Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rein Those Faders In

I've got a little trick for you today that I sort of stumbled on to. I don't like to admit that it's because I'm slightly lazy that I found this one but that's the case and it's working out so I'm sticking with it. It has to do with the way you set up your gain structure. My laziness has to do with the distance between where my palm rests when standing at the Midas at work and the comfortable spot the faders come to rest when my hands are in position. It's generally somewhere around -5. The faders wind up there and when I sound check the next band I adjust the trims so that they can generally stay parked there. This works out for me for a couple of reasons.

The first is that some of the musicians on stage need rather a lot of level going to their ears and having the trims set a little higher lets me get to where they're happy before I run out of knob on the aux sends. The second reason is that I believe it gives me less noise at the outputs when I mix like this.

Less noise? But aren't you just trading 5dB on the fader for 5dB on the trims. Not necessarily. The faders are acting as pads when they're below unity, they only actively add gain to the path when you push them above that. You can check it out on your own mix and see (although results may vary). Next time you've got a clean setup set the trims on a couple dozen channels to unity and then push all the faders up to unity. Now grab something straight and push all those faders up to +5. Hear that hiss? That's what I'm talking about.

So holding back a little on each fader not only gives me a little bit quieter mix, it means that I've got that much more fader left if something does really need to get boosted. Face it, if all your channels are above unity there's not that many dB left before you run out of track.

So there you have it Brethren on the Knob and Fader. I'm going ahead and floating this one out there without empirically testing it. I'm hoping to hear from some of you with results of your own and we'll see if this actually holds up or if it's just some audio hogwash (like so much of the stuff that passes for wisdom on the boards). Let me know.

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