Dorico vs VEP Mixer Levels Not Consistent

I have a Dorico project where I’m using VEP. I decided to compare the LUFS output of the VEP and Dorico mixers and it appears that Dorico is adding 3.5 LU gain compared with the VEP output during live playback. If I export audio from Dorico and analyse the file I get a 6 LU drop compared to the Dorico live playback.

To confirm this I used the VSL Loudness Meter Pro and the Youlean Pro Meter at the last position of the signal chain in both mixers. For the exported Dorico audio, Youlean Pro is able to import and analyse the audio offline.

I’m using an RME BabyFace Pro with TotalMix software but the latter is set to DAW mode so nothing is added in the signal chain.

Any ideas for the different LU levels from Dorico in both live playback and exported audio? I’m on an iMac running Mojave.

You probably checked this, but just in case:

Are any sends active on Dorico’s mixer, which would send a signal to the FX channel? If so disable those, or mute the FX channel and check again.

Actually there was a send on the Dorico Click and the Stereo 1/2 return from VEP. They were going to Fx Reverb but this reverb was disabled. I removed the sends and did another check with both loudness meters and this time Dorico was 6dB down from the VEP mixer output. The good news is that the Dorico playback and the audio export are now the same. The drop of 6dB compared with the VEP mixer output is still a puzzle.

Dorico gain is a puzzle to me. For some reason the mixer always starts with the sliders at about the halfway mark, or just above. So the output is always too soft, I have to push them up, but there isn’t a double tap motion or anything to zero them, so it has to be done manually.

It won’t zero, but rather it will snap to the default half-way mark.
Try holding ctrl and clicking the fader.
I say control, I’m on Windows…if on a Mac use whatever the equivalent key would be.

I too wish Dorico had a gain-staging section for the mixer, but since it doesn’t I do this through the VSTi plugins themselves.

I want the level under each fader to ‘peak’ approximately where the fader itself is set.

  1. Keep the Dorico Mixer’s faders at the default 50%.

  2. Open the plugin instances, with the precise instruments I’m intending to use in the score, and stage the gain of each instrument with a single note at full controller volume/velocity so it’s in the ball park, peaking at around the 50% mark in the Dorico Mixer as the meter bounces. For instruments that play alot of notes at once (piano for instance), I might gain stage with a chord or something instead of a single note…just depends.

I find this tends to give me plenty of headroom in ‘both directions’ to get a nice mix from there with Dorico’s faders.

  1. Tweak the mix using the faders.

  2. When rendering an audio file directly from Dorico: If I require a hotter signal coming off the mains than I can get by simply pushing the Master Fader up, and a project has a lot of channels to deal with, sometimes rather than tweaking all those faders I’ll just use Maximizer or an alternative chain of Dynamic Compression inserts (pretty rare I ‘need’ this) to shape up the sort of ‘master levels’ I’m out to achieve. Or, just normalize and apply ‘light compression’ to the exported file in another app (Wavelab, Audacity, Nero, MediaMonkey, whatever).

Sounds like a lot of work to gain-stage from inside the respective plugins, but to make it easier for future projects I take advantage of Dorico Instrument Templates, combined with plugin presets, savable globals, etc. in my plugins.

On my system, the Dorico signal comes in plenty hot over the Delta 1010 interface! For most plugins I’m more apt to be gain staging ‘downward’ than driving up volumes.

Yes, this makes sense. While the reverb insert may have been disabled, a dry signal would still pass through the FX bus. One would need to mute the FX fader, or disconnect the send (or lower the send levels as low as they’ll go) at every instrument that uses it.

Disabling an insert in the rack is more like ‘by passing’ it. The signal still flows down the chain.

That’s useful thanks. Really puzzled why 50% on the faders is the default. It’s convenient to render in Dorico and this is an unnecessary problem AFAIK.

I have no idea why they decided to do it that way. I suppose it’d be nice if they also had a key-combo to quickly zero the faders as well. Perhaps an option somewhere in the playback options to user-define the global mixer fader defaults. Meanwhile, I guess it is what it is.

I’d been finding mixes way too hot to blend to my tastes, so I just gave the gain-staging scenario described above a try and it has helped me get things under control. Since the faders do default at 50%, I decided to roughly eyeball a gain-stage peak of 50% using the typical number of tones/voices for such an instrument across instruments in my templates. It might well be the ‘wrong’ way to do it, but it’s worked well for me (use Dorico more for composing than rendering), and helped me get mixes under control.

When running with the defaults I never could find much space in the mix to establish a sensible ‘presence’ or placement for each instrument or section…it was all just way too loud/powerful. Once I get it rouged in as described, I usually have plenty of room in either direction to get everything to fit in a mix well with Dorico’s faders.