Using K-Metering System Levels in CB 7 (K-12, K-14) ?

I came across this good (although the background music is annoying) video on using K-Metering System levels (it’s for logic)

He’s mostly talking about using K-14 levels for audio in the box (the theory is that the signals often used are way too hot for plugins, etc). He mentioned that many plugins work much better when they are delivered signals around -18 or -20db.

I’ve gone back to some old mixes and followed his advice and I think it does seem to work better. They do seem less muddy and crappy and more open I think.

I did have the luck of doing some recording with Eric Ratz and Nick Blagona and I was surprised at how low the signals they recorded were, so perhaps this is common knowledge?

Anyone using the K14 levels (or any kind of K Metering System) in Cubase 7.5 ? If so how do you handle metering?

Thanks all

Yes, I “track” (or sound design) at K-14, as well.

It’s been the single most effective practice I’ve adopted in 2013.

For all the reasons Wiltshire mentions.

I maintain K-14 throughout all group channels, final “stem” group channels, and even the 2-buss.

It then gets leveled up and squished in my mastering chain to the desired target. For Beatport competitive tracks, this unfortunately means around DR6 (Dynamic Range -6db RMS from full-scale). :laughing:

But, even in the last mastering stages, as the DR becomes lower (signal hotter) past K-14, I will gain stage it back down to around -18db to -14db before hitting each plugin (if required).

I use both the Waves Dorrough meters (at their “14” setting) and the BX_Meters (Brainworx / Plugin Alliance). I’ve tried just about all the meters and the BX_Meters have the best ballistics for the K-Metering system, imho. The Dorrough 14 is very compatible with K-14 and its ballistics provide a similar, but slightly different “angle” to view from, so to speak.

In Cubase, I create a dummy group channel and put the meters on it. I then position the meters in a permanent place on the screen. Then, when I’m tracking, all I have to do is add a pre-fader Send set to 0.0 and send it to the meters. That way, I can quickly power on/off the metering for any channel, with ease (and they use the same meters on the screen). The pre-fader setting lets me adjust the overall volume without affecting how the inserted compressors, eqs, limiters, etc. shape the signal to the K-14 target.

What’s wrong with the K-metering in Cubase?

I actually think this is something worth looking into. I use Slate VCC on most channels set to -18 db and I make sure that nothing pegs the meters during tracking and mixing, but that’s more about input gain staging.

It’s an interesting subject for sure.

For my tastes, everything. But it’s two-fold, and more about how much I love the Brainworx meters, than dislike the Cubase ones – their action, ballistics, segmentation, the warm-cool color fading thing they do, how they show peak and rms, mid-side, how they show integrated dynamics that “float” in the view.

Also, while I’m sure there is a way to “route” to that control room mixer thing, I have not taken the time to figure it out. :blush:

Is it even possible to “send” an individual channel to them?

The only other metering are the channel meters, which I don’t like, and are also always too short and not detailed enough the way I want to configure the mixer.

Thanks for the info!

For some reason, I seem to have a mental block on something, so please forgive this stupid question. He talks about sending -20db signals to plugins, so would I (before adding any processing to the track) tweak the gain on the track so that the tracks meter peaks only hit -20? Or -18db?

As far as I know, so long as you select Monitor 1 (as opposed to stereo out) in Devices/ Studio, the control room meter comes up by default, which of course you can use regardless of K-metering. Then you just select whichever system you want. K-14 seems popular. Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of alternatives and probably better available, but without going to further expense the K-Meter system is available in Cubase by default.

Is it even possible to “send” an individual channel to them?

No the meters are for main o/p

The only other metering are the channel meters, which I don’t like, and are also always too short and not detailed enough the way I want to configure the mixer.

Yep. I take them with a pinch of salt.

Do a youtube search on “gain staging”. It’s surprising when you meter each channel with a decent meter, other than your standard DAW meters, just how hot they are, yet they sound fine individually.

I think the loudness wars of recent years are beginning to teach us just how different digital recording is to analogue tape recording and how we need to compensate when mixing. If you want loud when mixing then turn your amp up. If you want loud in your master then do it in mastering.

Thanks. Yep I’ve done a bunch of searches and found some good info. It’s just the actual practice that I had a question re: using the gain knob on the track and watching the meter and if the peaks should be hitting -18 or -15 or something.

Thanks, I figured there would be a way to monitor something other than the 2-buss. But, it sounds like it would even in that situation still be post-fader. The pre-fader goodness I’m enjoying by using sends (to my meters) was an ah-ha moment. I can mold to K-14 (by watching the meters) and still have control over how it’s placed in the mix, overall. Perfect. Anyway, thanks for the info!

You’re very welcome. It’s kinda my favorite “thing” right now.

A -20db signal, in the sense he’s talking about is one that conforms both RMS and Peak to roughly what a Dorrough or K-20 Meter would dictate. There’s a surprising amount of details in that, however. So, let’s break it down:

On K-Metering this would be RMS mostly pumping in the “yellow” with sometimes (or never) hitting “red.” Peaks can go as far as they can just short of clipping. The farther the better, as that’s a key part of the dynamic range characteristic of a K-20/14/12.

On Dorroughs it would be RMS mostly pumping into and slightly past the first “yellow zone” into the center of the first “red window.” For Peaks, they should go as high as possible into the Dorrough’s second “red zone.”

Also, it’s important that the RMS minimum should stay above the green into the “healthy” yellow area for most material with adequate spectral content to support this. For very high-transient materials, or high-end materal (like a hi-hat), this won’t happen and that’s fine. In that case, pay more attention to Peak than RMS.