A little confused about what my peak RMS really is.

I watch my master gain as I play back a project before mix down, and I can see it going really close to 0db, but after I export it and analyze the peak RMS, it shows it’s, -7 or more, pretty much every time for every song. Can anyone explain why this is?

There is no “peak RMS”, there is meter characteristics measuring Peak-, or RMS- levels. Master channel shows Peak, analyze shows RMS (or both, IIRC).

Ok, maybe I have my terms confused, but I’m talking about peak values. When I analyze it, it’s usually around -20 average and -10 peak, even though it’s almost 0 peak coming out of cubase.

And you are sure, your meters are set post fader…?

It’s set post panner, which is the same, for this purpose.

After export what do you measure the peak RMS with and do you compare it with other material?

I’m checking it with Har-Bal and I reference other songs, which are always right below or right around 0 for their peak.

And here’s something strange. I just got a song back from the mixing engineer, and when I check it in harbal, it’s around -4.5, but in Cubase, it seems to peak around 3 or 4+.

Now, this has always confused me. I watch the bottom of my master bus where it shows the peak volume right above the gain level, but the peak volume seems to be measuring from +6db as if that’s 0, whereas the gain is measuring from the actual 0. Like, let’s say I’ve got my gain set at 0, and let’s say the peak light meter is going to 0, but what it says at the bottom is that it’s actually -6. I’m so confused by this.

Doubtful about my question but could it be due to soundcard settings? I know it should be common to both if measuring on the same computer as Cubase so should not matter.
Could it also be in the Control room settings (under the Devices menu) you have the “Dim” or reference buttons activated?

The fader level and the Peak meter are two independent things (concerning their scale). The Cubase Peak meter shows 0dBFs, when the numbers say 0.00 and the actual meter is at the 0dBFs mark, which has nothing to do with the fader level +6.02 dB.

The meters in cubase are using the dBFS scale, not RMS scale.
So you are comparing two different units of measure.


FWIW, RMS is not a scale, but a way to measure a signal. So he´s not comparing two different units, but two different measurement characteristics, (as said already).

Yes, RMS is a way to measure the level but also exists as a type of scale on a meter, as with K system meters.

The original question is a bit of a contradiction in terms. To clarify the whole thing I would suggest the following:

  • the meters in Cubase 6 are peak meters. They show the current peak level of the signal. The peak meter value shown in the mixer channel is the maximum peak registered for the signal over the duration for which it was played. That value is the single highest peak registered. There is no RMS reading here.

  • selecting an event and selecting Audio / Statistics allows you to see the average RMS level of the signal (the lower-most average figure).

  • for an example of simultaneous RMS and peak meters take a look at Nugen Visualizer, for example http://www.nugenaudio.com/level-meter_VST_AU.php

I had a problem for a while where the Cubase meters didn’t match the meters on my I/O device (Lynx AES16).

It turned out that I was outputting the 2 bus twice, once from the output tab and a second time from the control room tab in the VST Connections dialog. My bad.

I see my first post is still causing confusion, even though I thought I made it clear in my following posts. I’m reading average and peak values in HarBal and I know my meters in Cubase are showing peak, which is what I’m comparing it to in Harbal.

The control room is not activated.

And when I look at stats for an audio track in Cubase, I look under the peak amplitude for the peak, right? it’s showing about -2 and -3 for that, but when I play it back with the gain at 0, the meter lights go up around +3, and the numbers at the bottom show -3. And in harbal, it shows -4.5. WTF :imp: So, I really have no freaking clue what my levels actually are.

Did you read my previous post? The scale of the fader and the scale of the level meter are not the same. So Fader position 0.00 is not level meter bar 0.00 dBFs.
And also you´re saying “post panner” doesn´t matter in your case - just to be sure, switch the meters to “post fader”.

I really don’t know what that means for this situation. I set my fader at 0 for a song that cubase stats show is not peaking above -2.8; I see the level meter lighting up at +3 or so above the fader level. the numbers towards the bottom of the meter show it’s peaking at -4; harbal says it’s peaking at -4.6. So all I need to know is what do I actually pay attention to for reading my peak values?

And also you´re saying “post panner” doesn´t matter in your case - just to be sure, switch the meters to “post fader”.

I’ve switched it to see if there is a difference, and I don’t see one. It’s at that now, and it’s doing this same thing to me.

The Cubase “stats” is what exactly…?

If the numbers towards the bottom say it´s -4, then it is -4 dBFs, not +3 because the Fader 0.00 position does not indicate the actual audio level 0.00 dBFs. The fader uses a different scale, than the meter bar.

Right click on an audio track, audio > statistics - Peak amplitude (which, I’m assuming is peak volume).

If the numbers towards the bottom say it´s -4, then it is -4 dBFs, not +3 because the Fader 0.00 position does not indicate the actual audio level 0.00 dBFs.

So what exactly is the point of making it so confusing? Why is the fader gain and the actual gain completely different? Why is the actual gain default position -6 actual gain, which shows 0 on the fader, which isn’t any number that actually represents the gain. This doesn’t make any sense at all to me. Why have a number that doesn’t reflect what gain is actually set at? Have I seriously been using Cubase for 4+ years, thinking the fader level actually represents something that means anything? :astonished:

So, really, I can leave the fader at 0 whatever-the-f*ck-it’s-actually-measuring, and as long as the gain meter is not hitting the very, very top of the meter, I’m safe and not actually hitting above 0dbf? I’m so disillusioned. I don’t even know who I am anymore. :confused:

This sounds very unusual, the numbers in stats should in no way differ from the number shown in your output bus after a mixdown, are you 100% sure all your vst connections are setup correctly, that you are viewing the correct output bus and that you have not accidentally altered the included channels in the mixdown window? If you import your mixdown into the origin project and do a phase reverse, what happens?


Cool down, from what I read I think you’ve got it rigtht. The fader number indicates a change in gain relative to the signal presented to the output bus. If the fader is set to 0 dB then no change is made and a signal showing a peak value above 0 dB will be clipped and should be compensated by lowering the fader and a peak value below 0 dB by raising it. If that is something absolutely clear and understandable to you then we can proceed with finding the fault. What about what I’ve written above?

The peak value I’m talking about is the numerical value below the fader. The bar meter can actually represent a signal above 0dBFS, a purely practical function.

Well, in our initial post you were talking about the Master bus, now you are talking about an audio track.

Because the actual audio level on the master fader input is defined by the sum of the single channel faders, and is in no way depending on the master fader. The master fader can attenuate or boost the output level of the master channel, but raising the single channel faders will also raise the input to the master bus, without any relation to the master fader. Master fader at 0.00 simply means, input level = output level - no attenuation, no gain.
So if a signal is fed into the master bus, at -3 dBFs a fader level 0.00 it will go to the oputput with -3 dBFs though the fader is at 0.00

Well, I think you are misunderstanding some things…

Seems so…

If you mean the level meter, then yes - given, you´re monitoring the correct meter point (meter input, post fader, post panner) for your given task