gain staging

i have a project where my output fader is up to +12 db in the red. Is this not acceptable?
I route all my tracks first to an "all’ group, could I just bring that group down 12 db to keep the master at bay?

The fader is in the red, or the level meter?

The clipping indicator at the bottom of the master fader

Then depending on your signal path, you should turn down the „all“ group fader, or the master fader itself, or the output of the (2nd) last postfader insert plugin on the master fader.

Get all the levels down (of the orginal channels). There is no need to have the tracks “hot” in the digital domain.

Cheers, Ernst

Or adjust levels in the pre section of the channel racks?

Yes, ideally bring down the levels of all the channels but with some signal routings I know this is not always as straight forward as it might be.

In this instance, as svennilenni has suggested, turning down your “All” group fader will be fine as long as none of the channels or groups before that stage have clipped.

This may work but depends on what is going on plugin wise. If there is compression for instance it will be affected by reducing the gain that is feeding it. Some other plugins also respond differently depending on signal level.

There is also distortion in the digital domain resulting from too low levels, but worse than analog, these can be signal dependent, and not random noise, so there is no need to have too Low levels either (for recording especially).

If this HELPS .:
a simple gain staging workflow that works super.
1 – After playing you song from left to right (start to finish) look at the meter levels in the mixer windows ( I have the meter bridge on at this stage as a quick guide to what’s happening om all tracks at a glance).check for hottest levels eg. I use a nominal -18DbU as my chnl level (third party vst modelled antilog stuff has supposed sweet spot of -18 dBu so this is why I chose -18 however this is only assuming you use such plug ins
2 once you have established which tracks are toooooo loud and or not loud enough return to the arrange window and open the fader view on the inspector (for visual aid -per channel) then raise or lower the clip via the clip gain handle (in The clip ) until you reach the nominal peak (-18 per say) remember the levels are peak and remember that a culmative of audio at a given time will hit the mater bus as a sum of that peak (yawn I know its heavy but needs to be said)
3 all faders are in the “ZERO” state and your chanel levels should be ± 18db
now you can start panning then use your gain knob to adjust the not so hot track if needed
4. I usualy start the next phase with the lead part ie vocals to set a mix level whih room for automation (fader riding up a db or two if needed) thus starting of a fader level of -3 to -6 db.
5 after this I then use the proven method of lef to right ie drums (kick first ) basses - keys/pads-guits-vox- (but that is to genre and taste etc)

6when you have a static level mix ie levels and pan move on to eq IMPORTANT remember eq boost and cut WILL ALLWAYS CHANGE VOLUME so check levels constantly while eq-ing
I hope this works or is of some help for you
I do not whish to over state the obvious or in no way insult your intelligence by posting this I just feel that you are doing something wrong in the most critical part of the mix process there are oodles of threads on this subject on you tube and on this forum .
good luck to you . if I can help further on this pls pm me I will gladly sit with you until you have it down.

It’s easier to change the pre-gain on the master channel. It is not obvious where to do the changes on a project that get close to finish. Change the channels will also effect buses. If there is non-linear plugs like compressors or distortion it will need to be redone. However if you do the pre-gain on the master channel you only need to redo the effects on the master. Unfortunately pre-gain can not be mapped to a hardware controller with generic remote. :angry:

Or even less complicated: turn down the master fader - nothing to adjust if no postfader inserts are used…
Wait - someone wrote that before… :open_mouth:

Or post fader sends or NLS or any other plugins that cross talk.

If my master bus is too hot I just stick the 10 band EQ stock plugin on it and turn the gain knob down. I’ve never had any issues using that method. I use this method for a lot of channels with gain staging as it allows me to control the gain independently of the fader, which is especially useful if the track has any volume automation

Ok, I admit: My advice was targeted at the recording stage… many beginners record way too hot - and worry about things they did have to worry about when they used analogue mixers.

Yes, of course this is so true…used to be something I suffered from (as a renegade from the analog years)!