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Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

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Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:40 pm

Hi all,
As the title suggests, I am a new fish in the somewhat murky waters of digital music recording. I have got myself a starter set up which includes a Focusrite saffire 6 USB interface. I'm using Ableton Live as my DAW. Until funds allow for monitor speakers, I'm monitoring through good quality headphones.
The problem I'm having is that in order to achieve decent volume levels through my headphones, I have to crank the gain and headphone volume up to almost max. Not a major issue in itself, but it results in the 'overload' red light on the interface blinking at me and makes for crackly vocal recordings. Any ideas? Also, when I get monitors is this likely to be resolved?
Sorry to launch my presence here with what is probably a very naive question, but you guys seem to know your stuff.
I appreciate it very much.
Major
PS As I said, I am brand new to this so by all means treat me like a total novice. I have exhausted all my technical terminology in the above piece of writing
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:31 pm

Welcome buddy.

It would be helpful if you can say what the headphones are. High impedance 'phones might respond as you describe. A low impedance model might give you more volume for less 'driving'.

It's very important to have an appropriate level going into the mic input and the gain control should be used for this, not for compensating for a low monitor level. Distortion at this stage cannot be rectified later.

A set of active monitors will be expecting the kind of signal your interface produces. If you're very attached to your existing 'phones you may want to consider a separate headphone amp.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:41 pm

Hello,
Thanks for getting back to me so soon. My headphones are Beyerdynamic DT100.

Also I have a dynamic mic and a condenser mic and get same thing with both. Just getting really poor sound which is making recording all but impossible. Thanks again.

Cheers
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby sam-matter » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:03 pm

It looks likely that the Impedance of your headphones are causing the low volume problem.

You say that you have DT100's... a good choice and often cited as a studio engineers headphone of choice.

But did you know there are two versions?

The Beyerdynamic DT 100 Grey - 400 Ohm and the Beyerdynamic DT 100 Grey - 16 Ohm. And the different values of electrical resistance (ohms) makes a big difference.

There is a long article on the SOS website which explains it all much better than I can... Understanding Impedance... but to pick out the most relavant bit:

"Increasingly, people tend to use high-quality 'professional'-impedance headphones with portable equipment, and this is rarely a problem, except that the maximum volume will be reduced compared to a lower-impedance design"

So I'm guessing you have the 400 Ohm version. I would have thought that the Saffire 6 USB would be able to drive them but since you are unhappy with the volume then the 16 Ohm version might have been better for your setup.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:09 pm

Welcome Major,

You purchased possibly the least efficient headphones that you could! Excellent rep' that Beyers have for sound quality they have a lowish sensitivity of 94dBSPL (for I assume 1mW in?) most phones are at around 100dB, This 6dB loss would hardly matter but that it is compounded by a much higher impedance than most modern "cans" of 400Ohms. 32Ohms is a common impedance these days with 100Ohms being about the upper limit. You will find very few interfaces that will drive those phones to high levels and precious few budget mixers. You will also need to be careful what you buy in terms of a headphone amp (for that is the only way if you want to keep the DT100s) but I am sure good suggestions are being thought of as I type!

Regarding the mic and recording levels I suspect you are trying to record too hot. Digital is not tape. You should be running 24bits and 44.1kHz and the software meters averaging about -18dBFS,peaks no higher than about -8dBFS.

Getting computer, AI and recording software happily married can be a bit of a trial but at least you have come to the right place!

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby The Elf » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:09 pm

Hi and welcome!

I have a couple of pairs of high-impedance DT-100 and they need a very meaty headphone amp to drive them properly. I suspect your DT-100s are the same.

DT-100s are robust and good for low-bleed tracking, but they also sound pretty dire and I certainly wouldn't want to mix with them.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:17 pm

There you go.

I find the "dire" sound (I totally agree, by the way) is quite useful when tracking. Some folks (including me) can get a bit preoccupied with the detail of a sound rather than their own singing/playing. I have found myself saying "I need the hd-25s for what I'm doing so if you could use the dt-100s I'd appreciate it". Instant tuning/timing improvement.

Not for everyone but it's worth considering.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:21 pm

Thanks again. I was actually reading that article as I didn't know what impedance was. I do have the 400 ohm 'phones.

I have a set of fairly cheap speakers with a woofer. I usually jack them into a laptop using the headphone slot (the speakers have the small jack). I am not sure if they will plug into the interface? There are four sockets of this size on the back of the saffire, but the speakers run off a single jack.

Thanks for your help. I have a bit of man flu so the confusion levels are exacerbated.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:24 pm

Thanks all for your responses. I am relieved as I'm happy to change the 'phones if it will correct the problem.

Thank you.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:28 pm

ef37a wrote:Welcome Major,

Regarding the mic and recording levels I suspect you are trying to record too hot. Digital is not tape. You should be running 24bits and 44.1kHz and the software meters averaging about -18dBFS,peaks no higher than about -8dBFS.

Dave.

Thanks for your reply, Dave. It all made sense until I got to the above sentence. I am baffled completely. That said, I do want to understand this stuff and how it impacts recording. Any chance of breaking it down a little more for a thickie?

Thanks and regards,

Major
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:49 pm

Ok M!
If you have ever done any tape recording, (ripping LPs for the car?)you will know of the level meters (often called but never were "VU"meters). The trick was to get the signal as hot as possible, banging the "0" even into the red part so that you kept well above tape hiss?

Well digital recording for all practical purposes does not have any "hiss"!You will be aware of the silent backgound of CD? Well even the cheapest of Audio Interfaces* is as good as that and most are considerably better. The upshot of all this is that you do not, and indeed must not record into "the red"...Big No-No! Keep your signals averaging about halfway up the meters and never closer than 3/4 up on peaks. Of course, this results in rather quiet recordings so you need to crank the monitoring system a bit but in any case you can boost the signals digitally post recording (did say it was complicated to start with!)

*Only a week ago tested a Behringer UCA202, 20QUIDish. Returned -87dBFS noise. That is not far short of CD theoretical max.

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:57 pm

Re the 16Ohm Beyers.
I would not go that route 'twere I, that is too low IMHO, almost as daft as the 8 Ohm phones of yesteryear.

Either buy different phones more suited to mixing (Sennheiser do NOT make a bad one!) or a good headphone amp. I suspect the latter will prove more useful in the long run.

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:27 pm

Thanks very much Dave.
So I could go for a set sennheisers for £30 - £40 and they'd be ok? Interesting looking at that interface you tested. Would be a bit of a psychological sting if that £20 unit proved to be more up to the task than the £150 one I have just acquired.
Cheers and thanks again.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:14 am

I've gone to the other extreme now and plugged in my in ear ipod 'phones. No difference.
Thinking of giving that other interface a go also. Night all and thanks for the help and advice.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:31 am

majorhangups wrote:I've gone to the other extreme now and plugged in my in ear ipod 'phones. No difference.
Thinking of giving that other interface a go also. Night all and thanks for the help and advice.
Hmm, just run a set of Senn' HD448s from my NI Ka6 interface.
Running Samplitude Silver's demo tracks(you can download same, it is a very good, fairly simple DAW with MP3 encoding)and the level pot at 3 o'clock I get quite enough level, certainly as much as I would want to listen to for extended periods. That is with the tracks peaking to -2dBFS and I am registered deaf!

The 448s are ~$100 phones and spec' out at 114dBSPL for 1volt in and are 32 Ohms.

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby The Elf » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:47 am

You sure your DAW's master output fader is set to 0?
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:50 am

The Elf wrote:You sure your DAW's master output fader is set to 0?

Good point!

There might also be something wrong in the level settings in Windows.

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ken long » Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:16 pm

ef37a wrote:
You purchased possibly the least efficient headphones that you could! Excellent rep' that Beyers have for sound quality they have a lowish sensitivity of 94dBSPL (for I assume 1mW in?) most phones are at around 100dB, This 6dB loss would hardly matter but that it is compounded by a much higher impedance than most modern "cans" of 400Ohms. 32Ohms is a common impedance these days with 100Ohms being about the upper limit.

Dave,

He said he was a novice. Why all the tech guffaw without any explanation of your points (correct as they are)?

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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:18 pm

Hi Ken,
Been doing this a while and I prefer to consider people as novices not uneducated children. I like to pitch the tekky bar a bit high so as not to insult folks and they can always come back to me and say "WTF are you talking about you BOF!" As indeed Mr M did (but very politely of course!)regarding recording levels.

Whilst I have the greatest respect for those individuals less "with it" than ourselves I have very little for someone who can read and write, hold down a resonsible job, pass a driving test and generally negotiate the clutter of modern life but who won't apply themselves to learning at least Ohms Law! 'Tis only the same equation as speed/time/distance and even moving onto power ratings is way less complex than those "If it take 3 men 6hrs to dig a hole 2mtrs deep by..." equations that bored us rigid as school ('cept mine were in rods, poles and perches and the soil in cwts. Got it EASY you kids today!).

If peeps are serious about learning this stuff they will stick with us and ask. Then, I might be ok with electronics and audio jargon but 7 years ago I was a complete numpty with computers...YES! Even numptier than now!

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:01 pm

Hi guys,
Thanks again for all the help. I was at a total loss. I have been fiddling about a bit and have managed to get a little more sound to the 'phones without having the gain up high at all (around about 2-3 on the dial), and no clipping (my latest techie word).
That said, when I listen back to the recording I have next to no sound at all, no matter what I do. Is this likely to be related to the headphones still? As I said, I'm completely new to this and am sure that the sound can be altered with the software - I just don't know how. My default fountain of all knowledge (youtube) is not coming up with the goods

Thanks again, in advance.
M
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby The Elf » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:21 pm

majorhangups wrote:That said, when I listen back to the recording I have next to no sound at all, no matter what I do. Is this likely to be related to the headphones still?
I doubt it. I'd place a sizable bet that you have a setting wrong somewhere. I suspect there's a fader, or volume control turned down somewhere. You need to work through the chain and find it.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:41 pm

Elf - Re the setting, I strongly suspect this is the case.

Dave - my waves look nothing like that. They're far smaller, resembling a blip rather than a spike. I'll look into the download you recommend.

This whole thing is probably something quite simple that any one of you could rectify in a moment were you to have things infront of you, before proceeding to beat me about the head with the nearest piece of hardware.

I'm am so very grateful for the feedback and help.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:21 pm

Arggh! The (cyber)world is going to H in a handcart.
Timewas you just downloaded demo software. Then you had to download a download "manager". Now, to get a demo of Ableton I have to download a 364kb "downloader" to then download a 1.24M "installer" to get the download of Ableton! (all the while of course being very vigilant not to get caught by some near viral crap that forks one's emails or some such!). #There was an old woman who swallowed a fly.....#

Anyhoo M, I have it working. I dropped in my "test piece" a very clean clip of Son on acoustic guitar and it sounded horrible! Loud but horrible, something called "warp" was set on, not by me, and never will be again! Can't say I like the look? Bit bleak.

Yes, this is the booger of computer recording. Some little setting somewhere that can be a reet pain to find but blindingly obvious when you do!

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby majorhangups » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:49 pm

Hi Dave,

Yep, completely agree that we're on an exponential curve to H as far as our advancements go. I'm thinking of digging out a tape to tape and just doing a bit of high speed dubbing instead.
Anyway, I've dowloaded the free version of Samplitude 11 silver. Can't find much on youtube in terms of how to get strarted with it. The screenshots look completely different (pro version and the like).

Cheers,
M
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:58 pm

majorhangups wrote:Hi Dave,

Yep, completely agree that we're on an exponential curve to H as far as our advancements go. I'm thinking of digging out a tape to tape and just doing a bit of high speed dubbing instead.
Anyway, I've dowloaded the free version of Samplitude 11 silver. Can't find much on youtube in terms of how to get strarted with it. The screenshots look completely different (pro version and the like).

Cheers,
M
NO! Don't give up yet! Loads of fun I promise you. Check PMs.

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:41 pm

Persevere, the bits you learn here will be useful whichever programme you eventually settle on and now you have the attention of the room I'd advise to stick with it

If it's as simple as an unticked box or a low fader setting you'll have it sorted once and for all. There's nothing to be gained by returning to cheap anal log, you'll just end up back here with less hair.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby Fran Guidry » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:58 pm

ef37a wrote:Arggh! The (cyber)world is going to H in a handcart.
Timewas you just downloaded demo software. Then you had to download a download "manager". Now, to get a demo of Ableton I have to download a 364kb "downloader" to then download a 1.24M "installer" to get the download of Ableton! (all the while of course being very vigilant not to get caught by some near viral crap that forks one's emails or some such!). #There was an old woman who swallowed a fly.....#

Anyhoo M, I have it working. I dropped in my "test piece" a very clean clip of Son on acoustic guitar and it sounded horrible! Loud but horrible, something called "warp" was set on, not by me, and never will be again! Can't say I like the look? Bit bleak.

Yes, this is the booger of computer recording. Some little setting somewhere that can be a reet pain to find but blindingly obvious when you do!

Dave.

There's a wonderful piece of recording software that bends over backward to make itself available to you, try REAPER. http://www.cockos.com/reaper/download.php The demo is _fully_ functional, the download is tiny, there is no license manager or dongle or other license enforcement tool. The installation is quick and simple, the code it tight, the functionality is quite complete. I could go on for a while but you get the idea - I think it's a winner.

As I recall from rigging electric guitars, PA systems, analog tape recording, and motorcycle repair, it's always some little setting that I didn't know about that was blindingly obvious once I knew about it - and those systems were as analog as could be.

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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:01 pm

Hi Fran,
I have Reaper, bought and paid for. I have tried it, it IS good but I cannot get on. I have Cakewalk Sonar Ex1 and hate it! Cubases Ess 4 LE5 and LE6. Ok but I rarely use them myself (son does, depending upon what he is doing)
The truth is we started with a 10quid copy of MAGIX Studio generation 6 and found that baffling! But since it was all there was that we could afford so we got to grips. Computer Music then "gave away" Sampltude SE8 and we have never looked back!
I am hoping Son comes home for crimble when I shall show him the trial of Samplitude Producer and if he like it buy it. I might even go raving mad and buy Sam proX!

Dave.
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Re: Brand new to this. Happy to be here but need some help please

Postby Pete Kaine » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:00 am

The Elf wrote:
I doubt it. I'd place a sizable bet that you have a setting wrong somewhere. I suspect there's a fader, or volume control turned down somewhere. You need to work through the chain and find it.

Just playing about with a USB 6 my desk so to give you some starting points on the signal chain:

It looks like windows audio control panel has control over the Saffire so the obvious places to check would be the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of your desktop which will open a mixer panel where you need to make sure you've got everything turned up.

Following that head into the sound section in windows control panel.
Once you get into the sound section go to "Playback" click on each output to open the properties box and click on "levels" and crank them up.

Repeat the process for the recording section to ensure plenty of incoming signal.

After that your levels will be controlled either by the Saffires front panel or the application that your using to record so adjust to suit.

Past that lot I don't think the is much that should get in the way settings wise.
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