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Levels and Gains


pattonaudio

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Hi Guys

 

I have seen a few engineers do different things when setting up their eqs and gains on their desks. Some put the master to 0db others and work the level eq and gain just before it fbqs, other leave the master off and and pfl the 1 channel at a time adjusting the level, and gain until till hit amber.

 

Personally I set it master to 0db and then work the level, eq and gain as a live sound from foh

 

so my question(s) is how do you do it and which is the right way and does any one do anything different

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I'm half tempted to post "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!" and run screaming from the room--there's just been a discussion on this over in alt.audio.pro.live-sound which turned into a gigantic flame war. However, I think the BR might just be able to manage to talk about this a bit more sensibly!

 

To take your last question first, there probably is no "right" way and there'll likely be as many variations as there are responses in this topic.

 

Anyway...my method:

 

I'll set my master(s) to about -10 (assuming a board where the maximum on the master is zero) to allow myself the range to boost everything in an emergency.

 

Then...assuming a proper sound check...I'll go through and set each channel one at a time. Doing this setting, I'll PFL each one in order, set the fader to zero, then use the channel gain to get an indication of about -6. Why -6? This is a rough compromise to allow for: a) the fact that the people on stage will "give it more welly" in a performance rather than a tech, and b) to leave plenty of headroom for the summing amp when I get to the big scenes with the whole band playing and 20 or 30 people singing all at once. (Did I mention I do mainly theatre, not rock bands?)

 

Once set up, I may tweak the channel gains if they end up way off, but mainly try to leave them alone and mix on the proper faders. My goal is to set things so a vocal solo wants to be at zero on the fader, backing singers or half a duet backed off by 3 or 6 dB, choral scenes backed off even more...and so on. I like to have a "visual cue" from the fader positions as to what channels are dominant and which ones are backed off.

 

(At this point I'll mention that there's a second main method of operation that likes to set the channel gains so that most of the show is run with the faders at zero for simplicity...i.e. putting everything to zero gives you roughly the mix you want. This is obviously more applicable to bands than to theatre but is certainly a valid way of working used by many good sound mixers.)

 

Anyhow, over to others who are bound to have different ideas!

 

Bob

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I'm half tempted to post "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!" and run screaming from the room--there's just been a discussion on this over in alt.audio.pro.live-sound which turned into a gigantic flame war. However, I think the BR might just be able to manage to talk about this a bit more sensibly!

 

To take your last question first, there probably is no "right" way and there'll likely be as many variations as there are responses in this topic.

 

Anyway...my method:

 

I'll set my master(s) to about -10 (assuming a board where the maximum on the master is zero) to allow myself the range to boost everything in an emergency.

 

Then...assuming a proper sound check...I'll go through and set each channel one at a time. Doing this setting, I'll PFL each one in order, set the fader to zero, then use the channel gain to get an indication of about -6. Why -6? This is a rough compromise to allow for: a) the fact that the people on stage will "give it more welly" in a performance rather than a tech, and b) to leave plenty of headroom for the summing amp when I get to the big scenes with the whole band playing and 20 or 30 people singing all at once. (Did I mention I do mainly theatre, not rock bands?)

 

Once set up, I may tweak the channel gains if they end up way off, but mainly try to leave them alone and mix on the proper faders. My goal is to set things so a vocal solo wants to be at zero on the fader, backing singers or half a duet backed off by 3 or 6 dB, choral scenes backed off even more...and so on. I like to have a "visual cue" from the fader positions as to what channels are dominant and which ones are backed off.

 

Bob

 

I mainly do theatre too, thanks for you reply Bob, I am sure others have got views too!

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Well, im not so much of a noise boy of the sense of knowing masses of terminology - but over the years have gained enough credibal experience to know what im doing FOH and monitor world - and I do the same as above really.

 

Set everything to 0 and then work the channel gains. I give myself room on the master to go up a few db and I generally set the lead vox / guitars etc so that you can "full up" on each fader for solo sections and then bring back down to 0 for general mix.

 

Im sure "proper" snd guys might be horrified at that technique - or maybe it is ok , but its always worked for me and I've found it flawless . . .touchwood!!

 

Hope that helps!

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like everyone else so far, I'm similar yet subtly different - I set master and channel faders to 0dB, bring the input gain of each channel to *peak* at 0dB, then mix the channel faders to 0dB on the LR bus, then set the master level to the SPL/etc I require.
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My two pence worth.......

 

Firstly eq the rig with the graphic a good idea is to choose a cd you know is well produced and matches the sound of the show you want to acheive i.e. rock gig maybe Rage against the machine, dance M.O.S mix cd.

 

Then

 

I normaly set individual channels to 0 or "tickling" the amber then sort out a monitor mix and alow the band/artist to play a song or perform a scene, as bobbsy said:

 

the fact that the people on stage will "give it more welly" in a performance rather than a tech

 

So during the song you check the levels again and adjust for any welly giving. This is where I will probably receive the abuse... my method is to leave it if you have good quality speakers/Amps/E.Q/Mics/Mixer and you set your levels to 0 and the amps 75% to full then the desk and amps are working at their optimum and the sound should pass through the system and come out of the other end "clean" and sounding swell you have already alowed for any problems caused by the room with the EQ at the start so unless the instruments sound bad you should be set. If the instruments do sound bad at the amp well to call on an age old quote "you can't polish a turd!!!!!"

 

As you may have guessed I do alot of conference work so the main thing is that it is loud and has no feedback but I have found that this method gives great results with bands and theatre as well.

 

Enough ego massaging, I hope this helps. :rolleyes:

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My two pence worth.......

 

This is where I will probably receive the abuse... my method is to leave it if you have good quality speakers/Amps/E.Q/Mics/Mixer and you set your levels to 0 and the amps 75% to full then the desk and amps are working at their optimum and the sound should pass through the system and come out of the other end "clean"

 

I'll give you abuse for that!!! 75% why???? you would drive at 30mph on a motorway!!! Would you???

 

Anyway thank you for you views on the Original Topic!

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I'll give you abuse for that!!! 75% why???? you would drive at 30mph on a motorway!!! Would you???

 

Anyway thank you for you views on the Original Topic!

I hope you are joking, otherwise please explain your logic.

 

Mac

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I'll give you abuse for that!!! 75% why???? you would drive at 30mph on a motorway!!! Would you???

 

Anyway thank you for you views on the Original Topic!

I hope you are joking, otherwise please explain your logic.

 

Mac

 

 

 

OK! why would you want to only put you amps to 75% you still get the same result clean at 100% as long as your cabs are matched to the amp. Running at 100% gives you more "headroom" on the desk, think of the AMP as a car it can do 120mph and the desk as the accelerator and you only ever really "legally" do 70mph! the rest is there if you need it!

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Well, im not so much of a noise boy of the sense of knowing masses of terminology - but over the years have gained enough credibal experience to know what im doing FOH and monitor world - and I do the same as above really.

 

Set everything to 0 and then work the channel gains. I give myself room on the master to go up a few db and I generally set the lead vox / guitars etc so that you can "full up" on each fader for solo sections and then bring back down to 0 for general mix.

 

Im sure "proper" snd guys might be horrified at that technique - or maybe it is ok , but its always worked for me and I've found it flawless . . .touchwood!!

 

Hope that helps!

 

Its a valid method but with a few major drawbacks. I think the main problem is lets say you have a pre-fader aux send going to a stage monitor, every time you change the channel gain it will change the signal going to the aux send.

 

I must admit I have seen this method used before but can't see the logic in it, why pay for faders and not use them and stuff up your monitor mix everytime you want to adjust the house mix?

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I'll give you abuse for that!!! 75% why???? you would drive at 30mph on a motorway!!! Would you???

 

Anyway thank you for you views on the Original Topic!

I hope you are joking, otherwise please explain your logic.

 

Mac

 

 

 

OK! why would you want to only put you amps to 75% you still get the same result clean at 100% as long as your cabs are matched to the amp. Running at 100% gives you more "headroom" on the desk, think of the AMP as a car it can do 120mph and the desk as the accelerator and you only ever really "legally" do 70mph! the rest is there if you need it!

Except that analogy is wrong. Running your amp gains at 75% does not limit the amp to 75% of it's power, it just attenuates the input by 25%. So with a big enough input signal you can still clip the amp/put out 100% of clean power. To fully utilise the headroom in your equipment and to get the cleanest input signal you want everything to clip at the same time, which will mean some equipment will have the inputs attenuated. There is a good article on this on prosoundweb. One place where an expception is often necessary is amps after speaker management units with limiters in them. Setting the limiters for the amps full gain means the limiter settings are always going to be enough to protect the rig, and most people that I have seen run their rigs in this way.

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OK! why would you want to only put you amps to 75% you still get the same result clean at 100% as long as your cabs are matched to the amp. Running at 100% gives you more "headroom" on the desk, think of the AMP as a car it can do 120mph and the desk as the accelerator and you only ever really "legally" do 70mph! the rest is there if you need it!

 

I've come across situations before once or twice where I've had just too much headroom, where I'm never going to push the desk to anywhere near 0 with the amps running on full power. If that's the case, then I'll turn the amps down a bit until I can run things comfortably at about 0. This gives me far more control over the bits I'm actually going to need, rather than giving me masses of headroom which is essentially wasted space I know I'm never going to touch.

 

As for how I set things up on the desk side, I'll usually aim to run things at about 0 on the faders, sometimes a little less depending on if I feel I might need a bit more headroom later on, either beacuse I've got a suspicion I'll be asked to give it more welly or to account for performers that tend to be quieter when it comes to the actual thing due to nerves. But generally speaking, unless something changes drastically, I'll aim to set the gain, leave it there then work with faders.

 

Just my 2p

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Like many have said, I set my master and each channel on or around 0dB.

 

I use the gains to level out each channel(PFL'ing the mics), and adjust EQ accordingly.

Like Bob has mentioned, this gives a good visual reference as to how loud or high in the mix everything is.

I then use the amp levels to adjust for the size of room, there is no need being louder than required.

 

Being in a duo and having to mix myself, means that I can quickly glance at the desk to check for levels as per sound check.

 

John Denim.

PS I may be slated for this?!

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Hi Guys

 

I have seen a few engineers do different things when setting up their eqs and gains on their desks. Some put the master to 0db others and work the level eq and gain just before it fbqs, other leave the master off and and pfl the 1 channel at a time adjusting the level, and gain until till hit amber.

 

Personally I set it master to 0db and then work the level, eq and gain as a live sound from foh

 

so my question(s) is how do you do it and which is the right way and does any one do anything different

 

Rock bands and things...

 

The first thing we would do is sort out the EQ, with desk master faders set to 0dB. (I'm not going to tell you the CD I play, as you'd all probably cringe). Each input channel, would be set at 0bB, input, and the slider set as desired. Most of the mixing done from the sup-groups, with only fine tuning on the input channels.......

 

There is also the integration of outboard (comps etc) to also consider.

 

Also our amps are always at full gain......Tho' they do get a tad warm <_<

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