Levels: Proper Recording and File Levels II

Bob Katz Leave a Comment

Name: Vinnie Lee

Subject: Confused about levels

Message: Hello Bob! I read the FAQs, and it helped me a lot !! I can’t thank you enough! But I still got some questions about levels in every stage. Let me tell you what I normally do: I use an ICON Utrack (a 24-bit 44.1 interface, but I set it to 16-bit 44.1.  I assume it’ll still work at 24-bit when I open the nuendo.)
Why do you set the ICON to 16-bit?

to record my guitars and vocals, the recording level is low, around -24db in DAW (Nuendo 4, set to 32bit float mode).

Sounds like you need more analog gain on the input side, it’s a little low.

Then I mix in Nuendo, since the level is low, all the plugins I applied are under gain most of the times. Then I mixdown to a stereo 32-bit-float-44.1-wav file (very low level, around -15db. No dither), into the Wavelab 6. I apply some process in the effect slots, in the dither slot I use a Waves IDR plugin, set to 16bit dithering. Then render the final track as a 16bit-44.1-wav stereo file. I feel like I’m doing something wrong here, can you tell me where, please?

Low level at the ADC could be hurting your signal quality a bit. Low level in the 32-bit float chain is not significant although all your thresholds for compressors, etc. will be much more extreme than is customary in order to get gain reduction action. At some point I assume you raise the gain up again somewhere in the 32-bit float chain before you dither to 16-bit. Still having the albatross around your neck of the original fairly low level original recording which may not be as good resolution as possible. You don’t have to maximize the ADC to peak, but a peak level of -24 dB in Nuendo indicates the ADC was recording low.

You need more gain in your preamps. Other than that, I don’t see any issues except you should also be saving your final mix/pseudo-master as a 32-bit float file for future possible mastering or other alterations.

Hope this helps,


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