0dBu Reference in Nuendo

What is 0dBu reference level in Nuendo? ProTools is -18dBFS, I think.

Nuendo seems to be calibrated to -12dBFS…

Uhm… :question:

This depends on the converters, not the software, no? It can be recalibrated on PT…

Indeed, converters for outboard gear. (my Lynx’s measure just below 0.8 volts with Nuendo’s meters are at -12dBFS)

Most vintage style plugs are calibrated to 0dBu I think? So, the internal metering is really important.

UAD Ampex is calibrated to -12…

The software has nothing to do with this - it’s all about how your audio chain is gain staged.

Over here - Nuendo’s meters read exactly -18dbFS when playing a 1khz Sine tone thru my setup chain.


What’s your setup chain?

Mackie VLZ 1604VLZ3->RME Multiface II->Computer->Nuendo.

All faders on the Mackie set to Unity Gain. All “coarse” Gain knobs (at the very top of each Mackie channel) sits at the inscribed “U” mark. An input of 1khz Sine tone (@-18dbFS) shows exactly 0.0db on the Mackie metering and -18dbFS on the Nuendo metering.

All input points in Nuendo (faders, coarse gain input buttons, dials, knobs) are all at unity or 0.0. Master fader is at unity.

Works excellent as I always know exactly what I am going to get…when I’m tracking - everything sits in the pocket (per track) right on or about -18dbFS (transient sources like drums excepted)

Results in fat, dynamic mixes that never ever come close to the “red” line in Nuendo. And they sound wonderful.


Hey Vocalpoint, how are you generating your sine tone?

Via Wavelab and it’s groovy tone generator. My reference set was done in WL6…but WL7 should be just the same.


I think what you’re proving is that you’re at unity gain with your setup. Which is correct. If you sent a level of -12dBFS you would get a reading back at -12dBFS. Unity gain.

If you get a moment generate a 1kHz tone within Nuendo and measure the actual voltage coming out of the Mutiface II. I think it’s pins 2 ans 3 if I can remember. Adjust the tone generator until you settle on a voltage of 0.775 volts on your voltmeter. Now check the meters in Nuendo and let me know.


That is correct. Assuming all knobs are set to unity in Nuendo - the software should simply support the fact that the level coming in is the level that should be recorded.

However - when you say “Nuendo seems to be calibrated to -12dBFS…” that is a moot point and makes no sense since Nuendo isn’t “calibrated” to or for “anything”.

If I had a voltmeter - this sounds like fun…but I do not. For now - unity gain - end to end is all I really need.


I think you’re thinking about this the “wrong” way.

If I want to change the way my DAW interfaces with the analog world in terms of levels, I’ll change that on the interface (ADAC) I’m using. The ADAC may be calibrated so that when it receives a -18dBFS signal it corresponds to X analog value. Then again, it may be calibrated to -20dBFS = X analog. Know what I mean? Doesn’t matter what Nuendo does. If you were to feed that same ADAC the same dBFS signal from a different DAW it’d output the same X analog.

See my point?

How would Nuendo know what analog values the ADAC in/outputs?

+1. Nuendo (or any DAW software) has no bearing, knowledge or care whatsoever on what any calibration or gain staging occurring on the “analog” side of the equation is doing. It merely acts a big fancy recorder. That’s how I use it here. Only as a visual tool (it’s metering) to reinforce that my signals and analog gain staging is correct.


I disagree. It’s ‘ALL’ about how the meters in a DAW are calibrated in your system.

If your converters are reading 0.775v with a 1kHz sine wave, the meters in Nuendo are reading -12dBFS and you send your level to outboard gear at -18dBFS you sending low level and are adding more noise. Simple. You are assuming that you are sending out 0dBu to, for example an 1176. An 1176 is correctly calibrated at 0dBu. I think you see where I’m going… But, that’s for hardware.

But here’s the thing I’m really getting on about. I should’ve explained a little clearer earlier.

Softube’s CL1B’s VU meter reads 0dB with a 1kHz tone at -18dBFS.

Are the Nuendo plugins also calibrated for -18dBFS = 0dBu?

As mentioned the UAD Ampex is calibrated to -12dBFS = 0dB on the meters.

From their manual " The plugin operates at an internal level of -12dBFS. Therefore a digital signal with a level of -12dBFS below full scale digital (0dBFS) at the plugin input will equate to 0dB on the meters, etc, etc"

So, Softube are saying that -18dBFS = 0dB and UAD are saying that -12dBFS = 0dB. Which one is correct?

I want to know what Steinberg consider 0dB to be in the DAW. -18dBFS or -12dBFS?

Vocalpoint and Lydiot, just read your posts.

Trust me, I understand exactly what you’re saying, but could you possibly clarify the dicrepency between Softube and UAD? Where does Steinberg fit into the equation?

Let’s just leave the hardware out of the picture for now…

Now that we’re working ITB it would be good to know what Steinberg considers a 0dB reading to be in dBFS - ITB…

Hmm - I simply do not understand how any software (UAD/softtube or whatever) could be calibrated for anything. This is all about the hardware and only about the hardware.

When I think of this in my head - all Nuendo (or any plugin) represents to me is a digital meter telling me that my analog 0dbFS = -18dbFS. And that’s all it should ever do.

And if I use either of those plugs - it should be the same - 0.0db coming from my analog chain should be represented a -18dbFS in Nuendo, in the UAD metering (which it does over here since I have the UAD2) or in the metering within SoftTube plugin (don;t have that one to test).

And with respect to this

I strongly disagree. It’s all about what my analog meters are reading at my input stage (Mackie). The meters in the DAW will be wherever I want them to be since I control how much or how little they get. No settings in the software ever matter or are applicable to my chain.

Again - Nuendo represents a big virtual recorder - one that takes what I give it and at what level I choose. All it has to do is reproduce that tone at exactly -18dbFS and I ask no more of it. The UAD meters show the same thing.

Well - I work totally ITB - and - what Steinberg thinks is irrelevant. It’s what those meters in Nuendo say when I pass my signal via my chain - to them. It could be -12dbFS or -16dbFS or whatever. It’s meaningless to look at this from the Nuendo point of view.


Understood all of it. Except, in the digital realm a drop of 3dBFS equates to a loss of 1 bit. Something to do with the calculation… If a plugin is designed and ‘calibrated’ around a ‘0dbu’ level then it makes sense to feed it at the correct gain level… which is what?

TDM plugins are designed around a level of -18dBFS… They initially had to be a lot more careful about distortion - no 32bit float.

I still can;t wrap my head around how any piece of software could be “designed” or “calibrated” in any way to some undefined external input (again - like Nuendo - the plugin will never know what my 0.0db actually is). The plugin takes it’s marching orders from the host - which in turn takes it’s orders from the gain staging within the analog chain. (via the audio interface).

So “0dbu” could be anything the host is getting could be -8dbFS or -18dbFS…it truly does not matter. And the implication of bit loss makes no sense either since anything that the plugin gets comes from the host - and if it’s Nuendo - is already managing everything a from bit depth, to sample rate and all the rest of it. There is no possibility in my mind that I can suddenly start “losing” bits due to some plugin.


Hey Vocalpoint,

The more analog devices that are being modeled has led to this discussion.

Take, for instance, the Slate Digital VCC. The standard calibration is set for -18dBFS (you can calibrate from -24 to -12. If this wasn’t important I doubt it would be included) . If your meters and converters are calibrated to -12dBFS then you have to recalibrate the VCC to achieve the effect the manufacturers intended. As mentioned before, my Lynx’s read 0dBu with a 1kHz tone with my meters at -12dBFS in Nuendo. Yes, I could change that, but that’s the analog domain and not my point.

All the presets for the UAD Ampex are based on -12dBFS equaling ‘0dBu’. If it wasn’t relevant, why even mention the fact in their manual.

All I want to know from Steinberg is what ‘0dBu’ equals in the Nuendo dBFS digital domain.

If there is no such thing, or it is irrelevant, or it simply doesn’t matter then I can humbly accept that.

Thanks for trying to clear it up for me.


PS - when I get a moment I’ll pull out my RME converters and do a measurement for you - in case you ever use outboard gear…

Hopefully they can supply an answer for you :slight_smile: Good luck!