The Right Way to Set Recording Levels For Music Production Mixing – VST Plugins

You need to ensure that all of the songs you record will be playing back at the appropriate volume for the listener. To start with, set your monitor level. The best way to do this is to first listen to a song you are really familiar with. Be sure it is a zero peaking song. Have it at the level it is meant to be at. An enjoyable listening level.

Once you are at this stage, do not change the monitor levels but instead adjust the master track of the song you are working on. It should sound at the right level for listening. Then check the meter levels to ensure they are not on overload. If it is on overload then consider setting a limit rather than turning the level down. Make a note of the level setting that is on the monitor. You will have this in future to refer to.

Try to keep in mind that it’s not how high you get the volume to, but the quality of the volume that will make the recording a success. Ideally, it would be to record the level of the instrument that it is meant to go to not beyond its means. Technology is a wonderful tool but it doesn’t beat common sense and instinct.

Don’t lose sight of the fact there is no need to record at maximum volume of a multitrack. Some people with argue then why is it necessary to have a sixteen bit dynamic range it you are not going to use it. A come back to that remark would be why bother trying to record the cabasa at exactly 16 bits when its never going to represent more than 12 bits anyway.

Some other issues of not wanting to have the sound cranked up to max is in the event you have to use a favorite. These are not exactly user friendly when having to be used at low level. Whereas if you record at logical and practical levels you can avoid extra time consuming headaches such as these.

You can end up with some big mixing problems if you are using an analogue mixing desk long with something like hi-hat recorded at max, on digital multitrack. If some of the items are always peaking at zero then when turned off, you will still hear them in the background. This is in reference to items like hi-hats, cabasas or cymbals, for example.

In this case, you shouldn’t be surprised to find all of that electrical leakage being reverb on the hi-hat, as just one cause. Items like bass drum and snare drum are meant to be played loudly but not the top kit items or the quiet instruments.

The bottom line is to remember to find the reasonable levels. From there you have some leverage to work with, either up or down as the situation or sound or instrument dictates. In the very end, you are going to end up with a superior piece of recording. After all music is all about sound.