Finding the maximum dB in an audio clip

Hi All,

I'm producing a DJ mix with Ableton. I'm very surprised to find that putting an MP3 or WAV into an audio track results in the master track going red, even though the the on the audio track and master are both 0dB. How can an audio file have a peak of more than 0dB in it?

Regardless, the only way I can find to stop this is to show the "peak level" control for each track on the session view, play the whole track and then use the peak value shown to adjust the clip volume or track volume such that the master never goes above 0dB.

So, my main question is how can I find that peak value without playing the whole track through a channel?

Is there something in the clip view I'm missing or is there some other utility (audicity? sound forge?) I can put an audio file through to tell me what that maximum value will be?

thanks for any help!



cjw296 5 years ago | 0 comments

4 answers

  • Tetris Hollatachaboi
    1 answer
    2 votes received
    2 votes

    Hey guys I actually ran into this problem to find the answer but remembered after running into this forum. Click and drag the line above your fader to give yourself a bigger view of said fader. You'll see two set of numbers one of them is your max db. Click it to reset it and repeat this process until you have everything where you want it. Hope this was helpful! Happy Producing!!!

    2 years ago | 0 comments
  • Der_Makrophag
    3 answers
    4 votes received
    1 vote


    First, digital peak measuring is an advanced topic, if you are intereseted I recommend searching the web. In short it is possible, that "live goes red", even though your MP3 does not "exceed" 0 dB (what is in therory impossible, of course). I am not sure how peak measuring works in live right now, but it could be, that 2 following samples at 0 dB are already enough to trigger the clipping indicator, and that is the correct way to do it, I think.

    However, what I find more probable, is that you either have some effects in the channel (EQ maybe) or this comes from the decoding filters used to decode the MP3 files (this is of course not true for WAV files). So even if these processes sound and should be neutral, they do not have to be (an "neutral" setup EQ3 may also well color the sound and is not neutral at all for example, so it will most probably also change peak levels).

    As for the peak measurement, nearly every audio editor should provide a function to measure the maximum peak. I do it with Steinbergs Wavelab 7 Lite, but the ones you mentioned should also do it!

    However I recommend (as you want to use effects etc..) to lower the level of your channels by at least 3dB to avoid clipping (anyhow, mixing two files will also reslut in higher peaks making readjustments of levels necessary).

    5 years ago | 0 comments
  • T S
    1 answer
    1 vote received
    1 vote

    got the same problem here. i want to rearrange a single mp3 song. i load it into ableton, but got already them clipping probs on the single audio track and of course the master track... i thought exporting a project with the master track clipping is the worst thing you can do, cause it destroys the waveform and results in distortion. any help? i dont want to listen to the whole song, for finding the peak..

    3 years ago | 0 comments
  • bezirani
    3 answers
    5 votes received
    1 vote

    probably your track is warped automatically, make sure the track is not warped 

    8 months ago | 0 comments

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