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How hot to record?

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Joined: 13 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:34 am    Post subject: How hot to record? Reply with quote

Just wondering how hot people tend to record digital music. I have been told around -18db is where to position the recording, but I really have no idea.

any thoughts?

I am using SONAR ( I would reccomend this prog, its far easier than Cubase IMHO)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:54 am    Post subject: How hot to record digital? Reply with quote

Do you mean you want to record in stereo or multitrack?

The golden rule with digital recording is that the highest peak of the material that you wish to record should never go above zero db. If you have the chance to run a preview of the material before recording with most up to date software, there should be a maximum peak indicater. Simply run your material through once over and check the indicater reading. If it says 0.00db it should record ok but if it reads anything over ie +0.85db, you will have to turn it down at the source until it reads at zero db or less. I always run my maximum at a small percentage below zero db, ie -0.20 allowing for small errors. But it is preferable to record the material as high as possible even with enhanced bitrates, generally though the higher the bitrate, the less you need to worry about this. Certainly recording at 16bit I would always take care to record the material as high as possible.
This all assumes that you can preview all the material beforehand, if thats not possible, ie with live recording, or very long recordings, then another aproach may be needed. You could make use of a limiter compressor, either hardware or software plugin if you are using Sonar Cubase or Logic etc the limiter will set a 'ceiling' for your material, this will be callibrated a little under zero db. The compressor will adjust the 'squash' of the material. You have to use with care as the dynamics in the material may set of audio undulations which create a kind of 'pumping' in the music or whatever if not set properly. But used with carefull adjustments, the limiter/compressor can give that extra bit of headroom in dynamic recording.
Failing that, if you don't have access to a limiter/compressor, you will have to take a real good guess and set the recording input at a level way below zero (try -10.00db to -15.00db) and hope for the best. Recording at 24bit or higher will give you more headroom to lift up the recorded audio to zero later.
I use Wavelab to record stereo material and Cubase to record any multitrack recordings. Wavelab is my first choice for say recording old cassette tapes or minidisc etc, the metering and plugins are perfect for this kind of 2 track (stereo)editing.
I use Cubase for multitrack recording and come to that most things that a traditional recording studio would do eg overdubbing, midi programning, soft synths, mixing and mastering etc etc. Whether Sonar or Cubase, they both are virtual recording studio environments with extensive tools and resources to enable all facets of the recording process.
I however do prefer Cubase.
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