Gain Staging

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11 replies on “Gain Staging”

I am going through this part of the course again and I wanted to clarify this section. Before exporting my song, I should have my bit depth turned down, from 32 to 16, and place a -16db utility on all of my grouped channels and a 6dB boost on my master?

It would be better to do this before starting a new project. Doing it at the end (before exporting) wouldn’t really make sense anymore. The reason why to do it early, is so that you can then add elements to your track and you won’t have to go back and turn down all the other elements at some point due to everything together being too loud (so loud that your master goes in the red). If you’re already finished with your project, then you can just master it and export it as a 16 Bit wav file. I usually have those -16dB utility on all my channels and the +6dB one on the master in my default project and on my default channels, so that it’s always there and I don’t have to think about it.

Hope that explains it well, let me know!

When you gain stage this way do you always leave the -16db utility alone and never touch it? Would you adjust it if a sound is too quiet or would you push your fader volume past 0db, add saturation and/or compression to bring the sound up to volume leaving the -16 utility alone?

I usually leave the -16dB utility alone and just adjust the fader volume yeah. Pushing it past 0 is fine, you have 6dBs of room to turn it up. If that’s not enough to bring the sound up to the right level, then you can turn the -16dB utility up, I do that too when the fader alone isn’t enough.

Yo Infekt, what if instead of putting -16dB on all channels, you just put -6dB or -10dB on only the master channel? And then adjusted the channel volume sliders if needed. Just curious, I’m new.

Hey, that works too (I recommend -10 for the master in that case)! Just be careful that the sound isn’t too loud when it goes into some effects (like distortion and compressors). If the effect is already doing too much even though you haven’t changed any of the settings, then it’s likely that your sound was too loud before it went into the effect.

And the second downside is that if you want to render stems and you have any channels that go above 0dB, then they will all get cut off at 0dB and the stems might sound really distorted. So if you don’t want to use the -16dB on each channel, you might have to manually turn sounds down before rendering stems.

Hope that answers your question, let me know!

Hey INFEKT, Lesson (Gain Staging )
When you say the MASTER output has to go back to 16 Bit depth,
what exactly do you mean ? is it about the master track volume during music production process, Mixing Or Mastering (should be below 0dBFS ?) or About somehow down sampling to 16Bits at the master track considering I have a project where I use samples with more bit depth such as 24 or 32 bit depth samples.

Or is this about working on Future projects from the Music production process at a bit depth of 16bits ? or using plugins to down sample at the master track ?

When your music is sent to your interface/sound card, there can be no sound above 0dB, so anything above 0 will be clipped off. And when you render your music, you usually render in 16 or 24Bit (16 for releases), where 0dB is also the limit.

So yes, on the master, 0dB is always the limit.

The reason why you would use a clipper instead of letting your sound card clip is because different sound cards may give you different results, so a clipper is just more predictable and consistent.

Does that answer your question, or did you mean something else?

When you have the utility on every single channel set to -16dB, do you set all the individual tracks to 0 db and leave it at that? Do you ever turn these below 0dB?

Alternatively, doesn’t this utility trick make it difficult to collab with others that might not be used to seeing gain staging setup like this? Or do you usually send stems when you collab with someone so it’s not an issue?

By individual tracks, you mean the channel volume, correct? I will still turn that up and down as needed to adjust the volume of the sound.

I usually send stems (which this technique is especially great for!), but I think even if the person isn’t used to it, it doesn’t really have a negative effect for them because it’s just like any other effect in the effect chain. Effectively, the sound is just getting turned down, but the other person can still add in effects and make adjustments as needed. Or can you think of a specific situation where the -16dB utility would be a problem for the other person?

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