Old 04-18-2018, 09:44 PM   #1
Baggage
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Default Monitor output level

What is the standard output level for monitors in the routing box? Should it be at zero, -6db, -12db etc.

Is it a "taste/preference" thing or is there a standard?
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:58 PM   #2
ashcat_lt
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You're talking about the volume of the Hardware Send that goes to your studio monitors? I'd imagine most people just leave that at unity. Then you'd adjust the controls on your power amp or powered speakers (or monitor controller or whatever) to avoid distortion at that end and calibrate for SPL in the room.

For live shows I sometimes will add monitor fx to limit my hardware outputs to somewhere around -6dbFS just so I know that it won't ever clip the DAC and there is a little extra headroom at the amp end.
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Old 04-19-2018, 03:04 PM   #3
Philbo King
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As long as you aren't clipping when the audio data hits the converter, it doesn't matter much. Some converters do sound a bit cleaner at lower levels; some do not.

If you have powered monitors, look at the specs to see what input level they expect. Set it a few dB under that.

I also put limiters on the hardware audio outputs both for speakers and phones. It almost never does anything, but once in a while I'll accidentally blast too much sound out (stuff happens). And the limiters save my ears, speakers and phones from damage.

I know you didn't ask about sound level for monitoring, but an important thing is calibrating your listening level to a known dB(SPL) level, so you don't get bitten by the Fletcher-Munson curve (for example, mixing too quiet then having tons of excess bass in the mix as a result).

Edit: I see Ashcat got here with similar good advice while I was typing...
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Old 04-19-2018, 04:40 PM   #4
Baggage
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Yes, great advice from both of you. Looking into it...
Thanks!
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philbo King View Post
As long as you aren't clipping when the audio data hits the converter, it doesn't matter much. Some converters do sound a bit cleaner at lower levels; some do not.
Okay, another newbish question here- how do you know when you are clipping converters?
Right now my meters are barely hitting -30 when I record AC Guitar, when I hit around -25 to -18 it sounds incredibly hot. I;m running though reaper and into rme ff800. I have that set to +4 in and +4 out. I put my monitor output at 0. So what indicates if I'm clipping the converter?
Thanks again for any insight.
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Old 04-22-2018, 07:19 PM   #6
Philbo King
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baggage View Post
Okay, another newbish question here- how do you know when you are clipping converters?
Right now my meters are barely hitting -30 when I record AC Guitar, when I hit around -25 to -18 it sounds incredibly hot. I;m running though reaper and into rme ff800. I have that set to +4 in and +4 out. I put my monitor output at 0. So what indicates if I'm clipping the converter?
Thanks again for any insight.
Short answer -
If you bypass Monitor fx, and the Master track hits zero or close to it, you are clipping
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:40 PM   #7
RJHollins
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1. Do you have an SPL meter to measure the Volume of your monitors. A target of max loudness is around 83dB [SPL].

2. Are your Monitors designed for +4 ? or -10 ?
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:33 AM   #8
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While recording, you watch the track meters. If the clip light comes on, it's too loud. But also listen to it. In some cheaper interfaces, the analog part might start to distort before it actually hits 0dbFS.

On playback, look at the Master Meter OR the last output meter in your Monitor FX chain. If that clip light comes on, you're clipping your DAC.


@RJH - 83dpSPL is a reasonable average level. You decide how much headroom you want for peaks above that. I think the cinema standard is like 23db, so that the loudest passages end up above 100dbSPL briefly. That's loud, but it done hurt me. If your speakers can't do that without distorting/exploding, you need to either compromise or upgrade. If they actually explode, that question is kind of answered.
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Old 04-26-2018, 07:52 AM   #9
Baggage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philbo King View Post
Short answer -
If you bypass Monitor fx, and the Master track hits zero or close to it, you are clipping
Thanks for this!
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Old 04-26-2018, 07:53 AM   #10
Baggage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
1. Do you have an SPL meter to measure the Volume of your monitors. A target of max loudness is around 83dB [SPL].

2. Are your Monitors designed for +4 ? or -10 ?
I don't have the SPL meter. I'll research those now. I think my monitors are +4, but not sure and will research that as well.
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Old 04-26-2018, 07:54 AM   #11
Baggage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
While recording, you watch the track meters. If the clip light comes on, it's too loud. But also listen to it. In some cheaper interfaces, the analog part might start to distort before it actually hits 0dbFS.

On playback, look at the Master Meter OR the last output meter in your Monitor FX chain. If that clip light comes on, you're clipping your DAC.


@RJH - 83dpSPL is a reasonable average level. You decide how much headroom you want for peaks above that. I think the cinema standard is like 23db, so that the loudest passages end up above 100dbSPL briefly. That's loud, but it done hurt me. If your speakers can't do that without distorting/exploding, you need to either compromise or upgrade. If they actually explode, that question is kind of answered.
Very helpful information. Thank you!
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