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Thread AOutput Level Question

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1 AOutput Level Question
I am recording in Cubase SX3 through a MOTU interface. When I mix and master my bands demos I typically add alot of compression at the mastering stage. My final output is relatively loud, but still doesnt compete with a comercial CD, or even other home studio stuff. Now here's my question: When I master I don't let anything peak above 0 db on Cubase's software mixer. However, out of curiosity I let it peak considerably above 0 db, and there is no audible distortion. I thought that digital clipping above 0 db was supposed to distort horribly. Does this mean that I can master above 0 db? Are Cubase's monitors emulating an analog monitor where I can bounce above 0 db without any issues? Thanks for the help!!
Though I'm new to mastering, I always add a commercial mp3 into a track(mostly country for me) and monitor the levels as well. I've noticed in today's time it gets above 0db. It seems everyone is fighting to get louder. So far i've noticed that if the limiter is last in the chain, you can set your ceiling to 0.0db and also lift softer levels making the overall mix sound louder.

I'm using Ozone as my mastering tool which acts a great training tool as well. You can display the block diagram of all the processors built within the preset.

My question is this. When recording tracks what db level should your final track db level be? I'm hearing everything from -6db to -2db. This way you have headroom for mastering. I find -6db might be a little low.

For instance in my new upcoming home studio, I'm going to start by recording mostly acoustic + vocals. So lets take an acoustic guitar scenerio

Guitar---->Condensor Mic----->Tube Pre------>USB/Firewire input device----->DAW

What's the db level at the tube pre? -10db?
What's the db level at the DAW? -2db?
cubase prevents digital distortion when its a result of a mix, this because its a built-in protection.

but if you export that mix, put it on a cd and listen to it on your home hifi, its just horrible.

when mastering, absolutely DON'T go over 0db.

also, don't bother reaching the same volume of a commercial cd. it takes more than just cubase with a couple of vsts to get that loud.
awesome...thanks alot for the quick response man...that answered all my questions. I appreciate it!