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Old 06-22-2013, 09:44 PM   #1
OfCourseNot
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Stop recording so hot!

So I found this article a couple years ago and changed my recording approach. I used to record tracks as hot as possible without clipping. Of course I had to turn all the tracks way down to mix without clipping at +18 with everything together. Now I do like the article suggests and record with levels peaking around -12 or -10 max.

The reason he gives is that gear is still analog up until the digital conversion process, so the hotter you run things (preamps can add obscene amounts of gain) the more the signal starts becoming compressed and distorted. While you may not be able to hear this since gear is pretty high quality today, it still affects it enough so that when you go to master a track by limiting and compression, it doesn't hold up as well. He recommends that you record quieter than "almost clipping but not yet" because the added headroom will give it more room to "breathe" in a way.

Thoughts? One reason I don't like to record so hot anymore is because it gets old having to keep turning the tracks down. I'd rather be able to mix the entire song with headroom instead of constantly adjusting levels down. I don't know how well this has helped my mixes, since I've gotten better at mic'ing in general which has made a huge difference.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:07 PM   #2
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I have always done this because I just assumed that making things louder just naturally warped the signal to some degree. Although you're right, I hadn't even considered the technology aspect of it.
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Old 06-23-2013, 12:22 AM   #3
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Until recently I never recorded hot, I just kept it low as suggested because I preferred to keep my faders at 0 and bring them up and down as required by the mix rather than setting them all over the place then moving them from some weird point like -5dB which could easily be forgotten.
I do record quite hot now, but that's because the place I'm doing most of my recording (my band leader's house) has dirty power so there's a really bad noise floor that we have to stay on top of.
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:25 AM   #4
OfCourseNot
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Originally Posted by chatterbox272
Until recently I never recorded hot, I just kept it low as suggested because I preferred to keep my faders at 0 and bring them up and down as required by the mix rather than setting them all over the place then moving them from some weird point like -5dB which could easily be forgotten.
I do record quite hot now, but that's because the place I'm doing most of my recording (my band leader's house) has dirty power so there's a really bad noise floor that we have to stay on top of.

Are you saying that the power causes the interface to introduce noise into the signal? Because turning up the inputs would just make that worse, no? Not to mention the added compression/distortion that comes with a hot signal. Would a power conditioner help? I'm not actually sure how much one costs.
edit: would this help? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00145B0UE
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Last edited by OfCourseNot : 06-23-2013 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:54 AM   #5
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I respectfully disagree.

The signal starts becoming compressed and distorted when the preamps clips.

It's reeeally unlikely that you will find a pre/interface that introduces a considerable ammount of distortion and compression before clipping (unless we're talking about very cheap stuff - Behringer for example).

The noise introduced to the signal is introduced even if the volume is low, the more you raise the gain, the more you raise both the signal and the noise.

The reason why audio is recorded hot, is that it usually sounds better to decrease, than to raise the volume of a track.

Unless you mix OTB, in that case it's more or less the same.

Power supplies also introduce noise if they're not isolated.
The way to reduce that is to use an isolated power supply.

I have heard of "power conditioners" today for the first time,
and after 2 minutes on wikipedia I think that would actually help.

In the case chatterbox272 described, turning the volume up doesn't make the noise worse because it is not in the audio signal but in the power supply.
The way to introduce more noise would be sending raising the voltage of the power supply.
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:14 AM   #6
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I use to record up to 0 then I went to -18 on my interface. Now I don't even care anymore. To me there is not a big enough difference for me to care, besides the fact I add a little distortion to everything anyway.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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Dynamics react differently through amp sims for me on different pre level settings.

Sometimes recording hot gives me just that extra spank, and sometimes I want the headroom.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:23 PM   #8
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I know that "Massive Mastering" from another board I used to be on a lot. He knows his stuff.

With no disrespect to anyone here, I would suggest he probably knows more than all of us here combined.

I saw that article years ago too, and I find that following his advice has made my recordings cleaner and easier to mix in the long run, whether I'm using Behringer stuff or the much better gear I have upgraded to in the meantime.

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Old 06-27-2013, 08:48 AM   #9
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I have to bump this because I agreed the first time I read it and YEAH lowering the levels gives you more space,. logical I totally agreed with it and "THOUGHT" I was doing it ..

I bumped because I WASN'T and didn't fully realise the concept.


Today I purchase Kamer HLS channel ( on the Wave special $25 )

and added it to a track I've been playing with for awhile to the master bus .. and saw my levels were peaking out the Meter needle didn't move stuck at max,.!! BUT my meters were all alive and jumping all over the place ( I have McDSP ML1 limiter on most tracks) there were near the red but not enough to Digitally "think" I was pushing too hard...

but the Kamer HLS channel was peaked right out !?

hey if this is the range the rolling stones did it,. I should just try it and lower every thing and see how it works ( save back up ) lower everything and WOW !!!

This really is what lowering the volume and gaining head room means !!!
and it took a simulation of a Old Meter to tell me where to level should be.

it sound so much better & I learnt something today !
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Old 06-30-2013, 01:48 PM   #10
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some of those rules were with running hot to tape.
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