Gain Stage multiple tracks simultaneously?

Is it possible to Gain Stage multiple tracks simultaneously? e.g.

Under what circumstances would you want to do this? What are you trying to accomplish?

Typically different Tracks will have different sounds on them, at a variety of levels, and different insert effects so each audio path is unique. Therefore you’d need your gain staging to be unique for each Track.

The question strikes me a bit like asking if you can simultaneously drive to New York and LA.

And… can you?

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Well I can, but most folks cannot.

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Hi, the reason I’m asking is; for the past few days I’ve been watching a live seminar being held by a group called Mastering dot com … they hold these webinars occasionally and call them “Fix the Mix” and spend a few hours for 3 days demonstrating their approach to doing a mix, while trying to recruit students . Out of curiosity I attended this most recent one . One of the emphasized approaches to their method, was to 1st , pre gain stage all your tracks to the exact same DB as a starting point. In their session they stated, -10 to -20 . They were using Logic as a DAW. and opposed to setting each track individually, they were able to *with Logic, select all tracks and pre gain stage the entire project to a specified value . -20 db in this demo . I wanted to try this in Cubase, to determine if there was an advantage to approaching my mix using this method . however, it is tedious to go into each track and set the pre gain so they’re all identical . this is the reason for the question

Not exactly what you are looking for, but an approximative way to do this is to use (as ‘regular’ tracks linking doesn’t allow the linking of the ‘Pre’ section), in the MixConsole, the Quick Link function :

  1. Select the involved tracks
  2. Activate the Quick Link button in the MixConsole toolbar.

  1. Set the Gain as wanted on one track : the other follows, but only in a relative way, which means that adding +2 dB to one will add +2dB to each of the others, no matter the Gain value already set for it. It behaves the same way when trying to use the <ctrl + click> function to bring a Gain value to 0 or entering it with the keyboard).
  2. Unactivate the Quick link button.

Maybe it could help, though…

If you set this up once on a bunch of Tracks and save that as a Template you can use that as a starting point for future Projects.

that’s a good idea . thanks! . I also went back and reviewed the video of how they did it in Logic . missed it the first time . they selected all tracks and did a global Normalize . I attempted this with one project in Cubase, however I think it crashed because the tracks were too long and many. I need to try with a smaller project. still don’t know if it’s possible. I’m not a big fan of Cubase Normalize as it appears too black box, e,g. seems to be timing out in the process and I’ve yet to observe a visible change in size of the wave form. anyway, thanks again!

Standard peak level normalizing is pretty much useless for gain staging, as it only considers the highest sample value in the whole audio (this is why you can sometimes see no change in the waveform). You might have better luck with loudness normalization, but you need to be a bit more careful especially with highly dynamic material, as it might exceed 0dBFS.
Personally, I just use good old pre-gain for gain staging, as that works on audio as well as instrument tracks. Sometimes with a help of a VU meter, but over time you get a feel for it and can get in a good spot by just looking at the channel meters.
You could also try Hornet’s VUmeter plugin (less than 3€), which can can do automatic gain staging either to VU or peak (whichever comes first, which is the smarter way to do it). Slap it on every channel (with Quicklink), hit auto, play the loudest part of the project, and you’re done. Not perfect, but quite good.

Same here.

I only normalize as a corrective when the source material is unusually low.

Ok, well obviously I’m a little confused . so I just reviewed the webinar demo that got me here in the first place . this engineer demonstrating global gain staging, he had 65 tracks and started off doing them individually and stated he was gonna show a trick. He selected all the tracks, opened up a Peak Region Normalize process, set it to -20 db, and one click later, all tracks adjusted up or down “to” -20 db. So, Fese, I hear what you’re saying about normalizing to the highest peak, and in the Cubase Normalize Process it does allow you to set your target db . what am I missing here? thanks again everybody for your input!

I think one caveat here is that normalizing peak levels doesn’t do you any good as far as actual perceived loudness goes. Peak to loudness ratio can be very different comparing for example cowbell to electric bass. So normalizing the two to peak is to some questionable.

The other caveat is whether or not you have very different levels on a track, i.e. different events have very different levels. If you don’t, then instead of doing it this way you can just grab the faders and set your levels that way. And if you want it pre-inserts you can do the same by just setting your input trim level. Doing it for each track makes sense if you want to get a basic level between the tracks that is a good first balance between instruments. After all, the goal with a mix isn’t to have everything be equal.

Ahh, I see the source of confusion. In Cubase Normalization is applied to Audio Events and not Tracks. Try Selecting all the Audio Events and Normalize them.

That said I’m highly skeptical of ‘one size fits all’ audio processing in most normal circumstances. It’s really easy in audio engineering to do stuff because it seems like what you should do instead of having a good reason to do something.

hey guys, raino, mattiasNYC >>> I see and agree with both your points . that being said, I believe the intent of this group (mastering dot com) with this approach is to initially ensure (i.e. set a benchmark) that guarantees enough headroom for each track to accommodate adjusting mix volume and any processing plug-ins without getting into a clipping, or nearly maxed out situation . I see them as trying to promote an air of caution from this perspective. they are attempting to teach people how to mix . I dropped in on their webinar out of curiosity as they hit me up with emails inviting me . e.g. I’ve gone in really hot on some tracks and before I ever got where I wanted, I was peaked out on my plugins trying to get the affect I wanted . so, from that bozo perspective, I understand their conceptual approach. Then again, I agree with Raino, "skeptical of one size fits all " . Back to square one, I’d like to examine their approach with one of my projects, as I’ve never done it this way before . and was hoping Cubase had a quickie set up to do this . I’ll try again . if all else fails, I’ll do the one track at a time jst to test their approach . thanks again! tg