TOPIC: Newbie input level question

Newbie input level question 3 months 2 days ago #21462

Hi All,

Recently got a copy of this great software, and was wondering if there is a standard approach people use to set the input gain on their audio interfaces?

What I have tried and seems to work OK on my single-coil guitar is:

1) Disable S-Gear, and play as hard as I reasonably would
2) Check that at the above level, the clean signal from guitar at full volume is close to -12db

Does anyone else have guidelines on what levels to set? I get that it shouldn't be clipping on the Audio Interface input, or in the Daw audio channel without S-Gear enabled.

Does the same apply if effects are added in the chain before S-Gear? Basically just ensure it's not clipping and getting close to -12db before hitting S-Gear?
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Newbie input level question 3 months 2 days ago #21464

The standard, conventional approach would be to Strum with moderate enthusiasm a chord like a G and make your interface input signal clip only on those, normal picking being always below peaks. That should be.

Now I personally, depending on what I am going to play, may rise it a bit above that, for example if I am going to lead jam or something where I won't pulse the strings really hard.
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Newbie input level question 3 months 1 day ago #21471

Thanks for the reply!
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Newbie input level question 3 months 13 hours ago #21478

Hi!

have a similar problem. Used to set the in on my Alsesis io14 as mohi described, but last week I've watched this demo (
) and realized that my singla is way hotter than Barerro's. I've reduced it and got a much bether feel and tone, less noise and, of course, less gain and grit as well.As stated on the manual, "In the Guitar position, the input provides 6.8dB to 50dB
of gain—the same range as the XLR input.". I don't know if 6.8dB (gain control set at minimun) of gain is enough for s-gear to process, but I liked the way it sounded bether.
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Newbie input level question 3 months 12 hours ago #21479

Whenever I set-up my levels I always start with lowe value at the input. Then I increase the input value by little increment until I am satisfied with the sound. I play mostly Humbuckers so I have two set-up value. One for my single coils guitar and the other for my Humbucker equipped guitars.They are all low output so I do not need to care about high output Humbuckers.
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Newbie input level question 3 months 9 hours ago #21481

Good advice above. Only thing I'd add is that you need to keep in mind that it's far worse to record too hot than to record to softly. There's very little risk, and essentially nothing lost, if you stay several dB away from the volume ceiling, but as soon as you go over you're risking a sprain you can't recover from.

Also, it tends to happen that the playing level you set while strumming the guitar solo is markedly quieter than the playing level once the track is rolling. As soon as the other instruments come in, you're picking harder to compete with them. Just keep that in mind when setting that initial level. Better yet, play to the track and set your levels that way.

And because it can't be said too many times, do *not* let it clip! Modern hardware/software can happily accommodate signals that are recorded low, and you can always turn them up. You can't (well, you can) fix digital clipping just by turning it down.
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Newbie input level question 3 months 9 hours ago #21482

You are right about that. Also I forgot to mentioned that I always set-up my gain with the backing music I will play. Same thing for my presets. This way I can recall the preset and jam anytime because it will sit better in the mix.

Also if your input is not overly hot you get more subtility from the amp. Especially with S Gear.
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Newbie input level question 4 weeks 1 day ago #21852

elambo wrote:

Good advice above. Only thing I'd add is that you need to keep in mind that it's far worse to record too hot than to record to softly. There's very little risk, and essentially nothing lost, if you stay several dB away from the volume ceiling, but as soon as you go over you're risking a sprain you can't recover from.

Also, it tends to happen that the playing level you set while strumming the guitar solo is markedly quieter than the playing level once the track is rolling. As soon as the other instruments come in, you're picking harder to compete with them. Just keep that in mind when setting that initial level. Better yet, play to the track and set your levels that way.

And because it can't be said too many times, do *not* let it clip! Modern hardware/software can happily accommodate signals that are recorded low, and you can always turn them up. You can't (well, you can) fix digital clipping just by turning it down.

So what if I asked, how quiet is too quiet? I know that S Gear wants to see a 'healthy level' going into the front and that you can clip S Gears's input (not the interface).

Do we want peaks at 12db? Should we stay out of the yellow?
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Newbie input level question 4 weeks 22 hours ago #21853

mkruse wrote:

So what if I asked, how quiet is too quiet? I know that S Gear wants to see a 'healthy level' going into the front and that you can clip S Gears's input (not the interface).

Do we want peaks at 12db? Should we stay out of the yellow?

If the signal level is very low then the problems might manifest as additional noise, or some perceived loss of dynamics or quality. Both scenarios are less likely to be a problem with a good quality audio convertor. Lower quality converters can yield less effective dynamic range due to technicalities of the convertor.

I've not done any focused comparisons of how different audio interfaces perform/compare when recording with low input signal levels, however, I suspect that this might contribute to why I like working with some devices more than others. In most cases you will end up recording (DI) guitar at a very low level, in order to accommodate the peaks.
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Newbie input level question 4 weeks 6 hours ago #21855

mkruse wrote:

elambo wrote:

Good advice above. Only thing I'd add is that you need to keep in mind that it's far worse to record too hot than to record to softly. There's very little risk, and essentially nothing lost, if you stay several dB away from the volume ceiling, but as soon as you go over you're risking a sprain you can't recover from.

Also, it tends to happen that the playing level you set while strumming the guitar solo is markedly quieter than the playing level once the track is rolling. As soon as the other instruments come in, you're picking harder to compete with them. Just keep that in mind when setting that initial level. Better yet, play to the track and set your levels that way.

And because it can't be said too many times, do *not* let it clip! Modern hardware/software can happily accommodate signals that are recorded low, and you can always turn them up. You can't (well, you can) fix digital clipping just by turning it down.

So what if I asked, how quiet is too quiet? I know that S Gear wants to see a 'healthy level' going into the front and that you can clip S Gears's input (not the interface).

Do we want peaks at 12db? Should we stay out of the yellow?

I'd only start being concerned if I had noisy convertors (even inexpensive interfaces of the past 5 years are generally rather quiet) and the signal was hovering around the bottom 20% of the meters. If my convertors were mid to high-level, I'd have almost no issue with the level into the convertor.

But I don't like setting rules because every scenario is different. As Mike mentioned, it would be a problem if you hear unwanted noise, or if the associated hardware/software prefers a hotter signal. Otherwise, as the rule dictates: if it sounds right, it IS right.

I feel like I may have mentioned this before, but I had a recent session where I could hardly make out the recorded guitar signal (pre-S-Gear) in the waveform editor. It was nearly a solid horizontal line with very little information populating the vertical axis. In other words, VERY low signal. I was able to boost that into S-Gear and the result was great. No real noise to speak of.

And that's one great thing about using an amp sim: you can boost the recorded dry signal -- prior to the plugin -- and it's as though you'd always recorded it with that hotter level.
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Newbie input level question 3 weeks 5 days ago #21856

Good advice in this thread. I use an Apollo Twin and bang away with my guitar volume and tone at the highest settings I plan to use in a track. Then I set the interface level -3 dB before peaking. As others here said, you want to avoid clipping your audio interface. That's step #1.

After that, the main thing I rely on for all my DAW tracks is applying Hornet's TheNormalizer, which automatically takes care of gain staging at the level you prescribe. I put it as my first plug-in before S-Gear. So whenever I use my favorite S-Gear preset for a track, I know I'll always get consistent results, regardless of how I set my interface level. No fiddling with input levels in S-Gear, or adding a gain plug. No worries about the signal being too hot or too quiet. TheNormalizer is about $10, and it lives on every one of my tracks as the very first plugin.
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Newbie input level question 3 weeks 5 days ago #21857

soundog wrote:

...the main thing I rely on for all my DAW tracks is applying Hornet's TheNormalizer, which automatically takes care of gain staging at the level you prescribe. I put it as my first plug-in before S-Gear. So whenever I use my favorite S-Gear preset for a track, I know I'll always get consistent results, regardless of how I set my interface level.

Is it set to constantly auto-adjust, or do you just do the analyse/adjust once in order to set a new gain boost/reduction to match your specified level?

I do like the idea of having a plugin like this at the start of the chain. I kind of see it as a way to store your preferred input level for a given track, and then if you later change something with your interface or input gain, then this type of plugin provides an easy way to auto-adjust to your original level.

A free plugin I have that can also do this is dpMeter 4 . You set your target ("Ref") level, and then based on one of the meters (e.g. peak meter) you can just press a button to do the automatic gain adjustment.

I might start doing this as I'm commonly changing between using external pedals and going direct, so it will help me out nicely. Thanks!
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Last edit: 3 weeks 5 days ago by kierank.
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Newbie input level question 3 weeks 4 days ago #21859

Its set to adjust so that my -dB level going into S-Gear is consistent, so my S-Gear input level is left at the default setting. To clarify, though, it's not set to be dynamic, so its not working like a leveler. Rather, it ensures the gain setting is normalized, regardless of the level coming out of my audio interface. The only time I might change the setting would be for a very quiet track.

FYI, just saw Hornet is doing a storewide 40% of sale through July 12. Sounds like dpMeter will do what you need, though,
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