Maximising Audio Quality

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iggs
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Maximising Audio Quality

Post by iggs » Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:25 pm

Hello everyone
I have a question in regards to maximising the audio quality when using Live for DJing.
i am using the Maudio Audiophile in which i have assigned channels 1 and 2 for the main and 3 and 4 for the cue channels. this plugs into an Ecler Nuo mixer in which i run the audio through one of its channels and use another channel as a cue monitoring channel. all this plugs into another computer for recording the audio that comes out of the Ecler. i use this configuration because i also sometimes incorporate cd's or vinyl into my mixes.
within live each audio directly has an auto filter and a flange. similarly i use sends/returns for each channel in which i usually use beat repeat, auto filter, delay, bit crusher, etc.
i have always been an analog dj and audio quality has always been something easy to manage. now when mixing or using effects in Live it is so much easier to redline whatever comes out of the Live master channel. I.E when 2 or more tracks are playing simultaneously or when an effect is applied.
Is there anything i am missing in my Live effects chain? i understand that i need compressors or limiters but i have never used them. where abouts in the chain do i need to put these and what settings do i need?

cheers,
IGGS

laird
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Post by laird » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:34 pm

Don't compressed/limit well recorded songs. I'm not sure what you mean by tracks, as recording engineers and DJs both use the word to mean something quite different.

You can redline everything inside live, as long as you keep the master fader turned down low enough you wont be getting clipping... if you dont belive me, try it out and trust your ears.

Anyway, a little red on an analog mixer is fine... a little red in the digital domain used to mean bad, but now... well... now you will do more harm to your audio by adding limiters and compressors when instead you can just turn the master fader down a bit where needed.

Now, adding compressors to an effects chain can be very useful _IF_ you find there is too much fluctuation in the volume of said FX chain. You can place a compressor at the start or at the end and achieve results that are similar, but differently flavored.

iggs
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Post by iggs » Thu Oct 30, 2008 10:38 pm

hello
when i refer to tracks, i refer to the prerecorded song or clip. as a dj most of them are about 7 minutes long(i.e the entire song).
one thing that i have tried is using a utility in each of the audio tracks with a setting at -5 then in the master ive added a saturator with +3. i dont get redlining from the master with this configuration but when i apply send/return effects, some effects seem to sound significantly louder.

Pepehouse
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Post by Pepehouse » Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:56 pm

I'm not an expert in audio but I use a limiter for djing and it sounds great, try this one, it's free and it's made for dummies because it only has one knob, set it to -6 as the last effect in the master channel and you are done: http://www.kjaerhusaudio.com/classic-master-limiter.php
A day without House Music isn't the end of the world but is so damn close.

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djgroovy
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Re: Maximising Audio Quality

Post by djgroovy » Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:52 am

iggs wrote: within live each audio directly has an auto filter and a flange.
Get rid of that.

obeyendevor
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Post by obeyendevor » Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:57 pm

I would definitely second a SUBTLE limiter on the master. Moving volume faders can do way more than compression. Compression is used for individual processing for vocals, drums, etc... not for whole tracks. I have my limiter set to -.2 auto release and attack fairly low.

Atomikat
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Post by Atomikat » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:43 pm

I have each track set up to a max of -6dB and the master volume to -3dB, this way I won't go to red in the mixer. And...the last in the chain of effects in the master channel is a Limiter. :)

Superchibisan
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Post by Superchibisan » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:50 pm

go get the BBE Sonic Maximizer plugin.

slap that on your master and don't get too crazy with it. shit will really sound tight if you know what you're doing with it.

audiovoid
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Post by audiovoid » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:43 pm

laird wrote:Don't compressed/limit well recorded songs. I'm not sure what you mean by tracks, as recording engineers and DJs both use the word to mean something quite different.

You can redline everything inside live, as long as you keep the master fader turned down low enough you wont be getting clipping... if you dont belive me, try it out and trust your ears.

Anyway, a little red on an analog mixer is fine... a little red in the digital domain used to mean bad, but now... well... now you will do more harm to your audio by adding limiters and compressors when instead you can just turn the master fader down a bit where needed.

Now, adding compressors to an effects chain can be very useful _IF_ you find there is too much fluctuation in the volume of said FX chain. You can place a compressor at the start or at the end and achieve results that are similar, but differently flavored.
I've read numerous places to NEVER turn your Daw's master bus fader down more than -.03 db or so because it's actually reduscing the digital resolution of your audio quality. Turn down the individual track volumes or even throw a utility plugin on your master output and turn It's gain knob down.
I've also gotta say that Ableton (ecspecially since v7) is VERY forgiving with clipping. You can literally redline everything and sometimes you won't even hear artifacts at all. Not to say that it's good practice to do that but it's 64 bit audio engine does seem to leave some headroom open after obvious meter clipping.
On another note you should have no problem by puting a high quality transparent limiter on your master output for djing. I don't recommend using abletons compressor or any of it's limiter/mastering racks though.
Use something like Waves L2, Wavearts Final Plug, or Izotope Ozone in brickwall limiting mode.
I've been using the T-racks standalone AU Limiter on my master output for awhile now and it works very well to. It's more of a coloring limiter than a transparent one but it's Very Very light and effective.
Many mastering engineers will say NEVER put a limiter on something thats already been limited. But (ecspecially in Electronic music) there are exceptions and like Laird already said "Trust your ears".
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7G
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Post by 7G » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:13 am

Just stick a saturator (default preset) before this limiter :http://www.yohng.com/w1limit.html in order to keep your levels around 0 while maximizing your song.This way limiter serves only to keep things out of cliping...If you want some pumping effect on your track though remove the saturator and leave only the limiter.
I like to drive saturator 8,5dB up with High Quality mode on and push those track volumes down...
I tested it side by side with Sonnox inflator (smooth maximizing preset)
and i got the same results
Don't put too many things on your master,these 2 will do just fine
Pay biggest attention on mixing your indivisual tracks...

Yorgos

laird
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Post by laird » Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:04 pm

audiovoid wrote:
I've read numerous places to NEVER turn your Daw's master bus fader down more than -.03 db or so because it's actually reduscing the digital resolution of your audio quality.
that was true 10 years ago, for 16bit recording systems. Your information is now out of date.

audiovoid
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Post by audiovoid » Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:05 pm

laird wrote:
audiovoid wrote:
I've read numerous places to NEVER turn your Daw's master bus fader down more than -.03 db or so because it's actually reduscing the digital resolution of your audio quality.
that was true 10 years ago, for 16bit recording systems. Your information is now out of date.

One Arcticle:http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:7D ... =firefox-a

quote :
"Proper gain-staging through grouping. So you start a project, and keep adding tracks. The overall level creeps up with each new track, so you pull it down the master volume to compensate. Eventually, all your tracks are hitting 0, but your master is at –20 or so. This was a real problem with older digital systems that had low resolution, but even in today’s world, many engineers maintain you’ll get a better sound if you keep the master at 0 and lower the individual track levels. To maintain the mix among tracks that you slaved over for the past few hours, group the trim controls for all tracks and bring them down (ratiometrically, of course) until your master can sit at 0 without clipping. Then, ungroup so you have independent control over each channel again."
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laird
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Post by laird » Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:15 am

you'll notice that that article is about how to group tracks in generic DAWs (which Live does not do!), not about maintaining the best audio quality.

And also note that Craig Anderton does not say "I agree with these engineers", he merely uses that as an example why you might want to group tracks.

You'd have to be turning the master fader down well over -100dB to start losing resolution when rendering from a 32bit float file to a 16bit wav of aif.


Here's a good read on how bit depth & the Master Fader affect audio quality in Ableton Live
http://www.ableton.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=87523

in fact, when rendering files, keeping your master fader UP UP UP so that your 24bit file hits close to 0dB is a no-no, you'll do more harm than good. This is for mastering, not for performance, mind you.

Sophistik
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^^

Post by Sophistik » Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:27 am

Yes you can. You route each individual channel output to an auxilary submix bus.

laird
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Post by laird » Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:27 am

ALSO
http://tarekith.com/assets/mixdowns.html
a very good read on mixdowns.

Notice he says he keeps the master fader at 0dB and turns down the individual tracks... but he qualifies this with "To begin with, I tend to follow the school of thought that you should not touch the master fader in your DAW " not because it's the highest quality way to work, but "I think it forces you to work in a more consistent fashion". Great advice, it can save your but, especially if you use VSTs and such... but not necessary for reasons of losing audio detail.


I dont recall either of these people ever saying they can hear the difference between a Live session that peaks at -6dB because the individual faders were kept low versus one that was kept there by use of the master fader. Even if they could, for the 99.9% rest of us, making decisions based on stuff we can't hear will not improve our audio quality... it'll just make us feel better.

PS, also
http://tarekith.com/assets/Leveling.html
Last edited by laird on Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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