Page 1 of 1

External recordings sound low

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:51 pm
by jrivera
Hi all,

Apologies in advance for the beginner-like question here, but I am still learning Ableton as I go.

I am currently recording a track in to a Scarlett 18i20 in to Ableton. I have two synths (Poly Evolver and D50) and a drum machine (TR8) clocking all three and these are being sent from their respected outputs in to my interface. The recording itself is fine, but I have noticed that everything seems to be recording really low. This sort of came up as I recorded something quickly recently on a small Zoom H4N and it seemed as though that the H4N had given me a rendered WAV file of that quick sketch at a greatly reduced volume in comparison to stuff I had been working on in Ableton.

When I listen to other producer's tracks, albeit these have extensive mastering on them, they sound much louder than mine and I am wondering what Im doing wrong? I realize there could be an absorbent number of factors here, but I am curious if there is common practices those of you take when your going to record an external synth like a Juno or something to that effect in to Ableton?

Any comments, suggestions, or straight-up no brainers is all welcomed, Im thick-skinned and just want to get this right.


Re: External recordings sound low

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:38 pm
by jonvalt
I'm confused by your question - EVERYTHING is low? Synths (via Audio input) and also stuff recorded on the Zoom (and then... transferred in onto your hard drive?)

What does the meter on your master bus show? Are you on a mac or pc? Are your inputs on your audio interface set to Instrument or Line?

Re: External recordings sound low

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:09 pm
by jrivera
Hi Jon,

The zoom recording I did was just a reference point and its really not related to my question so to speak except for the fact that the Zoom recording sounded impressive in comparison–sorry for the confusion.

Re: to my Ableton recording. I would say in general everything sounds a bit low in in volume. My master bus shows a green meter with the occasional yellow peak and rarely a red spike. I am on a mac and I believe my interface is set to instrument, but thats a good question I will double check.

Re: External recordings sound low

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:28 pm
by TLW
The master meter should not be going into the red. Ideally track meters shouldn’t either but that’s a bit less important unless you find the track level is overloading any plugins you use on the track. Never overload the inputs on your audio interface - the result can be digital clipping which is just a loud, harsh noise.

As a general principle if you’re recording at 24 bit depth track then meters peaking around -12dB should work reasonably well. The more tracks you add into the mix the louder the mix reaching the master bus will be, so if you have very few tracks recording a bit hotter should be OK.

Finished and mastered recordings are almost always louder - or apparently louder - than at the tracking and mixing stage. Mastering often involves limiters which both raise the overall peak levels of the track and also often reduce the difference between the peak and average volume. Our ears tend to judge loudness based on the average, and for several years making a mix sound as loud as possible was the trend, though that also tends to remove dynamics and makes the track sound “squashed”.

If audio in the tracks themselves sounds too quiet but the peak levels are OK you could try putting a compressor on the track to make the average (RMS) volume higher without raising the peak volumes.

Re: External recordings sound low

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:20 pm
by jonljacobi
Focusrite is rather famous for this if you don't get the input level just right, depending on the generation. Turn it up the gain until you see orange, back off just a hair. Sometimes you have to turn the knob or move the slider up (the control app) a lot further than might seem intuitive, but you still shouldn't get any discernible noise. Took me a long time to get used to this.