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How to record perfectly with all your levels using the K system.
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bredo
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You got it under control. No worries there

Actually a good and thorough approach. It's a good reason the VU-Meter has been around "forever"

We are agree on how to put it into practice. Happy recording/mixing.

Thanks for discussing in an adult and mature manner (try this in the cubase forum ).


PS. This thread should be of great value to the lesser experienced (and beginning) forum members.
Bredo Myrvang
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Michael_Hennessey
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ok so speaking for the uneducated, poor and communicationally challenged

I may have inferred "standard" but I did say loosely. In fact I did write it

spl meter should match between speakers and speaker systems. (pink noise @ 85 db is really loud for me too)

input gain should be reasonable. each plug in you add shouldn't clip ( input , within itself or output) (er whats this called again?)

um buss they sum. so all the audio that feeds into each buss adds more freq's and more transients. each plug in you add watch out for that thing called gain something and clipping. if your reasonable about it this shouldn't be a problem because theres no need to hit near digital zero while tracking or mixing.

Now mastering, faux mastering. mastering while mixing. how anyone goes about it is their choice?

I dont know the science of being an acoustician. I speak in terms of the uneducated but I can grasp the concepts of the difference between k metering and 0 dbfs and 0 digital and rms.

In my opinion following Katz's k metering is a good idea and should be conveyed as easily as possible to uneducated musician such as myself. if not just to save him from himself LOL

thanks for the education guys,
Michael
The Above may or may not be coherent.
I take no responsability, whatsoever. LOL!
jemusic
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I was into analog many years ago and got gain staging under control early. All we had was the VU meter. I am just applying the same principles from that time to now. I love using VU metering throughout a digital production. It is very good and just ensures that everywhere you have uniformity in levels. The only place the final mix exists is on the main stereo buss and it too can end up at the chosen K ref level. When producing multiple songs they all end up at the reference level.

When doing 85 dB SPL measurements pink noise will sound quite louder than music at the same level on the VU. Don't be thrown by how loud that is. I agree 85 dB of pure pink noise is pretty loud for sure. Make sure your meter is C weighted too to include all the low end in its reading. I find 85 db SPL very nice for music in general. I listen at lower volumes in the room often at 70 dB or less through a single mono (L+R sum) Auratone type speaker sitting right in front of it looking at it closely, 6:" or so away.. That is another whole story, it is so valuable for mixing and mastering it is amazing.

You could think of the VU meter as being an old fashioned tool but it does a great job. A bit similar to listening to a full mix on such a small speaker creating a small bottleneck for your mix for referencing purposes. It works though. So much is revealed this way. Having the SPL meter present also means you can keep the mono speaker at 85 dB SPL if need be. I tend to like it softer.

Audio interfaces are related to chosen internal digital reference levels. At some ref level within an audio interface the output will be +4 dBu (1.23 v rms) across the two active balanced output pins. It is good to know what that ref level is. On my Yamaha digital mixer it is -14 dB FS for example. That means all the metering everywhere in that is showing -14 dB at the same time. And the output is at +4 dBu rms volts when everything is at -14 inside the mixer. Mixer can obviously go up to + 18 dBu on its output before any clipping. I like it because I work at -14 a lot for general work. Harrison Mixbus is also calibrated for K -14 and I use that too for final stem mixing and mastering sometimes. It has a sweet sound to it.

But you can work at a lower level eg -20. It just means the audio interface is sending out -2 dBu at the ref level. No big concern other than having enough signal to say drive a set of active monitors. The monitor output on your interface will be variable and easily have makeup gain too meaning you can add 6 dB back there and still send +4 dBu to the active monitors. A lot of interfaces will produce +4dBu at a ref signal of -18 dB FS. You can play a test level to easily find out. You just need a digital voltmeter that will show you true AC Volts rms value.



This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 01/12/2013 20:31:25

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Bub
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Hi Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to explain this. And thanks to everyone that participated.

I haven't done any serious calibrations because I don't have a permanent spot to set up my home recording room yet, but I have been using a free VU I found and I thought I would mention it.

The website is still there, but I don't know for how long. It says they are taking a break from working on VST's. It comes as 32/64bit and VST2/VST3 but I wasn't able to get the VST3 version to work.

Here's a direct link to a download for it that is the 64bit VST2/VST3 version. The link is a little funky, sometimes you have to click on it several times before it will work.

This is their website link, but you have to download it in a bundle with other VST's.

As you can tell from the screenshot, there are a few useful tools beyond the VU's. You can hide them and just show the VU's.

EDIT: There's also a separate options screen. Also, when you click on the red '+' symbol it enables a peak hold needle. Clicking the black '-' symbol turns it off.





There's also a Mono version but it's only available when you download the bundle.



I haven't tested this for accuracy, but I like using it. I seem to be able to dial in my mixes better when using a VU. I don't know why, but it seems to be the case for me. Some day when I get things set up permanently I'll dive in to calibration and testing this more.

The direct download link comes with an image file and PDF, I had to have both of those in the same folder as the .DLL before the VST would appear in the VST list in Studio One.

Thanks,

Shane



This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 05/12/2013 21:45:44

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matthewgorman
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Thats a nifty little plug. Thanks Bub.
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jemusic
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Yes the Sleepy Time Records Plugs work fine for calibration purposes and they are free and look rather cool too.

But it is also a matter of meter ballistics. Now I have real VU meters and very nice ones too. I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to meter ballistics. This refers to how the real VU's move and dance compared to the VST's out there.

PSP make VU meters as well.

http://www.pspaudioware.com/plugins/tools_and_meters/psp_2meters/

Klanghelm also have theirs too:

http://klanghelm.com/VUMT.html

Now they can all be set for a certain reference and they will all show 0 dB VU when the ref signal is present. However I have devised some tests for testing ballistics and so far the Klanghelm are the closest to the real deal.

This is no biggie but I just want my VST meters to move exactly the same way the real ones do and the Klanghelm is it for me in that department.

What happens when the ballisitics are not perfect is the meter will either fall short or overshoot prompting you to vary the gain slightly.

NOTE! All the meters mentioned here have extensive adjustments for response and fall times etc but despite this some of them still cannot make the grade in terms of how they move. Believe me I tried! But the Klanghelm can come very close. If anyone gets the Klanghelm meters I can post the settings that gave the best results too.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 05/12/2013 22:28:34

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Bub
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The Klanghelm's VU's do look very nice and it's good to know you've tested them. And the price is right too!

I updated my post to show the options screens on the Sleepy Time Records VU's.
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bredo
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I am using the Klanghelm VUMT as well. Found this to work well, but can't remember my exact settings.

@jemusic - what are your settings for the Klanghelm VUMT?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 06/12/2013 13:40:15

Bredo Myrvang
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jemusic
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Hi there bredo. Sorry for the slow response, been pretty busy.

The Klanghelm settings I use are 200 ms for the Rise time and 400 ms for the Fall time. Now I know one should be thinking 300ms for the rise time but they just don't quite match the real VU when I set this for 300 ms. The real VU seems to get up to 0 dB VU a little faster so I had to tweak Klang meters to be the same. Maybe the Klang meters are a little out in this area not sure. But with these settings they both dance exactly the same way. The VU's I have are very nice and cost me a bomb so I am pretty sure they are true. Obviously set you cal level to your chosen ref level. In my case I am using K system and it is -14 a lot of the time but varies for other projects too which may be at -20. Hope that helps.

The Sleepytime Records meters rise nicely but do not fall very well in comparison. The PSP meters are also not quite as accurate either, They look nice but for me it is all about the ballisitics and the Klanghelm meters shine here.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 09/12/2013 04:39:29

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bredo
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All good. I've been busy too

Thank you very much. That helps.
For the free or very cheap VU-Meter pugins I so far like the Klanghelm the best.
Bredo Myrvang
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roblof
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jemusic wrote:Hi there bredo. Sorry for the slow response, been pretty busy.

The Klanghelm settings I use are 200 ms for the Rise time and 400 ms for the Fall time. Now I know one should be thinking 300ms for the rise time but they just don't quite match the real VU when I set this for 300 ms. The real VU seems to get up to 0 dB VU a little faster so I had to tweak Klang meters to be the same. Maybe the Klang meters are a little out in this area not sure. But with these settings they both dance exactly the same way. The VU's I have are very nice and cost me a bomb so I am pretty sure they are true. Obviously set you cal level to your chosen ref level. In my case I am using K system and it is -14 a lot of the time but varies for other projects too which may be at -20. Hope that helps.

The Sleepytime Records meters rise nicely but do not fall very well in comparison. The PSP meters are also not quite as accurate either, They look nice but for me it is all about the ballisitics and the Klanghelm meters shine here.


It's easy to check if your mechanical meters are 300mS or 200mS. They are mechanical devices using a metal spring. This spring will fatigue over time. On some vu-meters it is possible to readjust the spring tension and this will alter the rise/fall-time.

Take your smartphone and set it to record video. Then trigg your vu-meters with an 1kHz sinus signal that is calibrated to 0dBVU on your meter to check the rise time. Then remove the signal and you'll get the fall-time.

Your phone records at 30fps so this means that each frame is 1/30sec (33.3mS). If your camera can do 60fps then you get a resolution of 1/60sec (16.7mS).

Using this method you can determine the ballistics of your meters.

I'd surpriced if vu-plugins were of by 100mS since they are controlled by high resoulution timers and therefor should be very accurate. One thing that isn't defined is the acceleration of the needle to reach its end position. Due to this a meter can be percieved as slower or faster even if it conforms to 300mS rise/fall-time.
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Bub
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roblof wrote:One thing that isn't defined is the acceleration of the needle to reach its end position. Due to this a meter can be percieved as slower or faster even if it conforms to 300mS rise/fall-time.


That's what I'm finding with the Sleepytime Records VU's. They don't respond to transients very well and the rise/fall time is set to 300ms and cannot be changed.

I have to say though that I've been working on a large CD project (18 tracks) and this is the first CD Project I have used VU's on, and it's also the first one that I've gotten the levels set properly the first try. There is just something about working with VU's. Maybe it has something to do with the extended rise/fall time. Perhaps LED meters (or a DAW's representation of them) move too fast and we overcompensate for what we see? I don't know what it is, but I personally seem to get levels set better using VU's. I've been using them for a little while now and I was glad to see this thread pop up.

Paying closer attention to this has also led me to discover that I'm having some trouble with S1's meters. Especially in the Project screen. At one point I was seeing a several dB discrepancy between what the limiter and output meters were showing, and there was no limiting taking place.

Anyhoo ... I'll be using VU's extensively now and hopefully will find the room and time to set up a permanent space so I can calibrate everything.
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jemusic
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Some interesting ideas there regarding meter ballistics. I agree I am not measuring the rise rime as such but only comparing the two. The test I do is I have a series of pulses that are exactly 300 ms wide but longer times apart. I set the Klanghelm meters at the very bottom of my computer monitor. My computer screen sits on top of my VU meter display box so the VU VST's end up sitting right on top of the real VU's visually. I am only comparing by eye how well these two move together. And also with music too. That is very important.

Don't some phones have a higher frame rate like 150 fps as in the case of my sons phone. In Aust our frame rate is 25 fps which is 40 ms resolution. But at 150 fps it is 6 ms. I will get him to do a check when he comes here and let you know what my real VU's are doing. Yes I agree too that maybe my real VU's are not out by as much as 100 ms. It could be just the way I am seeing it. But then set at 200ms though I find they move very well together with music material.
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FyLe ForMatz
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jemusic wrote:
I also maintain fairly accurate SPL monitoring levsls


on a scale from 1-10 (with 10 being the highest) how important is it to have accurate SPL monitoring levels while mixing?
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jemusic
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Here is a little video on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGQh5bwm_8s

or some more info:

http://zesoundsuite.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/fletcher-munson-curve-why-you-should.html

I tend to think however that 90dB is a little loud for the flat ear response or as flat as it can be. It is closer to 85dB SPL IMO. So the ear is not perfectly flat but the closest to it around 85 dB SPL. So in terms of importance it is rather vital to be monitoring at correct SPL levels. Also for OH&S reasons too. You can work at 85 dB for 8 hours.

The best way to do it is to have an SPLmeter setup permanently and just keep an eye on it all the time. It is also easy to creep your monitoring levels up over time too and the meter keeps you in check. It should be set for a C weighting as well. It is a rather beautiful level in fact and at first it might sound quiet to some or louder to others. I feel it is a great level. (NOTE pink noise at that level sounds louder than music at that level. Do not be put off at how loud pink noise is, after all it is music you are listening to!)

It is also important to monitor way louder for short periods. Higher volumes tend to expose bass and reverb levels more so.

But the big thing for me is I have a small Auratone type (MONO) speaker as well as my main speakers set up right in front of me with a L+R mix in the speaker. I actually monitor down lower on this and this is really where the action takes place. Because of its poor response at the extremes of the spectrum and also the fact it is lower in level it shows up all the mid range stuff very much so. A poor mix really jumps out on the mono speaker at low volume. It is the only way to set vocal levels into the music backing as well. It is good for so many things it is simply amazing. If a snare is too loud it really jumps out on the small speaker down low. What you are doing is forcing your whole mix through a small bottleneck and as a result many aspects of it are severely exposed.

What you do is get things very well balanced in the small speaker down low and then you go back up to 85 dB on your main speakers and everything usually sounds perfect at that level. It also shows up issues where you might have three parts sounding too similar and all being lined up behind each other on a mono speaker. It forces you to work on those parts a bit more to separate them. Then back up louder on your mains and once you start panning you will find it much easier to separate things too. Those parts end up softer in the mix in order to be heard. When things are soft in a mix but loud and clear I call this maximum illusion, minimum voltage.

But yes accurate monitoring levels are vital to a great mix. Your mixes will simply improve by doing this an nothing else.

K system means you have to recalibrate your monitor levels as the K ref level changes. If you are working at K-14 for example and you set your monitor level to 85 dB you will end with a mark on your monitor control. But if you then decide to work at K -20 then everything in your system will drop down by 6db including the monitor level. That ends up at 79 dB SPL now so we have to turn the monitors up another 6 dB and mark that point.

You can borrow an SPLmeter and do the level adjustments/calibration and you should end up with three marks on your monitor control. One for K-12, K-14 and K-20. Or just have the meter there permanently and simply adjust your monitor levels so that it keeps just reaching 85 dB SPL on the scale no matter what K ref level you are working at.

There are other very important things you can do to improve mix clarity. The main one being looking at what is going on in the areas where clarity is poor. Usually there is too much going on and things need to be dropped out or parts moved around etc. What you are aiming to do is to see the black backdrop behind a mix. A lot of people have a grey backdrop back there. Also poor musicianship will often contribute to a bad mix too. The best bands are so easy to mix it is ridiculous.
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