Setting VU levels in mic pre

Posted on

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Member Since: Feb 07, 2007

So, I've got a DMP3 mic pre, with a Cad Trion 8000 mic going in (not that that matters for this particular question, but I thought I'd mention it). I'm able to watch the VU meters, and I'm not sure if they should be sort of moping around, barely moving from, say, -20 to -10, or if they should bounce from around -10 to up into the red a bit and then back (on plosives during vocal takes, which is what I've been doing a lot of lately). The gain is at about 2 o'clock (probably irrelevant here), and of course the 8000 has it's own power supply, so the phantom power at the DMP3 is off. The results so far? Pretty good with the needle bouncing up into the red (or close to it) during plosives or me getting closer to the mic (I'm still working on technique). Any suggestions?
As an aside, I'm on SSL's mailing list, and I got this wild video demonstration of their new desk (the name escapes me), and I noticed that the meter bank's VU meters during a play back of some tune were pounding into the red zone, hitting the pole all the way to the right. Why would this be? Is it because of the (digital) source's extra headroom? I realize that my situation is totally different--I'm feeding a single mic into a single channel. Still, I'm curious. I'm working out the whole gain structure ideal.

[ Back to Top ]

MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008

Nov 09, 2011 11:52 am

INPUT gain structure:

The loudest parts should wander around 0dBVU (especially with preamps like the DMP3 - Which is really a decent little box - but has just about 'zero' usable headroom over spec). Plosives and sibilance need to be avoided at the source (or at least with a screen, which will take care of the plosives).

Undoubtedly, "too low" is better than "too hot" - But somewhere around "just right" is ideal.

As far as the video - Could be anything. Mixing too hot, possibly from tracking too hot, meters could be reading sums (still, shouldn't be peaking, but I digress), anything.

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

Nov 09, 2011 09:04 pm

Thanks, MM--I read that piece of yours some time ago (and the other stuff there too). I've got a screen for the mic (a Steadman), but my issue with the plosives was my occasional bad habit of lurching toward the mike. My technique is far better than it was when I started, and I never record too hot; when you finally figure out the business of gain structure (mostly!) and the huge amounts of headroom available at 24 bit digital, it dawns on you just how nutty it is to push the signal up to 0 dbFS every time you record.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Nov 10, 2011 07:15 am

im no expert by any means, but i find it depends on what youre recording as to how much you thrash your pre.

I find with dist guitars i get a much cleaner sound around -5dbvu

vocals, yeah i try to get em around 0 but you gotta really set your compression properly.
I kinda shoot for 0 but if i have my compression attack a bit slower then i set it to hit 0 half a second or less before the compressor rips it back, so it doesnt go over sure it does a bit tho.

Suggestions on your mic technique... i think its more about vocal technique than anything, to assure that there are bugger all explosions.
But above all with vocals, once you do have things under control with technique....its "warming up" properly.

You need to hit the highs or put the edge on your voice by squeezing your pipes more than doing it thru volume. This IME is THE way to
1. really vocalize properly.
2. really get your own good quality thru pipes control.
3. really reel in the volume control on the mic.

F**k, ive always been a singer, but first i started off actually singing, learnt really good control thru major gigging... then stuffed all that up by going full hardcore, gutterall....and learnt a hat full of bad habits and techniques. now...well, i just spent the last year plus getting back what i used to have, which was across the board vocal control.
man i tell ya, once you get it, never let it go. I dont know if you already have all this but still.....never let that puppy go. its just too dam hard to get it back. If i didnt have OCD i wouldve giving up after 3 months.

Hope some of this gibberish helps.

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

Nov 10, 2011 08:20 pm

Well, I don't scream--I sing folk-rock type stuff, so I'm not all that worried about blowing out my voice. It's true about the warming-up part of preparing to sing and I'll usually run through the song at least twice before I hit the red button. I'm more worried about my ears-I have tinitus, and it isn't getting any better. As far as compression goes, I never use it going in; as a matter of fact, I've never used it on vocals at all. If it sounds bad, or uneven, I just re-record it, or use some automation.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Nov 11, 2011 04:36 am

ahhh, ok no worries,
well, give the comp a try on in...takes a while to get right but if you have a decent comp you'll be glad you did.

try a 27 to 33ms attack, the release i couldnt say atm, i only do heavy right now, but i use 600ms or there abouts.
and try a ratio of 4:1 or even 6:1 depending on how it goes.

alot of people carry on about not too much compression with s=certain music but in the end, they get it mastered loud and well i guess they wish they did because it sits back in the mix, other than that... really, with a loud master the vocal becomes loud any way, so any dynamic vol wise in yer vocal track you try to achieve goes out the window (to a deree) when they smash it down..

maybe your style of tunes doesnt entail a smashed master but its something to think about....

be good if MM could set us straigght on that...its just my way of thinking and IME... but it may not be right....but the vocal being up front, i cant see how it couldnt be compressed more than you originally wanted if you were shooting for a loud/ish/er song.

back on the to compress or not to...
there's so much quality in voices that you dont hear alot because they dont use enough compression IMO. again just my 2c.
i find with the right amount i dont feel like i gotta push harder to get the edge i want. in turn i get better quality.

apart from all that, as you say, warm up is key, you need as much as possible to be able to hit the high notes or higher notes without much hassle to your state of mind or throat. well you know what i mean.
warm up is the only way. I always get warm way higher than i usually need to go first, then everything else is a breeze....sort of hahaha.

We have this thing here that seems to work. you guys there in there in the US. should be kicking our asses technology wise.

Good chatting with ya mate. Good luck.

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

Nov 15, 2011 01:31 am

I don't have a decent compressor--I would want to get something really nice, and the fact is hardware like that costs a small fortune. I believe Massive Master has recommended not using comp on the way in--once it's on the vocal, it can't be gotten out (correct me if I'n wrong, MM). One of the most important things I've done in the last few months is tighen up my signal chain, my monitoring chain. I picked up a used Pre Sonus Central Station on E-bay, and now I monitor myself during recording in a much more logical and "pro" way. I used to alter the mix itself--I'd diddle with the sliders to get the right volume mix for the cue send.(!) Now I can use the AUX sends, or more often a Cue mix that's taken from the unaltered rough mix via the sound card's mixer. No more resetting faders that shouldn't be touched in the first place. It's made vocal takes a lot easier to do, and I find that I Iike doing it more often. I used to kind of dread going about it.

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

Nov 15, 2011 01:33 am

So, what works for tinitus? It was my understanding that hearing damage can't be undone.
Since: Nov 27, 2007

Nov 15, 2011 07:17 am

checkout the link posted there. there's things that can be done these days. regrdless of what the Docs say. Just because they dont have their fingers in the pie they denounce it.

there is also a thing on you tube to do with a product called a Scenar.
Type that in and you should be able to find it.

yeah you cant undo comp on the way just get right, no biggie. Takes a bit a mucking around but i reckon its worth it.

Since: Aug 17, 2004

Nov 15, 2011 07:54 pm

I noticed that the meter bank's VU meters during a play back of some tune were pounding into the red zone, hitting the pole all the way to the right. Why would this be?
. Cos it sounds good? :-)

Thats been my recent revelation. If it sounds good, go for it!

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

Nov 19, 2011 07:52 pm

For the record, I couldn't hear what the music was. Or if it was distorted, or not.

Related Forum Topics:

If you would like to participate in the forum discussions, feel free to register for your free membership.