Appropriate input peak levels when tracking

Hello people!

Been an ableton user for several years now.  steady attending YouTube University on learning the craft.  I am having trouble weeding through the answers to this particular question tho.  and that is...Say I am going to record a singer/songwriter. Just a simple scenario of:

Track 1 Guitar

Track 2 VOx

Track 3 scratch midi drums(in place of annoying metronome)


What are the desired db level to shoot for while recording these tracks.  One that will assure I have a good solid signal and headroom for mix/master.

While your at it...say I'm going to hand this to someone to master...what should my master be peaking at to give them space to work with?(this question I have found many answers for...but might as well get as many opinions as I can.

Thanks for your time!




johnnyokida 1 year ago | 0 comments

1 answer

  • Near Earth Object
    820 answers
    823 votes received
    1 vote

    For both questions there are slightly different opinions. But my personal experience is this:

    Recording vocals: as long as you don't have any clipping going on, you should be fine. Recording at a higher sample rate (let's say 48k or even higher) might also help. Don't record it at a very low volume: try to get a reasonable amount of volume without the signal going into the red, basically.


    For mastering: opinions are different: but most mastering engineers I work with want to have anywhere between 12 and 3 dB of headroom. So aiming for around -6 dB peak level should be fine. When your mix is good enough, the exact amount of headroom should not be too much of an issue, as long as you make sure there IS headroom. Like I said: aiming for -6 should do the trick in most cases. But you can always ask the engineer what file type/quality/headroom they prefer. Most of them even tell you on their website. If not sure, just ask. That will be better for both of you :-)



    1 year ago | 1 comment

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