#1
Hello there.

We're currently making a new demo with our band Mortiferia, and we have some questions regarding mixing, we would be grateful if you had the time to illuminate us.

- Can you explain why it's not a good idea to exceed the 0 db limit in volume?
- What about drums, isn't it common that they are louder than 0 db? In that case, how much?
- Does this have to do with the dynamics?
- What about mastering, does this solve the problem, and is it necessary?

So far, all our heavy riffs are well over +4 db, that's the reason we ask. On the calm parts, we have no problems. It's the balance in volume for each track we are concerned about, and what the consequences might be if we exceed the limit.

Thanks in advance,
- Mortiferia
#2
I'm pretty sure it doesn't really make a big difference if you go over 0 dB, as long as it doesn't distort. In some programs, like audacity, it'll sound bad if you go over 0.
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#3
If you're recording digitally, then 0dB is the point where the signal clips (distorts) so you want to keep it below that.
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#4
Quote by Demonikk
If you're recording digitally, then 0dB is the point where the signal clips (distorts) so you want to keep it below that.

This.


And if you're having trouble with riffs clipping the input, try using a compressor/limiter so you can get the quieter parts to a suitable volume with less input gain in the channel strip.
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#5
Thanks for the answers so far. We use Sonar Cakewalk. We already know that we shouldn't exceed 0 db while recording (drums is an exception, right?)

But it's the mixing process we're involved in. We've heard that you lose dynamic if the master volume is over 0 db after mixing, is that true? And what about drums?

We've test-heard a temporary mix of the song on various stereos, computers, etc.
Our testing so far doesn't seem to imply that the limit is so critical.
#6
Quote by Mortiferia
- Can you explain why it's not a good idea to exceed the 0 db limit in volume?
0dB is where the system starts distorting. With analogue, or even 24-bit digital systems, it probably wont be immediately obvious unless you go quite a lot over 0dB. However, in 16 bit recordings, exceeding 0dB will immediately cause clipping, which is VERY BAD. Aim for a volume of -12 to -9 dB for each track.
Quote by Mortiferia
- What about drums, isn't it common that they are louder than 0 db? In that case, how much?
The above rule applies for drums too. If you are having trouble with too much volume on the recording, turn down the mic preamp gain or use the pad switch if there is one.
Quote by Mortiferia
- Does this have to do with the dynamics?
For the best dynamic range with digital recordings, aim for about -15dB average and -5dB peak.
Quote by Mortiferia
- What about mastering, does this solve the problem, and is it necessary?
Mastering does not solve the problem. Mastering generally uses compression to bring the RMS volume of the mix close to 0dB without clipping, so the mix sounds loud without being distorted.

Remember, when you are mixing your song will not sound very loud. DO NOT turn up the track volumes to try and compensate for this, leave it until the mastering stage.

Quote by Mortiferia
So far, all our heavy riffs are well over +4 db,
You will probably have to re-record them if you want a decent mix.
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#7
No drums aren't think exception. There is no exception.

Anything "over" the 0 db isn't any louder, it just distorts the signal, thus raising the ****ty recording sound noise.

Don't worry about how loud your mix is, unless you are spending big big bucks on equipment you are not going to get the loudest mix EVAR.

Just make sure you aren't clipping, keep the dynamics, make sure everything is balanced and let the user control the volume knob.
#8
Most modern mastering jobs push the final mix over 0dB. The trick is to get it to go over 0dB without sounding harshly distorted.

When recording, though, I usually aim to get the maximum amount of level I can out of each track without going over 0.
#9
Ok guys, to clear this up....db is essentially the signal strength. But before we learn a thing about how this works in digital land, lets go back to analog land, as its essential to understand that.

Bearing in mind im trying to keep this quick. All analog equipment(consoles, pre-amps) work in dbV. This is measuring the voltage level of the signal in question. This is not the same db as seen in recording programs. You can find on most good analog gear, you have around +10 db of headroom, even greater with better gear. This is why you hear of mixes running over 0. Its on old analog gear.

On modern recording software, volume levels or measured in dbU. Now ive been reading around quite a bit, and its still not agreed upon amongst engineer's on where the old analog 0 dbV lies. Most engineers will agree its in a range between -22db(according to Waves documentation) and -18db(word on the streets). the 0db level on an analof mixer should be coming into your sound card at a level around -18db. I know this does seem quiet, But u absolutely never ever want to go over 0 db in digital land. However, this also gives the correct headroom values for the desk to soundcard interaction. Any more questions please feel free to throw them at me.

For good recording levels id be looking between -18 and -12, which is running a mixing desk hot.
Last edited by countrychris01 at Jul 27, 2009,