Gain staging and Reason: do you do it?

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Gain staging and Reason: do you do it?

Yes - I do gain staging in Reason
59
79%
No - I do not gain stage in Reason
16
21%
 
Total votes: 75
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EnochLight
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Post 01 May 2017

I recently read a Rack Extenionist post over at the FB group that referenced Matt's old tutorial (of Learnreason.com). Do any of you practice this in Reason? Just curious...

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mreese80
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Post 01 May 2017

YES I DO
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Daniel36
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Post 01 May 2017

I guess I wasn't...

Does lead me to some questions though, as I was apparently doing it all wrong... So in the video, he says this is 101, step 1, basically. What should I then do after I have set everything to -10, all that jazz? What is my next step? Any follow up videos?

I am not a complete noob, but right now, I feel like one, so I am just going to act like one! And I appreciate the help! :)

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QVprod
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Post 01 May 2017

The overall idea of gain staging is a good one. There are times when I'm lazy and skip it though as I mix as I go when creating and generally don't do final mixes in Reason. It's possible to get a good mix without it, but It makes the process a bit more annoying with crazy different fader levels. Avoiding it will affect insert fx and the ssl channel compressors the most.

*sidenote; That said, as we knew from the PUF, Matt barely knew what he was talking about in that video. If you have to adjust the master fader to avoid clipping, then your gain staging wasn't very effective. I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface, he used the bus compressor wrong (and for gain staging at that)...I can go on...

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pjeudy
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Post 01 May 2017

Yes I do. And that's exactly how I use the control room knob on my default template...you can also monitor your fx sends that way...very useful.
My opinion is that Propellerhead REASON needs a complete rewrite!
P.S: people should stop saying "No it won't happen" when referring to a complete rewrite of REASON. I have 3 letters for ya....VST
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:53 pm

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C4M
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Post 01 May 2017

I used to do this with my seperate tracks in Sound Forge, before importing them in Reason to mix and later finish.
But nice to know it's called Gain staging, and it's that easy in Reason.
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pjeudy
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Post 01 May 2017

QVprod wrote: I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface,
The benefit is that you can use the control room knob without having to reach the interface. It saves you reaching a few meters or how ever close/far you interface is. I used it like that and loved it.

Yea I remember the controversy with these videos on the old Propellerheads forum :o :shock:
My opinion is that Propellerhead REASON needs a complete rewrite!
P.S: people should stop saying "No it won't happen" when referring to a complete rewrite of REASON. I have 3 letters for ya....VST
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:53 pm

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QVprod
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Post 01 May 2017

pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote: I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface,
The benefit is that you can use the control room knob without having to reach the interface. It saves you reaching a few meters or how ever close/far you interface is. I used it like that and loved it.
Ah! Convenience rather than functional benefit. Makes sense.

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Kalm
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Post 01 May 2017

I've figured out my gain staging process in Reason and now it svery specific
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Daniel36
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Post 01 May 2017

So after checking out this video and some others on gain staging and specifically in Reason, I guess I kind of understand what it is, even if I don't fully understand.

But what I did was, I took the track that I was working on right now, which I wasn't able to get out of the mud despite my best efforts, even with only like 6 instances or so running, and I threw out all of the compression and whatnot, set everything to zero, and started gain staging. After getting all the loud parts to -10, and some other things slightly under that, and making sure everything together was at around -6, I already noticed the clarity in my mix. I then got on to sculpting some of the sounds a bit more so that they came out better, all the while noticing that they didn't go much louder, just sounding better.

After that, I once again fired up my lazy Dance preset, and instead of the usual cramming everything into each other, it was still the same clarity, just louder. Loudness war won!

This is pretty huge for me! While I am not there yet and I still need to learn a lot, this was very, very helpful, and got me into the right direction, after having felt a bit lost.

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pjeudy
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Post 01 May 2017

QVprod wrote:
pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote: I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface,
The benefit is that you can use the control room knob without having to reach the interface. It saves you reaching a few meters or how ever close/far you interface is. I used it like that and loved it.
Ah! Convenience rather than functional benefit. Makes sense.
Yes and No:
Yes- it's convenient as a secondary closer to your reach monitor volume knob (it makes sense to the user who chooses to use it that way)
No- Yes it's still makes sense for the other user who has it set up that way to monitor/solo there send/return FX to potentially listen to ...say...resonance in your reverb...or muddiness in you Send/return.

I do this in Studio One to listen for Resonnace from a reverb or delay by Isolating the Send FX to remove it from the rest of the Mix. Soooo It's very functional.
My opinion is that Propellerhead REASON needs a complete rewrite!
P.S: people should stop saying "No it won't happen" when referring to a complete rewrite of REASON. I have 3 letters for ya....VST
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:53 pm

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QVprod
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Post 01 May 2017

pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote:
pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote: I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface,
The benefit is that you can use the control room knob without having to reach the interface. It saves you reaching a few meters or how ever close/far you interface is. I used it like that and loved it.
Ah! Convenience rather than functional benefit. Makes sense.
Yes and No:
Yes- it's convenient as a secondary closer to your reach monitor volume knob (it makes sense to the user who chooses to use it that way)
No- Yes it's still makes sense for the other user who has it set up that way to monitor/solo there send/return FX to potentially listen to ...say...resonance in your reverb...or muddiness in you Send/return.

I do this in Studio One to listen for Resonnace from a reverb or delay by Isolating the Send FX to remove it from the rest of the Mix. Soooo It's very functional.
You misunderstand. I don't mean that using the control room output has no functional benefits. As an audio engineer, I'm aware of listening to sends. I meant that turning down the volume via the control room knob has no functional benefits over turning down the volume knob on an audio interface. It's a connivence benefit because the use is an alternative to reaching for an out of reach physical volume knob.

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pjeudy
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Post 01 May 2017

QVprod wrote:
pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote:
pjeudy wrote:
QVprod wrote: I fail to see the benefit of turning the Control Room level down instead of simply turning down your actual interface,
The benefit is that you can use the control room knob without having to reach the interface. It saves you reaching a few meters or how ever close/far you interface is. I used it like that and loved it.
Ah! Convenience rather than functional benefit. Makes sense.
Yes and No:
Yes- it's convenient as a secondary closer to your reach monitor volume knob (it makes sense to the user who chooses to use it that way)
No- Yes it's still makes sense for the other user who has it set up that way to monitor/solo there send/return FX to potentially listen to ...say...resonance in your reverb...or muddiness in you Send/return.

I do this in Studio One to listen for Resonnace from a reverb or delay by Isolating the Send FX to remove it from the rest of the Mix. Soooo It's very functional.
You misunderstand. I don't mean that using the control room output has no functional benefits. As an engineer, I'm aware of listing to sends. I meant that turning down the volume via the control room knob has no functional benefits over turning down the volume knob on an audio interface. It's a connivence benefit because the use is an alternative to reaching for an out of reach physical volume knob.
Aaah in that case yes...no more functional then your physical volume knob.............But functional to the user who wants to primarily listen to there Send/return soloed but as a added benefit of lowering just the volume of the DAW, while other sound sources from there computer or there desk is still audible as appose the the physical volume lowering every single sound sources......etc..etc.. this is getting to splitting hairs territory.
My opinion is that Propellerhead REASON needs a complete rewrite!
P.S: people should stop saying "No it won't happen" when referring to a complete rewrite of REASON. I have 3 letters for ya....VST
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:53 pm

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EnochLight
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Post 02 May 2017

QVprod wrote:*sidenote; That said, as we knew from the PUF, Matt barely knew what he was talking about in that video. ...
Maybe this is my apprehension with this. I remember Matt being called out on a lot of stuff over at the PUF, and he was always very defensive about his techniques. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but this sticks out in my head. Even when he was being given advice but much more experienced people (who were audio engineers and producers by trade)... *shrugs* Anyway, I don't deny that gain staging is useful. Was just wondering how many people practice the technique in Reason.
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The_G
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Post 02 May 2017

To be honest, I'm not sure how necessary that specific approach to gain staging is in a digital environment. I mean, clipping is clipping, and running things too hot is going to be a problem no matter what. But in that tutorial, he talks about adjusting the faders for gain as if it's some holy sin and I'm just not convinced there's any point outside self-discipline.

Open to being convinced otherwise, though. And I'm going to give it a shot on a couple tracks that are introducing unwanted artifacts when bounced to Soundcloud, so we'll see.
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sonicbyte
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Post 02 May 2017

I read somewhere recently that one of the important things about the gain staging is that the faders in the SSL work differently if you boost or cut in terms of decibels gain. I mean, you will not get the same amount of level gain cut or boost if you have two tracks with very different fader levels and need to compensate.

I'm not sure if that is true, but if it was it makes sense then. Btw I use this technique, just in case.

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avasopht
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Post 02 May 2017

Thought it was just me.

Not sure when exactly it started, but I do recall this one time I was curious and wanted to see where line level was relative to digital clipping on the mixing desk (was connected optically).

Turned out it was -18dBFS.

I quite liked keeping my levels in line with the mixer and at the time (this was Reason 3 days) I had already started my mixing in Reason by creating mix-channel like chains with EQ and sometimes a compressor/pan. I used to gain stage with Ultramaximizer and BV512 was my spectral analyser.

Seemed to make everything easier to work with.

And then Record came out.
---

RequiemMachine
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Post 02 May 2017

Gain staging is an important part of mixing regardless of DAW.
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grizelda
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Post 02 May 2017

I have no audio training at all but I did watch matts video about 6 months ago and it was somewhat of an epiphany for me- I had all kinds of problems before that due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge and couldn't get my mixes loud (not Loud wars loud but having to crank the volume knob to full to hear a decent level). this led me to follow some threads here and before long I was introduced to selig gain. I went back through my current 4 projects and reset all those annoying gain knobs at the top of the ssl, reset all eq comp etc on each channel and set a selig gain on every single channel inserted at the end of any fx comp / eq chain and tweaked the various gains until I get -12dbfs. most of the time I try to achieve this without touching the selig gain fader but sometimes it is necessary or else too much level is lost/gained. once I have everything set to -12 I then began to mix down these projects using the volume faders in the ssl and the difference really is significant. I'm not saying it's some kind of silver bullet for magic mixes but having a consistent peak signal level across all channels has made a huge difference in my mixing. for me the next challenge is using lpf and hpf correctlt to get the clarity on each channel. by the time I am dead I will have finally mastered all the various art forms required to create the perfect sound lol

ps I have recently started dialing back kongs master vol to 80 and the pad velocity to 80 to help with gain staging my kong drum kits. does anyone else do this? am I sacrificing or losing anything by doing so? I just find that the Kong comes in way too hot particularly with kicks and snares with the default setting (using nn nano with pads routed to their own audio tracks)

grizel

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QVprod
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Post 02 May 2017

The_G wrote:But in that tutorial, he talks about adjusting the faders for gain as if it's some holy sin and I'm just not convinced there's any point outside self-discipline.
That's the slight bit that I do agree with him on. It not so much that it's the worse of all sins, but you can't gain stage with faders. The reason is that the fader levels have zero effect on mixer or insert processing as all channel processing is pre-fader. Certain plugins are designed to function like analog and have a sweet spot audio level range for where they work best. The ssl channel compressor is also hard to work properly if the input is too loud or quiet.
Last edited by QVprod on 02 May 2017, edited 1 time in total.

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The_G
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Post 02 May 2017

grizelda wrote:I have no audio training at all but I did watch matts video about 6 months ago and it was somewhat of an epiphany for me- I had all kinds of problems before that due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge and couldn't get my mixes loud (not Loud wars loud but having to crank the volume knob to full to hear a decent level). this led me to follow some threads here and before long I was introduced to selig gain. I went back through my current 4 projects and reset all those annoying gain knobs at the top of the ssl, reset all eq comp etc on each channel and set a selig gain on every single channel inserted at the end of any fx comp / eq chain and tweaked the various gains until I get -12dbfs. most of the time I try to achieve this without touching the selig gain fader but sometimes it is necessary or else too much level is lost/gained. once I have everything set to -12 I then began to mix down these projects using the volume faders in the ssl and the difference really is significant. I'm not saying it's some kind of silver bullet for magic mixes but having a consistent peak signal level across all channels has made a huge difference in my mixing. for me the next challenge is using lpf and hpf correctlt to get the clarity on each channel. by the time I am dead I will have finally mastered all the various art forms required to create the perfect sound lol

ps I have recently started dialing back kongs master vol to 80 and the pad velocity to 80 to help with gain staging my kong drum kits. does anyone else do this? am I sacrificing or losing anything by doing so? I just find that the Kong comes in way too hot particularly with kicks and snares with the default setting (using nn nano with pads routed to their own audio tracks)

grizel
Right...that's a "self-discipline" argument for methodical gain staging, i.e. it keeps you disciplined and attentive to details in the mix. Totally valid.

What I'm skeptical about is whether it matters sonically how you manage relative gain, provided you are out of the red on both individual and master channel. It did matter in the old analog desk days. Not so sure anymore.

Again, I'm open to being convinced, but I'd like to see some evidence.
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boomer
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Post 02 May 2017

As he points out, the reason for gain structure is to eliminate clipping while delivering the lowest possible noise floor. Is anyone actually hearing clipping or hiss (not SEEING it on the meters)? I never do. About the only thing you can clip with Reason is the final output that is after the master buss fader (and its meter).

While I see no problem doing it this way, I don't think there is any sonic advantage considering Reason's floating point architecture. It would be very important if you were running on analog gear however.

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The_G
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Post 02 May 2017

boomer wrote:As he points out, the reason for gain structure is to eliminate clipping while delivering the lowest possible noise floor. Is anyone actually hearing clipping or hiss (not SEEING it on the meters)? I never do. About the only thing you can clip with Reason is the final output that is after the master buss fader (and its meter).

While I see no problem doing it this way, I don't think there is any sonic advantage considering Reason's floating point architecture. It would be very important if you were running on analog gear however.
This is my issue as well. I totally see the self-discipline argument for methodical, analog-style gain staging. But sonically, it sounds like it might be something people say "you need to do" because they were taught to do it, and not because Its necessary to produce a good sound with the technology being used.

On the other hand, I have had some digital artifacts problems with a few sounds I use in Reason (once converted to 128kbps MP3 or uploaded to SoundCloud), and which appear to have been introduced in the mix rather than mastering phase. I'm going to try to redo those mixes using the methodical gain staging technique and see if it helps with those artifacts. If it does, then that would be evidence that there is a sonic advantage to doing it.
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Ostermilk
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Post 02 May 2017

Nope, well at least not like the video, I have a rationale for gain but that's not it.

It's not like being in an analogue situation where you have to pay attention to gain in order to get the best Signal to Noise ratio as everywhere in between your analogue inputs and outputs you are not going to degrade anything, there is virtually no clipping happening, if you are using a 24 bit signal path for example you could perform your entire mix and you'd have to reach somewhere around +1500db in order to clip. It ain't gonna happen.

So true gain staging in the analogue sense that you'd have to adhere to in order not to oversaturate your signall during processing or where you'd end up with too much noise rather than signal doesn't exist in the same way in the digital realm.

I want repeatable results however so I have a rationale for gain, and the good thing is nobody has to follow what I do there are no rules, for example I rarely touch the main outs, I leave them at unity simply because they my aiming point where I know I'm not going to fry my interface, so why change it? I might also adjust the gain input levels to drive a compressor more or some such, but I wouldn't be adjusting those knobs so all my level sliders looked tidy. Sloppy of me I know but that's how I roll... :D

There's another thing which screws up any set and forget method with gain and that's when you are passing a signal through many kinds or processing, compression is probably the most affected, but you will have to use your ears rather than apply any golden rule. This is why certain fx have an input gain (and some fx don't but need one) as they will be gain dependent and will behave differently according to how much energy is going in. Other things like saturation too, it is well to make sure you not being fooled by a change in level as to what the device is 'adding' to the sound so it is well to match the output of those things to what went into it. Another perennial f avourite is if you want loud at the end don't give your final maximiser too much to do make sure you have plenty of energy so you don't give your maximiser so much to do that it complains long before you needs are met.

Basically as long as you are not clipping your input signal when recording or have it so low that your preamps can be heard like low tide on the beach and you are not shaving anything off the amplitude on the way out what you do in between is largely personal preference.

Gain Staging in Reason, it's one of those producery sounding things that some might like to tell their girlfriend to justify why they are spending countless hours in front of the computer but it doesn't really mean that much IMO.

An awareness of what gain is doing at each stage during the process is enough.

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ThisIsNotTheMusic
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Post 07 May 2017

I am going to try this on my next mix for sure. I do believe I have not been doing it right so far.
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