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Difficulty achieving audible levels when tracking

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Difficulty achieving audible levels when tracking

Postby Rorschach's Journal » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:57 pm

Hi,

I've recently purchased a new 17" MacBook Pro and am running Logic Studio 9 as the basis for my home studio.

I am using a Fireface 400 as my main audio interface connected via Firewire, and a Novation Ultranova as a synth and MIDI controller connected via USB 2.0.
I change settings in Logic to use the Ultranova as the audio interface when capturing the Ultranova's synth sounds as audio, rather than routing this through the Fireface, as I'm not sure how best to make the conection, and I'm not sure that it matters.

ANYWAY... I'm having trouble hearing pretty much anything I'm tracking. Sometimes guitars and software instruments are OK, sometimes not. Vocals and synths are generally problematic (and yes, I have got phantom power on where appropriate). The input meters are at an appropriate level, so there's enough signal going in, I just can't hear it very well. No amount of fiddling with the gain settings on the Ultranova seems to help. Increasing the input gain on the Fireface does have some effect, but causes the meters to go into the red to get the volume to a decent level, and it's not just a case of turning everything else down or adjusting EQ to allow new intruments to cut through.

Interestingly, the levels seem to be better upon playback, but still not great.

I can probably get someone to look at it and show me where I'm going wrong (or expose a technical problem with equipment) in the next few weeks, but any ideas in the meantime (to put me out of my misery and help me avoid the expense of consultancy) would be gratefully received.

Thanks,

James
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Re: Difficulty achieving audible levels when tracking

Postby The Elf » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:20 am

Software synths are typically set to produce FAR too loud an output and this prompts many people to try to match them when tracking. It is far better to turn down your softsynths to sensible tracking levels.

Track at 24-bit and keep your peaks to -10dBFS (that’s the scale your DAW is working on) or lower. And drop the gain of those virtual instruments to better match these levels.
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Re: Difficulty achieving audible levels when tracking

Postby Rorschach's Journal » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:37 pm

Thanks, I'll persevere with this approach, but I think the first thing I put down was some guitar against a click and then started adding sofware instrument layers... But maybe I had the monitors too low and the guitar too loud to begin with.

I'll let you know how I get on,

James
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Re: Difficulty achieving audible levels when tracking

Postby lewk » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Logic's soft synths are really loud. I tend to track between -18dBFS and -12dBFS and as a result tend to have my synths etc. also playing back at this level. I'd sooner turn my monitors up a bit (though they are calibrated) and mix then apply gain increase to the final 2track than crank everything when recording/mixing.

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