Sending too loud audio to FX
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Old 31-10-2017, 10:09 AM   #1
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Sending too loud audio to FX

Hi guys,

Is there an optimal audio level for audio signal to be sent to (for example) a FabFilter Pro-C compressor? I tried to scroll through the manual, but couldn't find any information about this.

Here's what I'm worried about: Am I mixing too hot? Are my mixing levels out of the optimal working range of my plugins, so that I end up with unwanted stuff on my mix?

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Old 31-10-2017, 12:22 PM   #2
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

If it‘s not clipping it should be alright, no?
In Live every device has a tiny peak meter, so it‘s easy to avoid clipping even with huge fx chains.

I try to have individual channels peak at -10db and Master at -6.

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Old 31-10-2017, 02:39 PM   #3
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

what you are really asking about is 'gain staging' and it's a good term to read up on.

in general, for plug-ins, what @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
said is correct. as long as they are not clipping, you're good. however, there are some plug ins that try to emulate the behavior of some analog devices and are coded to change the way they respond based on the level of the incoming signal. the best way to find that out is to RTFM, though of course not all developers actually mention this.

for FabFilter specifically, here's what Floris from FF said on their forum:

Quote:
For most types of processing in the digital domain, there's no sweet spot, because most plug-ins (like Pro-Q 2, etc.) do not clip internally.
However, plug-ins in which use saturation or distortion (like Saturn obviously, but also Volcano 2 or Timeless 2), it does matter how hard you drive the input of the plug-in. In that case, -18 dBFS is a good starting point, but not a fixed rule. Best advice: just use your ears! :-)

Last edited by iDoG; 31-10-2017 at 03:02 PM..
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Old 31-10-2017, 02:47 PM   #4
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

Quote:
Originally Posted by iDoG View Post
what you are really asking about is 'gain staging' and it's a good term to read up on.

in general, for plug-ins, what @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
said is correct. as long as they are not clipping, you're good. however, there are some plug ins that try to emulate the behavior of some analog devices and are coded to change the way they respond based on the level of the incoming signal. the best way to find that out is to RTFM, though of course not all developers actually mention this.

for FabFilter specifically, here's what Floris from FF said on their forum:
Yeah, this is basically what I was wondering about. As I recall, Waves has this sort of stuff going on on their compressors, but I couldn't (after a rather quick skim) find anything about it on the manual.

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Old 31-10-2017, 04:28 PM   #5
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

Try it out!

Feed a really hot signal into your modeled compressor - listen to what it sounds like.
Feed a quiet signal into your modeled compressor and turn up the post gain to match end result, see what it sounds like.

Going to get you the furthest.

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Old 03-11-2017, 10:52 AM   #6
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

Forget clipping - many plugins will even work well above 0db and any clipping will be handled by the DAW at the end of the chain. Most from the remaining bunch will work just fine up to 0db and clip there.

The exceptions are, as said before, analog modeling and distortion plugins. These generally do some form of waveshaping, where the absolute value of the wave is relevant. Also anything with an envelope follower.

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Old 03-11-2017, 12:03 PM   #7
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

I don't know about pro c but I have several plugins from native instruments that have in and out meters on the plugins interface. That is super handy imo.

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Old 30-11-2017, 07:23 AM   #8
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Re: Sending too loud audio to FX

In the digital world levels are not so important anymore.

If unsure how hot the signal should be I always go from too loud to what I think is good. And then from silent to what I think is good. If I end up at 2 different levels I'd go with a value in between.

Compressor bus channels can be fed with fairly hot signals, reverbs not so much.

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