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Analog console gain staging

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Analog console gain staging

Postby cashhewn » Sun May 31, 2020 7:52 pm

Hello all,

I’m just starting out with my first recording studio and getting my signal flow going. During tracking, immediately I’m not understanding why my mix bus is peaking (or if/how much it even matters during tracking), and I realize I need to understand some fundamentals.

Can anyone point me to some quintessential beginner reading on analog console recording/gain staging, either threads or articles here at SOS or books etc?

What I’ve got going signal-wise is: microphones->outboard preamps/channel strips->Soundcraft 600 channel strips mic ins-> Souncraft channel line outs->Focusrite Clarett 8pre and Octopre->Pro Tools/Mac. I’m not using the console group outputs or mix outs at the moment, only the channel line outs.

I’m not sure where to begin while tracking, where do my analog console faders need to be, do I need to worry about the mix bus during tracking, etc etc. I just need some fundamental information if anyone can help!

Thanks so much...
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Re: Analog console gain staging

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun May 31, 2020 8:09 pm

cashhewn wrote: I’m not understanding why my mix bus is peaking (or if/how much it even matters during tracking), and I realize I need to understand some fundamentals.

It's peaking because you're running your channels too hot. And while it won't actually affect your tracking signals directly, it's clearly a distraction you don't need, and by running your channels too hard you're stressing the analogue electronics which won't help to give a nice analogue sound.

Can anyone point me to some quintessential beginner reading on analog console recording/gain staging, either threads or articles here at SOS or books etc?

This might help: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/gain-staging-your-daw-software

What I’ve got going signal-wise is: microphones->outboard preamps/channel strips->Soundcraft 600 channel strips mic ins

Line level sources like preamps and channel strips should connect to the channel line inputs, not the mic inputs. That will give you less noise and distortion and improve your gain structure enormously.

... where do my analog console faders need to be, do I need to worry about the mix bus during tracking, etc etc.

I cant remember if the channel direct outs are pre- or post-fader on the 600 console, but either way, with the channel fader at its unity mark, the mix bus meters should be showing a sensible level at or below 0VU. And the level into Pro Tools should be averaging around -20dBFS and peaking no higher than -10dBFS.
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Re: Analog console gain staging

Postby cashhewn » Sun May 31, 2020 8:29 pm

@hughrobjohns As always, thanks so much!
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