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Old 06-14-2019, 03:30 AM   #1
wch090
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Default Changing Reaper's volume without affecting exported volume

My audio interface has some issues, forcing me to turn up the volume on the interface to have decent sound quality. In return, I have to turn down the volume on my PC to compensate.

Since Reaper uses my interface's ASIO driver, the volume is always at maximum. I need to turn down the master volume in the mixer by -30dB while producing, then turn it back up when exporting.

Is there another way to do this? I keep forgetting to change the volume before and after exporting, and blowing my ears out. Perhaps setting a limiter plugin, with -30dB gain, to automatically disable itself on export may be a solution, but I'm not sure if it is possible on Reaper.

Edit:

The metronome on Reaper ignores the master volume, and it is too loud no matter what I do to the master. Is there anyway to deal with this?

Last edited by wch090; 06-14-2019 at 03:32 AM. Reason: Additional question about metronome
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:11 AM   #2
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The Master gets to your interface via a hardware send. Turn down that send level.

That probably won’t help the metronome. You could insert the click as an actual track, but I never use it and strongly advise finding another solution. For the longest time my default project template had one track in it with EZDrummer and a 15 minute long MIDI item that just tapped out the click. Nowadays I have an instance of megasequencerbaby instead of the midi item.

But you could also put something like JS Volume or ReaEQ in your MonitorFX. I’m not sure, but I’d imagine that will catch the metronome too.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:25 AM   #3
gibi25
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Right click the metronome icon and lower the beat clicks volume?
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:29 AM   #4
serr
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Make your mix bus a subgroup track that stays at unity. Use the master output as a hardware monitor volume from that mix bus.

If you have to turn down your monitor volume digitally like that...
Turning down to -30db for example still leaves you with 19 bits of resolution to your DAC in your interface. Probably don't want to have to turn down further than that but that should still be fine and not degrade your monitoring while working.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Turning down to -30db for example still leaves you with 19 bits of resolution to your DAC in your interface.
Please stop. The word “resolution” is misleading in most audio discussions. People start thinking about pixels on a screen and stair steps and stuff and that’s just really not how it works.

Assuming that the mix fits below 0dbFS, turning down the master fader (or anything else, I still think the solutions I offered are the best in most cases) just reduces dynamic range by dropping it further into the noise floor. Whether that’s digital “quantization noise” or analog hiss ultimately doesn’t matter especially since in most interfaces, the analog hiss is loud enough to mask the digital part.

BTW - It’s still full “resolution” floating point math right up unti Reaper is about to hand it off to the driver. If you turn it down by any method* in Reaper, but then crank up all the tracks so the mix is that much louder, you end up “using all the bits” when it goes to the interfaces anyway. It also defeats the purpose of the OP, but I already answered that question.

*Any method that doesn’t impose its own artificial limit. JS Volume has that Max Volume parameter, but actually that comes after the Volume Adjustment, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Other things might work differently.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:27 AM   #6
wch090
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Many thanks to the replies, I didn't know there were settings for the metronome! Turning down the send seems to do the trick, I'll do that from now on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
turning down the master fader (or anything else, I still think the solutions I offered are the best in most cases) just reduces dynamic range by dropping it further into the noise floor
I'm not very familiar with the technical side of audio production, does that mean the audio degrades if I listen with a -30dB gain? Is the difference in quality detectable to the human ear?
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wch090 View Post
I'm not very familiar with the technical side of audio production, does that mean the audio degrades if I listen with a -30dB gain? Is the difference in quality detectable to the human ear?
There might be more noise than necessary. Yes, you might hear that. Since it happens outside of Reaper, it won’t affect your renders in any way.

Edit - It IS bad gain staging, and would be even if the whole system was analog. You really should fix or replace the interface.

OR turn down your speakers instead. Honestly, that’s probably the better solution. I was thinking the interface volume control might be pushing it to clipping, but that’s rarely the way it works. Usually all the way up is basically unity and nothing from 0dbFS should push the interface itself into distortion. So leave it (and Reaper) all the way up and turn down whatever comes after it.

Last edited by ashcat_lt; 06-14-2019 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
Please stop. The word “resolution” is misleading in most audio discussions. People start thinking about pixels on a screen and stair steps and stuff and that’s just really not how it works.
Um... no. I stand by that comment!
We're literally talking about digital audio resolution in an audio forum.
Pixels?! What the hell is that?

My point was actually that while it is recommended to output full scale digitally and work the monitor volume with an analog preamp, a compromise that still gives you 19 or 20 bits of your 24 bit fixed point output should be just fine.

Quote:
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BTW - It’s still full “resolution” floating point math right up unti Reaper is about to hand it off to the driver.
Where it's a 24 bit digital audio stream with the volume lowered resulting in the top bits being zero. It's fixed point output to your DA converters at the output. That's the point in the signal path in question.
Miscommunication I imagine... I know you know this!
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:54 AM   #9
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My main point is that the difference is noise. Bad gain staging is bad gain staging no matter where it happens. Talking about resolution as though it’s really anything other noise floor distorts (pun intended) the issue for most people.

My other point was that a +30dbFS signal turned down by any means in Reaper by 30db will still hit the DAC at 0dbFS, so we still have “full resolution” available. Basically, nothing’s clipped off til you get to the DAC.
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Old 06-14-2019, 02:28 PM   #10
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In my opinion
Ashcat is dead on the money with turn down your speakers
I had the same problem until I wised up
I have an Orpheus interface.
I do most of my mix listening after recording at around -28db
Stick the master track up to -15 when recording tracks.
When I need to render that is when I stick the master track volume up to 0db.
I still have the speakers turned down over all of this.

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Old 06-14-2019, 03:24 PM   #11
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If you add a monitoring FX it will only be active during playback and not in render.
You can add a volume plugin (or just reaeq with the master gain down) and it will do what you want. Dig around in the help file to find how to add it, on my setup the button is in the top right of the window.

Also, get a better interface when you can :-(
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
My main point is that the difference is noise. Bad gain staging is bad gain staging no matter where it happens. Talking about resolution as though it’s really anything other noise floor distorts (pun intended) the issue for most people.

My other point was that a +30dbFS signal turned down by any means in Reaper by 30db will still hit the DAC at 0dbFS, so we still have “full resolution” available. Basically, nothing’s clipped off til you get to the DAC.
The master output from Reaper feeds the DA in your interface. This is 24 bit fixed point. If you turn down the master in Reaper to use it for a volume control, you are turning down a 24 bit fixed point signal. This is post floating point in the system.

The 'stock' answer when someone mentions using the Reaper master for their monitor volume control is "Stop doing that! You need to buy an analog preamp." That's all well and good but someone may not have a budget on hand and they're going to keep making do. I'm suggesting that it's not the end of the world and further provided some technical background to back up my point (ie that running with 19 or 20 bit resolution is still OK). That's where I was going with this.

I'm going to suggest that if reducing your bitdepth to 20 bits hurts the sound of your mix, something very wrong is going on with that mix. 20 bits still resolves a 120db dynamic range. Still more than the 16 bits of the CD format.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:29 AM   #13
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It never matters where any of the faders are set. What matters is the level heading to the interface, and that doesn't happen until after the Master, after the Hardware Send, and after the Monitor FX. Literally, after anything you could possibly do in Reaper. If you turn down anything such that the maximum peak leaving Reaper is below 0dbFS, then no you are not "using all the bit" at the interface. It won't, however, stop you from level creep. You turn down the whatever, it gets quieter at your ears, you turn up the drums a little, then you have to turn up the vocals, and the bass, and the guitars... Before you know it, you're back up to clipping the interface.* There's no lack of "resolution" until just when Reaper hands it off to the driver.

But I still hate that word "resolution" and the notion that one should "use all the bits" as though it had anything AT ALL to do with anything except noise. Who worries about bits in 2019?!? Why should we? (Noobs who read posts and watch videos where people talk about them. Because they don't know any better and those who really should keep confusing them.)

The OP hasn't told us what interface they're dealing with or what that's plugged into, but it has to be plugged into something, and that something is obviously too loud. In I think most cases, that something will have its own volume control, and that's probably the actual best place to address this issue.


Edit - Perhaps a better example that doesn't involve quite such poor discipline. I mean, if you adjust something after the Master, the meter shows what you'd expect, and you can mix up to 0dbFS like normal, and it's attenuated after. So, but, imagine you put ReaDelay somewhere, and either intentionally or accidentally set the feedback a little too high so that it escalates toward infinity quickly. In the case of the OP, it WILL end up going to 30db above your imaginary ceiling before it starts to hit any real limit. Before long, that will be square waves with both peak and RMS levels 30db greater than the loudest sound you wanted to hear from your speakers. If you've calibrated so that your imaginary -18dbFS (actually -48) hits a typical 85dbSPL, the output will be 163dbSPL!!! Your speakers will hopefully fall apart way before that because otherwise your ears will. But you sure won't be wasting any bits. Well, actually you kind of are. If it's only ever all bits on or all bits off, then none of the in between values are getting used and it doesn't matter how many there are to work with.

Last edited by ashcat_lt; 06-15-2019 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 06-15-2019, 02:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dub3000 View Post
If you add a monitoring FX it will only be active during playback and not in render.
You can add a volume plugin (or just reaeq with the master gain down) and it will do what you want. Dig around in the help file to find how to add it, on my setup the button is in the top right of the window.

(
The Monitor FX is perfect for this. You can add anything there: something that drops the volume, something that high to low passes it, and it doesn't affect the master out. I use it a lot for narrations that were recorded badly enough (low rumble, muffled) that I need to put fx on to maintain sanity when editing but still have to send back files untweaked, as originally recorded, which is how the edited renders are.
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