Proper Gain Staging

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jaibs
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Re: Proper Gain Staging

Post by jaibs » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:17 pm

You're right, so with sine generator sending 0 dB seems to be nearly equally zero in master, and the VU-meter goes tightly to red. So the voltage is much higher. Pink noise resembles more music mix with all the frequencies. But I get with these different signal sources the same level from master channel but different level from VU-meter. I know that this sound stupid, but how can I mix or especially master with master fader monitor without VU-meter? Probably not very well. Must use ears. :?
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jaibs
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Re: Proper Gain Staging

Post by jaibs » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:21 pm

jaibs wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:17 pm
You're right, so with sine generator sending 0 dB seems to be nearly equally zero in master, and the VU-meter goes tightly to red. So the voltage is much higher. Pink noise resembles more music mix with all the frequencies. But I get with these different signal sources the same level from master channel but different level from VU-meter. I know that this sound stupid, but how can I mix or especially master with master fader monitor without VU-meter? Probably not very well. Must use ears. :?
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MattiasNYC
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Re: Proper Gain Staging

Post by MattiasNYC » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:14 pm

jaibs wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:17 pm
You're right, so with sine generator sending 0 dB seems to be nearly equally zero in master, and the VU-meter goes tightly to red. So the voltage is much higher.
There is no actual voltage in digital. You have to remember though that you set the "nominal level" on your VU meter to "-10", so I would expect that the VU meter if the scale continued would be peaking at +10VU.

If you want to test these different points in the signal chain and are using a VU meter you really should lower the nominal level. You might as well set the nominal level to "-18" and then set your sine wave generator to -18dBFS. Then your VU Meter should read "0" and your output "-18dBFS".
jaibs wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:17 pm
Pink noise resembles more music mix with all the frequencies. But I get with these different signal sources the same level from master channel but different level from VU-meter. I know that this sound stupid, but how can I mix or especially master with master fader monitor without VU-meter? Probably not very well. Must use ears. :?
You have to remember that the two meters are measuring level-over-time differently. The VU meter reacts slowly to both increased and decreased levels, and since we perceive things sort of that way it looks "reasonably correct". Or at least it did years ago.

Your meter on the channels in Cubase however only allow you to adjust how quickly they "fall back" when the signal gets lower, not how fast they react when the signal increases. So you can actually set the meters to have a similar reaction time as a VU meter, but only when the signal drops. This means that the VU meter and the standard meter in Cubase will always look different if you feed them signals with a bunch of short peaks in them, and that's exactly what your noise has.

I think the obvious answer to "how can I mix" is use your ears. It shouldn't really be anything else than that I think, at least not for music. Don't look. Listen.

When it comes to mastering you can forget the VU meter and the channel meter both. Get a good loudness meter instead. Nuendo has loudness metering built in, and you can also find freeware plugins if you go looking. The standard used BS.1770-3 gives you several useful measurements. If you look at the one below I'll explain what it measures from left to right (this happens to be a surround signal, but that's irrelevant):

Image

- First is the level for individual channels. The plugin allows you to set the meter scale and timings and peak-hold etc. When I use this plugin to monitor signals I typically use this section mostly to see absolute level and peaks, nothing about loudness.

- The next section gives you actual numbers and they are following what you see in the bars to the right. The values are, respectively;

--- Integrated; the perceived loudness measured over the entire range.
--- Short Term; the perceived loudness over a short term (I think 3 seconds or so).
--- Momentary; the perceived loudness over a short moment (close to a VU meter).
--- Loudness range; how wide the range of perceived loudness is over the entire range.

At the bottom there's a graph with time horizontally and the perceived loudness throughout your range. You can set it so you get the right feedback relative to whatever your target average is, which is shown above and center as the "targets".

So this meter, and others like it, provide you with a lot better (and more) information than a VU meter does.
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jaibs
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Re: Proper Gain Staging

Post by jaibs » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:00 pm

Many thanks, MattiasNYC, for this great information and your patience to explain clearly these audio problems. I think I know now much better how to proceed and avoid wasting time and efforts, at least with this matter.

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