Can anyone explain these levels for me please?

Hi, I’ve posted about this elsewhere (FX/Aux channel several dB down!) but I think a fresh start is order as I can now reproduce (and fix!) the problem at will. But I’m totally confused as to why it’s happening in the first place and I’m hoping someone can explain. These screenshots are from a brand new test project (link below):
3dB down (G1 SO SO)
Here a mono track (‘DI Strum’ → ‘Group 1’) is sending to a mono aux ('FX 1 → ‘Stereo Out’). Both the aux and group are 3dB down, which I wasn’t expecting. However, if I route ‘DI Strum’ → ‘Stereo Out’ then the levels match:
3dB down (SO SO)
Why would routing to a group make such a difference?
If I route both ‘DI Strum’ and ‘FX 1’ to the group, their levels match again:
3dB down (G1 G1 SO)
I can see the same numbers popping up all over the place and the meters changing from single to double even though they’re mono seems significant but I just can’t get my head around why I’m not always getting the same levels in all channels. There must be a good reason so can anyone tell me what it is?

Cheers,
C

New 3dB down test.zip (197.6 KB)

It’s the send going to the FX track. That’s adding to the signal over on the mains.

Bypass or disable that. What do you get then?

It’s normal behavior for that kind of setup. You could gain-stage the send fx down a bit if you want, but it’ll probably be easier to use the fader like it is…so just pull it down to the level(s) you want.

Thanks for the reply, Brian.

If I bypass the FX track the group is still down:
3dB down (G1 SObypassed SO)
I expect there to be higher levels in ‘Stereo Out’ (and ‘Group 1’ if 'FX 1 ’ is routed there) . What’s puzzling me is why the FX channel in particular (but the group too) is down when it’s supposed to be a straight copy of the signal, as far as I’ve ever understood aux channels.

Is anything active in the mixer strip on that group?

Maybe a compressor limiter or something? Some EQ differences?

No adjustments to the gain-stage strip (doesn’t show by default, can add it with the display options: top-right, ‘rack’, pre…)?

Got me curious now, will have a look when I get a chance to see if it’s the same song here.

Checked it out. It’s level across this project. Group bus meter matches what I have ARIA set for. Stereo Send matches the Group.

It’s using one instance of ARIA (Out 1) > Group (Level Test) > Stereo Mains. Disabled the send to the FX.

What is your meter showing? Post fader levels?

If you route a mono signal to a stereo bus the the level drops in order to the pan law setting…
Since post fader meters show pan information as well…

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The project is deliberately fresh and clean precisely to avoid these considerations. What you see - the send and various output routings - is all there is to see. It would be interesting to know if building the same project from scratch on your system produces the same result as the test project I posted. Then I’ll know if it’s my system or something in Cubase.

I appreciate your time on this, Brian. C

Edit: I think our posts crossed in the post! I’ll digest the latest responses and get back.

Downloading the zip in your OP. That’s your test project, right?

Global Meter Settings are PPM Post-Fader.

Worth knowing. It had occurred to me there might be something pan-wise going on here (3dB is a suspiciously round number, isn’t it) but everything’s mono. But I’m struck by the meters changing from mono to stereo display as the configuration changes. Pan Law is Equal Power. Is that what you guys are using?

I think I’ll try changing it…

Yes, it is.

I notice your test project a couple of posts back was stereo, Brian. Let me build a stereo version here and see what happens.

OK, grabbed it, same thing you get.

It’s mono sample. So yeah, this:

Notice what happens when I send the mono track into a mono group. It matches up there. Then for the stereo bus, Pan Law (Article).

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Aha! This is enlightening. My mono group meter is showing as a double bar, yours is showing as single. But your FX meter, like mine, is showing as double, even though it’s mono. It’s almost as if a mono is being (wrongly?) interpreted as stereo and a 3dB reduction is being applied when perhaps it shouldn’t be.

Very interesting article, still digesting its implications (this may take a while…) and I may have to come back and edit out the word ‘wrongly’.

I’m going to try a few things and report back later this evening…

Yeah, if I pan the allegedly mono FX and Group channels full left and right the levels are bang on and when centred clearly a -3dB pan law is being applied. So much has sunk in (yay!).

But I’m now wondering why my mono FX and Group tracks have the appearance of being stereo when your Group doesn’t. Any chance you could post your test project from that last post so I can see if behaves similarly here?

I think I’m beginning to understand why the meters don’t look as I expect: they’re not supposed to! Whether they show as a single or double bar depends on where they are routed to, not where they are receiving the signal from, as I suppose I must have been assuming for god-knows-how long. This became apparent when I disconnected their outputs.

I hear the sound of pennies dropping…

Right, I’m going to do something else for a bit to let my brain settle down. I’ll come back later and see if it all still makes sense. I’ll let you guys know one way or the other. Cheers for now…

Yep, still makes sense so done and dusted! Thank you so much fellas, it’s an area I didn’t realise I didn’t understand. C :grin: :+1:

(I have to tick a post to flag solved and went for Brian’s last post as it mentions Steffen’s. If that doesn’t feel right let me know and I’ll change it.)

probably the Pan law at your cubase preference(i think its the default setting) is set to -3 db. so when you route a mono track to stereo group/out it sums the R-L in the output of a track differently than if it was routed to mono group/out .
im not in front of cubase now, but i guess your track meters show the output signal of a track, change it to show the input signal and it should be the same level no matter what in your example
also try when the tracks are routed to stereo out, switch the panners to the “combined panner” and put the L and R small panpots in the middle for true mono summing on the track output. and its should be the same level as if it was routed to mono out

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Yes, you can choose between a few different pan law settings.

Project/Project Settings

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I didn’t know that, although I think I always wondered if there was a difference. Thanks!

Pan-Law-wise, I’m on the default Equal Power, which, judging by what I’m seeing, is -3dB, although it doesn’t say and there is a -3dB option as well. Are they the same? Or is Equal Power intelligent? The help is not very helpful. That Samplecraze link is a great article (must be, we’ve had it linked twice now), very informative and I even I’m able to understand it, but it doesn’t say what Cubase is up to exactly with this option (I think I’ll ask Support about that).

The most important thing for me is that I now understand what I’m seeing and know what to do if I want it to behave differently and for that I thank you all. But please carry on the conversation if you have anything to add. I remain all ears…