[MPA] Recording for CD Sound Level with Digi001 and Mackie 1202VLZ-Pro

Jeff Carruthers jeff at carruthers.com
Wed Feb 19 10:53:00 PST 2003

On Wednesday, February 19, 2003, at 12:51  PM, Satrokon wrote:

> Hi,
> I am an amateur recorder and musician trying to figure out how to get 
> my recordings to the right level to match professional audio CDs. I 
> find that my results generally turn out CDs much lower in volume than 
> the average, forcing those listening to my work to turn the stereo 
> system way up.
> This is the setup I use to record:
> I use an Apple Blue & White G3 as my recording platform, with ProTools 
> 5.1 LE as my software component. For hardware I use Digidesign's 
> Digi001 digital recording interface and a Mackie 1202VLZ-Pro mixer. I 
> use the Digi001's 2 pre-amps for things like electric/acoustic guitar 
> and vocals (both mic'ed) and the Mackie for sub-mixing my drum set. I 
> mix the set down with my Mackie and then send the stereo signal to my 
> Digi001's Analog 7 and 8 inputs using two balanced XLR to line cables. 
> Occasionally I use the Mackie for other instruments such as piano 
> because I find that it gives me more control and for some reason 
> more/better amplification.
> With this setup I can usually reach the "red zone" on a given track in 
> ProTools, but I'm unclear exactly what this means. If I hit the top of 
> the red zone the digital signal will clip? So far I haven't seen a 
> direct correlation between clipping and that sound visual marker. But 
> even when I get my audio boosted so it's right below clipping by using 
> compressors and gain the resulting CD audio is still very low. My 
> worst case was when I did a recording of 'Into the Woods,' where there 
> were many different singers, each with his/her own vocal level (I only 
> had two different vocal tracks to work with due to hardware 
> limitations.) I have better luck with rock music, and usually I can 
> get drums up to the right level. Vocals, guitar, and piano work remain 
> a problem.
> So is there some major step I'm missing in the mastering process? Or 
> is it how I'm recording that is causing issues? I'm very much new with 
> all these technologies so feel free to contact me with specific 
> questions. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks,
> 	Satrokon

It sounds like the various inputs (vocals, instrumentals, drums) are 
not properly balanced when you do the original recordings. In my 
experience, you would want the vocals to dominate, followed by lead 
instruments, followed by drums and bass. It sounds from your 
description that the drums may be too loud and the others not loud 

As for the Red line, going over the Red in analog recording is less of 
a problem than in digital recording. With the latter, you will notice a 
nasty-sounding distortion. The trick is to get each track as loud as 
you can without going into the red and then balancing them when you are 
doing your final mix.

Trying to record multiple vocals with only two tracks can be a 
challenge, as can mic'ing different instruments.

Jeff C
Carruthers Communications           Tel: 613-267-3890; cell: 
R.R. 1, Perth, ON K7H 3C3              Fax: 613-267-6727
www.carruthers.com                          e-mail: jeff at carruthers.com

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