that and my mix downs translate quite well. This is also a good reason to group tracks. Have your drums all in one group, basses, in another, leads in another etc, then you got less channels to reduce the volume on once you get your sound set how you want it.

I was chatting on Musicradar a few weeks ago and was told to get stuff down to -18dB, which is around the 0dB mark if it was in analog and allows plenty of headroom.

Melda's audio analyser has peak and Loudness Unit meters on it. If you get it bouncing around 0 on the loudness it peaks about -10-12 which from other things I've been reading should put your RMS at about -18

If you're interested Mark Snoman's Dance Music Manual is a pretty good read, and I'm about halfway through Bob Katz's book on mastering. There's so many little bits of useful info.

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by Illiac » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:33 am

yes, the utility plugin.

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by milosh » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:38 am

The utility plugin is one of my favorites :)

mharris
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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by mharris » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:49 am

Can someone please explain what the technical difference is between a) reducing the master fader. b) turning down a Utility on the master track. c) turning down all tracks/groups individually.

From my understanding of Live's internal processing these three things will all do pretty much exactly the same thing

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by grooverb » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:01 pm

mharris wrote:Can someone please explain what the technical difference is between a) reducing the master fader. b) turning down a Utility on the master track. c) turning down all tracks/groups individually.

From my understanding of Live's internal processing these three things will all do pretty much exactly the same thing

If you are hitting the red on the master fader, you probably won't hear any clipping that's occurring until you render the track. You also won't have much dynamic range. By pulling the Master fader down, you're just turning down a hot signal with reduced dynamic range and making it worse, so you'll get a crappy end result. Using a utility plug in will pretty much do the same thing. People often get LOUD with GOOD confused. If everything is too loud it will be shit. If you want to hear it loud turn up the volume on your AI.

By doing your mix down and then dropping all the channel faders to produce a signal about -6dB (better aiming there from the start) on the master fader its allowing music/signal room to 'breath' and let all the dynamics come through, and it allows the mastering engineer some room to work with and hopefully take your already fantastic sounding track and turn it into something mind blowing!

Don't forget, you want to select all the channels, click and pull on one fader and it will pull all the others down at the same time so your mix down stays as you set it. If you try doing it all one at a time, you'll start throwing stuff out of balance, get pissed off etc etc etc.

This is also a really good reason to do all your automation on volume in the clips rather than on the faders.

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by mharris » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:13 pm

grooverb wrote:If you are hitting the red on the master fader, you probably won't hear any clipping that's occurring until you render the track. You also won't have much dynamic range. By pulling the Master fader down, you're just turning down a hot signal with reduced dynamic range and making it worse, so you'll get a crappy end result. Using a utility plug in will pretty much do the same thing. People often get LOUD with GOOD confused. If everything is too loud it will be shit. If you want to hear it loud turn up the volume on your AI.

By doing your mix down and then dropping all the channel faders to produce a signal about -6dB (better aiming there from the start) on the master fader its allowing music/signal room to 'breath' and let all the dynamics come through, and it allows the mastering engineer some room to work with and hopefully take your already fantastic sounding track and turn it into something mind blowing!

Don't forget, you want to select all the channels, click and pull on one fader and it will pull all the others down at the same time so your mix down stays as you set it. If you try doing it all one at a time, you'll start throwing stuff out of balance, get pissed off etc etc etc.

This is also a really good reason to do all your automation on volume in the clips rather than on the faders.
But we're not talking about a hot signal, the OP has stated his master track is peaking at -3dBFS.
In this case turning the master fader down -6db is EXACTLY the same as leaving the master fader alone and reducing all the tracks by -6db. Do a phase cancellation test and check for yourself.

Ableton has enough "safety margin" headroom for this not to be an issue. Even if the master track was going way into the red before the gain reduction it still wouldn't make any difference.

grooverb
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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by grooverb » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:52 pm

mharris wrote:But we're not talking about a hot signal, the OP has stated his master track is peaking at -3dBFS.

I was answering your question, which didn't refer back to infinite B's original question...

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by bragi0 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:46 pm

Live uses a 32bit floating point summing mixer, like most other professional digital mixing software (Protools etc). This means that internally you won't clip internally until you get a summing bus to go over +60dB.

So it's OK to have the master volume at -66dB, if your input was peaking at +60dB to get a -6dB peak at final output. Mathematically that's absolutely no different to using the channel faders to drop the individual channel volumes to get the same result.

If you have non-ableton effects on the master channel -> I don't know. It would depend on the effect and what internal processing it's doing.

http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=141699

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Re: Best way to reduce master output to -6db?

Post by grooverb » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:50 pm

mharris wrote: Do a phase cancellation test and check for yourself.
I'm not sure a phase cancellation test would prove anything anyway, apart from you having two tracks out of phase.

If you bounce down a track, copy it on to 2 tracks and stick one out of phase, of course it will cancel the other out, no matter how hot it is. You'll have the same amount of clipping etc in both tracks, in exactly the same places so it will prove nothing.

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