Is clipping always a bad thing?
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Old 21-06-2014, 09:30 PM   #1
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Is clipping always a bad thing?

So i was working on a track today and it was all sounding fine to me, but then i was amazed to see that my master was clipping at almost 10 db, yet i didnt even notice it! there was no audible clipping, and i played it back multiple times to see if i could hear any. how is this? i know some daws have some extra headroom in there (on logic it usually didnt start audibly clipping until 3-4 db) but i dont think fl studio has +10db of extra headroom. anyone know why this is? could the fader be lying? or am i just going insane?

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Old 22-06-2014, 12:50 AM   #2
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

It WILL clip during rendering/bouncing. I can't hear when individual tracks clip in Ableton. I can barely even hear it when it's the master track clipping. I haven't used FL so I don't know how you can get 10 dB's of extra volume. I think it's a characteristic of digital sound, while it's still digital it can give you a clean sound no matter what. But regardless if you can hear it, it will distort when you render.

Do yourself a favor and turn every track way, way down. If you're looking for loudness, get your mix right... said every mix engi ever.

Also: yes clipping is bad if you want a non-distorted sound. I've read that some songs are distorted because of bass, resulting in the classic loud-as-fuck brick waveform that so many people adore. These tracks hit at 0 dB, not even the standard -0.3 or even -0.1. They are very loud and crushed to death.

Last edited by Tsachi; 22-06-2014 at 01:03 AM..
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Old 22-06-2014, 01:33 AM   #3
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

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Originally Posted by Tsachi View Post
It WILL clip during rendering/bouncing. I can't hear when individual tracks clip in Ableton. I can barely even hear it when it's the master track clipping. I haven't used FL so I don't know how you can get 10 dB's of extra volume. I think it's a characteristic of digital sound, while it's still digital it can give you a clean sound no matter what. But regardless if you can hear it, it will distort when you render.

Do yourself a favor and turn every track way, way down. If you're looking for loudness, get your mix right... said every mix engi ever.

Also: yes clipping is bad if you want a non-distorted sound. I've read that some songs are distorted because of bass, resulting in the classic loud-as-fuck brick waveform that so many people adore. These tracks hit at 0 dB, not even the standard -0.3 or even -0.1. They are very loud and crushed to death.
i rendered it down to mp3, and i still cant hear any noticeable clipping. odd, but i go by the philosophy that if it sounds right, then it is right. definitely not what i usually do (i try and prevent my music from ever going in the red) but since it sounded fine to me, im keeping it the way it is this one time. just think its strange to apparently be clipping that much without any noticeable problems.

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Old 22-06-2014, 02:12 AM   #4
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

FL tends to sound 'clippy' very much when you start getting CPU spikes. It starts happening to me everytime i pass the 90% mark more then once on a playback of something.

P.S thats version 9, no idea if thats 'supposed to happen' in later ones.

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Old 22-06-2014, 02:19 AM   #5
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

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Originally Posted by twilitez View Post
FL tends to sound 'clippy' very much when you start getting CPU spikes. It starts happening to me everytime i pass the 90% mark more then once on a playback of something.

P.S thats version 9, no idea if thats 'supposed to happen' in later ones.
yeah it still does that. however, im referring to the actual meter level, i had a track that was clipping meter wise, yet audibly there was no clipping.

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Old 22-06-2014, 05:15 AM   #6
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Floating point projects/DAW's have infinite headroom. Fixed point depends on the bitrate. I know off the top of my head that 24-bit offers 48dB of headroom, but that doesn't mean it will render the same. That's only in active projects that you can achieve that type of headroom. When you render the track, it has to create a separate fixed point which dramatically lowers the headroom to 0dbFS, in which every dB over will clip on the render. That's the extent of my knowledge on the subject lol.
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Old 24-06-2014, 04:47 AM   #7
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

yes.

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Old 24-06-2014, 04:57 AM   #8
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Considering I used to listen to 96kps and below mp3s many years ago without a clue that the sound quality wasn't so good, it's quite possible that there is some audible clipping, but you don't notice it.
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Old 24-06-2014, 11:20 PM   #9
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Always.. Although I have heard Dillinja clips a bit to get bigger bass.
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Old 24-06-2014, 11:36 PM   #10
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Even if you don't hear audible clipping it is still bad for mixing because you have almost no headroom. Especially if you use loads of volume automation.
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Old 25-06-2014, 12:10 AM   #11
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Isn't clipping a sort of waveshaping? I've seen clip distortion being used as a thing as well.

But yeah, in a mix/master area, it's bad, it might be that you had the rms value really low, which didn't make it sound too horrible, but idk. You should like post it.

Also, the default template for fl studio has a limiter on the master. Maybe you forgot to remove that.

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Old 25-06-2014, 12:57 AM   #12
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

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Originally Posted by eery View Post
Isn't clipping a sort of waveshaping? I've seen clip distortion being used as a thing as well.

But yeah, in a mix/master area, it's bad, it might be that you had the rms value really low, which didn't make it sound too horrible, but idk. You should like post it.

Also, the default template for fl studio has a limiter on the master. Maybe you forgot to remove that.
i set fl studio to use the blank slate template. and its the track in my signature. granted there isnt much headroom, but at the end of it all it was the sound i wanted for the track so i was happy lol.

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Old 25-06-2014, 01:55 AM   #13
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Eyo dat shit is hype. Cool stuff man!

But yeah, if you slap in in audacity real quick, you can see the rms is like this (Middle blue is rms, the outer blue is peak)

As far as I understand it, and anybody feel free to correct me as I've never really sat down to fully read up on this, the rms is like the "real" volume, like thats what we feel as the real volume, since its the average of the volume over certain amount of time.
Basically, you got loads of sounds that hit up really high in dB, but only for a very short duration, which doesnt make the clipping too audible.

This doesn't make full use of your space though, because for the most part the sound is playing, its low in volume.

This is more evident in the lower volume parts of your song. you can see the peak volume being high, while the rms stays more or less the same.

To improve RMS levels, you could be more generous with compression. Of course, its a balance, because too much compression again removes dynamics. But I would dare to say that esspeccially with this sort of music, while you don't want it squashed, there isn't too much of a need for dynamics.

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Old 25-06-2014, 03:12 AM   #14
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

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Originally Posted by eery View Post
Eyo dat shit is hype. Cool stuff man!

But yeah, if you slap in in audacity real quick, you can see the rms is like this (Middle blue is rms, the outer blue is peak)

As far as I understand it, and anybody feel free to correct me as I've never really sat down to fully read up on this, the rms is like the "real" volume, like thats what we feel as the real volume, since its the average of the volume over certain amount of time.
Basically, you got loads of sounds that hit up really high in dB, but only for a very short duration, which doesnt make the clipping too audible.

This doesn't make full use of your space though, because for the most part the sound is playing, its low in volume.

This is more evident in the lower volume parts of your song. you can see the peak volume being high, while the rms stays more or less the same.

To improve RMS levels, you could be more generous with compression. Of course, its a balance, because too much compression again removes dynamics. But I would dare to say that esspeccially with this sort of music, while you don't want it squashed, there isn't too much of a need for dynamics.
hmm thats interesting, considering i did use quite a bit of compression on the instruments. although, i didnt really go crazy with it, i just used it to make some of the instruments a little louder or beefier. interesting stuff! thanks for showing it to me. never really knew what rms was all about.

if it was one of my more acoustic pieces, i definitely wouldnt have done what i did hear as most of the time with those i dont even do anything to the master track except a little eqing, since with acoustic stuff you want all of the dynamics. with this i felt that because it was dance music and for a majority of the song its 4 on the floor except for the breakdown, i could push the track a little harder to get some more volume out of it to make it comparable with other tracks of the genre.

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Old 25-06-2014, 08:31 PM   #15
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

Is it possible to get the clipped version ? The one I downloaded from your soundcloud sig is limited and peaks at 0db.
It would be neat to have a listen.

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Old 25-06-2014, 09:22 PM   #16
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Re: Is Clipping Always a Bad Thing?

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Is it possible to get the clipped version ? The one I downloaded from your soundcloud sig is limited and peaks at 0db.
It would be neat to have a listen.
that is the clipped version. could it have something to do with it being an mp3 file? the track was limited, but was still clipping after the limiter according to a metering plugin i put after the limiter. i was suprised too when i put the bounced version back in and then the meter was reading at 0db, even though the project itself was reading at +12db after the limiter.

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Old 25-06-2014, 09:27 PM   #17
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Re: Is clipping always a bad thing?

Clipping == limiting at 0 dB...

When you render the track all the samples above 0 dBFS will be cut off. This is because you render the dynamic range you had at 24 bit down to the dynamic range of 16 bit.
This is the same as hard limiting at 0 dB.

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Old 29-06-2014, 06:17 PM   #18
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Re: Is clipping always a bad thing?

As far as I'm concerned distortion = good (most of the time anyway) but I prefer to turn every down then add saturation to individual channels and the master. But if you're happy with how it sounds, then don't worry about it, it's your mix!

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Old 29-06-2014, 08:14 PM   #19
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Re: Is clipping always a bad thing?

Actually, a lot of daws have a limiter on the master buss. When I tried fl studios demo I think maximus was on the master buss. You're likely not hearing clipping, just very bad limiting.
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Old 29-06-2014, 09:50 PM   #20
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Re: Is clipping always a bad thing?

I did learn all about this. Haha. But that was many years ago now. Let me try to piece something together.

Clipping is exactly that. Clipping/cutting/snipping. Any waveform data that travels above your maximum dB will be cut off.

The waveforms are cut fairly brutally. Instead of being a smooth peak; flowing up, then gracefully back down, the waveform flows up and cuts to a big fuck-off flat line along 0dB and then cuts back to the original downward motion and continues on to it's next 0dB cull.

This creates frequencies in your mix. Try it with a sine wave. Clip a sine wave. It becomes some sine-square bastard spawn. A square wave is a sine wave with more sine waves on top (at the correct intervals). So imagine that is happening to your track. Your track is, essentially, a series of sine waves built on top of each other. When they start to clip they become satan waves, introducing frequencies to your mix that you didn't intend. Add enough clipping and your bounced track will sound completely different to your open DAW project (which has the greater headroom, thus less clipping).

Also keep in mind that clipped waveforms cause your speakers to work harder than they need to. Think of the line running horizontally along the center of your waveform as your speakers 'rest' position. So the cone isn't pushing out, or pulling in. Now zoom in on the waveform (in Audacity or Sound Forge). The waveform clears up into a single line that moves up and down in arcs across this center line. Now imagine the cone of the speaker following this line. When it get's a clipped bit of the waveform, the speaker has to temporarily hold itself in space. Putting unnecessary load on the coil. Too much of this will damage your speakers, whether they be headphones or monitors.

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