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input gain plug-ins: do i need them?

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input gain plug-ins: do i need them?

Postby hopscotch44 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:15 am

I have a very basic question, asked after watching a youtube video about gain staging in DAW. I'm trying to get deeper into the funcionality of REAPER. Any guidance is appreciated.

The video recommended an external plugin that was essentially a fader and gain control, to be inserted on each track as a first plug in. The process was to assess highest raw input level and reset max gain on each channel to see all max levels at unity...this is before any other work is done. This was to leave headroom especially in the Master fader level from the outset.

My question is....(and i have looked) this possible with some default DAW control? and is it generally a good idea?

I'm assuming recorded levels to be optimum in context.

I hope this is not too simple a question?
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Re: input gain plug-ins: do i need them?

Postby Kwackman » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:37 am

Cubase has this built in to it's mixer.
I do use it, mostly on tracks I've recorded rather than software instruments, where I just use their own output control.
Following advice learnt here, I record acoustic guitar with LOTS of headroom, and on playback use the channel input gain control to lift it up 9 or 12dB, still making sure I've got at least 12dB of headroom on the mix channel with the channel fader at unity.
It means that any other plug-ins used on that channel are getting input levels at a sane level.
That workflow works for me, YMMV.
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Re: input gain plug-ins: do i need them?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:21 am

It depends on the other plug-ins that you are using. If a plug-in is only designed to work with a limited range of signals then a gain control before that plug-in could be useful. However, most well designed plug-ins will work over a wide range of signal levels.

In Reaper you can also change the level of a clip by pressing F2 and moving the level slider so no extra plug-in is required.
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Re: input gain plug-ins: do i need them?

Postby CS70 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:29 pm

If you record everything together (or you manage to keep a similar healthy average/peak levels when recording each track) you probably don't.

But it's often the case, especially with tracks recorded at different times with different kit, that the levels aren't comparable. The you need a way to bring the levels in the same ballpark - it's just much easier to mix that way - and a way to raise or attenuate the track's base level is useful. A gain plugin is one of such ways.
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