Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

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Caspy
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 pm

Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by Caspy » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:39 pm

Hello everyone. I want to start by saying I’m not an Ableton expert, however I have dabbled enough to somewhat know my way around it. For starters the equipment I am using is.

...2018 hp omen with windows 10
... MXL 3000 microphone
...Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Interface
...Ableton Live 9 Intro

My vocal recorded tracks are so low. You can see the wavelengths but nothing like any imported sounds or track that are dragged and dropped in. I usually end up duplicating the track in order to hear it(basically same recording stacked on top of each other). If I turn up the volume in Ableton it sounds distorted and like it has too much gain. However I can solo my recorded audio and it sounds fine. It’s like the instrumental is way to loud. I can also turn the gain up on my NI Komplete Audio 6 interface, but there comes a point on the knob, I can’t turn it any higher because it picks up every background sound possible and is clipping and sounds like I’m
Screaming into the microphone when I’m simply not. I’ve heard of phantom power and I’m assuming since I have a condenser microphone you need that. I have to turn on the (48V) button in order to get my microphone to work. I’m not sure if the Komplete Audio 6 has a preamp built into it(if anyone knows if that may be the problem.) Even when I have monitoring on so I can hear what the microphone is picking
Up(my live voice). I’ll turn the volume all the way up on the monitoring and I can barley hear myself. I usually have to turn the gain up to hear myself. I have also heard of another theory where you lower your instrumental or whatever instruments or sounds are too loud, so that the mix sounds good. Basically don’t worry about the mastering process until your done with your mixing process. So bacially lower or raise sounds for all tracks so the mix alone sounds good. Then once the mic is complete and sounding good. You export it and then pull it back into your DAW and then raise levels appropriately and then re export it again with proper mastering. But I don’t know if exporting and rendering a wave file over and over hurts sounds quality or not. Someone please help. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could give me some tips on this

wearemindflux
Posts: 300
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:33 pm

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by wearemindflux » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:54 am

Do you have phantom power on?

If you're using a condenser microphone it needs power.
Grab your free techno samples here>>>http://bit.ly/2YAS8so

Da hand
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Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 8:38 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by Da hand » Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:59 am

-Yes Phantom / +48v power needs to be on for Condenser Mics. But you clearly have it on, otherwise the Mic would not work at all.

- Yes, the XLR input where you are plugging in your Mic has a pre-amp and it has volume you can control - as you already found out. This is where you will set the level of your recording. The optimal level input level for recording in 24bit is around -12dB. Your signal should never clip (i.e. go in the red when recording).

- Condenser Mics are very sensitive by design - that is their purpose. So when you turn up the level on your pre-amp and you hear more sounds from your environment, that is not the pre-amp's fault - that is you simply hearing the volume louder and therefore hearing more of the quiet sounds that the mic is picking up. This is why you have to take care to control the environment you record in and why studios have vocal booths designed for this purpose.

- However boosting a cheap pre-amp too much will start introducing it's own hiss and background noise - so there is a balance between boosting the gain level on a pre-amp and having a good sound.

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

So let's see where your problem lies. The best way to do this is to follow the signal chain one step at a time. Let's start with the recording levels.

So what level are your vocal tracks recorded at?

In other words, when you put everything to 0dB on the vocal track (the clip volume and the track volume) what are the Live meters telling you?

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

Btw, if you are comparing your recording to compressed drum loops or finished/mastered tracks - then don't. Apples and Oranges :wink:

wearemindflux
Posts: 300
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:33 pm

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by wearemindflux » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:41 am

You could try a new XLR cable.
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jlgrimes
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Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by jlgrimes » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:05 pm

Caspy wrote:Hello everyone. I want to start by saying I’m not an Ableton expert, however I have dabbled enough to somewhat know my way around it. For starters the equipment I am using is.

...2018 hp omen with windows 10
... MXL 3000 microphone
...Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Interface
...Ableton Live 9 Intro

My vocal recorded tracks are so low. You can see the wavelengths but nothing like any imported sounds or track that are dragged and dropped in. I usually end up duplicating the track in order to hear it(basically same recording stacked on top of each other). If I turn up the volume in Ableton it sounds distorted and like it has too much gain. However I can solo my recorded audio and it sounds fine. It’s like the instrumental is way to loud. I can also turn the gain up on my NI Komplete Audio 6 interface, but there comes a point on the knob, I can’t turn it any higher because it picks up every background sound possible and is clipping and sounds like I’m
Screaming into the microphone when I’m simply not. I’ve heard of phantom power and I’m assuming since I have a condenser microphone you need that. I have to turn on the (48V) button in order to get my microphone to work. I’m not sure if the Komplete Audio 6 has a preamp built into it(if anyone knows if that may be the problem.) Even when I have monitoring on so I can hear what the microphone is picking
Up(my live voice). I’ll turn the volume all the way up on the monitoring and I can barley hear myself. I usually have to turn the gain up to hear myself. I have also heard of another theory where you lower your instrumental or whatever instruments or sounds are too loud, so that the mix sounds good. Basically don’t worry about the mastering process until your done with your mixing process. So bacially lower or raise sounds for all tracks so the mix alone sounds good. Then once the mic is complete and sounding good. You export it and then pull it back into your DAW and then raise levels appropriately and then re export it again with proper mastering. But I don’t know if exporting and rendering a wave file over and over hurts sounds quality or not. Someone please help. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could give me some tips on this

If you are recording 24 bit audio, it is quite common for recorded audio to be much quieter than mastered music, or even edited samples.


It is common practice to record audio where it averages around -18 dbfs. You don't have to get to literal about this but generally any audio peaking between -20 to -10 dbfs should be perfectly usable. Even going louder occasionally than this in most cases isn't bad. Even recording a bit lower than this isn't a big deal.

There are different practices but sticking between peaking somewhere between -20 and -10 is a pretty good and easy to follow practice. Going below this and you aren't getting as much resolution in you recording (which could increase the noisefloor slightly, you would have to be recording INSANELY low to have any real world damage). Usually the worst thing is having to deal with turning it up compared to much louder tracks which may or may not even be a big issue. Going above this gives you more resolution but increases the chance of your audio clipping, increases the chance of overloading your mic pre or other gear which could create unwanted distortions, causes you to worry more about gain staging at the mixing stage as you will probably easily clip the master bus easily with only a few tracks.



Exporting/Rendering a Wave shouldn't really affect sound quality. If you use 32 bit floating point to export, it shouldn't hurt sound quality at all. If you export at 24 bit, the sound quality loss will still most likely too minimal to audibly notice (unless you are clipping or exporting at a ridiculously low level).

Caspy
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 pm

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by Caspy » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:27 pm

Da hand wrote:-Yes, the XLR input where you are plugging in your Mic has a pre-amp and it has volume you can control - as you already found out. This is where you will set the level of your recording. The optimal level input level for recording in 24bit is around -12dB
——————————
So what level are your vocal tracks recorded at?

In other words, when you put everything to 0dB on the vocal track (the clip volume and the track volume) what are the Live meters telling you?

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

Btw, if you are comparing your recording to compressed drum loops or finished/mastered tracks - then don't. Apples and Oranges :wink:
A couple questions and answers

-Yes Phantom on

-I will try a new cable just to double check.

-I’m not sure what level my vocal tracks are recorded at. I usually just turn monitor on, and turn gain up 3/4 way and call it good. Depending on the type of vocal track I’m recording will determine the specifics of where I place my gain knob.

-Not sure what you mean by “when you put everything to 0db) and where do I check when it’s clipping? Usually the master clips in red. The vocals I don’t think do. Referring to my input one bar that lights up as mic is being used that is next to the Audio track name on the right side of the playlist.
—-

Any tutorials, forum posts that can help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

Caspy
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 pm

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by Caspy » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:32 pm

jlgrimes wrote:It is common practice to record audio where it averages around -18 dbfs. You don't have to get to literal about this but generally any audio peaking between -20 to -10 dbfs should be perfectly usable. Even going louder occasionally than this in most cases isn't bad. Even recording a bit lower than this isn't a big deal.

There are different practices but sticking between peaking somewhere between -20 and -10 is a pretty good and easy to follow practice.

Exporting/Rendering a Wave shouldn't really affect sound quality. If you use 32 bit floating point to export, it shouldn't hurt sound quality at all. If you export at 24 bit, the sound quality loss will still most likely too minimal to audibly notice (unless you are clipping or exporting at a ridiculously low level).
How do I check if I’m between -20 to -10. And that is -20?? What? Dbfs? And what is the difference between 24 and 32bit... and basically If I export 32bit as many times as I want it will be fine. However 24bit will slowly degrade but once or twice wont hurt

oratowsky
Posts: 105
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:09 am
Location: los angeles

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by oratowsky » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:10 am

hey caspy

So you say
However I can solo my recorded audio and it sounds fine. It’s like the instrumental is way to loud. I can also turn the gain up on my NI Komplete Audio 6 interface, but there comes a point on the knob, I can’t turn it any higher because it picks up every background sound possible and is clipping and sounds like I’m
Screaming into the microphone when I’m simply not
sounds to me it's a problem of your vocal being too quiet compared to the instrumental? Is that accurate? If you turn down the instrumental is it better?

To record, 48v phantom power should be ON. Preamp should be ON (the LINE/INST button should be pressed IN.) The meter light should never turn red, it should always flicker GREEN.

Are you doing any processing on your vocal in ableton?
Can you include screenshots or audio examples ?

I wouldn't worry about 24/32 bit right now. You can set recording and exporting to 24 bit and forget about it.

Da hand
Posts: 1619
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 8:38 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by Da hand » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:26 pm

Hey Caspy, thanks for the feedback from your side :)

To answer your questions:
Caspy wrote:-I’m not sure what level my vocal tracks are recorded at. I usually just turn monitor on, and turn gain up 3/4 way and call it good. Depending on the type of vocal track I’m recording will determine the specifics of where I place my gain knob.
Caspy wrote:The vocals I don’t think do. Referring to my input one bar that lights up as mic is being used that is next to the Audio track name on the right side of the playlist.
So yes, if you are adjusting your soundcard volume gain knob according to what you see on the Volume Meters in Live (the green ones on the right side of the Arrangement View that you describe) then you are on your way to recording properly. You have to make sure that these Meters never, not even for a split second, go into the red.

The best way to do that is to look at the numerical input levels to make sure you have enough space to work with. The numerical levels you can, unfortunately, only see in the Session View in Live. So when you set your "Monitor In" on to record, take a look in the Session View at the same track and you will see the numerical indicators at the top of the Volume Faders (image below). If you don't see two numerical indicators, just drag the separator up. The first indicator is for the Peak dBFS Volume levels of your audio (it shows and holds the maximum level it detected, until you click on it again to reset it), the second one is simply the level you set your Volume Fader to (like the volume number you see in Arrangement).

You can, of course, use these meters not only for recording, but to see what levels your tracks already recorded into Live are playing at.

Image

dB = Decibels.

However the decibel scale is a reference scale, so you always need to state the reference for any "absolute" values you talk about (which I actually forgot to say in my previous post). Hence why we say dBFS, or dBu, etc. Don't worry about the other scales for now, just know what dBFS is - which is what you will be using 99% of the time.

dBFS, simply means Decibels relative to Full Scale - where the maximum level without distortion is 0dB and everything is then counted down as negative from there. Hence why we are always talking in negative numbers in audio production, -12dBFS for example, is 12dB down form the 0db maximum. This is the scale Live (and any other DAW) uses.

The important thing to remember is that you should always keep your volume levels below 0dBFS: (your recordings, your volume levels on your tracks, you render levels, etc, all indicated in the Live Session View ), if you don't want to get into any trouble with ugly distortions. So when you record, you have to make sure to set your gain to a level that will never go above 0dBFS (checking it in the Live Session View).
Caspy wrote:-Not sure what you mean by “when you put everything to 0db) and where do I check when it’s clipping? Usually the master clips in red. The vocals I don’t think do. Referring to my input one bar that lights up as mic is being used that is next to the Audio track name on the right side of the playlist.
—-
So yes, I kind of already partially answered that in my text above, but just to reiterate - never have your levels go above 0dBFS (into the red) anywhere, and especially on the Master channel. So if you set your Master Channel Volume Fader to "0", the output volume should not be going into the red (above 0 dBFS). If it is going into the red (above 0dBFS), then the best practice is to lower the volumes of your tracks until the Master Channel has a nice healthy volume level of around -6dBFS (check that level in the Session View).

For the vocal track, I just meant that, in order to see (with the volume meters on that track) what the true original recording level of your vocal track was, you have to disable any volume adjustments made to the vocal before this signal hits the volume meters.

On an audio track, the recorded clip (or the external input) is the first thing in the audio chain and the levels meter is the last thing on a track's audio chain. So you have to get rid of (disable) everything in between to get the level meters to read the recording alone (without any fx, volume changes, etc)

For example, if you recorded your vocal where the volume is peaking (maximum) at -6dBFS, but then you boosted the clip's volume inside the clip by 5dB, and on the track you have an effect which boosts the signal by another 3dB, and then you lowered that channel's volume by -4dB, then Live's meter will show you -2dB (as it is the last thing in the audio signal chain of each track). Which would not be helpful to know the original recording level (which was -6dB).
Caspy wrote:And what is the difference between 24 and 32bit... and basically If I export 32bit as many times as I want it will be fine. However 24bit will slowly degrade but once or twice wont hurt
The difference is that you have more data describing your audio - giving you a better resolution (but also bigger files size on your hard disk). 32bit is used for Live's internal recording / rendering. So if you are rendering out tracks to re-import them into Live, or recording from one tack to another inside Live, then yes, 32bit is usually the better way to go.

For recording from external sources - like your microphone - use 24 bit. The sound has to be converted from analog to digital by your soundcard before going into Live and there are no card manufactures that make 32bit AD/DAC (analog to digital or digital to analog converters), only 24bit, so you will just be wasting space on your hard disk for nothing.
Caspy wrote:I have also heard of another theory where you lower your instrumental or whatever instruments or sounds are too loud, so that the mix sounds good. Basically don’t worry about the mastering process until your done with your mixing process.
This is absolutely excellent advice! And I already hinted at that above with the levels. After you get your head around having healthy green signals everywhere in our session, what dBFS is, and having a good sounding mix, only then it will be time to explore Mastering and RMS and LUFS, compression, limiting, etc... to then bring your track up to the desired volume you want to be similar to professionally produced tracks.
Caspy wrote:So basically lower or raise sounds for all tracks so the mix alone sounds good. Then once the mic is complete and sounding good. You export it and then pull it back into your DAW and then raise levels appropriately and then re export it again with proper mastering. But I don’t know if exporting and rendering a wave file over and over hurts sounds quality or not. Someone please help. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could give me some tips on this
This is ok, or not so good advice - it depends on what you are doing. If you are recording your vocals straight into your project (song), then there is no reason whatsoever to export your vocal from the project to bring them back into the same project. Just record them, and work your track (song) with them.

H20nly
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Re: Vocal Recording Signal Too Low (help please)

Post by H20nly » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:06 pm

Good advice.

the page is worth a *bookmark* Caspy

if you follow what has been said above you should be able to take the vocals up a notch.

if you are looking for hardware to throw at your vocals... avoid getting too hung up on the mic and spend your serious cash on the pre-amp instead.

i can personally recommend the Twin-Finithy from Uuiversal Audio...
i stopped using a condensor mic and switched back to a good dynamic instead. this has the added benefit of not being able to pick up the spider farts and ants marching in the next room while making big beefy vocal .wav forms in Live.

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