Understanding Gain Staging
we went through a lot around getting a room, all set up, getting are listening environment. And now we're going to look at actually mixing. And before we get into the nitty gritty of getting our volumes, we're gonna look at, well, the first thing volume and dynamics will be this whole section, and we're gonna look at tools for controlling our gain. In other words, how do we affect the the volume of our different instruments and different parts? Now, you might think at 1st I just turn up or turn down and up. That's true. But there's a logical progression to which knobs you turn up in, how you do it so that things don't clip or just sounds and works better. So here's a little image that I created that shows the the path of your volume and within a Wilton Live. You start with the clip gain, and this is actual volume of the clip, the very beginning sound and that moves into your effects. Another affects are changing the clip that moves into your track volume from your track volume that mo...
ves into your group volume fader, and that goes to your master. Let's look at that real quick to to structure. All right, so I have this track, all these different parts, right? And let's just for instance, play this one thing I noticed right off the bat is that my sax is too quiet because it's my lead. It's the center of the entire track. Well, right now, because the way it's set up, if I turn this up, which is my track gain, then by the time I get to the volume I want, it's up a plus five. So this is an example of bad game structure, right? And when we go back to this image, if we're going to clip gain, which is the first stage, this is where we can affect that volume. If I double click, I can now change my clip gain right here. You can see that volume right there. And if I turn that up, not only can I see it better before you can run into these instances where it's really hard to see what you're working on, just turn up the clip volume and then you have a more head room and you can turn this down. That's a much better way of approaching it because now look at how much space I have. I can go up and down more room to play with. And in general I like this. I mean, it's kind of it's not an exact science. It doesn't have to be perfect. I like it. Toe, Look around that which is around, you know, that. Plus 12. I mean minus 12 minus db sort of range. So I know that I will most likely turn it down at least one or two db just to give me It's an extra headroom, not that set. The next thing would be effects, and this is a common mistake. I see a lot of people doing where they'll come in here. We'll put in a compressor and the compressor will make it a lot louder. So here, right now, the compresses not doing anything. But if I compress it quite a bit, turned up my output gain. Now it's a lot louder, right? And then I would come down here and turn this down. And then sometimes I see this where it's like minus 16 minus 20 and because they forget that their output on their effect is so loud. You want to make sure that these, you know, you don't want to get up to these ridiculously high levels getting all this You can kind of get dirt, especially if you're dealing with, like, analog and relating gear to keep these that appropriate volumes. I mean, ideally, what you do is whatever volume this is of your effects is about equal to what it was before hand, right? Cause then when you turn it on and off, you're actually hearing what it's doing as compared to Oh, it's way louder now. Well, that isn't actually what the compressors doing necessarily. It might be compressing your peaks, but you want to be able to a b it and all the showing that later on in compression and EQ Ewing. Let's see your tracks affect things next. I mean, sorry, your effects do the next level of gain, and then you move over into your track falling fader in your group volume. So in this instance, we have the volume fader here, but in my drum rack or my drum group, I have another instance I have my track volume, which is this one. Then I'm like group falling just important to know that, like, especially if you have this one super hot and then you turn this one down minus six that is equal to just zero. So leave it zero, right, Just knowing you're gain structure and then it finally goes out to your master, which right now I just have that meeting plug in right now. And that's really always should have is metering and stuff on there, maybe a limiter in a situation that you need it. But generally I want that because I shouldn't be peeking up in the red or anything. I should be using the case system so it's way, way lower than that. When adding effects, you should watch the volume. If you have to boost or attenuate do it earlier in the piece of gear or in the effects. So if I have something, then I need to turn up. If I had a massive effect rack, you see if I have one on here. Well, if I had effect right here and then let's say eternal in like a reverb put on a reverb effect and maybe, like a saturate er, just dragging these in right? Well, if I have this one super loud, and then I have to turn my out put down here. That wouldn't necessarily be the way I should do it. That's not proper gain Structure. When should do is try to always deal with the first thing. Get that proper, turn that to an appropriate volume, use the next effect and keep these all kind of similar right. That's just a better way of looking at your structure, and you should be able to a be turning things off, and it shouldn't changed volume too much. That's why we have output levels is to kind of keep them about equal. And then our track volume is for control of tracks versus all the other tracks. In other words, all the parts you're controlling each other, the volumes of the parts so that when they come together, you know what's a balanced mix. You shouldn't be using the effects to be doing that right. Your effect should all make that track sound good. Okay, Now turn down the track and so on