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How to record perfectly with all your levels using the K system.
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jemusic
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This is a reply I did in another post but it is a worthy subject on it's own. It has proven amazing for me and I just wanted to share it. Studio One makes it all easier too.Thanks for listening.

There is another way to look at it and that is creating a 'system'. Track faders and buss faders can all be left at 0dB or unity. It is the best place for them. You have got the most control below and above the fader movement.

The idea is to keep all the levels at the right levels everywhere in your system. I use a system called K system created by Bob Katz who is a well known mixing and mastering engineer. He has written a great book on mastering too. I am well known for talking about it on the Sonar forums. I will try and sum it up.

A signal has a peak or transient level component right at the start and an rms or smooth continuous level for most of the sound thereafter. The idea is we measure the rms component with a VU meter either using a VST for which there are many great ones or you use real VU's. I have both types. The 0 dB mark on the VU is now calibrated to show 0 dB Vu at a reference level.

In the K system there are 3 reference levels. -12 dB FS, -14 dB FS and -20 dB FS. When the signal is sitting nicely at the chosen ref level the VU will show or bounce up to 0 db mark on the scale.

The amount of headroom available for any transient part is equal to the ref level. For example if you are working at -14 dB FS it means you can have a transient 14 dB higher than the average component without clipping or showing a clip light. If you work at -20 then you have the best in terms of a 20 dB headroom. This has the nicest transient and all this is happening now still below 0dB FS.

You might be thinking we are now recording below and we might not have enough bits to represent the signal at these lower levels. But at 24 bit this is all fine offering a staggering 144 dB of dynamic range so working at -20 still gives us a whopping 120 db or more under that before any digital noise is going to be heard. Can you hear anything -100 db down, no.

Tracking is now done in accordance with the VU's showing around 0dB Vu on the way in ensuring all your tracks are now at the perfect level. Then track faders can be around or slightly below 0dB an still creating total levels on buses at around 0dB Vu as well. Sending multiple buses to the master buss usually results in the average levels or rms levels on your master now at the chosen ref level too. No clip lights anywhere and everything still operating under 0dB FS. Not bad.

Drop the levels of everything in your system and make it run at something well below 0dB FS. Keep away from it.

We had VU's back in the day and now we have removed them and only give peak metering in modern DAW systems. RMS metering is not represented well. But in Studio One it is and it is great you can switch into it when you want on the master etc..

-12 ref levels are hot and often referred to as 'broadcasting' -14 is a great level to work for most general purpose jobs and I use it a lot. My Yamaha digital mixer is calibrated for that level so everything works out sweet with that too. -20 for albums where pristine sound and the nicest sharpest and snappiest transients are heard and felt.

Final masters are often well above these ref levels eg -6 or -7dB (rms) is what I generally master to for the louder things. I switch my system into mastering mode by recalibrating it accordingly. If you are down at -20 then it means you have to add 13 dB of gain over three stages of mastering to get the rms levels up high enough to reach so -7dB rms. At -12 however you are only jumping up another 5 dB which is easier to do. Mastering is a different story but if you add the required gain over the EQ, compression and limiting stages then it can be done very well with the right tools. (PSP Xenon, killer!!) Our 24 bit file is also now dropped down to our final 16 bit format for playback during this mastering stage too. As you master to louder levels you are obviously gaining rms loudness but sacrificing transients in the process and as we all know that is the trade off.

During tracking and mixing however when you work back at your chosen ref level, you won't see a clipping light anywhere in your system and all the levels in and out of every plug you own will be perfect too. All faders (tracks, buses, master) will be up high and around 0 dB or unity where they should be. Buss levels will all be at the ref level and so will the master. When you produce multiple masters eg an album you end up with all your mixes at the same level so a big part of your mastering is done already.

K system is also all about maintaining the same SPL level in your room at any of these ref levels. Obviously by working at different ref levels you will have to adjust the level of the monitor control to suit, which is what you do. It is good to monitor at 85 dB SPL (C weighted) for any of the chosen ref levels. ie because your DAW system is now working at lower and nicer levels now it will be quieter in your room, so you turn up the level in your monitor environment so you can hear it louder if you need.

The way the VU meters move, dance (ie ballistics) reveals so much more about the nature of the sound it is monitoring it is amazing. Transient peaks don't move the meters much because of the slower time constant of the VU meter itself. But use your peak metering system to keep tabs on that. The idea is you work with both forms of metering at once.

The reason people are overloading everything so early in the process is because they are being careless in terms of getting levels right from the start.

Very fast sounds ie drums percussion on the way in to your DAW don't show too much on the VU's but use your peak metering here and just adjust as you normally would. Say loudest bits hitting -6 dB FS at the most. But by the time you start sending multiple tracks to a buss, the rms levels all add up on the bus there and will move a VU meter much more so.

THIS is the way to do it. You are treating your whole digital system like our analog counterparts from out past. And monitoring it all on VU meters and peak meters along the way. Just as we used to.

The Klanghelm meters behave very closely to the real thing. I have done some pretty interesting tests comparing VST meter ballistics to the real ballistics. The real thing is a thing of beauty and needs to be revered at all times!

http://klanghelm.com/VUMT.html

I hope this has offered some suggestion as to how to signal gain right though your entire system and recording process. It just sounds amazing especially at -20 db for instance. -14 is a nice level for almost everything too. It is 6dB louder than -20 and the transients still sound nice and crisp and fast.

You can still add things like console emulation, tape saturation and just plain full on distortion but now you are doing it all controlled levels instead of driving faders and things hard in the digital world which just does not work really and can sound like crap forcing things around 0dB FS all the time. Move away from the area!

You can do all this even at 32 bit levels and OS systems and still end up with pristine and amazing sounding mixes.

All the K stuff is here for those who are interested:

http://www.digido.com/articles-and-demos12/13-bob-katz/22-level-practices-part-1.html
http://www.digido.com/how-to-make-better-recordings-part-2.html

Get this down it will change your life forever!

There is more.

You need some test signals. Continuous sine waves recorded at all three ref levels. Ideal for lining up tracks, buses and the master bus. You need these to calibrate the various VU meters throughout the system. Your audio interface is also designed to produce certain analog output ref levels eg +4dBu at certain K levels. It is good to know what they are. -18 dB FS is also often used with a lot of pro interfaces too.

You also need pink noise at all three levels making setting up of your SPL levels in the monitoring environment at all three ref levels easy. Band limited pink noise is also sometimes used to remove any effects of low freq nulls and peaks in your room that may exist. I can assist with those at some point but good to digest all this first.


This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 30/03/2014 00:03:31

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hibidy
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I think this will require 15-20 more reads before I get it

Great explanation, I'm just not that sharp.

Stupid question though, the "level meter" in S1 should suffice when looking at K levels, or no?
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roblof
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But the k-system was supposed to be attached to the final stage of the mix - The main bus.

Having k-metering on a single channels isn't an optimal approach.
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dgkenney
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Round here we just record/trim the individual tracks to somewhere ~ -6db and mix to about the same -6db, spit on the ground twice and hand it over to someone to master. It's close enough for country music

Dan
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Michael_Hennessey
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jemusic wrote:This is a reply I did in another post but it is a worthy subject on it's own. It has proven amazing for me and I just wanted to share it. Studio One makes it all easier too.Thanks for listening.

There is another way to look at it and that is creating a 'system'. Track faders and buss faders can all be left at 0dB or unity. It is the best place for them. You have got the most control below and above the fader movement.

The idea is to keep all the levels at the right levels everywhere in your system. I use a system called K system created by Bob Katz who is a well known mixing and mastering engineer. He has written a great book on mastering too. I am well known for talking about it on the Sonar forums. I will try and sum it up.

A signal has a peak or transient level component right at the start and an rms or smooth continuous level for most of the sound thereafter. The idea is we measure the rms component with a VU meter either using a VST for which there are many great ones or you use real VU's. I have both types. The 0 dB mark on the VU is now calibrated to show 0 dB Vu at a reference level.

In the K system there are 3 reference levels. -12 dB FS, -14 dB FS and -20 dB FS. When the signal is sitting nicely at the chosen ref level the VU will show or bounce up to 0 db mark on the scale.

The amount of headroom available for any transient part is equal to the ref level. For example if you are working at -14 dB FS it means you can have a transient 14 dB higher than the average component without clipping or showing a clip light. If you work at -20 then you have the best in terms of a 20 dB headroom. This has the nicest transient and all this is happening now still below 0dB FS.

You might be thinking we are now recording below and we might not have enough bits to represent the signal at these lower levels. But at 24 bit this is all fine offering a staggering 144 dB of dynamic range so working at -20 still gives us a whopping 120 db or more under that before any digital noise is going to be heard. Can you hear anything -100 db down, no.

Tracking is now done in accordance with the VU's showing around 0dB Vu on the way in ensuring all your tracks are now at the perfect level. Then track faders can be around or slightly below 0dB an still creating total levels on buses at around 0dB Vu as well. Sending multiple buses to the master buss usually results in the average levels or rms levels on your master now at the chosen ref level too. No clip lights anywhere and everything still operating under 0dB FS. Not bad.

Drop the levels of everything in your system and make it run at something well below 0dB FS. Keep away from it.

We had VU's back in the day and now we have removed them and only give peak metering in modern DAW systems. RMS metering is not represented well. But in Studio One it is and it is great you can switch into it when you want on the master etc..

-12 ref levels are hot and often referred to as 'broadcasting' -14 is a great level to work for most general purpose jobs and I use it a lot. My Yamaha digital mixer is calibrated for that level so everything works out sweet with that too. -20 for albums where pristine sound and the nicest sharpest and snappiest transients are heard and felt.

Final masters are often well above these ref levels eg -6 or -7dB (rms) is what I generally master to for the louder things. I switch my system into mastering mode by recalibrating it accordingly. If you are down at -20 then it means you have to add 13 dB of gain over three stages of mastering to get the rms levels up high enough to reach so -7dB rms. At -12 however you are only jumping up another 5 dB which is easier to do. Mastering is a different story but if you add the required gain over the EQ, compression and limiting stages then it can be done very well with the right tools. (PSP Xenon, killer!!) Our 24 bit file is also now dropped down to our final 16 bit format for playback during this mastering stage too. As you master to louder levels you are obviously gaining rms loudness but sacrificing transients in the process and as we all know that is the trade off.

During tracking and mixing however when you work back at your chosen ref level, you won't see a clipping light anywhere in your system and all the levels in and out of every plug you own will be perfect too. All faders (tracks, buses, master) will be up high and around 0 dB or unity where they should be. Buss levels will all be at the ref level and so will the master. When you produce multiple masters eg an album you end up with all your mixes at the same level so a big part of your mastering is done already.

K system is also all about maintaining the same SPL level in your room at any of these ref levels. Obviously by working at different ref levels you will have to adjust the level of the monitor control to suit, which is what you do. It is good to monitor at 85 dB SPL (C weighted) for any of the chosen ref levels. ie because your DAW system is now working at lower and nicer levels now it will be quieter in your room, so you turn up the level in your monitor environment so you can hear it louder if you need.

The way the VU meters move, dance (ie ballistics) reveals so much more about the nature of the sound it is monitoring it is amazing. Transient peaks don't move the meters much because of the slower time constant of the VU meter itself. But use your peak metering system to keep tabs on that. The idea is you work with both forms of metering at once.

The reason people are overloading everything so early in the process is because they are being careless in terms of getting levels right from the start.

Very fast sounds ie drums percussion on the way in to your DAW don't show too much on the VU's but use your peak metering here and just adjust as you normally would. Say loudest bits hitting -6 dB FS at the most. But by the time you start sending multiple tracks to a buss, the rms levels all add up on the bus there and will move a VU meter much more so.

THIS is the way to do it. You are treating your whole digital system like our analog counterparts from out past. And monitoring it all on VU meters and peak meters along the way. Just as we used to.

The Klanghelm meters behave very closely to the real thing. I have done some pretty interesting tests comparing VST meter ballistics to the real ballistics. The real thing is a thing of beauty and needs to be revered at all times!

http://klanghelm.com/VUMT.html

I hope this has offered some suggestion as to how to signal gain right though your entire system and recording process. It just sounds amazing especially at -20 db for instance. -14 is a nice level for almost everything too. It is 6dB louder than -20 and the transients still sound nice and crisp and fast.

You can still add things like console emulation, tape saturation and just plain full on distortion but now you are doing it all controlled levels instead of driving faders and things hard in the digital world which just does not work really and can sound like crap forcing things around 0dB FS all the time. Move away from the area!

You can do all this even at 32 bit levels and OS systems and still end up with pristine and amazing sounding mixes.

All the K stuff is here for those who are interested:

http://www.digido.com/articles-and-demos12/13-bob-...22-level-practices-part-1.html

http://www.digido.com/how-to-make-better-recordings-part-2.html

Get this down it will change your life forever!

There is more.

You need some test signals. Continuous sine waves recorded at all three ref levels. Ideal for lining up tracks, buses and the master bus. You need these to calibrate the various VU meters throughout the system. Your audio interface is also designed to produce certain analog output ref levels eg +4dBu at certain K levels. It is good to know what they are. -18 dB FS is also often used with a lot of pro interfaces too.

You also need pink noise at all three levels making setting up of your SPL levels in the monitoring environment at all three ref levels easy. Band limited pink noise is also sometimes used to remove any effects of low freq nulls and peaks in your room that may exist. I can assist with those at some point but good to digest all this first.




Thanks for summarizing and sharing Mr. Katz's works. I've read and tried to understand it

I applaud and concur with your entire post.

I think it comes down to standards. Everyone needs learn this either by experience or disseminating by word of mouth / type.. Or they have it intuitively. Oh or maybe luck. I digress

All forms of the media business has set ((ERRR))) for what the will accept. And for my post I'll use the term "(((ERRRRR)))" loosely
the media business,especially movies, and radio, everywhere US, EU, ASIA AU. will do what they do to your music (crush it) or send it back or dismiss it, if it doesn't meet their criteria. If anyone cares to know. But your mastering engineer has to deal with what you send them.

Here is a purposed (((ERRRR)))) to work with for musicians to start within the digital realm. It also explains how this new per posed ((ERRRR))) correlates to the analog standard. Use it, don't use, it up to you.

Katz's purpose and Jeff's post is to help us make a better recordings and deliver a better mix to your mastering engineer. Whom ever that may be..even if it's you.. OH AND PRESONUS' STUDIOONE GIVES US THOSE TOOLS. Oops caps sorry but appropriate


(Oh man this short term memory loss !!! What else did I want to say?).

Let me break it down for ya. Without the science.
Basically know your sweet spot for mixing with proper SPL levels , mitigate your room if you can. Everyone knows RED is NOT GOOD lol try not to do it on the tracks there is no need for it , actually it detrimental On the main output Use the k metering for the appropriate music (loud / soft music) and stick with it. now using the k system red is not going over digital zero (giving you digital distortion=terrible sound) and the mastering engineer receives your product at manageable levels he / she / you can work with as part of a collection of songs. that's the purpose right? if it's too low turn up the volume.

Oh well anyhoo.
Katz is the man!

Thanks for sharing this Jeff. I brought up k metering and spl levels but don't have to communication skills. I'll point to this thread again if the subject comes up.

Michael
The above May or May not be coherent
I accept no responsibility.

edited to add (((ERRRR)))

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 01/12/2013 18:56:18

The Above may or may not be coherent.
I take no responsability, whatsoever. LOL!
Kahlbert
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Hey jemusic ,

Did you just write a whole post about calibrating and working with the K-system, and somewhere in between state that you master to -6 dB RMS?

I wonder if you really understood Katz's actual intentions to the full extent ...
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Michael_Hennessey
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Kahlbert wrote:Hey jemusic ,

Did you just write a whole post about calibrating and working with the K-system, and somewhere in between state that you master to -6 dB RMS?

I wonder if you really understood Katz's actual intentions to the full extent ...


hummm typo?

I seen this ." Thanks for listening. " and thought typo too. LOL!


I'm the worst offender

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 29/11/2013 22:50:28

jemusic
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The three references for the K system are the standard and tracks that are mastered to average levels other than those are outside of the K system for sure. K-12 is considered the loudest 'Broadcast' and a suitable level for final masters.

Commercial tracks are going to be louder than that and I simply use the K system as a form of reference. A client will bring me an album that want me to be in the ball park in terms of loudness. So it is handy to measure it. -7dB rms averages seem to be a level a lot of commercial releases are target for.

I do a lot of general audio work at K-14 ref level and leave it there when finished. ie all masters are stored at that mastered level. But loud hip hop mastering jobs are going to produce masters louder than that and by how much. By knowing -7 is a target to achieve then I know I have to add 7db of gain along the way from any premastered -14 track up to client mastered level. If I had a track at -20 dB and I wanted to jump it up to -7 db rms then we are looking at finding a hefty 13 db of gain to be added through three mastering stages.

Going for -7 db or mastered higher than K-12 is defeating the whole concept of the K system. It is interesting how some limiters can do it though (PSP Xenon also I think that Vladgsound Limiter No 6 has got potential!) and still sound transient. But is going way too loud for sure. Steely Dan's 'Everything Must Go' CD is sitting around K-12 which is very refreshing. No wonder it sounds so transient.

And to roblof yes working the single channels and I guess you mean tracks either mono or stereo. The obvious ref level to adjust everything to at track level and incoming is the overall ref level. K -14 in my case for general work. Tracks, buses and your final mix bus all at the same level.

Very fast and transient tracks may not reach the ref level on the VU but we know about them. They are generally working at a lower ref level. Use your peak metering here as per usual. When they sum and they usually do, the ref level jumps back up to your overall K level in your system again.



This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 30/11/2013 21:38:33

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bredo
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Don't mix up the K-system with proper gain staging on the analog input/recording side of things.

Proper analog gain staging is to use the best possible level according to signal to noise ratio (S/N) and the signal/distortion relationship.
Hence the professional standard of 0VU = +4 dBU = 1,23 V.

All pro gear manufacturers aim to calibrate their equipment for the best S/N ratio with as little distortion as possible at this level.

Take care of your analog chain with proper gain staging, and you are good to go in the analog to digital conversion stage.
Once you're in the digital you are safe until it is time to get out into the analog domain again, due to the 32 bit floating point system (and hopefully proper gain staging).

PS. There are no such thing as digital sound, as we need to move some air, only digital conversion/storage.

The K-system is for calibrating your listening environment and monitoring system in such a way that your listening level is the same whatever K-systen scale you use (K-20, K-14 or K-12).
Therefore it only makes sense on your Master Bus, so that we preserve the headroom for better sounding mixes.

The K-system has nothing to do with what's happening inside your DAW.
Here we should apply the same proper gain staging as in the analog world, due to many (newer) plugins that are calibrated to meet its analog equivalent.
Most often calibrated to VU = -18dBFS (Slate Digital (except VTM -15dBFS) and other analog emulation plugins). Think analog gain staging and best signal to noise/distortion ratio even within your DAW, and you should never run out of headroom.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 30/11/2013 23:23:06

Bredo Myrvang
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jemusic
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I can see why people think K system approach works on the master buss only and is all about the level leaving your DAW and moving on from there. That is a slightly narrow view of it though. Why not take a much broader view of total gain staging within the entire digital environment instead. From incoming signal levels right through to master buss. K system is everything to do with your DAW. Every stage of it.

It is me who has adopted the approach not just on the master buss but the buss that comes before that and that is our buses that are carrying mixes of varying instrument groups and types etc. And why not take it further back to track level and make sure all incoming signals are at that level too and tracked accordingly. Now you are using it all through your DAW. Much smarter approach. Many people have difficulties with gain staging all the way through a digital recording medium. This goes a long way to solving it and nicely.

When everything is tracked and monitored correctly at K Levels it is interesting that perfect buss mixes are almost attainable with track faders that are assigned to that buss being in or around 0 dB or unity. Interesting how buses seem to sum nicely to obtain the perfect K system ref lev on your main stereo mix buss too without any effort.

-20 is a great level because it agrees with the motion picture standard and as we are seeing more and more standards being introduced and imposed hopefully you will see that -20 is going to be the target and all important level. -18 is used a lot but -20 is also offering a further 2 db of headroom on that. Remember that with 24 bit resolutions moving the whole gain staging thing down to -20 in the digital environment is no big deal at all and it just sounds great.

NOTE you can insert the (Studio One) level meter anywhere. On the input channels coming in, tracks, buses and you can put them anytime into K Mode, That in itself shows how K system can be used everywhere in your system, not just in one place. You end up with beautiful pristine sounding mixes with no overs anywhere. And it is all ready for easy mastering as well.

I also have an analog mixing system prior to my digital mixing system and it too is also setup for correct and perfect gain staging. When the meters on the analog mixer are showing unity or 0 dB the signal is coming into my digital system at the K level and shows the K meter as the same.

You can use K system easily for calibrating multiple mixers within a studio environment, which I bet many if they have several mixers have not done that well necessarily. Once you do though it all sounds better and all the faders are being used for their maximum range and effect.

There is also something else going here too. I like using VU meters (real or VST) in all stages of the production process. The ballisitics or the way the meters actually move tell you a lot about the signal. It is good to see this at track and buss level as well as stereo mix level too. When the needle swings wildly especially if you don't hear anything as a result you have got things wrong and you need to go after the signal and find out why. When dynamics are right on tracks and buses the meters tend to move in a nice way. You learn to read them after a while and very well. You cannot do any of this with just peak metering in your DAW.


This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 01/12/2013 00:39:20

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roblof
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You need to be carefull today about what standard to use for mastering.

Mixing commercialy today forces you to go the r128 route. At least in the EC and US. Are there other places in the world that enforces this to?

And if you do movies there's again another standard.
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bredo
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@jemusic - You are just describing another method of gain staging, but with the wrong terminology (confusing people).
You can use whatever dB scale you want, because db is used to express the ratio between two values.
But the pro audio standard is the dBVU scale, and that's why you (and I) prefer to use a properly calibrated VU-Meter to control our signals/levels .

The K-system is made to take care of the levels in the end of the production line, in conjunction with the Monitoring System.
But it is not a standard, as the dBVU scale, among either audio gear manufacturer, radio, TV or others instances. It is a "proposal" for trying to get the Dolby mixing/monitoring standard for film/movies (or close to) introduced as a standard in music production.
This has never succeeded (except maybe in the plugin world).
But they are now working very hard to get the new media delivery standard for broadcasting, R-128, accepted across EU and US. But beware, this is NOT a mixing standard. It IS a media delivery standard for broadcasting.

I can tell you know about gain staging, but it easier when everybody uses the right terminology. Especially in an environment with all kinds of knowledge and expertise (beginners to old geezers). And I wish more people learn to use the VU-Meter
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roblof
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bredo wrote:But they are now working very hard to get the new media delivery standard for broadcasting, R-128, accepted across EU and US. But beware, this is NOT a mixing standard. It IS a media delivery standard for broadcasting.


While not being a mixing standard it is difficult to not be aware of the end method of delivery will be. Many of today do both mixing and mastering. Many even do this in the mixing stage!

And if your audio is intended to be brodcasted using commercial means, you better conform to r128 where it is legally enforced or your mixes will become processed at the point of brodcast.
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bredo
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Location: Oslo, Norway
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roblof wrote:
bredo wrote:But they are now working very hard to get the new media delivery standard for broadcasting, R-128, accepted across EU and US. But beware, this is NOT a mixing standard. It IS a media delivery standard for broadcasting.


While not being a mixing standard it is difficult to not be aware of the end method of delivery will be. Many of today do both mixing and mastering. Many even do this in the mixing stage!

And if your audio is intended to be brodcasted using commercial means, you better conform to r128 where it is legally enforced or your mixes will become processed at the point of brodcast.

Absolutely agree .
I really hope that this will be the norm, as it then will be more fun again to do as great productions/mixes as possible without brickwall limiting and other "magic" processing just to get it loud. Long live the Trasients

Always have the end goal in mind, and this MAY be a mixing standard in the future. When all ISP's, internet streaming services and TV/radio stations and broadcasters are complying to this standard.
But first we got to get rid of the CD format for this to be a reality IMHO. No one will ever release CD's with an average level at -23 dBLU (equals -23 dBFS).
I guess we will have to live with the Loudness War for "some" time to come.
Bredo Myrvang
The Sound Residence
Oslo, Norway
jemusic
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I agree that it is not a standard but an approach which I use and it seems to really work which is what is important.

It is like taking an anaolg system that is operating at +4 dBu and can reach +24 dB before any distortion sets in. 20 dB of headroom. Take that whole concept and drop it into the digital domain and make the max onset of clipping signal be at 0 dBFS now and our operating level is now down at -20 dB FS.

It would be no different for -23 dB FS as well. Be easy to recalibrate and operate 3 db down on -20.

I have just made the VU's a part of the signal chain monitoring process. And they work great, keeping everything under control. Nice even consistent rms levels on tracks, buses and the stereo master. It is easy to see when a signal is 1 db low or high with the VU. The VU's need to be told what the ref operating level is.

I also maintain fairly accurate SPL monitoring levsls. I have a permanent SPL meter monitoring the area and it keeps me honest. 85 dB SPL is quite loud especially first thing in the morning. It is good to check mixes at louder volumes too but not for long.



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