I am one of those who was taught long ago to set up an input channel (for live mixing) to maximise gain, then mix with faders regardless of any thought for unity gain. I subsequently learnt the ‘unity gain’ approach, but I’ve always had a slight problem with it - I like to see a visual representation of the volume differences within a mix (eg, on the board).
Kinda of like conducting an orchestra, you see all the different parts on the score and you can see where parts work together at different volumes to compliment each other. Unity gain approach minimizes these visual differences, where as the ‘max gain’ idea will clearly show that a lead singer’s volume is higher than a backup singer, even if it means the mixing board looks like a Picasso painting. I kinda like that - the visual aspect, even though I understand the benefits of unity gain.
So, a couple of questions - How relevant is ‘unity gain’ in with a modern digital mixer and DAW? I understand UG from an analogue perspective, but how does it translate to the digital realm?
When I record/create at home, one track at a time usually, there is no immediate reference of overall volume between parts, so I record with decent amount of input, allowing for headroom. Still, it’s only when a number of parts come together that I can ‘mix’ them - but the gain stage essentially has already been set. meaning the ‘mixing’ occurs either all by channel faders, or by reducing the gain on the wav file.
What is a better way to approach this?
I saw a guy using Pro Tools and he did something on a track wav form that I’m not aware of in Cubase. He clicked on a track wav and simply dragged it down to reduce its ‘gain’. (A quicker way of how in CB you can process the gain in the Audio tab). Thus he could then move a fader up closer to unity gain and have the same output. Is this a good thing to be doing or not?
I guess another question is - how much does processing the wav deteriorate the track (eg move the gain up or down 1/2 dozen times)? In analogue it’d be a mess, but in a digital environment - I dunno!