what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:39 PM   #1
Totallydude
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what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

Hi all,

I've been reading up on gain staging and headroom etc. and I've concluded that best practice is to keep all tracks between around -25 and -15 dbfs (average around -18dbfs), peaking no higher than around -10 dbfs, with the master peaking no higher than -6dbfs. Hopefully someone can confirm that this should be good practice so far... The main question is, should I set the internal main level of my digital synths (Sylenth, massive etc.) to be hitting at around that level (very low output), OR should I set them to be hitting around -3 or so within the synth and then use a gain utility plug to bring it down to the desired level (around -18dbfs)?

Sylenth manual says-

" On the right side of the Mixer panel is a VU meter which measures the output level. Please note that it is in general not a problem when the red LEDs are lighting because the output of Sylenth1 is not clipped. The host software can turn the volume down if needed to prevent clipping. "

I'm using plugins that model analog hardware (mainly UAD and Waves) so I want to make sure that the input signal is a good level.

Is it possible that by turning down the internal output of my synths too low I could negatively impact the sound or would this be the best practice?

Thanks gentlemen. - Totallydude

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Old 11-02-2017, 12:11 AM   #2
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Re: what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

Yeah, I think what you said can work well enough for the overall mix and for giving yourself plenty of room for the mastering stage later.

Regarding the individual synth levels question, I'm very much of the mind that it really depends on the project and the sound you're designing.

In other words, you really need to use your ears to get a feel for how loud a synth is in the mix..it's not really something set in stone, as every track is as different as the producer to spawns it.

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Old 11-02-2017, 10:33 AM   #3
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Re: what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Totallydude View Post
The main question is, should I set the internal main level of my digital synths (Sylenth, massive etc.) to be hitting at around that level (very low output), OR should I set them to be hitting around -3 or so within the synth and then use a gain utility plug to bring it down to the desired level (around -18dbfs)?
Non-modeling digital synths largely do not care, as the algorithms they use are linear. The volume control inside Sylenth probably does the exact same thing as your DAW - multiplies the value of each sample of the incoming signal with an appropriate number.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Totallydude View Post
I'm using plugins that model analog hardware (mainly UAD and Waves) so I want to make sure that the input signal is a good level.

Is it possible that by turning down the internal output of my synths too low I could negatively impact the sound or would this be the best practice?
For analog modeling synths, the values inside the chain should matter, however. If your signal is hot/loud going into the filter, it is going to distort a little and have a bit weaker resonance for example. Level before the final VCA likewise should matter. It comes down to how good of an emulation it is. The output stage might have some analog drive emulation on it to colour the sound a bit further.

Test with volume at -6db from the synth, then turn the synth waaaaaaayyyy up and turn back down to -6db outside. Then turn the synth way down and compensate outside. If it sounds different at the same gain level, then gain matters.

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Old 11-02-2017, 04:25 PM   #4
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Re: what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

I love how you ask about sints and your song in signature sounds amazing, and as soon as sint goes, I'm like...this man is on the right quest. Yea your sint in this song seems low quality. Volume seems right, i guess your real quest should be how to get open edm sint, compresion/eq tutorial.
Youtube it dude.
Sorry if it's a shit post because I never produce this kind of music, I'm rather soul house producer (piano, organs, strings, rhodes, bass ......) but what I do i just go by the feel.

Maybe you're just digging to much (even reading vsti manuals) rather then just go simple youtube tutorial about it and after that just go by the feel.

I had a problem with vocals, main mastering of a track ,youtube helped me so f much. Many people sharing their tutorials there.
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

Digital is pretty forgiving.

Just don't run things too hot or rediculously low and you'll be fine.

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Old 14-02-2017, 04:00 AM   #6
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Re: what main level to set your digital synths to (gain staging + headroom)

The only time I really need to do gainstaging outside of the synth is (in my case) Diva if I'm using a lot of voice stacking as I just can't get it quiet enough or if I'm doing something like a chiptune where the first thing in the FX chain is a bitcrusher and I need to make sure the signal is above the noise floor of 4-bit audio even during the quietest parts. Otherwise, I just set it with the synth.

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Also, check this out. Updated 10-27-17.

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