Welcome to my audio-blog!
Here I'll post shootouts, some personal audio-research and more. Studio-related stuff mostly.

Monday, June 20, 2016

DAW gain-staging

From time to time newbies and more advanced users are confused and ask about gain-structure for mixing ITB (In The Box). Here I'll walk through the subject, first the short version, then looking a little deeper. I'll use Reaper as my example, but most points are valid across the board of DAWs


Mixing ITB vs mixing on an analog desk has similarities, yet there are different princippels for each. Thus, you should not confuse one with the other.

Recording/ tracking

When recording audio into your DAW, make sure you're never above 0dbfs on your AD-converters. In the 24-bit converter world, getting a too low input level is less an issue, so as long as you above let's say -35dbfs you're ok.
Practically speaking I recommend:
  • Peak-levels: Between -30 to -6dbfs
  • Rms-levels: Between -35 to -12dbfs
Aiming for -18dbfs rms is a good practice.


Reaper uses 64bit floating point as default for internal processing. This means practically unlimited headroom. So technically speaking, using plugins that handles this (like ReaEq), anywhere between -100dbfs to +100dbfs is valid.
Practically, this is not recommended for 2 reasons
  • Metering, faders -range: Metering, knobs, faders and other visual aspects are made for typically -30 to 0dbfs usage.
  • Saturation and plugin-clipping: Some plugins are made for a specific sweetspot, much like analog gear. And some will clip above a certain point.
    • -18dbfs rms is the sort of modern industry-standard
    • Some plugins have a higher sweet-spot. Variety Of Sound-plugins comes to mind
    • And some are configurable for gain of your choice.
Advice: Aim for a gain-flow around -18dbfs rms
(unless specific other needs)

Master-bus/ rendering

Although Reapers internal gain-structure may go far above 0dbfs, this is not the case when leaving the master-bus (or any hardware output). This is about:
  • DA-converters for you monitoring
  • Rendered output when mixing down your song for an wav/mp3 or similar
I'll not dwelve into mastering here, just  recommend:
  • Make sure you're levels are below -0,5dbfs peak on the master output
  • It's often wise to have a limiter as last fx on you master-channel (eg.  MGA JS Limiter). But, be aware if it's actually  limiting the audio or not. Ceiling -1,2 to -0,5dbfs.
  • You can use your limiter threshold to adjust your monitoring-levels.

Looking a little deeper

RMS vs. peak

So, what is rms dbfs vs peak dbfs?
RMS: Is an average value over a set time-frame. We often use 300ms. RMS is often similar to analog VU db.
Peak: Is an absolute value of the highest point of your wave-form.
ISP: Note that a signal may have a peak-value below 0dbfs, yet have an ISP (Inter sample peak) above 0dbfs.

Gain and faders

So, where do you set your faders?
Well, if your recorded audio is about -18dbfs rms, then starting out with faders at 0db for tracks and buses is a good idea. Then, lower the ones that needs to be quieter in the mix.
This will result in a level on masterbus that's maybe somewhere around -12dbfs rms to -6dbfs peak.
Now, adjust the threshold of your master-fx limiter to -3 to -6db, and things should be stellar.

But what if your recorded audio is everywhere but -18dbfs rms?
Well, there are different solutions:
  • Use pre-fx volume envelope/knob
  • Use a gain-plugin (anything with a volume-knob will do)
  • Use a sophisticated gain-plugin, like TBProAudio AB_LM vst
  • Normalize audio (Action > "Normalize item")
  • Or, don't care that much.

Myself I tend to go with a mix between aiming for -18dbfs rms for recording, and don't care that much when mixing. But, I'm considering changing to a -18dbfs rms mix gain workflow with pre-fx vol or something like TBProAudio AB_LM :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My mix position acoustics

I have a home-studio. And I knew my mix-position has less then ideal acoustics.
But, I wanted to know better, to have a closer look at how things are.

That means testing and measuring.


I'm experiencing poor bass-definition, and bass-boosts. It's hard to use monitors for eq-decissions, relying much on headphones.
I've treated main reflection-points, and one corner with 30mm high density Rockwool. Though it helped a lot, I'm eager to see some more detailed analysis.

I used

- REW, Room EQ Wizard (software)
- Cad 179 (mic)
- A spl-meter (from Clas Ohlson)

My speakers are: Krk Rokit 5 G1
and I used my Mackie vlz3 (preamp and monitor-controller) and Rme Hdsp audio interface

My setup for measuring on my listening position.
Back wall and corner


I measured my mix-position, left speaker, right speaker, left + right,
and 4 other positions, typical for second person listening, or moving around a little.


All graphs have 1/6octave-smoothing

Left, and right speaker.

My mix-position (L+R) with avearge of room-positions.
Waterfall diagram for main position. 30-300hz, 1000ms


  • The measurements clearly show the trouble I'm experiencing in the bass-area.
    • 59hz +7db
    • 96-101hz is +12db
    • 271-300hz, 560hz, 782hz and 1,1khz  -5db
    • 383-487hz +4db
  • And left speaker is very poorly placed in the corner compared with right speaker. 
  • Then sustained frequencies ringing for more than 1000ms for 41 and 50hz; 83hz maybe more relevant.


My setup, monitors, room and acoustic treatment is poor, and it's hard to use it for mixing. I'll be relying much on my headphones for eq decisions still.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

DIY acoustic panels

This time I'll show you some acoustic panels I've made.
The various panels makes a sort of DIY vocal-boot, for my modest home studio.

But first:
Sound-clips talks, bullshit walks

Room without treatment:

and, with acoustic panels:

The pros of doing it like this are:
1) It's rather cheap
2) It's removable. Setup/down-time is like 10min. So ideal for a multi-function room.
3) Works quite well

So, here are some pictures

This is the room with no treatment.
Low ceiling (189cm), wood panels
and large corners for bass buildup.
Me doing the audio-clips

Fold-able acoustic panel
Here it is open, ready for use

Adding hanging panels for side and ceiling.

Another type of mounting the panels
Here from the inside

Final booth, left
Final both, right. With opening for access.
A madras is covering a gap.
The acoustic panels are 30mm high density Rockwool.
The hangers are mounted with curtain wire.

Mic. used: C1 jj mod
Preamp: ssl9k (diy)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Converter test: Behringer ADA8000 and RME Hdsp 9632

This is a loopback-test for the converters and clocks of:

1) Behringer ADA8000
2) Rme Hdsp 9632

I've tested with a loopback of a mono wav-file. The original in 44,1khz/16bit, recoring in 44,1khz/24bit.
I've done 40 passes of each.
The original is normalized to rms-value , and each take is then adjusted to same value (0,1ms window. This gives peaks within 0,8db). Setup is within +-1,5db for in/out.
The playlist is wav 44,1khz/16bit with peaks around -2dbfs.

Edit: I've just discovered Soundcload streams in 128kbps. That's just lame for this kind of listening. Will provide some better listening.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

G-Suns ReaBundle

A ReaBundle

This is part 2 of G-Suns Reaper Newbie Guide

In most other DAWs, you'll find many bundled effects and instruments. Reaper is not like this -there are no or few native instruments. Reapers effects (eq, compressor etc.) on the other hand are simple but good -try them!

Here I present to you some of the most praised and used free effects and instruments, enabling you to make excellent music and mixes. And I've added some affordable good options where I believe they are worth mentioning. These are my personal recommendations and of course: All credit goes to the makers of these plugins!

You'll need a place for your vsts, samples, something like this:
"D:\Reaper Projects\" (for your project audio- and Reaperfiles )
"E:\Sample Library\" (for various sample libraries)
"E:\IRs\"  (Impulse-responses goes here)
(Be sure to tell Reaper where the vsts are according to user guide 1.16)

Main packages
  1. The Variety of Sound plugins (Bootsie. Download all of them, top notch plugins)
  2. XLN Audio: Addictive Drums and Addictive Keys (the demos, one installer)
  3. vladgsound: Molot (comp) and Limiter No6

Instruments by category

  • XLN Addictive Keys. The demo is limited to 48keys, but that's pretty usable for most stuff.
  • Piano One


I'm no synth-guy, so I'll just pass on a few highly praise ones:


  • IK Multimedia, Sample Tank 3 Free

Effects by category

  • ReaEq, native
  • Bootsie
  • vladsound Limiter No6
  • Loser/MGA JS Limiter (a zero-latency native limiter)
  • LoudMax. A Look-Ahead Maximize (like Waves L1) 
  • ReaDelay, native
  • NastyDLA, Bootsie 
  • EpicVerb, from Bootsie (VarietyOfSound)
  • MVerb, a simple but good algorithmic reverb
  • Valhalla Room ($50), a top algorithmic reverb
  • ReaVerb, native
    You'll need some  impulse-responses (IRs), from Bricasti (here)
    How to use, see SOS article

GitarAmp Modelling
BassAmp modelling
  • TSE B.O.D
  • IK Multimedia, Amplitube, BA500 ($15-40?)
    My personal favorite.

For more free stuff, check out these links:

<< | TOC | >>

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Reaper Newbie Guide


Welcome to this Reaper Newbie Guide!
The guide is aimed at you who are new to Reaper and maybe DAWs in general.
There are three  main sections:

Part I
a) The Reaper essentials.
  What you need and how to get started.
b) The Reaper add-ons.
  Themes, control-surfaces and handy stuff.

Part II 
A ReaBundle
  Instruments and effects to make music (may be refereed to as G-Suns ReaBundle)

The Reaper essentials

1) If you haven't done so already. Download Reaper ( 64bit ) and install.
2) Download the User Guide by Geoffrey Francis
3) Download and install the SWS-extension
(Tip! You may find various manuals. Grab 'm all and save into Reapers home directory e.g. "C:\Users\'YourName'\AppData\Roaming\REAPER\Docs"(win). They'll then show up in Reapers help-menu )

Getting started
Now, when you start Reaper, the minimum you'll have to do is to set up in/out audio and midi (at least audio out). Read manual 1.12 and 1.15.
The next thing is telling Reaper where you have your vst-plugins. Read manual 1.16
Then reading the whole manual is an excellent idea. But let's admit it: That's a lot of pages..
You'll maybe find Geoffreys QuickStartManual shorter and very handy :)

  The Reaper add-ons

Some links

Video Tutorials

Monday, November 11, 2013

A project home studio

I've been trying out many design-ideas for my new project home studio. ( eg. 1 2 )

And, finally, I reached out to get some help. John H. Brandt is now the designer
( http://www.jhbrandt.net ) and together we've come rather close to final design.

Things are looking good, but I don't have the money to build it, yet :)