View Full Version : Peak or not to Peak

04-13-2016, 05:30 PM
Hey everyone,

I often hear that tracks shouldn't peak above 0dB even if we aren't clipping. Lately i saw that video,


and notice that most of his track were peaking above 0dB easely like for example the bass track which goes almost up to +8dB..!

Then i was scrolling trough the commenct and catch this :

Deep House said :

Really nice tutorial. would be also nice to get an insight into the `not bypassed` mastering section and why you crank up the volumes on the channels deep into red above 0 dB.

Propellerhead (aka Ryan, the author of the tutorial) said :

+Deep House Both good questions. As to my basic mastering section - which is on this track. I use the Ozone Maximizer to hard limit the output and the Master Bus Compressor to "glue" things together. Usually that's all I do. I'm a big proponent of the school of thought that says "Mastering makes things louder, not better. If your mix isn't working, mastering won't help it." Occasionally I'll add very subtle top end enhancement with the McDSP E670. The knob moves just a dB or two at the most on the top end, though.

As to your other question - why some faders are up high. There's two reasons - one is because I was mixing and producing on the fly when I made this so the gain structure is a little cookoo birds from a classic text-book perfect standpoint. But that leads to point #2: It's this way because it can be. Reason has a 32bit channel audio signal processing and a 64bit master bus signal. Mind you, I'm not talking about 32bit processing architecture. I'm saying the audio that's passing through the channels is like 48k/32bit audio (if you work at 48k like I do in your sound card). All you really need to know about that to answer this question is that it means that each reason channel has tons of headroom above 0db. The thing that doesn't have headroom is the output file. THAT needs to be at or below 0dB, which I make sure of via the Ozone Maximizer. The channel signals can exceed 0dB as long as it's all summing and leaving your master section at the right level. Make sense?

Incidentally, that's also why I said in the video that if your upward compression clip adjustment exceeds the clip "ceiling" then it's still not the end of the world. Thanks for the question. /ryan

Giles Reaves (another user respond on top of that) said :

+Deep House Can I also jump in and clarify that none of the channels in this video are actually exceeding 0 dBFS (clipping point). This is because the default channel meters have what is called a "VU OFFSET" built into them, meaning that like an analog tape machine, 0 dB on the channel is NOT equal to the clipping point - there's some headroom built into the meters in both cases. This one "feature" seems to cause much confusion, with regular comments asking why the channels are clipping, when in fact they are nowhere near clipping!

So while Ryan's answer is also 100% correct, it's important to understand exactly what we're seeing here. In short, "red" does NOT mean "bad" in this case (thought it's extremely non-standard IMO), and 0 dB does NOT mean "0 dBFS (clipping)". It's all relative, and FWIW I've suggested more than a few times that the VU Offset feature defaults to OFF to avoid this recurring confusion! :)

Personally i'm not a very technical guy, my strenghts are production and creativity but i just try and kinda forced to learn things about mixing and mastering since i'm working alone on my projects. So their 48k/32bit audio and 64bit stuff i honestly didn't get it or understand what it have to do with peak and clipping.

So from what i'm usually used to hear about this subject and their answer, is very contradictory and brings some confusion into my mind. With simpler words what they try to say exactly ? and why this person has to push his tracks all over 0dB ? Is there any purpose by doing this ?


04-15-2016, 09:17 PM
There frankly is no purpose behind straight lazynes actually.. and even then. Leaving headroom in single channels is more if a standard grown out if the analog domain (were in the contruary, clipping might sound pleasing).

Matter of the fact still is (especially since your not that techincal or even want to dive into the matter is; if it sound good, it is, if it doesnt it us not.

Same goes for the whole clipping thing.

A simple fact to ponder about: why do you think the small distortion unit still exists in reason? :p

But, if you want to maje sure, just dont clip and start with proper gain staging right of the bat.

04-16-2016, 04:20 PM

When mixing you have to think of it as how all your tracks are living together equally in volume, this includes perceived volume. Only when they are can you gain full control of the mix.

When you think about this it really does not matter what level you choose to go with, really it does not matter and the reason I say this is because it is art. Maybe you want to mix supper low, maybe you want to mix mellow, harsh, distorted...ect The point here is
you can choose the over all static level of your mix. Ok so you have done this, now you have to make all those tracks living together in the stereo field and arrange them how you want them to be in the frequency world they live in.

When thinking about the fundamentals of mixing audio all we are doing is learning how a mixer works, effects work and training our ears to hear the frequencies that's it.

So as Ryan says "I was mixing and producing on the fly when I made this so the gain structure is a little cookoo birds from a classic text-book perfect standpoint.".
You need to realize he has the fundamentals. Another point is that in this tutorial video it is more of a production topic video and not a mix topic video.

We all must learn the fundamentals so we have logical understanding of the environment our art lives in.

04-16-2016, 10:09 PM
Thanks for the insight of both of you :)