[LAU] master levels

Ralf Mardorf ralf.mardorf at alice-dsl.net
Mon Feb 2 15:25:10 UTC 2015

On Mon, 2 Feb 2015 10:06:29 -0500, Joe Hartley wrote:
> On Sun, 01 Feb 2015 23:40:45 -0600
> Brent Busby <brent at keycorner.org> wrote:
> > Of course, in the old analog tape world, they used to shoot for
> > zero, maybe a little hotter if you wanted some saturation.  In
> > digital, they say mix to about -3 or -4db.  And mastering houses
> > seem to want more headroom than that (-6 or 7db), even though in
> > priciple, with 24-bit resolution, they could just adjust it
> > themselves without changing it timbrally (true?).  Why do they care
> > what your maximum level is as long as it's 24-bit and it's not
> > clipping?
> A side note:
> Check the type of meter Ardour uses for the master channel.  I
> wondered why my Ardour masters always seemed quiet, then realized
> that the master bus used a different meter type (K20?  I can't
> remember) than all the other tracks.  When I changed to the same
> meter type (Peak, I think) I saw that I was actually mixing to a
> lower value than I thought.

IIUC the OP wants to know, how much the highest peak in dBFS should be
for a demo he wants to give away.

The sound quality doesn't suffer from headroom, so -10 dBFS and -6 dBFS
are ok and even lower is still ok, but if you give away the demo even a
peak of 0.0 dBFS wouldn't harm the recording. What kind of compression
you are using, e.g. Bob Katz style, loudness war etc. is something
else. And sure, for recording much headroom is wanted and that
headroom usually doesn't make the sound quality less good. IIUC this
(how to record, what compression to use) wasn't the question.

Use a dBFS meter, ensure that a 0 dBFS sine wave is 0 dBFS and ry to
get the highest peak as close to 0.0 dBFS as possible for a demo you'll
give away.

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