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  1. #1

    "Proper" gain settings question

    Appreciate whatever advice/help I receive.

    I've just started learning and working with a mixer so I'm still learning some of the ins & outs of it. One question I've had is what's the proper level for fixing gain? I've read that you want to fix the gain as high as possible without getting feedback. But for my situation, depending on the instrument/vocal, I need some people to be quieter than others while comparatively, my lead vocal would always be the loudest sounding.

    So within this kind of setting, how do I "properly" adjust the gains while maintaining the proper balance of sound that I need?


    ~thanks~~!

  2. #2
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Don't confuse input gain with output level. "Gain" on mixing desks usually refers to the level of the signal as it comes into a particular channel. The idea is to set this as high as safely possible, making sure it never goes too high and causes distortion. Once your input gain is set, you then use the channel's fader to control the output level. It's the output level (volume) that determines how loud a channel is compared to the overall mix.

    Input gain usually doesn't change much or at all once you've set it (unless there's a problem such as distortion or low signal-to-noise ratio). The output level is what you change as you go.

    Make sure you have a look through our mixer tutorial if you haven't already.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  3. #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    Yup, I've read over the tutorial already. Mmm, in response to that though, aren't faders "supposed" to be optimally set at 0db? The guy who taught me basically said exactly that. Again, within this context of setting different sounds/voices at different volumes.

  4. #4
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    That's the ideal situation but not a real-world one IMO. Actually the guy who first taught me insisted that all faders should be "all the way up". However pretty much everyone else I've worked with sees it a bit differently. The general feeling is that the faders will naturally be somewhere in the vicinity of 0dB, and if they're much higher or lower there might be something amiss, but to expect them all to be always at 0dB isn't realistic or even desirable.

    I believe that setting the faders to zero and then having to work backwards to get the level right is completely backwards. IMO you should have the input gain set at the optimum level so you're working with the best signal-to-noise ratio as the signal travels through the channel, then the fader should be adjusted to whatever level you need to get the volume right. When you think about it, that's how mixers are designed - the input gain is a small knob in the most difficult-to-reach part of the channel, whereas the fader is a nice big easy-to-adjust control right where your hands are resting.

    Have a look at some videos of people using sound desks - the faders are generally up around the 0dB mark but seldom all uniformly right on it. When producers adjust the volume you can see them move the faders. When you see an automated desk doing its thing, it's the faders that move.

    So that's my approach. If anyone has a good argument that contradicts this I'd be happy to consider it.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

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