There are few things that strike so much fear or disdain for Logic users than the word gain staging.
What the heck is gain staging?
Well, some believe its a way of life. While others believe it’s complete “snake oil.” But the basic gist is your plugins require a specific level from your tracks to sound their best.
For example: that Vintage EQ you have on your vocal track might be more finicky than you thought. Besides exuding smooth analog vibe, it just might also come with great responsibility…
The responsibility of setting the appropriate level for each track before they hit your plugins!
But is that really true?
I mean, gain staging was born out of the analog era. Consoles, tape machines, and outboard gear all had preferred levels for 2 reasons:
- Making sure that your audio was louder than the noise inherent in the gear (think the hiss of tape).
- Making sure you didn’t hit your gear too hot and unnecessarily distort your tracks.
(Unless, of course, you liked the distorted sound!)
But today with digital audio and pristine plugins – is gain staging really relevant?
So in today’s video I’ll walk you through:
- What exactly gain staging is,
- Why there’s a debate over gain staging, and
- Whether it really matters
Studio Intern says
I love ‘Normalize Region Gain’. I set my peak levels to -9 dB, since the -18 dBfs expectation is usually RMS, not peak.
It’s not a huge deal with “clean” plugins, but “coloring” plugins probably need a bit more level on the way in.
I agree with you Studio Intern. It’s rarely cut and dry. But most plugin VUs reference a 1000 hz sine wave at -18 dB to calibrate to 0 VU.
Robin Setty says
Probably a dumb question: Does normalise region gain work OK if you’re applying volume automation and if you change the automation levels, should you repeat the normalise region gain process?
All good Robin. I wouldn’t adjust normalizing the region gain after automation. I use Normalize Region Gain to for gain-staging before any plugins. Repeating the Normalization process wouldn’t actually yield different results, since Region Gain comes before Automation.
Michael D says
Sorry to revive an old post. I have all the new updates and when I click functions mine does not show the normalize region gain. Am I missing something?
Hey Michael, all good! The Normalize Region Gain function is an Advanced Tool. Head to Logic Pro X > Preferences > Advanced Tools, and then Enable All. You should see it now in the Functions menu.
Michael D says
Thank you! not sure how that got turned off