Pre-gain is set to -18dB. Is that Normal?

Hi all lovely people!

To set the gain levels in my mix so that they don’t clip and the mastering engineer would have enough headroom, I have set down the pre-gain to -18dB for almost all of the tracks to get reasonable levels (excluding the FX and group tracks!). First of all IS THAT NORMAL or I am just doing something crazy to get the desired levels?

Now in my post-panner meter (post-fader) for example on kick and vocals I am reading around -12dB and -15dB at peak levels but when I change the global meter settings to “input” I can see that the reading changes to -1dB for kick and -3dB for vocals. which meter reading do I have to follow to give enough headroom for mastering?

On my master channel I am getting true peak of around -6dB and the integrated LUFS goes around -21.8.

Apologies if this question is immature considering your expertise levels but I will be greatful if you could let me know if I am doing something terribly wrong here in my approach.

Many thanks,


30 views to my post but no replies yet :frowning:

The -18db Gain thing is good practice when you are working with analog signals, inputs in your DAW. It’s basically the difference between working on older outboard gear and this is to achieve the “correct” signal for said gear. Outboard and analog gear react to input levels differently so the-18db is the “Offset” between a digital and analog gain. Digital signals don’t necessarily need this if you’re itb but only to even the signal with analog on other tracks.

So basically you don’t really need to unless you have analog processing or analog tracks.
I’m sure someone can explain this better than I have.

also, if you need a reply you’re better off doing some research in the meantime. Sitting on a user forum waiting for answers is really non practical. :nerd:

If your taking the tracks to a ML, remember that they will have Cubase to load your program into and adjust all your tracks if they need to. Just include your Project. This costs a more than a ML mixing your Stereo Mix but also covers your butt.

If you’re trying to mix your project yourself and want the ML to just deal with your Stereo Mix, well, then build your mix and hope that the ML can adjust with EQ and various outboard gear that you can’t afford. But if you do it this way, make sure your mixes are adjusted similarly, volume-wise and points of interest.

As to clipping, this is your enemy. You do not want this happening with your tracks. Best of luck. A typical multi track mix in my town on PT, 10 songs over a day and a half will run you about $1000 with you attending. Jack Pot Studios with Larry Crane, the editor of Tape Op mag. I’ve seen this guy save some serious doodoo: he’s brilliant.