My stereo out is clipping even though all channels playing at -10dbfs!


I have a project that I am re-mixing, I have removed all inserts, plug-ins, sends, mixer EQ, muted all automation. I adjusted the pre-gains on each track using the dbfs meters after playback, so now each individual track shows a peak of -10dbfs… so why is my stereo out peaking at 4dbfs?!

I thought I may have done something odd so exported all audio and inserted it into a blank project, still all tracks peak at -10dbfs and the stereo out clips at 4dbfs.

I am using Cubase Pro 11 with Asio4All on a Behringer interface.

Any ideas?


Because you mix multiple tracks together.


Yes but I have gain staged each individual track using the peak dbfs meter after playback and adjusted the pre-gain so each track does not exceed -10dbfs. This shouldn’t peak the master bus… but it’s peaking at over 4dbfs.

What else could be causing the clipping?

Why do you think that? It highly depends on the signals…
Two signals with the same content would double the level.

How many tracks are you adding to the master?

You could Mute the entire Mix & then add back Tracks individually or in sections to sort out what is contributing to the overload.


You could try routing everything to a pre-master where you could pull the fader down before sending to the master channel.

There’s probably a better way … Can’t wait to read it soon!

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Or just reduce the pre-gain of the master bus. :smiley:

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Hi all,

I have around 25 audio tracks going to the stereo out.

What level would you say the master should be at to leave comfortable head room to master? It’s hovering around -1dbfs seems high to me, then peaks at the crescendo to +4dbfs.

My tutor has been an engineer for 40 years and assured me the master can not peak if all tracks are at -10DBFs (unless it’s a particularly huge project) and advised there may be a double routing somewhere… but I can’t find it.

Any ideas? Tried muting each track and even with just a few vocals it still clips… something is not right.

Have you checked that you didn’t accidentally bump up your clip gain on a bunch of tracks?

Are you sure that this is what your mentor told you to do? I guess he asked you to put the pre-gain of each channel to -10dBFS, not to adjust the pre-gain so the level of each track is at -10 dBFS peak.

He said to use the pre gain to ensure the dbfs of each track peaks at no more than -10DBFs… I.e if it peaks at 0dbfs after playback, reduce pre gain by -10 so on next playback it peaks at -10DBFs … and that this would level the mix off before starting to mix :+1: mines still peaking on the master bus though.

I did adjust clip gain on the audio in the grid… is there a way to reset it?

Hold “Ctrl” and click with the mouse on it.

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Well, he means you shall reduce the pre-gain of channels that are too loud so they do not have a level of more than -10 dBFS. But this does not mean you shall increase the pre-gain of the other channels so they will have -10 dBFS peak, too.

-10 is too loud, you should be shooting for-18. You’re working in digital not analog.

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Thank you guys :heart:

I’ll take the clip gain off and if it doesn’t do it I will take the peaks down to -18dbfs.

Thanks again.

I think there is no general rule to use -10, -18 or any other dBFS value. It depends on the content of the tracks.
If you have a project where each track is close to clipping and all the tracks carry max. signal in the same timeframe, even -18 dBFS could be too little. If you have recorded a hand full of instruments or vocals and the recording is relatively quite, there might not be the need to turn down the pre-gain at all.
Goal of the gain staging is to leave enough headroom on your master bus so you will not clip during mixing.

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I can recommend this video from Dom Sigalas to you where he talks about gain staging and shows the different kind of gain adjustments that you can do and what makes sense at which stage in your process.


His goal is to mix the project, so what he’s trying to do is set all the tracks dry so he has the headroom to work with plugins and such. That’s why starting around -18 gives you that headroom. It’s digital doesn’t matter if it’s -24 or -10, it’s going to sound the same. What does matter is not having to adjust the faders so dramatically when it comes time to balance the mix otherwise stuff starts getting whacked out when you’re adding compression and everything.

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