How to record version to -6DB to send to get mastered

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Nerveclinic
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Post 08 Jun 2020

Hi Everyone.

I have to send a couple songs off to get mastered and they are asking me to record it at -6DB. Does that mean the highest volume it should hit, the peak has to be -6? Or just the majority of the sounds and it's ok if a single sound spikes a bit higher?

Also how is the -6 measured? Is it the blue VU numbers? Or the red "peak" numbers?

Any advice on exactly how to do this would be appreciated as it's my first time.

Thanks.

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Benedict
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Post 08 Jun 2020

Post removed due to later insults. I WILL NOT help people who make accusations, esp if wrong.

:-(
Last edited by Benedict on 09 Jun 2020, edited 1 time in total.

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Benedict wrote:
08 Jun 2020
It depends on how fussy they are but if you are supplying your Stereo Mixdown they will be wanting natural Peaks at the -6dB mark for the WHOLE MIX - and not at +12dB crammed down by a Limiter.

Pop your Big Meter into VU + Peak mode and watch those Peaks to see where they um, peak. You can also set the Peak Hold mode to Infinite (just remember to reset between Plays). Run the whole piece as sometimes the bit you think is the loudest isn't actually the loudest.

You can also use a visual meter like Selig's wonderful Gain RE which will show you where you are, as well as allow you to finesse the overall levels (and host of other things through the mix).

If you end up unhappy with the results/process, sing out as I can probably do everything you need to get you publishing online.


:-)
So the "peak meter" shouldn't go above -6?

Wow

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Benedict
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Post 09 Jun 2020

In a nutshell, yes.

Like everything in music tho, sometimes you have to come at it sideways to get the results you expect but so long as your Mix is good, and you have those peaks sensible, Mastering will work well.

:-)

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selig
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Post 09 Jun 2020

My boiler plate answer - if someone is requesting a specific delivery format, they are the only one that can answer these types of questions. If they actually wrote "6DB" you may be dealing with someone with little audio knowledge!
What they should have specified is "peaks no greater than -6 dBFS", which is a specific level and a specific rule.
Selig Audio, LLC

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 09 Jun 2020

It's like a fool proof way to get the song to absolutely not be peaking so they have some headroom to work with. If a mastering engineer gets something already clipping, they would be wasting time cause there's nothing to do anymore.

I find myself that the best way to make sure you have healthy levels is to be mindful from the start of the mix (or the production) and set the level of the kick at a healthy level, then mix everything around that and you should be good. If you leave this to the end of the process, you might find yourself in trouble and might drastically alter the sounds you worked hard to achieve in the first place if you don't know what you're doing. A personal number for me to ensure the mix ends up in a healthy peak level is to set the kick at -7dbfs true peak. Usually at the end of the production and when I'm moving into mixing, I'm nowhere near 0dbfs true peak, and any rogue peaks are easily controlled in the mix process.

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guitfnky
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Post 09 Jun 2020

there are some good free metering plugins that can help. put one of those as the very last thing in your chain, rewind, hit play, and walk away for a few minutes to let the song play through in its entirety (let’s be honest, you’re probably sick of hearing it by the time you finish mixing it 😆).

when you come back, check the max peak value. if it’s peaking above -6db, toss a Kilohertz Gain Rack Extension (also free) just before the metering plugin, and use your advanced math skills to subtract enough volume to where it should take that max peak to below 6db. you’re done. or if you’re like me, and you like to wear a belt with your suspenders, reset your metering plugin, and play it back again—make any fine adjustments you like from there. good luck!

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pongasoft
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Post 09 Jun 2020

I would suggest to use VAC-6 (https://pongasoft.com/rack-extensions/VAC6.html) which is a free RE and if you can use VST I would suggest to use the most recent VAC-6V VST version of it which is cleaner and has more features (also free).

That was the entire premise of what made me build this RE/VST. I needed a way to visualize -6dB.

The way I do it is hook this device to master out (because this is what matters) and simply look at the graph. By default the clipping level is set a -6dB so you don't have to change this... If it stays green in RE (yellow in VST) you are good. If it gets orange or red it's bad. You can then use the volume knob to lower the volume until no part in your song is orange or red...

You can obviously lower the gain on each of your tracks, but this device lets you visually see the "-6dB" threshold so it is easy to see when that happens.

Yan

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guitfnky
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Post 09 Jun 2020

pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020
I would suggest to use VAC-6 (https://pongasoft.com/rack-extensions/VAC6.html) which is a free RE and if you can use VST I would suggest to use the most recent VAC-6V VST version of it which is cleaner and has more features (also free).

That was the entire premise of what made me build this RE/VST. I needed a way to visualize -6dB.

The way I do it is hook this device to master out (because this is what matters) and simply look at the graph. By default the clipping level is set a -6dB so you don't have to change this... If it stays green in RE (yellow in VST) you are good. If it gets orange or red it's bad. You can then use the volume knob to lower the volume until no part in your song is orange or red...

You can obviously lower the gain on each of your tracks, but this device lets you visually see the "-6dB" threshold so it is easy to see when that happens.

Yan
neat, might grab this—does it allow you to permanently hold the loudest peak value?

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pongasoft
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Post 09 Jun 2020

guitfnky wrote:
09 Jun 2020
neat, might grab this—does it allow you to permanently hold the loudest peak value?
I am not sure what "hold the loudest peak value" mean. There is a window that shows you what the loudest peak value is (a number in dB) if that is what you are asking. So if you play your entire song and the value displayed is -2dB then you know you can lower your volume by 4dB and you will be at -6dB.

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guitfnky
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Post 09 Jun 2020

pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020
guitfnky wrote:
09 Jun 2020
neat, might grab this—does it allow you to permanently hold the loudest peak value?
I am not sure what "hold the loudest peak value" mean. There is a window that shows you what the loudest peak value is (a number in dB) if that is what you are asking. So if you play your entire song and the value displayed is -2dB then you know you can lower your volume by 4dB and you will be at -6dB.
yep, that sounds like what I would want it to do. hold the maximum peak that has happened indefinitely, until a new peak is reached. I want to say one of the other metering tools I’ve used resets the peak after a certain number of seconds. it’s been a long time since I’ve used it though, so maybe I’m remembering that wrong.

thanks!

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pongasoft
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Post 09 Jun 2020

guitfnky wrote:
09 Jun 2020
pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020


I am not sure what "hold the loudest peak value" mean. There is a window that shows you what the loudest peak value is (a number in dB) if that is what you are asking. So if you play your entire song and the value displayed is -2dB then you know you can lower your volume by 4dB and you will be at -6dB.
yep, that sounds like what I would want it to do. hold the maximum peak that has happened indefinitely, until a new peak is reached. I want to say one of the other metering tools I’ve used resets the peak after a certain number of seconds. it’s been a long time since I’ve used it though, so maybe I’m remembering that wrong.

thanks!
If you use the VST version (VAC-6V) then there is a "max since reset". So you can just hit reset before you start playing and then it will keep the max until you hit reset again...

Yan

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guitfnky
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Post 09 Jun 2020

pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020
guitfnky wrote:
09 Jun 2020


yep, that sounds like what I would want it to do. hold the maximum peak that has happened indefinitely, until a new peak is reached. I want to say one of the other metering tools I’ve used resets the peak after a certain number of seconds. it’s been a long time since I’ve used it though, so maybe I’m remembering that wrong.

thanks!
If you use the VST version (VAC-6V) then there is a "max since reset". So you can just hit reset before you start playing and then it will keep the max until you hit reset again...

Yan
sweet, that’s exactly what I want. I’ll check it out. 👍🏼

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Benedict
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Yes, Pongasoft's VAC-6 definitely will do the job. I used to use it all the time (thanks Mr Soft).

Yes, Selig is right, the best person to answer is the Mastering Engineer and if they aren't clear on their metric or aren't happy to help you help them, maybe they are an amateur. I didn't say seeing we don't know (but is part of why I indicated I could help if all was not as hoped).

Generally, anything that isn't clipping should do the job. The -6dB rule just strikes me as a safe/easy margin to promote to ensure no sneaky overs that a meter didn't show.

:-)

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selig
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Benedict wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Generally, anything that isn't clipping should do the job. The -6dB rule just strikes me as a safe/easy margin to promote to ensure no sneaky overs that a meter didn't show.
:-)
I've always assumed that MEs ask for - 6 dBFS peaks because at one point they asked for a higher level or said "any level is fine as long as it's to clipping", and they STILL got clipped files. So I'm guessing they finally said - 6 dBFS and that actually fixed the problem. No evidence to support that, but there HAS to be a reason they ask for so much extra headroom. ;)
Selig Audio, LLC

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 09 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Benedict wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Generally, anything that isn't clipping should do the job. The -6dB rule just strikes me as a safe/easy margin to promote to ensure no sneaky overs that a meter didn't show.
:-)
I've always assumed that MEs ask for - 6 dBFS peaks because at one point they asked for a higher level or said "any level is fine as long as it's to clipping", and they STILL got clipped files. So I'm guessing they finally said - 6 dBFS and that actually fixed the problem. No evidence to support that, but there HAS to be a reason they ask for so much extra headroom. ;)

I remember they used to say -3 over 10 years ago. I believe you're onto something! ;)

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

selig wrote:
09 Jun 2020
My boiler plate answer - if someone is requesting a specific delivery format, they are the only one that can answer these types of questions. If they actually wrote "6DB" you may be dealing with someone with little audio knowledge!
What they should have specified is "peaks no greater than -6 dBFS", which is a specific level and a specific rule.
If you look at the original post, I wrote -6DB

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020
I would suggest to use VAC-6 (https://pongasoft.com/rack-extensions/VAC6.html) which is a free RE and if you can use VST I would suggest to use the most recent VAC-6V VST version of it which is cleaner and has more features (also free).

That was the entire premise of what made me build this RE/VST. I needed a way to visualize -6dB.

The way I do it is hook this device to master out (because this is what matters) and simply look at the graph. By default the clipping level is set a -6dB so you don't have to change this... If it stays green in RE (yellow in VST) you are good. If it gets orange or red it's bad. You can then use the volume knob to lower the volume until no part in your song is orange or red...

You can obviously lower the gain on each of your tracks, but this device lets you visually see the "-6dB" threshold so it is easy to see when that happens.

Yan
Thanks I will give this a try.

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Benedict wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Yes, Pongasoft's VAC-6 definitely will do the job. I used to use it all the time (thanks Mr Soft).

Yes, Selig is right, the best person to answer is the Mastering Engineer and if they aren't clear on their metric or aren't happy to help you help them, maybe they are an amateur. I didn't say seeing we don't know (but is part of why I indicated I could help if all was not as hoped).

Generally, anything that isn't clipping should do the job. The -6dB rule just strikes me as a safe/easy margin to promote to ensure no sneaky overs that a meter didn't show.

:-)
Dude you are making a lot of assumptions about some very decent and talented people. I came here and asked since I use Reason, and I wanted a Reason specific answer (which meter etc.). I also prefer asking here to people that do this all the time because I thought it was a simple question and I preferred to not sound like an amateur to a new record label that is putting my tracks out. Would they have helped me? Of course. I was just self consciously not wanting to expose my ignorance on what I assume is a very basic question. It's never come up for me, because I have never had someone master one of my tracks before.

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

pongasoft wrote:
09 Jun 2020
I would suggest to use VAC-6 (https://pongasoft.com/rack-extensions/VAC6.html) which is a free RE and if you can use VST I would suggest to use the most recent VAC-6V VST version of it which is cleaner and has more features (also free).

That was the entire premise of what made me build this RE/VST. I needed a way to visualize -6dB.

The way I do it is hook this device to master out (because this is what matters) and simply look at the graph. By default the clipping level is set a -6dB so you don't have to change this... If it stays green in RE (yellow in VST) you are good. If it gets orange or red it's bad. You can then use the volume knob to lower the volume until no part in your song is orange or red...

Yan
I used the RE and I am confused. You mention it's set to -6DB but on the right it says 0.00 DB. Is that correct?

Then the peaks don't hold so you have to constantly stare at it? You can't walk away?

So I don't ever want any of the 3 numbers to go less then -6DB? Even for a split second? For example if 98% of the song it has to be at -8 to -10 DB because thee are a couple seconds that spike to -6. That what you want? Or is getting very close to 6DB and slight pops to -5 for example is OK? Or nothing at all above -6? Thanks for all your help. Just downloaded the VST version and will try.

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

OK just tried the VST. Brilliant because the peak stays as you mentioned.

PhillipOrdonez
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Does vac-6 vst display true peak?

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Nerveclinic
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Post 09 Jun 2020

Mr. Ponga soft.

Just finished both songs using the VST. Brilliant and easy. Piece of cake.

Thank you sir you have made the kingdom of mankind a better place!

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pongasoft
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Post 10 Jun 2020

PhillipOrdonez wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Does vac-6 vst display true peak?
Yes. It is not computing any kind of average, but keeping the absolute max which I believe is what is called true peak. It is described in the documentation: https://pongasoft.com/vst/VAC-6V.html#technical-details

Yan

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pongasoft
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Post 10 Jun 2020

Nerveclinic wrote:
09 Jun 2020
Mr. Ponga soft.

Just finished both songs using the VST. Brilliant and easy. Piece of cake.

Thank you sir you have made the kingdom of mankind a better place!
Really happy to hear that it was easy with the VST. The RE was version 1.0 and I think it is much harder to use (the UI kind of sucks) and does not have a "Since Reset" concept. For version 2.0 I decided to go with VST (at the time the RE SDK was not open source so I was no longer working on REs...)

Yan

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