Forums » GarageBand Tips and Tricks » Recording/Mixing problem: Low volumes but still clipping

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I've just been doing some recording and I keep running into the same problem. Particularly with the drums (and especially the snare), compared to software instruments they're pretty quiet even though the levels are a lot higher. If I try to make them any louder they just start clipping. Suggestions? I've tried compression and reducing the gain on the Alesis io 26 they're going through.
I apologize for asking such a beginners question.
Artist Page Send Message Nov 22, 2008 | 5:33 pm
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Not a problem and not a beginners question. Where is the signal clipping is a question one must always ask

First things first without knowing your set-up it's kind of hard to help. A little more info and we might be able to solve the problem.

First make sure the original sound isn't the problem by trying to listen to it thru another piece of software or export to iTunes or other speakers.

Then make sure that you cut or filter out some low lows. You may not here it, but if you have too much low end it will cause the clipping at low levels. Try about 50 hertz or so and eq out the lows. Not all the way just to see if it makes a difference.

Without knowing more about how you recorded your sounds or your set-up that's a start at least. Also check connections and rebooting might help or again trying different play-back methods to determine what and where the problem might also be. Oh, and just in case the file is corrupted you could open a new file in your current software and import the sounds in. Sometimes it's the most basic or easiest solution that works.
TC
Latest Song: Ultimate UJB Collab
Artist Page Send Message Nov 22, 2008 | 7:39 pm
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I think the low end is definitely part of the problem, good suggestion, although the piece is supposed to be based around the low end i.e. layered downtuned (to Bb) distorted guitars, bass and ambient rumbling effects.
My setup is just all the mics (D112 bass, Audio technica clip mics toms and snare, Rhode NT1-A overheads) going into the Alesis and straight to Logic Pro via firewire. Everything sounds good, its just too quiet. I once read its best to record at levels as high as possible without clipping which is generally what I do. If i record at lower levels and then boost them with EQ and compressors, will it make a difference?
Thanks for the quick reply.
Artist Page Send Message Nov 23, 2008 | 5:27 am
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Don't forget Logic Pro also has a "gain" you can run thru the inserts, I record things at a lower volume a lot of times then go back thru and insert "gain" and "limiter" etc.. it has not effected my low end or sound (knocks on wood). I might also add that using an EQ for gain structure is a no no, try using inserts that are in the "dynamics" drop menu (limiter, compressor, expander..) they will help you a bit better than the EQ when trying to boost levels, save the EQ for enhancing your tone or sound. (and not to forget what alanatomic mentioned about dropping the EQ around the 50hz mark this could very well be the problem too much LOW low end, like said I also wouldn't recommend dropping it all the way but play with it a little and see...) And this might sound stupid but check the lines, sometimes a bad cable can be the cause of a lot of problems without thinking about it, I have solved a few of my own "weird" recording and sound reinforcement problems by just switching out a bad line. Hope this might help, best of luck.

Shifty
Latest Song: Dance Floor Fool
Artist Page Send Message Nov 23, 2008 | 1:23 pm
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Great advice, thanks very much. I always forget about the gain in Logic, thanks for reminding me
Artist Page Send Message Nov 23, 2008 | 2:11 pm
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Seeing as this hasn't been deleted yet I'll use it to ask a quick question. I try and keep my out 1-2/master at 0db but this often means setting track volumes really low, like an average of -10db. Is this normal or am I going wrong somewhere?
Artist Page Send Message Jan 25, 2009 | 1:31 pm
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I use drum machines and so i think is different, but to get a powerful sound without distortion i use Overdrive.
Artist Page Send Message Jan 25, 2009 | 2:27 pm
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Fairly normal situation, individual levels can vary, it all depends on a few things,...

Gain structure- some samples are recorded at different levels one could be very loud while the next is quiet, this happens often while mixing different samples from different sources ( jam packs, and downloaded files for example)

Sample quality- look at the different bit ratio, higher number most of the time has a better, cleaner sound that don't have to be played with as much.

Mic placement - in the situation of "live" tracks make sure the mic is placed in the best possible place for what you are recording ( there are online sites that can tell you about your personal mic and best position for recording, ... and don't forget to get a clean, strong signal before pressing the record button.)

It's a normal to have one track at +8db while the one next to it is -13db, if the track sounds right, it's more than likely is. As long as you are not overloading your sound (unless that is the ideal sound you want) there's no real problem with different db levels on single tracks.

Ahhh, the joy of mixing and mastering audio, trying to get as much possible to a unity level, a fight between audio and the engineer, a battle that swings one way some days and the other way the next, a fight even the best in the biz deal with now and then, I personally LOVE the relentless war, and music, so I kinda get my kicks off these kind of "problems"

Always remember that you are the Artist... what do you want the world to hear....?

Best of Luck Brother
Shifty
Latest Song: Dance Floor Fool
Artist Page Send Message Jan 25, 2009 | 7:32 pm
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Ah thanks Shifty, you're really helpful. I'm beginning to enjoy the process which you so accurately described too but seeing as I'm just starting out with proper mixing I wanted to check i wasn't completely off the right track. You mentioned mastering, do you know any good resources for learning about that? There's so many different sites and books on it I don't know where to start, maybe you've got some personal recommendations?
Artist Page Send Message Jan 26, 2009 | 4:01 pm
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A decent resource to get you started is iZotope's guide to using their Ozone plugin for mastering -- take a look at http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/guides.html.

However, before you do that, stop and consider whether you actually want to, or if you'd be better off learning to mix better.

Mastering is seen by many as a magical process that takes a mix and turns it into something that 'sounds like a record' -- adds sparkle, fixes the mistakes in the mix, makes everything super-loud. But, actually, for a perfect mix, mastering does nothing at all.

The aim of mastering is to ensure that your mix translates as well as possible to the entire range of different audio playback devices in the universe -- from huge thumping car speakers to little piddly MacBook speakers to earphones to 5.1 home cinema systems. Mastering engineers spend a lot of time analysing what makes mixes sound great on some systems (usually the systems they were mixed on, plus whatever else the mixing engineer had to hand if he's any good and thought to check) but terrible on others, and then making subtle adjustments so that the mastered product still sounds great on the former set but is now at least listenable on the latter set.

(One way I've heard this described: 'mixing means creating the best presentation of the song; mastering means creating the best presentation of the mix.')

And this is why I'd argue that, unless you're aiming to start a mastering house or mastering other people's mixes, you should probably concentrate on developing your mixing skills instead. Mastering shouldn't be used to fix your earlier mistakes (in the same way that you should concentrate first on getting good source recordings rather than trying to 'fix it in the mix') -- and if you've already made your mix sound as good as you can to you ears on every piece of equipment you have available to you, it's going to be very hard to know whether anything you're doing at the mastering stage is actually improving matters, because you've already used all your playback devices while you were mixing.

If you were using GarageBand, I could see that it might be worth creating a mixdown and then doing a second stage of processing to extend your stereo bus and allow for more processing there, if that's the kind of thing you like to do, but according to Night On The Ocean you're using Logic, so that isn't really an issue for you.

For the record, my most recent upload has the following volumes across the faders: -7.9, -11.2, -11.2, -4.3, -11.6, -11.6, -14.5, -1.8. So I wouldn't worry about having lots of -10s. Really, as Shifty says, provided it sounds good, don't worry about it.

-Eido
Latest Song: [LiesToChildren] Road Collab
Artist Page Send Message Jan 27, 2009 | 3:01 am
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Thanks Eido. As you suggest, improving my mixing is what I'm focusing on, I just wanted to know what mastering was about and why it's often portrayed as a completely separate process (or at least in the things I've read about it). Soundtrack Pro came with Logic so if I do need to get into it I can use that, but to be honest I'm quite glad I don't have to learn all that too to progress. Thanks again to everyone for helping out.
Artist Page Send Message Jan 27, 2009 | 12:12 pm
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if its purely a volume issue and you have determined that is the issue, add a limiter preset and experiment. If it raises the volume but changes the sound, EQ it accordingly.
Latest Song: A Different Link Explicit
Artist Page Send Message Jan 27, 2009 | 3:45 pm
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I know this is an old thread but this is an extremely common topic...

Phasing:
Anything that causes phasing (chorus, delay, reverb, etc...) is going to make a signal sound quieter, including the room echoes. A close microphone will record less of the room but more low end. Check out the "proximity effect".

Frequency:
The human ear hears different frequencies with varying sensitivity (refer to the "fletcher-munson curve"). Also, different systems have different frequency response curves. A normalized 20hz sinewave will quietly consume the signal. *When recording a snare, shave off inaudible frequencies to make room for audible frequencies. (Changing the frequency balance of any signal changes its phase balance, so experiment with different rolloffs and cutoff frequencies)

Dynamics processing:
To squeeze loudness out of a snare without sacrificing its quality, you might want to tastefully employ a variety of techniques. The goal is transparency. One technique which may be fun to experiment with is "nyc compression" or "parallel compression".

Distortion limits dynamics and adds harmonics, but risks sounding trashy. If your track needs more volume, experiment with Logic's "adlimiter". It's a great plug-in that simulates analogue saturation when overdriven.
Artist Page Send Message Jun 06, 2011 | 1:04 pm
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Try de-selecting or making adjustments to your individual and global echo settings.
Latest Song: Renascence Again
Artist Page Send Message Jun 06, 2011 | 4:27 pm
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A dont wanna sound inportant ore akt like i now somtging(and i bet jou can teach me lot s of tging s, but )
, but how about some sidechaining? Geek
Latest Song: enterprise.com
Artist Page Send Message Feb 26, 2012 | 6:09 pm
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