GAIN STAGING THE RIGHT WAY

Hey friends, Emily here. Today Want to talk about Gain Structure. This is a huge topic in the audio production world and there’s actually a lot of great discussions on this and some very incorrect information out there as well.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen and heard is that recorded tracks should be reaching -6dbFS. This is NOT going to help your music in anyway and will clip and sound bad. This may even be the reason your mixes are not sounding like the reference music your are trying to sound like.

A good average target is -18dBFS. FS stands for Full Scale. This is how we read our fader meters in our DAW. Most modern audio interfaces will specify what the recommended recording level should be. If it doesn’t, -18dBFS should work just fine because you can be within +-2 of this target point.

Now, sometimes you will get a song to ix that you didn’t record and it is way to loud and clipping all over the place. You can correct this with clip gain to produce a balanced mix. Here’s how I like to use it.

I work in Pro Tools so this is going to be how that system operates clip gain, but I’m sure whatever DAW you use has similar features. And if not, then that might be something to think about when you want to upgrade to a more standard system.

Before every mix session, I will go through each recorded track and check their gain structure. I have the clip gain line engaged for quickly changing any levels as a whole or a selection. Then, once I’m getting my target levels, I will consolidate these changes. Just so there are no lines that might look like automation. That comes much later in the process.

I will go through this process before moving any faders because my goal is to have them sounding balanced as close to zero (unity) as possible so that there will be plenty of headroom for processing and automation.

I hope you enjoyed this Minute Mix video on gain structure because it is very important for creating a solid foundation for your song and allowing for proper mixing. If you haven’t already, hit the subscribe button so you’ll know each time a new video comes out. And share this one with your music friends that you think might like it as well. See ya next time. Thanks y’all!

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