Recording myths

I usually keep my levels at -6db to -10db as well. It’s going to fluctuate during the recording, but I like to leave some headroom.

  • satcomer

    Maybe top 40 mixes will take this advace. So much of that music sounds way over in their recordings.

    • JohnDoey

      That happens in mastering (the final step,) not in recording (the first step.) Masters are crushed dynamically because consumer audio playback technology is still at 1980’s levels of digital audio quality. Peaking at -6 dB reduces audio quality, which is not necessarily a big deal in a 24-bit studio recording, but there is no quality to spare in 16-bit consumer masters.

      Once consumer audio players are 24-bit and also have smart gain management to make a playlist of songs from different artists playback at the same perceived volume, the audio quality that consumers hear will be much better. Apple is working towards that with their Mastered for iTunes program, where producers give iTunes a 24-bit mix with the dynamic range intact. But consumers don’t have players yet to play those modern masters. That is also what Neil Young’s Pono is about. Enabling the consumer to hear what the music sounds like in the studio.

  • JohnDoey

    This doesn’t apply if you are recording with a compressor on the input that is killing the transients, or recording electronic instruments that don’t have transients. In that case you are just giving up 1-bit of quality for nothing if you reduce gain by -6 dB.

  • Jeff Zugale

    So different from when we used to deliberately drive tape hard to get analog saturation to make guitars even fatter.