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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm dabbling with acoustic tones, and Darren pointed out that you can adjust phasing issues by checking waveforms, aligning peaks, and stuff like that (which is beside the point of my post, actually).

Here's an acoustic track in Reaper. The top track is direct from the preamp in my Martin, and the bottom is the same recording from a condenser mic in front of the sound hole. One take, two tracks.



The condenser WF is a lot different, and it's a lot lower output, though the track volume is peaking at the same on both. What's my best course of action here? It seems to me like I need to make the actual mic input hotter, but I don't necessarily want to make it louder.

Setup for the mic is just a MXL condenser -> Presonus Bluetube -> MOTU into Reaper. Setup for the preamp is a straight cable to my interface, somewhat coiled around a glass of scotch. :drew:
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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I personally wouldn't be too concerned about WF appearances. I'd use my ear.

That said, just looking at that, my first instinct would be to either normalize, or use a volume envelope. Of course, you could up preamp gain/output to match WF peaks, and then use a volume envelope later if the track is too hot.

:2c:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just want to make sure that my setup is good before I start using effects/filters as band-aids, ya know? If I jack the preamp gain up but turn the track level down, that should get the mic to be as hot as the guitar preamp, yes?
 

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Plastic bag in the sea
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Unless the low level is affecting the sound at all Chris, all you need to do is hold Shift + the up arrow. That just raises the gain (or something to that effect :lol:) of the waveform display (doesn't affect the sound at all!). Quite handy for seeing the waveforms of quieter signals better.

Edit: Also I'm assuming that is the same shortcut on the Mac as it is for the PC (what I'm currently on), but if it's not you can look it up in the action list no doubt. :yesway:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Actually, muting the tracks back and forth, the mic is a lot lower than the preamp, but it probably has a lot to do with me not setting the levels correctly than anything else.

That is a pro tip though. :yesway:
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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I just want to make sure that my setup is good before I start using effects/filters as band-aids, ya know? If I jack the preamp gain up but turn the track level down, that should get the mic to be as hot as the guitar preamp, yes?
Basically, yep.

I do the same thing, and generally match levels visually too, so you're not doing anything unusual in that. But if I had a good take, or like something, I'll just normalize or use an envelop to get me the rest of the way there.

And the 'shift+ up arrow' works, too. Hell. I never knew about that! Try that, Chris. :lol:
 

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Plastic bag in the sea
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So long as you're not clipping I wouldn't worry about the levels too much, better to be tracking a bit too quietly than to have to re-do it because of a few clips :yesway:

If you want to make that louder just for consistency, then there's normalisation as Bob pointed out, or you can grab the volume handle at the top of the item while holding shift, and you can drag the handle upwards to increase the gain for that particular item past 0db. I think there's a preference for what kind of positive range you get from that. Although come to think of it that's possible what you meant by envelopes Bob, I thought you meant automation envelopes but it's like 4am here so I could be wrong :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A big part of the reason is that while the preamp is hotter, the condenser sounds a lot better. I like the method of using both because the bass response from the preamp fills out the sound a bit, but I don't want it stepping on the much better sound of the condenser in the mix.

I can definitely just roll the preamp back as well, I s'pose.
 

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Mr. Negative Pants, ,
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It looks like you definitely need to boost the gain on your mic pre. Also remember that you weren't using headphones, so your monitors were bleeding into the mic signal... that's likely a big reason why the waveforms look so different.

You need to zoom in even further. But if i were to guess, these would be the peaks you'd have to line up:

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It looks like you definitely need to boost the gain on your mic pre. Also remember that you weren't using headphones, so your monitors were bleeding into the mic signal... that's likely a big reason why the waveforms look so different.
:facepalm: Great point. :lol:
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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Although come to think of it that's possible what you meant by envelopes Bob, I thought you meant automation envelopes but it's like 4am here so I could be wrong :lol:
:lol: Nah. Volume envelopes. Those and the mute and pan envelopes are a musician's best friend.
 

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Mr. Negative Pants, ,
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You do want to record as loud as you can without clipping, otherwise you end up boosting the noise floor when you boost the signal.
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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You do want to record as loud as you can without clipping, otherwise you end up boosting the noise floor when you boost the signal.
Yup. :agreed:

That said, if you HAVE a noise floor. On some things, like my direct guitar stuff, virtually no noise floor. (Heavily gated. When the gate is engaged, dead silence.)

But for anything with a mic, indeed. I usually shoot for between -6 to -3dB, give or take. Approaching zero... eh. Not enough room for transients and shit.
 

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You do want to record as loud as you can without clipping, otherwise you end up boosting the noise floor when you boost the signal.
this isn't always the case really. record to the point where it sounds good, the whole, "make it clip then turn it down until it doesn't clip" isn't always the way to go, certain preamps have a sweet spot outside of that range. plus, that line of thinking only applies to purely digital preamps. if you have an analogue preamp, sometimes you want it to clip lightly. as long as you can balance the two sounds the way they are right there, don't bother changing a thing.

boosting the gain before the fact will also make the mic hear things maybe it wasn't hearing before, more string noise, something else in the room maybe.. go with your ears.
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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Yeah, it depends, really. Ultimately, ears. That said, the rules of thumb are still good starting points.

My only hard and fast rule is - make sure the device is turned ON. :D
 

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+1 to Matt. 24 bit has enough headroom where worrying about it becomes kind of silly, and anyway, it's virtually unheard of for you to want any individual track in a finished mix to becoming in at like -1db or something. Record everything that hot and your whole mix will be in the red and you'lljust have to turn everything down another 6db anyway - might as well save yourself the headroom and just track a bit quieter in the first place.

Also, Chris - the magnitude of the peaks isn't too important here. What you want to be concerned about is the timing. You're probably going to need to zoom in much closer in Reaper, but what you're looking to do is line up the very beginnings of the first note, so they're happening in the exact same millisecond.
 

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Canis lupis robertus
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-15dB!

Whoa. :lol: Well, I generally run pretty low level anyway, but, Matt...

While an interesting argument, many people in your second link are arguing for hotter levels in digital environments while tracking. And some argue against. The guy quoted, Mike Stavrou, says there's no need to have average levels be -18dB.

Seems like there's two schools. Me, I avoid clipping, and keep peaks at -3-6db, average levels... depends on the instrument, eh? Seems to be a working model for me

Gonna have to read Mike's book though, 'Mixing with Your Mind.'
 

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+1 to Darren's post

Higher pre, you can always turn the volume down later, the opposite is much harder.

Try throwing some headphones on, play the track, and slip the miked track back a bit untill you hear a fuller sound, should only be a few milliseconds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I just woke up (day off, ftw) so pardon me if this post makes no sense. I really didn't dial much in last night, but the levels on my MIDI in (EZDrummer), the onboard Preamp track and the in from the condenser were all right around the same level. Here's a shot of it playing:



The peaks are actually a little higher than what's here, but it's harder than you think to take a screenshot of a track playing and time it so that you hit the peaks. :lol:

What I'm trying to show is that the actual track for both the condenser and the direct in are at the same levels, however the mic'd track is obviously a lot quieter than the Pre. If I turn the Bluetube up (which is driving the condenser), it'll clip. How do I get the mic track hotter, but keep the level the same?
 
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