Lets talk about mixing levels (again)

Some years ago we had lots of discussions about proper mixing levels in the digital domain – with mixed (sic!) results, IIRC. Meanwhile, more and more influencers are claiming that targeting -18dBFS with a VU meter readout is the “digital audio sweet spot” and the way forward in terms of plugin gain staging. In practise that would imply mixing digital peak levels at around 0dBFS again but maybe I’ve missed something during my absence in recent years. So, to what mixing levels are you up to in your DAW today?

The Korg SDD-3000 – perfect for LoFi?

By accident, I recently stumbled upon the UAD Korg SDD-3000 digital delay version. When I noticed that they modelled also its amplifiers as well as the 13bit converters they immediately got my attention. Having also high- and low-pass filters on board, this could easily double as a great lofi device – so lets have a closer look.

As in the original hardware, the device offers several gain stage adjustments for both input and ouptut, intended to match different instrument or line level signals. These amplifiers are always in, no matter if the BYPASS switch is activated or not. Interestingly, UA also integrated this in its “Unison” interface feature as an preamp option.

Depending on how hard the input gain is driven, quite heavy distortion and saturation effects can occur. As soon as the Bypass is deactivated, the effect signal path containing the 13bit converted and HP/LP filtered signal can be dialed in with the LEVEL BALANCE. If this balance is now set to EFFECT only or just the WET SOLO option has been turned on (plus avoiding any amounts of feedback in this case) the device now offers a pretty much nicely degraded signal path for any sort of creative effects. Depending on the actual settings one can dial in now some really creamy or even gritty effects. Be aware, that this signal path contains an additional delay according to the DELAY TIME setting, of course.

The analysis charts are showing – from left to right – the basic frequency response (in bypass mode), some example harmonic distortions when hitting the input gain quite hard and the filtered effect signal path frequency response according to the UI settings above. The slight frequency bump on the right side of the charts might be caused by the plugin oversampling filters – the original hardware does not show this and its spectrum ends somewhere around 17kHz.

As in the original hardware, all settings are just within limited ranges and so it is not that flexible in general. However, soundwise its pretty much awesome. Oh and by the way, it also doubles as a simple but impressive delay 😉

mixing does not mean restoration

If you prepare a track and something like “where is my damn 64dB/octave brickwall filter?” comes to your mind then this might be because you are not upfront any mixing process but are working on audio restoration instead. Or the sources just might be crap. Always remember: garbage in, garbage out.

I’ve just re-discovered preFIX.

preFix_teaser

a very comprehensive review on Thrillseeker VBL

And don’t miss to read the whole review here with lots of hands-on examples.

 

Musikmesse 2013 coverage

I had a quite long but really great day at Musikmesse this year and this time it was less about new gear but more about meeting some old friends from the scene but also to meet and change insights with some sound designers and developers which I did not met ever before. We had great sessions about analog style distortion generation, compressor designs and oversampling, reverb culture and sound design. And finally I’ve met some cool guys like Fabien from TDR and Nico from Bigtone, just to name the two. Anyway, as always I’ve also sneaked around to catch one or another impression and highlight from the show itself and here is a little report.

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Akai presented their rather new MPC stuff and I’ve checked the pads and build quality which both felt very cheap to me.

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Ion Audio showed a brand new and neat turntable with direct USB connection and a slick and solid wooden made chassis. Can’t say much about the pick-up and arm, though. Price should be 750 bucks and release around June, as they say. I’ll watch the release. [Read more…]

Pseudolectual Remixes | Soehngenetic

Soehngen - Pseudolectual Remixes - cover

Featuring Kathi Drall Dub (Deconstructed by Variety of Sound).

 

recap: what’s your reference mixing level?

After some hundreds of votes the results are pretty much stable and -18dB seems to be the way to go. The “pseudo standard” 0dBFS comes next followed by all other kind of level preferences. Interestingly, the -20 and -24dB standards does not play any significant role.

I reckon some of my upcoming DSP stuff will include a -18dB option.

Related links:

quote of the day

If the song sucks, the mix is irrelevant. – Mixerman