ngarjuna wrote:I hear what you mean but if you're talking about peaks as the constraining value (I presume you mean 0dBFS, right?) then you still don't need a peak meter: all you need is a simple clip light.
Yes 0dbFS, and sorry I didn't make it clear enough that I'm not stressing an absolute peak meter but since ITB usually you are working with a peak meter as there are really no virtual LED's by themselves of course.
Well, yes and no. In general as we discussed and very fundamentally so, analog gear too contains limitations where you can make it sound as ugly in its own way as digital. Right? So yes we should be mindful of that fact. But now in the In's and Out's here in our case it should still be looked at as a digital problem. Look at it as a digital container that possesses an analog interlude for character and flavor but comes back through the said container. Our problem is still for example driving programs too hard artifacts that involve digital errors because you are capping off not from an analog unit but from a digital code holding the analog flavor. So on these programs, so long as we are working with 1's and 0's your limitation is always the ceiling. The exception to this, sonically, is to create virtual soft clipping that can change the perception that you are driving towards a ceiling rather than a "yes" or "no" thing. The average meter again won't be telling you that you are crossing the line because you don't know what your peaks are doing "up there".And for that matter: with Nebula how many programs can you safely push up to 0dBFS? The real constraining factor on these programs is not a peak ceiling at all but rather overdriving the program too far (if you've gone over 0dBFS then you have bigger problems than just how hard you're hitting Nebula!); so while peak metering would certainly give you clues about that, no more so than average metering as far as I can reason.
There's also the matter of calibration: many programs have a fairly small sweet spot (compared to purely digital effects, anyway) which is entirely derived from VU/average value. So if Alex advises you try to hit his processor at about -18dBFS average and you're watching a peak meter...how does that work?
But understand this, that it's all about the character not necessarily a clip point. We aren't saying that once you go past -18 it's an absolute clip regarding the gear and I think that's where users have to distinguish and remember what realm they are opertaing in. An "about" value is the key word here. And again, just as in working on an analog piece of gear, you are always dealing with about values, at least initially.
This is tricky, because what is referred to an average level is different pre processing and post. When a mix or track has been massaged, the average level changes. Usually, you are looking at more controlled and reduced dynamic range. And if I'm going back through a processor I used in the analog domain, I'm still listening in howI am driving it/pushing it to find its sweet spot. Again, there's no problem if you want to see how your avergae level is sitting at this point using a meter, I'm not against it, but you are still dictated by your peaks. In other words you can't decide to place the signal at -18. sometimes that works, sometimes it won't, all case dependent.We've already agreed that peaks don't necessarily reflect useful information about their corresponding average values. You're always guessing/going by ear in terms of hitting your processors in their sweet spots. I'm in favor of using one's ears but that's going to be a lot harder for someone who has never used a Vintage Blue Console in real life (for one random example). Seems to me to maximize getting into those sweet spots you definitely want an averaging meter even if one were taking your advice and also paying close attention to their peaks.
But you see, monitoring by VU gets you into a ballpark. But what is the adjustment to avoid clipping and artifacts based on? It's based on peak values. That ballpark would have been in passing having monitored the peaks. Your final resting place would be based on these peaks.The converse (monitoring VU by meter and peak by ear) is a lot easier: your VU meter gets you right into the ballpark and you know if your crest factor is abusive because most Nebula programs will start ringing like a dinner glass when you pump excessive transients into them. Whereas the opposite (monitoring VU by ear and peak by meter) you may or may not easily hear that sweet spot as you fluctuate between -4dB VU and +1dB VU (depending on one's experience, how busy the mix is, etc.).
I do treat it similiarly, but in knowing that my limitation behavior does differ and that working with a digital container imparts an aboslute ceiling, I have to be mindful of who the boss is ultimately. Gain staging no matter what is an approximation, always. Whatever hovers near the ceiling is what dicatates how I set levels. This is much more pertinent ITB. A VU meter in and of itself can help me understand a value in loudness or density but for gain staging I don't use it and in turn I don't have any artifacts propagated within my work because i am well within an approximation that gives me the color I need and keeps me safe from the digital container it finds itself in.But I guess we approach gain staging from a pretty radically different perspective; I am firmly in the camp of engineers who hold that you treat ITB the same as you treat OTB and you end up with the same good mixes ITB that you used to get OTB. Sure, you don't get all that clean headroom that digital could be offering you but you don't lose anything by not driving your digital gain either