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Hy Bound
11-24-2009, 04:32 PM
Ok, so I have seen a bunch of videos of people showing off their mixing/mastering techniques and I have a question... It looks like the beat on just about everyone's tracks are well into the clipping range. Most people just max that slider and mix in everything else behind it. Am I just misinterpreting what they are doing or is that just what you do and I missed that memo?

I thought having the kick drum hit the +6 dB range gave it a satisfying click, but I thought that anything going above 0dB was frowned upon.

For instance, in this video (http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=28124592) at about 1:30 there is a shot of Junkie XL's sliders set to max and clipping on all of his bussed tracks. Now, I consider JXL to be one of the better producers out there so I feel like thats the straw that broke the "no clipping" camel's back.

Any advice is appreciated.

zircon
11-24-2009, 05:34 PM
Here's the only answer you'll ever need - "clipping range" is irrelevant except on the master track. It doesn't matter if your kick is +6 or even +50db on one channel. If your master track has a fader going -100 dB then the track won't clip, period. Everything is bussed through the master, therefore as long as you don't exceed 0 dB there you'll be fine. It's really almost irrelevant to look at dB meters on any tracks except the master for mix/master purposes - you just need to hear the relative values.

The only reason why you wouldn't want to put stuff above 0 dB is simply because if your fader is maxed out and you need that part louder relative to everything else, you then have to use plugins. Better to reduce the volume of everything relative to each other, giving you more "headroom" with the actual faders.

GarretGraves
11-24-2009, 11:22 PM
I recently posted about this and people on these forums (a big thank you to Harmony) helped me out by introducing me to limiters. After toying around with it and learning how it works, I find that I would rather not touch the master fader if I can help it. Instead, I put a limiter on the master track and adjust the threshold, ceiling and release accordingly to get rid of the headroom after i have completed recording everything. That way I maximize my sound with no clippage.

Harmony
11-25-2009, 02:20 AM
Garret, you're most welcome for the info in the other thread.

zircon's point here, in the context of limiters, is that you don't ever need to use a limiter to prevent clipping on individual source tracks - only the master, since the audio isn't sent to your speakers or mixed down before passing through it. I think most people prefer to leave to master level alone, just like you're doing, and zircon's -100 dB master level example was just an extreme case to get his point across.

GarretGraves
11-25-2009, 02:54 AM
...and zircon's -100 dB master level example was just an extreme case to get his point across.

I was gonna say. I don't think anything is audible past -35db or so. lol!

zircon
11-25-2009, 11:50 AM
Not touching the master fader is usually a good idea - certainly, you never want to turn it UP. That being said I often put a fader *plugin* on the master track if I need to control the level of my sum going into the mastering chain. It's also nice to give myself more headroom before I do any mastering. In any project I usually start with a fader plugin set to -6 or -8 dB, then turn up my headphones by exactly that amount.

Nicole Adams
11-27-2009, 01:40 AM
Here's the only answer you'll ever need - "clipping range" is irrelevant except on the master track. It doesn't matter if your kick is +6 or even +50db on one channel. If your master track has a fader going -100 dB then the track won't clip, period. Everything is bussed through the master, therefore as long as you don't exceed 0 dB there you'll be fine. It's really almost irrelevant to look at dB meters on any tracks except the master for mix/master purposes - you just need to hear the relative values.
That's good to know. I always assumed a clipping channel signal being sent to the master, which isn't clipping, still contains distortion. Can you explain how this does not happen?

Harmony
11-27-2009, 01:15 PM
I often put a fader *plugin* on the master track if I need to control the level of my sum going into the mastering chain. Interesting. Why not just use the built-in fader?

That's good to know. I always assumed a clipping channel signal being sent to the master, which isn't clipping, still contains distortion. Can you explain how this does not happen?The job of your master bus is to add up all of the channel signals being sent into it before sending them to your soundcard. Digital clipping occurs because the number that represents the amplitude of your signal is too large to be represented in whatever audio bit depth you're using (say, 16 bit audio). When you see the clipping indicator on the master bus, it's saying "I don't have enough bits to represent the sum of all of the audio you're sending me".

So the question is, if the 16 bit master doesn't have enough bits to represent anything above 0dB, how are my individual channels able to go to +50dB, as in zircon's example, without clipping? The answer is that the math that's done on ALL of your channels (including the master) isn't done in whatever audio bit depth you have set; it's done using the mathematical capabilities of your computer which can use 32 bits (or higher).

32 bits can represent a much greater range of values than your 16 or 24 bit audio. So what the clipping indicator on the master bus is really saying is "Since I'm at 32 bits, I have enough bits to represent your audio, BUT if I send this to the 16 or 24 bit D/A converter in your soundcard, IT'S not going to have enough bits to represent this and will clip."

A few things to note:

1) Technically yes, you actually can clip individual channel tracks but you'd have to go high enough that the value couldn't be represented in, say, 32 bits. That's +100's of dB...good luck trying that ;)

2) It's probably still a bad idea to go too far above 0dB on any channel simply because you don't know how your plugins are doing their math. If they get overloaded, they'll clip your audio.

3) This doesn't apply to analog mixers. If your channel is +6dB and your master level is at -10dB, you may have a -4dB peak on the master but it will have already been clipped by the channel :)

Rozovian
11-27-2009, 01:56 PM
Interesting. Why not just use the built-in fader?

Probably to have a fader _before_ the limiter and other effects.

Harmony
11-27-2009, 02:14 PM
Probably to have a fader _before_ the limiter and other effects. Ah, you're right I didn't read carefully enough. So if that's the case, does that mean there's no channel input gain in FL Studio?