"Gain effect" insert in Dorico mixer?

In order to balance the volumes of different voices and techniques in my plugin (in casu Eric Whitacre choir) I had to seriously reduce the CC11 (volume) of most of them in the expression maps. For the natural alto I could keep the default value of CC11 = 127 but other voices/techniques I had to reduce down even till CC11 = 20 for some.

If I wouldn’t do that then the playback would be a real disaster.

After doing so I achieved the following result with all faders to maximum:

All voices and techniques are pretty well balanced now, but as you can see the volume levels are now in the lower end, not in a comfortable mixing area.

If I could insert a simple gain effect (like in Logic Pro) on each input I could amplify each track so the audio signals would all come in a comfortable mixing zone.

In the Steinberg effects in the category “Dynamics”…

… I only find the Maximer being useful, but it has its limitations.

Any advice on how to approach this low-volume-level problem?

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Does the Eric Whitacre Choir VST have an output volume control? If so and if it’s not already at maximum level, that’s probably the easiest way to increase the volume.

There are also a couple of free third-party plugins you could use to increase the gain level. For example, the Gain snapin from Kilohearts Essentials or Blue Cat’s Gain Suite.

If you prefer using stock plugins coming with Dorico, the Frequency equalizer might be an alternative. Just increase the gain with the Output fader and ignore the EQ filters.

Thanks @Martin90 for your advice.

Indeed the Steinberg EQ is a better option than the Maximizer. Combined with setting the volume to max in the EW plugin itself the resulting signal comes in a very comfortable dB zone.

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I’ll have to try adjusting the expression maps on the EW Choir playback template as well - it has driven me crazy when using it previously that the volume differences are so great, especially when switching from legato to non-legato on the same patch.

Sounds like EQ will do the trick, but also as a general note, you could add a compressor, turn the ratio to 1:0 (so it doesn’t compress at all), and use the makeup gain as an output volume boost.

I don’t know if also other plugins display this kind of (serious) volume imbalance between different techniques and instruments, but if so, it would be nice if the Dorico team could introduce an “audio gain” value on the base technique settings in the expression map (a value independent of the other two volume-related settings which are midi related).

If that were available then it would be a one time job to use the expression maps to fully balance all instruments/techniques, and the Dorico audio mixer could be used just for project specific adjustments.

Does this idea make any sense @dspreadbury or do I overlook certain complications?

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In principle I suppose it seems a reasonable enough idea, but the complication is that actually applying that value would be complicated, because it would require us to make changes in the audio signal chain rather than in the MIDI data, which is really what expression maps are intended to work with. Depending on the audio configuration, it might be very difficult or impractical to achieve this.

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@dspreadbury I understand this complication. I can achieve my goals with the current expression map features.

For my information, does reducing the VST volume by means of a CC and then amplifying it again in the mixer ( let’s say a zero-operation) impact the audio-quality? (data-loss? noise increase?)

I can’t imagine how sound quality could be impacted by this operation.