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when I record into a program such as cakewalk or cooledit pro I cant seem to get even close to adequate overall levels that can even remotely compare to any comercial C.D.'s without severely clipping the master channels. this only occurs when I'm mixing multiple tracks (32 tracks).Is this an e.q. problem or a problem with the noise to signal ratio when recording my tracks. I've been plagued with this problem since I started computer based recording. I am recording everything through a preamp pluged into soundcard and using pc based drum machine with pre recorded samples.PLEEZ HELP MEEEE!!!!!!! :?
A lot of folks have this problem when they first start recording digitally, especially if they are used to analog tape.

You see, when you run analog tape hot, you get natural tape compression. This helps things seem louder, even though, if you look at a meter the levels don't seem to be higher numerically.

Now, you don't say what kind of commercial music you're listening to, but a lot of contemporary music is compressed a LOT. This raises the average level of the overall program content. Of course, a lot of compression can also leave thigs really lifeless sounding.

Record your tracks so that the average levels are as hot as possible. Everybody always says that digital clipping sounds awful, and, in fact it does if there's a lot of or it's consistent. But an occasional clip or two isn't really audible to me. Sometimes it helps to track with an outboard compressor, especially for things like vocals and bass.

Once you've got the hottest track you can get, and you've done your final mix, look at your levels again. If you have to, you can compress the final mix a little to get the overall levels up. But be careful you don't squeeze the life out of it. Rock is generally much more forgiving in this area than , say, acoustic classical pieces.

Lastly, I would rather compress than normalize. Although some programs offer a sort of compression as an option under the normalize function, I'd rather just use a compressor.

I use the Fasoft Compressor- it's very good and very inexpensive shareware. you can get it here:

The Axeman (##(===> Cuts From My New Blues CD
Compression, interesting …. I have often wondered about this very issue with CEP recordings. I’ll check it out.
I have tried compression but I am not sure if I am using it correctly or not.I'm still fairly new in the mastering game. What type of settings do you recomend? (i.e. ratios, attack, make up levels, release times etc.) I play metal kinda like slipknot deftones godsmack... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

A little Compression 101-

A compressor is used to raise overall levels of a signal while decreasing the dynamic range of it. You set it so that you get the desired increase in gain (or decrease in dynamic range) by adjusting 5 parameters:

1. Threshold (in db)- this is the level at which the compressor kicks in. The more negative this number is, the lower the sound level at which compression will occur.

2. Ratio- this controls how much compression will be applied. It is expressed as a ratio, for example 3:1. That means that for every 3 db the signal increases over the Threshold setting, there will only be a 1 db increase at the output of the compressor.

3. Attack (in msec)- this controls how fast compression occurs when the signal goes over the Threshold. Set it too slow, and the compressor won't act fast enough to clamp down on the signal and you may get clipping. Set it too fast, and the compressor will squash the transient of the signal, and the sound will get muffled and lose definition.

4. Release (in msec)- this controls how fast the compressor stops compressing after the signal falls back down below the Threshold. Use this control to keep the compressor from "pumping" and sounding weird as the signal goes above and below the Threshold.

5. Gain- this control allows you to "make up" the gain you lost when the compressor applied the compression ratio to the output. This way, you keep level up, even though you compressed the peaks and reduced the dynamic range. The result is an overall increase in the average volume of the track.

Let's say you had a vocal track that was getting lost in the mix, except for this one spot in the chorus where the singer was really belting it out. You set it so the loud part doesn't clip, but then you can't hear the soft part. You set it so you can hear the soft part, the loud part clips badly. If you compress it, you will reduce the dynamic range of the signal (the dynamic range is the volume of the signal in db's between the softest part and the loudest part.)

If you use too much compression, your vocals will sound strange and muffled. I would start with some light settings- say -12db Threshold, 250 msec Attack, 3:1 Ratio, 200 msec Release, then enough Gain to get the output level of the signal back up to around -3db on the meters.

Guitars and other instruments can be compressed a little more- at extreme settings the compressor becomes an effect rather than a dynamics processor. If you have an outboard compressor, you should try light compression when recording, especially on vocals and bass. This will help you to get a stronger signal recorded. Once the signal is recorded, you can still compress it with software, but on some things it helps to compress while recording.

Hope this helps!! 8)
The Axeman (##(===> Cuts From My New Blues CD
thanks, I'm sure that this will get me on the right path!
:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: