VU Metering and Gain Staging

Mike Z

Just flow with the entropy.
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48
Hello.

I learned about VU metering and gain-staging a while back and have been trying to work by those principals ever since. But there are a few things I don't understand and I can't seem to find any clear information about it online.

First. VU-metering. I use VUMT by Klanghelm, and I find that some sounds sound loud, but they don't register as that loud on the VU-meter. In VUMT there are several presets, and flipping through them there are some that respond better to different types of sound. Are there any standards or best practices on what type of VU-meter to use on different types of instruments?

Second. About gain-staging, I read a lot about different recommendations but obviously, they are specific to different genres. At what levels do you usually gain-stage your instruments? And what instrument do you use as the base?

Sorry in advance if my questions are retarded, I can't help it.
 

Fluff

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What sounds aren't registering very high on the VU meters? I think VU metering gives a better indication of loudness with full range and low frequency sounds (loud low frequency signals have much higher power levels). There should be an option/switch to change the range of the VU meter.

On gain staging I try to avoid having extremely low level and high level signal levels. Also avoid having the level control right down at the bottom of the slider. My normal method is to take the level of the bus channels feeding into the main output channel down by 10dB at the start of the project. That way it avoids the main output getting overloaded or having to run instrument & audio channels at very low levels. Obviously I'll then tweak the levels to get the overall mixdown I want.

Hopefully that's helpful to you but I'm no expert on VU metering or gain staging.
 

Mike Z

Just flow with the entropy.
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48
This example for instance, both the instruments read as -19db on the same setting, but to me they sound very different in volume, maybe I'm missing something obvious?
Great advice by the way, I'll try it out.
 

robots777

Robad
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399
I practise gain staging but have never used a vu meter. What is the purpose and benefits of doing so compared to other loudness meters?
 

Fluff

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I practise gain staging but have never used a vu meter. What is the purpose and benefits of doing so compared to other loudness meters?
I think VU meters give a better indication of average level and not the peak level which is a generally a better indication of perceived loudness. Plus they look cool
 

Mike Z

Just flow with the entropy.
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48
You need to calibrate those VU meters. I have been learning to mix with those recently. Waves gave away a free VU meter last year and I have been trying to use it recently.

https://sonimus.com/home/entry/tutorials/56/vu-meter-and-mixing-levels.html
Great article. Thanks for posting it.
If I understood that correctly I should:

1. Calibrate to (in my case) -18db.
2. Adjust the volume (using trimming/boosting) on that track untill the VU-Meter reads 0(ish)
3. Profit?

Because that is a bit different than how I had understood it before, where I would, in the case of bass, for instance, calibrate to -18db, and then adjust the bass down to -12db on the VU-Meter.
Resulting in a whole -30db in headroom (yes, my mixes sound very low)
After that I would raise the volume to my desired LUFS. I found that this introduced a some white noise (not audible when other sounds are playing, but still there)

Am I understanding this correct?

The part about the drums explained my initial question about the perceived difference in volume.
 

dubpunk

seven of eleven
Messages
462
Great article. Thanks for posting it.
If I understood that correctly I should:

1. Calibrate to (in my case) -18db.
2. Adjust the volume (using trimming/boosting) on that track untill the VU-Meter reads 0(ish)
3. Profit?

Because that is a bit different than how I had understood it before, where I would, in the case of bass, for instance, calibrate to -18db, and then adjust the bass down to -12db on the VU-Meter.
Resulting in a whole -30db in headroom (yes, my mixes sound very low)
After that I would raise the volume to my desired LUFS. I found that this introduced a some white noise (not audible when other sounds are playing, but still there)

Am I understanding this correct?

The part about the drums explained my initial question about the perceived difference in volume.
That sounds about right. I am still learning this myself. It sounds like -18dbFS is the standard used by most pro audio gear. Somewhere I read that VU meters don't work very well on drums because of the fast transients. For those you should still use a peak meter.

I think VU meters help with the perceived loudness and help you get a clear mix with enough headroom for the mastering engineer.

I read this yesterday too:

https://www.waves.com/gain-staging-in-your-daw-better-mix

http://www.recording64.com/2014/09/12/how-to-use-a-vu-meter-or-dealing-with-levels-the-old-school-way/
 

xiris

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Gain staging : everything to -15db when i start, typically leave 5-10db of headroom at the end of the project depending on the track.

Then master out in a different file.

Vu meter? What kind of fish is that? Never tried it, lol.
 
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