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Gain Staging Audio Tracks and Pre Fader Metering

Lesson 15 from: Music Production in Logic Pro X: Vocal Mixing Essentials

Tomas George

Gain Staging Audio Tracks and Pre Fader Metering

Lesson 15 from: Music Production in Logic Pro X: Vocal Mixing Essentials

Tomas George

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Lesson Info

15. Gain Staging Audio Tracks and Pre Fader Metering

<b>In this lesson, you will learn how to practice gain staging and why you might want to consider Pre-Fader metering when mixing in Logic Pro.</b>


Class Trailer

Introduction and Welcome to this Class


Project Organization


Faders and Panning


Flex Pitch - Vocals


Flex Time - Vocals


Editing Studio Drums


Song Mix Deconstruct - Mixing Drum Kit Designer


Mixing Files


Lesson Info

Gain Staging Audio Tracks and Pre Fader Metering

In this video, I'm gonna show you gain staging and pre fadder metering in logic pro 10, what I've got here is a project from Thomas which I'm gonna mix. And in this project, Thomas is a bunch of audio tracks. And what I'm gonna do is I'm going to measure the level of each track and gain stage them so that they are all at a nominal level. A nominal level is where this signal has plenty of headroom for processing. And the plugins that I use get fed an ideal level, which in logic is roughly around minus 12 peak. If you don't have nominal level set up on a track, it can be quite difficult to use dynamics processing and saturation and such things which behave depending on how loud the signal going into it is if the signal going into a compressor is too hot, it's not going to behave in the way that you would expect. And if you don't know the process of managing gain through different plugins, you might not know how to fix that issue. So let's have a look at the levels on the mixer at the mom...

ent. So just open the mixer and I'm just gonna play it from here cos this is roughly where there's a lot of stuff going on. Ok. So many of the signals, as far as the meters are concerned are quite healthy. They're all in the green for the most part. But there are many that are yellow and some even going into the red. However, the meters that I'm seeing now are only showing me the level of the channel after the fader has changed it. But that's not what I want to know. What I want to know is the level of the channel before the fader has changed it. And that's why we use pre fader metering. So to enable pref the metering, which is generally the type of metering that I use inside logic, I need to come up to the transport bar, control click or right click, customize, control bar and display. And I need to enable pre fadder metering here which enables the option on the control bar and then I need to actually enable the feature here. OK. Now you see as I turn that off and on the way that the channel is set up visually is different. So when I turn it on the meter is now actually to the left of the fader. This is just a visual representation of the signal flow which means the meter, the level of the meter that I see is pre FTA adjustment. So in this example here for the riser track. We have Well, Tom has applied the faded down like negative 33 decibel, but the actual meter is gonna show me what the level is before that. Let's have a look. Ok? So before that fader, the level is actually like minus five peak which isn't that bad. But if I started to use dynamics processing, if I wanted to use a compressor on this track, when I'm mixing it, I might have to change the game going into it and stuff like that just to make it work in the way that I want it to. And also having such little headroom in mixing can make things difficult later in the mixing process when I have to turn stuff down on later buses and it can really be quite messy work if I don't prepare the headroom in the first place. So what do I do now? Thomas has set up all of these tracks. A lot of them are actually quite hot pre FDA. What do I do? Well, first of all, what I don't want to do is mess up any of the processing that Tom already has applied. What I would normally do if there were no plugins on this mix. And if I was just working from audio tracks, I would just select all of them using uh command A and go to the inspector and used the click gain here and turned them all down until the loudest one was probably around peaking around minus 12. But I don't wanna do that because if I do that, that gain adjustment is happening before the plugins that he used and might change the way those plugins behave and I don't want to affect his work too much. So, what I actually need to do is identify the tracks that I need to gain stage and take it from there. Now, one way that I like to do this, which makes life quite simple for me is I cycle a loud part of the song, which I think is around here. So I'm just gonna cycle this part here and then I'm just gonna drag out the mixer. Let's have a look at that. Ok? So there's a lot of tracks here that I need to sort out like, you know, plus 0.6 plus 4.6. Ok? Now let's say that I'm going to gain stage all of these tracks just so that they all come down a bit. The first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take this piano track as an example. I'm gonna apply it again after his chain there. So I go to utility go to gain, go to stereo right now. This is at plus two. If I wanna get it down to minus 12, that's negative 14. So I'm just gonna do negative 14 on here. Now, as that was the loudest one, the easiest thing for me to do actually would be to so I can gainst stage all of the tracks without affecting the relative levels between instruments that he's already got set up because I wanna work from where he left off. I could just take that gain and apply that same gain to all of the tracks. That way with negative 14 applied across the board, I give myself loads of headroom, any plugins that I want to use loads of headroom And also I preserve the relative levels between all of the instruments as Thomas has already set them up because I'm not, I wanna work from where he left off. I don't wanna work from scratch. So I'm just applying the same amount again across all of the instruments. And I'm doing that simply by holding down the oak key as I click, hold and drag the gain and I'm making sure to do it at the end of any processing that he has. So it doesn't interfere. Cause for example, if you change the game, if you change the level going into a compressor, it's gonna change the way the compressor behaves. Like if I turn it down before a compressor and then the level goes below the threshold, the compressor will simply stop working. Or if I turn it up, going into a compressor, it's gonna drastically change the way that, that compressor behaves, it's gonna compress more and that goes for any dynamics processing or any sort of nonlinear processing, limiting compression saturation, not so much eq that doesn't matter so much, but it does go for many other things. So now here we are, it's the same mix and I just need to turn up my monitoring now, but I've got loads of headroom and I probably don't need to worry about headroom anymore. I've given myself headroom and any processing that I apply now will have headroom in which to work. So it's as simple as that. Those are different ways that we can gain stage tracks. If Thomas just gave me audio tracks with no plugins on them, it would have been really, really easy. I would have just selected all of them like so, so command a and then I'll go to region menu here and then just applied enough negative gain here until the loudest one was down to like minus 12. Or if you really want to, you can just do one by one by one until they're all at exactly minus 12. It depends on where you're mixing from. But like I said, I don't want to change the relative relationships between instruments that Tom has already had. It's not my job to do that. But if you're working on your own project, you might want to just adjust the gain of each audio track using either clip gain or a gain stage in the mixer. Like I showed you here until they're all nice and green. They're all roughly at the same level. You can bring all of the faders down as well. Because if I show you now, let's say I bought these faders down here, you see the meters are still there cos it's pre FTA metering, the fader doesn't change what you see in, in the meter because the fader is after the meter in the signal chain. So yeah, you just do it that way. That's how you gain stage audio tracks in logic pro it's a practice that I generally do recommend that you do when you are mixing because you go to load a compressor or or saturation plug in and it just sounds really, really bad. But if you were not mindful of the level going in and how that affects the way the plug in behaves, you might not know how to fix that issue, but also it just gives you headroom. So you're not turning stuff up and down in the buses later on. So that's how we gain stage audio tracks in Logic Pro 10 and how and why I pretty much always use pre F and metering. See you in the next video.

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