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Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

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Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby sfunk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:59 am

Hi i've posted this in another thread but im not sure people picked up on it. I'm wondering if my approach is correct.
Assuming the audio hasn't been tracked with levels averaging -18DbFS i'll put Sonalksis FreeG as the first insert and attenuate until the RMS is -18DbFS. What i have noticed is i can now pretty much crank the input of the Alex B program in the next insert fully and its only around the max point i get red lights (this is the clip indicator in Neb right?) I use the point where it "red lights" as my maximum reference and attenuate the input from there for the "correct" amount of drive
When i then insert a R2R program in the next Nebula instance i do the same thing, crank the imput until i get red lights then attenuate it by ear.
I wonder if Alex could confirm this. When he says have levels at -18 i assume he says this because he has somehow calibrated the input to behave so you can crank it all the way before the clip lights show? To mimic the headroom of the original desk i assume? -18dbFS being equivalent to 0 on the VU meter?
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby yr » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:35 am

The idea is to use the console presets at nominal levels to produce the most accurate/realistic results that correspond to the hardware. This means that whenever you are going above OVU (peak levels of about -12dBFS) you will be driving the console and adding more saturation to the signal.

What you are doing right now is basically using the consoles with "pinned" meters- very high levels of distortion. What I normally do is place an instance of freeG before the console line input and a copy of the PSP VintageMeter (free) after it. You can also use the nebula input slider to control the gain instead of freeG but it is more difficult to make subtle/accurate changes. I then adjust the freeG levels while observing the meters on the VintageMeter so that the peak levels are around 0VU (don't forget to set it up so that 0VU= -18dBFS). You can use higher gain levels to drive the console input a bit. I do the same with the console output preset while allowing slightly higher levels.
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby sfunk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:03 pm

Yes thats what i though, pushing the input to the max before the clip light comes on is like "pinning the meter" as you say. I'm not implying i have all tracks maxed i just noticed this behavior and assume this was why he suggests to have the level at -18 otherwise when the program is loaded the default position of the input control would be almost "pinning the meter" I'm just curious if Alex has somehow calibrated the input gain to respond like this? I assume he did
Is Alex still posting havent heard much from him since Slate
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby highvoltage » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:33 pm

the clip indicator will light up if you only crank up the output slider in nebula, and the signal exceeds its limit, so its not directly linked to the input.
If you go into red with the input and then lower the output of nebula, the clip indicator will turn off. So its not really revealing anything INSIDE nebula.
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby sfunk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:42 pm

interesting. Are you sure about this? When i crank the input clips are indicated but are turned off when i attenuate the input back down. Also if i crank it really hard there is a piercing ringing distortion that will also disappear when the input is backed off. All of this would suggest the clip indicator is affected by the input?
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby highvoltage » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:40 pm

sfunk wrote:interesting. Are you sure about this? When i crank the input clips are indicated but are turned off when i attenuate the input back down. Also if i crank it really hard there is a piercing ringing distortion that will also disappear when the input is backed off. All of this would suggest the clip indicator is affected by the input?


offcourse it is affected, i was trying to say that it is just as much affected by the input as the output level. So the clip indicator does not show when nebula is overloaded internally, but it merely shows when nebula's output exceeds the digital 0dB.

Try increasing the input to a level when it goes into red, and then reduce nebula's output, the clip indicator will turn off no matter if nebula sounds ringy and faulty.

Im just saying this so you don't make the mistake of thinking nebula will show you when you have crossed the line.
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby sfunk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:39 pm

cool for some reason i always imagined that clip indicator was only dependent on input, probably because of the left hand orientation of it.
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby scooter » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:26 pm

sfunk wrote:cool for some reason i always imagined that clip indicator was only dependent on input, probably because of the left hand orientation of it.

I'm pretty sure highvoltage is only half right. ;)

The clip indicator will turn on if you clip on the input or output and it's up to you to adjust the gain depending on which is clipping. Nebula won't tell you which one is clipping. You can experience this for yourself by adjusting the gain for the in & out, in the GLOBE edit page.

EDIT: Perhaps I'm wrong.
You'll have to listen for input gain staging, because the clip meter only goes off when you exceed 0db

Here's a helpful tutorial for gain staging in NAT
http://www.acustica-audio.com/forum/index.php?f=11&t=489&p=4233&hilit=tip%20of%20the%20month&rb_v=viewtopic#p4233
Last edited by scooter on Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby citizenpaul » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:11 pm

Interesting thread. Personally I use the Nebula tools programme to process Alex B / R2R chains offline using the function that adjusts level to -18 dB RMS.

The worry I've always had is that snare/kick tracks etc are probably getting boosted far too high as there's lots of silence within the wav file, which presumably means that the average volume *including* these silences is deceptively low... that is unless the tool only measures the average loudness when there is some audio playing. This is hard to describe but I've never known if I'm doing this correctly...

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A track made with Nebula: http://music.acitizenabovesuspicion.co.uk/
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Re: Gain Staging AlexB and R2R

Postby scooter » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:02 am

I record at -10db peak most of the time.
So simply dropping ALexB's stuff in works like a charm.
When I use the CDSoundMaster or AITB stuff, I have to go into Program > Edit > Globe and adjust the in and out accordingly, to work with the lower level Alex B stuff.

You can actually setup the CSM & AITB stuff with a test tone and save the preset, in order to have the gain adjusted before hand.
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