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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby apollo soul » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:56 am

So, if using freeG or similar to get numeric readout...

Just go with peaks of -12? Am I reading that right?

I had been tryingt to figure out the best way over the past few days to deal with some issues:

First, the rms readout from freeG is over a relatively short period of time, so parts of song might have higher rms value than others.

Second, some material is much more transient and dynamic than others, so those would have louder peaks at same rms... leading to a decision about which value to pay more attention to, peak or rms.

Here's what I came up with the other day, and let's see how it should be adjusted:

I went with a highest held rms value as reported by FreeG of -18. Now, of course, that means that the AVERAGE rms value throughout the song is lower than that.

BUT... this was definitely NOT giving me peaks of -12. In fact, the peaks were generally more in the -9 to -6 range... Now, by peaks, I mean the highest held peak for the track... not the average peak.

So... which is it? I I go with highest peak of -12, even my highest held rms value will be down in the -27 or so range.

To compensate for different types of material with different peak to rms ratios, what I came up with was:

Use highest held rms value of -18 UNLESS it results in a peak that goes higher than -6 at any point. If that happens, turn it down until the peak is below -6 no matter what.


So...

If I'm reading this thread correctly, I'm STILL too hot even though my average rms is well below -18, right?

Is this just a communication issue about the fact that peaks as reported by FreeG are caught much faster than a vu meter and will therefore show bigger spikes? Is it that when other people say "peaks", they mean an average peak, and not the highest held peak per track?

Just looking for clarification and an easy rule of thumb to "set it and forget it."
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby RJHollins » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:39 am

Hi Apollo,

Long time analogue guy here ...

Here is my 'set it & forget it' practice.

You are correct that RMS is an average over time, and
that the nature of the source must be considered.
example ... a Fender Rhodes compared to a Hi-Hat hit.

In the analogue world [with RMS VU meters on the tape machine, if you try to cut it a 0VU ... you with push distortion ... etc.

for simplicity [yet quite useful]...

If we look ONLY at FreeG meter display:

PEAK meter ... hit a max of -6db
RMS meters ... hit around -18dB

The critical point. HEADROOM

As known ... Digital has a critical level at which it maxes out. 0 dfs. there is nothing left, no higher number that can represent the voltage above which the audio peaks go straight line [clip].

ANY addition processing [EQ] requires so elbow room. With a 6dB overhead [at 24 or 32 bit depth] gives you room to work without ANY loss in signal quality.

So ... for 'tracking' ... I'd use -6 vu as my 0vu.

If you are using pure analogue VU meters [that display RMS] ... then -18dB [RMS] is another marker.

I would consider PEAK over RMS in importance. The reasoning ... PEAK levels are related to absolute ceiling ... and HEADROOM.

Now, you may wonder, then WHY have 2 different metering systems.

Well, from a personal perspective ... RMS VU meters [ and I don't mean MOST of the VST variety ... but REAL analogue VU meters are a visual tool that relates to our listening experience. IOW ... they move with the music [so to say], whereas digital PEAK meters are more like available space indicators. Together, they BOTH provide critical views of the system.

As mentioned in other threads ... it is, also, VERY important to calibrate the entire listening chain. This is all covered in Bob Katz web site. What he presents is old news for us old-timers ... but is critical info for those who never had the discipline taught them.

Hope this helped :)
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby apollo soul » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:16 am

So it sounds like my moderately educated guess was more or less on:

Max held rms reading of -18 UNLESS any peak anywhere crosses -6db... in which case, turn down max peak to -6db regardless of rms.

If I'm reading you correctly, it sounds like I pretty much got the translation correct.

I've read a bit from katz. I'm not officially calibrated, although certainly moving that direction for nebula gainstaging purposes. I tend to monitor at relatively consistent and conservative levels... except for double checking at higher and lower... and with ambient noise... and on computer speakers... and in phones... and... and... and...

I don't cross -6 when tracking.

My Mb usually peaks around -8 to -10.

I hadn't thought about levels in busses before, but suppose it would be easy to standardize mb and them as well... especally if everything is getting processed via virtual analog.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby RJHollins » Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:34 am

Hi Apollo,

Reading your thread about your thinking process/strategy looks very sensible and in line with engineers I've consulted with over the years. In confirmation, I see no issue with your fundamental strategy.

Just to emphasis ... [for others that may be reading], the concept of calibrating the entire audio chain, which [vitally] includes the VOLUME that emanates from the monitors, is one that has a long history. If we can shave off some years of flounder for those unfamiliar with this essential aspect, it will instill a 'predictability' into the work environment.

Calibrating the listening volume to know [from a master fader position] that you are at 'Reference' level is a difficult concept for 'inexperienced' to adhere too, but once understood AND practiced, provides a base-line for EVERY sonic decision an engineer has to make. This was standard protocol in every major studio I ever worked ... and these were rooms design for nothing BUT audio. The challenge that the 'home' recordist has makes monitoring reference levels that much more critical. For those of us fortuned to work in an acoustically neutraled control room, it is expected that we have gain structure and references firmly in place.

Once this is solidified ... THEN we can start to play with the toys, and bend them into a sonic experience under OUR direction and intent. Otherwise ... its' guesswork and accidental luck.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby faun2500 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:34 am

I'm glad that people are still discussing gain staging in Nebula as it proves that Nebula's (and 3rd party programs) gain staging is...well...ambiguous at best! 8-)

I would be very helpful if the VU meters worked and there was a standard (-18).
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby apollo soul » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:50 pm

Thx, RJ.

Agreed. I read Katz' book a year or so ago, and was just reading up on k-system a couple weeks ago. When I've got a bit of a break, I'll see about going through the steps.

I'm already quite clear that one of my greatest investments so far has been room treatment and decent monitors.

I've felt like my monitoring was pretty good, and I use sensible levels, etc... but yes, I agree, nailing calibration once and for all with a protocol from mic to channel, to buss, to master, to speakers could only help.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby ngarjuna » Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Bob Katz himself says that calibration of the listening chain is not merely advisable for K-System use it's fundamental.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby apollo soul » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:22 pm

Who said anyone was doing k-system without calibration?

Bob Katz himself has a deeply vested interest in all things K-system. Not knocking the guy, just pointing out the obvious. Yes, if you do his system, he wants it done his way.

Again... not knocking his way. Like I said, I had read up on it before coming here, and have given consideration to going through the steps as soon as I have some down time.

... but that's not just from reading his stuff.

Calibration would be an important element if he were never born and k-system did not exist as well.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby ngarjuna » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:42 pm

apollo soul wrote:Who said anyone was doing k-system without calibration?

Bob Katz himself has a deeply vested interest in all things K-system. Not knocking the guy, just pointing out the obvious. Yes, if you do his system, he wants it done his way.

Again... not knocking his way. Like I said, I had read up on it before coming here, and have given consideration to going through the steps as soon as I have some down time.

... but that's not just from reading his stuff.


The point he is making is that you are not actually utilizing the K-System if you're not calibrated. Part and parcel of the K-System is the notion of repeatable standardization (level-wise) which absolutely requires reference calibration. He's not saying it's advisable or defending the integrity of his idea, he's saying that is at the very heart of the idea itself.

The fact that calibration is also just generically a good idea (for lots of reasons) is a different matter.

Calibration would be an important element if he were never born and k-system did not exist as well.


Of course.
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Re: consoles...Consoles...CONSOLES

Postby RJHollins » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:45 pm

well ... the nice thing about the 'K' system is that it IS a system/procedure.

To be honest ... I have not done a complete switch over myself ... however, I still use the 'old-school' cal technique. Basically it is the same concept, and is one that 30 years of referencing you get adapted too 8-) .

Now ... I have a new mastering facility under construction [just got all the door hardware & seals over to the mill] ... but once in the new room, I will consider a formal 'K' referencing.

The most important that this all addresses ... NOT having to 'glue eyes to meters'. They are there [and vital], but I can focus totally on the sounds, knowing that I have a predictable listening AND level reference. :)
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