The next installment in our mixing fundamentals series is gain staging. Gain staging is simple. When done correctly it will give you more headroom to work with when mixing and mastering. Our session is loaded up and ready. All sounds are in there place, labeled, color coated and routed to their proper busses in the session. But why do we gain stage? If the original signal of your tracks are to high when you begin to add plugins that increase the gain you will end up with distortion. If they are to low you’ll end up not getting enough signal to your plugins and master buss. Gain staging after recording is as simple as grabbing the gain fader on your audio clips and turning them up or down.
Gain staging is making sure your levels are not hitting the outputs to loud. Using a simple VU meter on your busses will allow you to gain your clips to 0 db vu. Grabbing all audio clips in one move is usually the best way to do this. Keep in mind if you do not have or use a VU meter you can use the meter reading on the channel fader. A good number to shoot for would be around -18 db.
Check out the video below for a step by step walk though on gain staging.