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Gain Staging: Setting Your Meters

The visual nature of computer-based DAW software has given rise to the axiom that you should mix with your ears, not your eyes, a temptation that’s easy to understand as we buy ever bigger monitor screens to view our mixes in glorious Technicolor – why else would plug-in manufacturers go to such lengths to make the front panels of their products so visually distinct and appealing?  However, when you’re actually recording into your DAW, there’s a way in we can turn our tendency to sometimes trust our eyes over our ears into an advantage.

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Gain Staging: Setting Mix Levels

We can set out with good intentions, but sometimes, the tracks we end up with after recording are “hotter” than we want.  Perhaps that spontaneous performance wasn’t at a technically correct level, but capturing the feel of it again would be nigh on impossible.  Or perhaps, more prosaically, you’re mixing a track someone else has recorded and you need to pull the levels back to a point where the sum of the parts doesn’t light the clip light before you’ve started to mix, (not, of course, that any of your mixes would ever do such a thing!).  Setting a good gain structure at the start of your mix can go a good long way to ensuring that you don’t face an uphill struggle by the end and, one way or another, your DAW has everything you need to make that easy for you.

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Introduction to Gain Staging

When you record in a DAW, most of them give you a give image of your waveform on the track.  The louder you record, the more visible the waveform, so there’s a sub-conscious visual cue that’s telling you that “more=better”.  If, like me, you started in the era of tape machines where you wanted your recorded signal well above the noise floor, this is perfectly logical.  Only, in this digital age, it isn’t logical at all, it’s comparing apples and oranges.  In this video, I look at the issue of levels and where I suggest you set your recording level at may surprise you…

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The case of the missing click

One of the most irritating things in Cubase is its propensity for losing some of its settings at the slightest provocation.  One of the things that provokes it most is changing Devices, something I do regularly as I switch between recording and mixing using my audio interface on the one hand and recording these videos using a digital headset on the other.  This can result in my routings in the mix console being wiped out, but can also lead to the click vanishing and it’s the Devil’s job to work out how to restore it.  In this video, I show you how to do it without tears, (or tearing your hair out… or both!).

 

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Moving your Kontakt Libraries

Having struggled with moving the EZDrummer2 libraries to my SSD audio drive, I was prepared for an equal struggle with Kontakt.  However, as you don’t have to force Kontakt into an error to move the libraries, (unlike EZDrummer2), the task was less fraught, although it still didn’t quite work the way I expected…

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Moving your EZDrummer2 Library

Having written previously about installing an SSD, (Solid State Drive) as an audio drive on my laptop, the first thing to do was to move my existing Cubase projects and sample libraries to the empty drive, once I’d formatted it.  Moving the Cubase projects folder was a simple click-and-drag operation, (although you do have to confirm the new location of the project the first time you open it in Cubase – hardly a hardship).  However, moving the EZdrummer2 core library and the samples for the various EZDrummer expansion kits was not as simple as the Toontrack website made out…

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Video Tutorial – Recording Automation

There are a couple of different ways of setting up automation on your DAW.  The simplest, but perhaps not always the most accurate, is to record the automation by making the relevant changes whilst the track is playing, and have the DAW record what you do.  This is a separate record function from the normal “record” that you would use on a MIDI or audio track, but you can still see what you have done in your project view and it can be edited, (but I’ll look at that in a future video).  In this video, I look at how to actually record the automation information.