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
49
75%
No - I do not gain stage in Reason
16
25%
 
Total votes: 65
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ravisoni
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Post 12 May 2017

I asked him a question and he told me to go see his series. I did, but I'm still confused about what "different things" are happening behind the scene. Why does the meter go in red as I turn the fader up to increase the volume, but doesn't when I increase the gain, keeping the fader at the same place? In both places, the volume increases, but using one method the fader meter hits the red whereas in the other it doesn't?
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Oquasec
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Post 12 May 2017

There's not an option that pertains to me in the poll.
Depends on what equipment I'm using.

I know some producers who use an absurdly high 100+ ohms set of cans but the highest I'd go for those is 64 ohms tops.
Producer/Sound Designer.

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Carly(Poohbear)
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Location: UK

Post 12 May 2017

ravisoni wrote:I asked him a question and he told me to go see his series. I did, but I'm still confused about what "different things" are happening behind the scene. Why does the meter go in red as I turn the fader up to increase the volume, but doesn't when I increase the gain, keeping the fader at the same place? In both places, the volume increases, but using one method the fader meter hits the red whereas in the other it doesn't?
Do you have any insert effects as that will give you different results?

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EnochLight
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Post 12 May 2017

Oquasec wrote:There's not an option that pertains to me in the poll.
Depends on what equipment I'm using.
The options are: either you do, or you don't. Seeing as how you do - even if it's just sometimes - you should choose "yes".
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dioxide
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Post 14 May 2017

I gain stage but I'm relatively new to it.

Question deleted. Brain fart ;)
Last edited by dioxide on 14 May 2017, edited 4 times in total.

siln
Posts: 349
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Location: france

Post 14 May 2017

Now I tend to gain stage only for the purpose of not clipping now or later , clipping late in the mix means you have to move further stuff around and it s annoying , II tried hard gain stage to finish mixes at -10 but what i prefer is to be at -4 or -3 peak so i apply my most light master stuff such as mp5 and ozone that s all , at the end i must see my master track going in the red when the bass is hot and no peak then im ok , that dont mean that it is balanced but at least im in the good limits.
mastering is still to me raising loudness of 3 or 4 db with the less side effects, I start to understand what the mp5 can do and it s huge .

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dioxide
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Post 21 May 2017

I have a question for people more experienced than me with this.

How much do you use the Mixer Inserts for effects such as Distortion? I've tried a few times to have certain effects before the Insert which means that the Gain Input knob becomes useful for setting input levels, instead of simply driving the effect.

Is this a good method? In some ways it is similar to a hardware studio where certain effects like stompboxes are wired in before the mixer input.

Are there any other effects where this makes sense? I'm starting to wonder if I should do most effects like this. Which makes me wonder what I should be putting in the Insert sections? Just EQ and compression?

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QVprod
Posts: 1995
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Post 21 May 2017

dioxide wrote:I have a question for people more experienced than me with this.

How much do you use the Mixer Inserts for effects such as Distortion? I've tried a few times to have certain effects before the Insert which means that the Gain Input knob becomes useful for setting input levels, instead of simply driving the effect.

Is this a good method? In some ways it is similar to a hardware studio where certain effects like stompboxes are wired in before the mixer input.

Are there any other effects where this makes sense? I'm starting to wonder if I should do most effects like this. Which makes me wonder what I should be putting in the Insert sections? Just EQ and compression?
The true answer to this is.. whatever works for you. Both make sense. If the distortion is part of your sound design then it makes sense to put it before the mixer input as it would be were it a recording. The benefit of the inserts however, is if you want to use any part of the SSL channel strip before the effect. Otherwise the result is basically the same.

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dioxide
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Post 21 May 2017

QVprod wrote:
dioxide wrote:I have a question for people more experienced than me with this.

How much do you use the Mixer Inserts for effects such as Distortion? I've tried a few times to have certain effects before the Insert which means that the Gain Input knob becomes useful for setting input levels, instead of simply driving the effect.

Is this a good method? In some ways it is similar to a hardware studio where certain effects like stompboxes are wired in before the mixer input.

Are there any other effects where this makes sense? I'm starting to wonder if I should do most effects like this. Which makes me wonder what I should be putting in the Insert sections? Just EQ and compression?
The true answer to this is.. whatever works for you. Both make sense. If the distortion is part of your sound design then it makes sense to put it before the mixer input as it would be were it a recording. The benefit of the inserts however, is if you want to use any part of the SSL channel strip before the effect. Otherwise the result is basically the same.
In my hardware setup I never really used Insert effects but I think taking certain effects outside of the Inserts will be helpful. I often use the red Chorus with the Subtractor and if this were a hardware setup, the chorus might be built into the synth or used as a hardware insert before being patched to the mixer. The same goes for stomp box style effects. I'm going to give it a go and see how it works for me. Thanks for the reply.

EdGrip
Posts: 1273
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

Post 22 May 2017

I think this is a much more useful video on the same topic:

https://youtu.be/T-TpPLzRpsU


So to summarise: it's good to get things going into the insert effects and the SSL dynamics at a sensible level. The SSL gain knob is a pain to use because it's all the way up there and the meter is all the way down there and it's just easier to use a Selig Gain or Panda Amp in the inserts box (or just get into the habit of using one to set the device's master volume while you're there, then delete.)


Other than that, don't sweat it because you can't clip anything before your interface. Put your master effects between the SSL master out and your audio interface input, to be in total control of the final signal. w00p!

I remember watching that (Matt's) video ages ago and being more confused than helped. I too got the impression that he wasn't that sure about the underlying technicalities himself.

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Wickline
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Location: Japan

Post 22 May 2017

Tried it today. Seemed to make it much easier to mix everything down after. Levels were under control and much more manageable when run into the mastering setup.
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grizelda
Posts: 74
Joined: 17 Apr 2017

Post 22 May 2017

EdGrip wrote:I think this is a much more useful video on the same topic:
[url]


Put your master effects between the SSL master out and your audio interface input, to be in total control of the final signal. w00p!
hey man i never understood what people meant by this.. i cant drag anything above the master section on the back of the rack, no matter how hard i try there just isnt any where it can go based on just dragging an effect up above the master section and waiting for a red box to appear :?:

can you explain a bit more please

EdGrip
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Joined: 03 Jun 2016

Post 22 May 2017

Yeah, you can't put any devices up there - but if you flip the rack, you'll see a pair of cables going from the master section output to the input of your audio interface. You can break that connection, and insert effects between the two using cables, if you get me.
I find it's good to start a new Mastering rack to the left of the master section. Make it a combinator for neatness. Save a template.
#StuffLearnedOffSelig

grizelda
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Joined: 17 Apr 2017

Post 22 May 2017

EdGrip wrote:Yeah, you can't put any devices up there - but if you flip the rack, you'll see a pair of cables going from the master section output to the input of your audio interface. You can break that connection, and insert effects between the two using cables, if you get me.
I find it's good to start a new Mastering rack to the left of the master section. Make it a combinator for neatness. Save a template.
#StuffLearnedOffSelig
oh word yeh i see what you mean- just take the master section outs and plug them in to the inputs of the master chain and then send them from the chain straight up into the audio i/o. thanks man! :puf_smile: :thumbs_up:

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aeox
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Location: Oregon

Post 26 May 2017

i came to the conclusion that i really have no idea what i'm doing. i just do what i think sounds good.
whoahh

Last edited by aeox on 24 May 2018, edited too many times in total.

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Oquasec
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Post 26 May 2017

Used to be just like that. Some daws really force you to know your shit :]
Grateful software like this exists, that get people familiar with modular ecosystems.
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provinceofnowhere
Posts: 20
Joined: 11 Apr 2018

Post 15 Sep 2018

Yes, it was a revelation when I figured this out. But... why is the gain knob right at the top of the channel?? So annoying having to keep scrolling between gain knob and meter when gainstaging.

(am I doing it wrong?)

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EnochLight
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Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 15 Sep 2018

provinceofnowhere wrote:
15 Sep 2018
Yes, it was a revelation when I figured this out. But... why is the gain knob right at the top of the channel?? So annoying having to keep scrolling between gain knob and meter when gainstaging.

(am I doing it wrong?)
Thread resurrection - cool! :)

I wouldn’t say you’re doing it wrong - the gain knob is where it’s at because that’s where it’s found in its hardware counterpart (the SSL mixer series that Reason’s main mixer is based on).

But as EdGrip pointed out over a year ago, gain staging may be unnecessary in Reason (though still a good practice for some):

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selig
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Post 15 Sep 2018

Gain staging, as it exists in the analog world, is indeed unnecessary in a floating point digital audio system such as Reason. This is something a LOT of us have been saying for years now!

Though I was consulted for Ryan's video (above), I still felt he didn't cover everything important and maybe made things a little more complicated than they needed to be. So I made this video simply showing my personal workflow in Reason, because this question comes up again and again! IMO all that's necessary is to keep ALL signals at all points within a user selected range of peak (not VU or RMS) levels.



Questions that may come up:

Why use Peak levels and not VU or RMS?
Because the goal is to keep your outputs from clipping, and it's the peaks that clip.

Why leave headroom and not just normalize all signals right up to 0 dBFS?
Because you are combining multiple signals when you mix, and if even two signals both hit 0 dBFS at the same time you'll already be clipping by 6 dB (two identical signals summed will be 6 dB hotter than either signal on it's own).

Why worry about levels at all?
Because it will make your life easier - really! If you keep all your signals at the same level (leaving headroom), it makes setting compressors/gates, and saturation/distortion devices quicker and easier as they always "see" the same level at the input. The end goal here is to keep levels at a point where you can stop worrying about clipping and spend more time mixing (and less time fixing).

What peak level is best?
That's up to you - if you mix 8-16 tracks max in your productions you can use a hotter reference level. If you tend to use upwards of 32 or more tracks, a lower reference level may be necessary. The Reason User Manual suggestions recording audio to peak around -12 dBFS. The Reason Factory Sound Bank (newer patches) are set to peak around -12 dBFS in average use. I find that level to be perfect for my production style - I never worry about clipping as my mixes always hit peaks below 0 dBFS by at least 3-6 dBFS before adding any inserts or mastering.
But just try it as a starting point and adjust from there if necessary for your own workflow.

What about those input knobs on the SSL?
I hardly used them in decades of work on a real SSL, and I hardly need them in Reason because of using the above method.

What about when you add EQ or a compressor - doesn't that change your reference level?
Yes, and that's why you need to use makeup gain or an output level control to restore the original level. This also makes doing "before/after" comparisons easy (I always suggest "before/after" listening tests when adding processing).
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S1GNL
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Joined: 31 Jan 2018

Post 15 Sep 2018

The only reason for "gain staging" in Reason are the antiquated mixer faders. You can't resize them and you can't put in numbers. The lower your fader sits the more annoying are accurate and small changes!

The only other reason: analogue emulation plugins need to be feed warm/hot. But that's what gain REs and the rack mixer is good enough for ...

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selig
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Post 15 Sep 2018

S1GNL wrote:The only reason for "gain staging" in Reason are the antiquated mixer faders. You can't resize them and you can't put in numbers. The lower your fader sits the more annoying are accurate and small changes!

The only other reason: analogue emulation plugins need to be feed warm/hot. But that's what gain REs and the rack mixer is good enough for ...
What is the smallest change you can hear on a fader in a mix? How low do the faders have to be before you can no longer make an adjustment by the smallest useful amount?

For me, 0.5 dB or MAYBE 0.25 dB is as small a change as I’ve ever had to make on any mix/fader, digital or analog.

Even though analog faders are “analog”, there is still a “smallest amount” they can be moved. And they taper just like digital faders, with more “resolution” around 0 dB than further down.

But again, the question that’s important IMO is what amount of fader resolution is required for your work?


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S1GNL
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Post 16 Sep 2018

selig wrote:
15 Sep 2018
S1GNL wrote:The only reason for "gain staging" in Reason are the antiquated mixer faders. You can't resize them and you can't put in numbers. The lower your fader sits the more annoying are accurate and small changes!

The only other reason: analogue emulation plugins need to be feed warm/hot. But that's what gain REs and the rack mixer is good enough for ...
What is the smallest change you can hear on a fader in a mix? How low do the faders have to be before you can no longer make an adjustment by the smallest useful amount?

For me, 0.5 dB or MAYBE 0.25 dB is as small a change as I’ve ever had to make on any mix/fader, digital or analog.

Even though analog faders are “analog”, there is still a “smallest amount” they can be moved. And they taper just like digital faders, with more “resolution” around 0 dB than further down.

But again, the question that’s important IMO is what amount of fader resolution is required for your work?


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During "late stage mixing" the changes might narrow down to 0.3 dB. Step by step until the fader is "fixed". Simple number input would solve this... sigh

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selig
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Post 16 Sep 2018

S1GNL wrote:
16 Sep 2018
During "late stage mixing" the changes might narrow down to 0.3 dB. Step by step until the fader is "fixed". Simple number input would solve this... sigh
How far down do you have to move the fader to loose the ability to make 0.3 dB changes?

I'll suggest that it is a LOT further down than any of your faders have ever sat. Probably further down than anyone's faders ever sit.

The faders cover 100 pixels, but only 75 pixels sit below 0 dBFS.

If you want to keep the faders in the range that allows 0.3 dB changes to be made, instead of 75 pixels you will have 65 pixels to work with. Yup, you loose only 10 pixels, leaving almost 90% of the original range still available to you!

Even when the fader reads -55.87 dB (automation = 86), you have 0.3 dB resolution. Everything above that has MORE resolution, which is to say more than you need. How often to you have faders that need to be anywhere near -55dB? I may have a fader down at -20dB on occasion, maybe a bit further. But even at that low level, I have an amazing 0.07dB of resolution. That's over FOUR TIMES more resolution than you say you need at the most, and seven times more than I ever need.

To further illustrate how much room you have to work with and still have more than enough resolution to work with, here's a picture showing the fader sitting at -55.87, at which point you still have 0.3 dB resolution:
Fader @ -55.87.png

My point: there is MORE than enough resolution for resolution (exceeding a fraction of a decibel) across most of the fader travel in the SSL mixer. Very small (likely inaudible) changes are possible across a high percentage of the fader travel.

As a side note, we're all different but I personally find I mix worse when I start typing in fader changes instead of listening. IMO, listening is the only way to make changes to a mix, especially a mix that is close to being finished. That's one of the things I really like about Reason, as it makes me listen more than "look" when mixing and making small fader changes.
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aeox
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Location: Oregon

Post 16 Sep 2018

selig wrote:
16 Sep 2018
That's one of the things I really like about Reason, as it makes me listen more than "look" when mixing and making small fader changes.
That's one of the best things about Reason! I believe it has helped a lot.
whoahh

Last edited by aeox on 24 May 2018, edited too many times in total.

S1GNL
Posts: 45
Joined: 31 Jan 2018

Post 16 Sep 2018

selig wrote:
16 Sep 2018
S1GNL wrote:
16 Sep 2018
During "late stage mixing" the changes might narrow down to 0.3 dB. Step by step until the fader is "fixed". Simple number input would solve this... sigh
How far down do you have to move the fader to loose the ability to make 0.3 dB changes?

I'll suggest that it is a LOT further down than any of your faders have ever sat. Probably further down than anyone's faders ever sit.

The faders cover 100 pixels, but only 75 pixels sit below 0 dBFS.

If you want to keep the faders in the range that allows 0.3 dB changes to be made, instead of 75 pixels you will have 65 pixels to work with. Yup, you loose only 10 pixels, leaving almost 90% of the original range still available to you!

Even when the fader reads -55.87 dB (automation = 86), you have 0.3 dB resolution. Everything above that has MORE resolution, which is to say more than you need. How often to you have faders that need to be anywhere near -55dB? I may have a fader down at -20dB on occasion, maybe a bit further. But even at that low level, I have an amazing 0.07dB of resolution. That's over FOUR TIMES more resolution than you say you need at the most, and seven times more than I ever need.

To further illustrate how much room you have to work with and still have more than enough resolution to work with, here's a picture showing the fader sitting at -55.87, at which point you still have 0.3 dB resolution:
Fader @ -55.87.png


My point: there is MORE than enough resolution for resolution (exceeding a fraction of a decibel) across most of the fader travel in the SSL mixer. Very small (likely inaudible) changes are possible across a high percentage of the fader travel.

As a side note, we're all different but I personally find I mix worse when I start typing in fader changes instead of listening. IMO, listening is the only way to make changes to a mix, especially a mix that is close to being finished. That's one of the things I really like about Reason, as it makes me listen more than "look" when mixing and making small fader changes.
What I'm talking about is convenience...
I do user faders and listen to the change without looking at numbers. But at a later stage I just boost/cut 0.3-0.6 dB because that's the smallest range which might make a difference. Besides that I don't trust my ears always, so moving the fader might create an "illusion". So, I do this: I change the volume +/- 0.3 dB without listening to the mix. Then I play the loop (or the whole song). If doesn't sit well enough, I stop the playback, adjust the fader and play the section again. That's what works best for me.

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