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Old May 30th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #1
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DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

I have the Tascam DR-680 and I love it in many ways.

BUT... when I record, I get great levels showing on the screen, and it sounds good on the headphones... but when I bring the recorded file in to editing software it is VERY quiet. I have to boost it 21dB to get a usable level.

Does anyone else have this problem? Is there something buried in the menu that I'm missing?

Thanks in advance.

(I tried a search on this, but didn't see anything)
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Old May 31st, 2011, 05:54 AM   #2
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Are you recording 24bit? Your levels should be bobbing around the 80% mark on the meters. If your meters are usually around 50% on the tascam and in 24bit, then your gain isn't unexpected, really.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 09:37 AM   #3
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Andrew,

Thanks. I was recording at 16-bit. Which do you recommend on this?

I couldn't find any scale on the metering... is there one?
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Old May 31st, 2011, 12:29 PM   #4
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

I have the DR-680, and it seems like the levels are low when I get them home. I think the one line you see on the audio meters is -12db. You should be bouncing around there. Also DO record at 24 bit. 24 bit gives you more headroom and you can record lower with less noise when you turn it up in post.

Anyway I recorded some VOs the other day and wasn't paying too much attention to the level, as it looked like it was showing a good level, but I wasn't paying strict attention to that -12db line.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 12:41 PM   #5
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

That's the strange thing. My levels are bouncing around the line. But in the edit, the levels are way below that.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:55 AM   #6
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble View Post
That's the strange thing. My levels are bouncing around the line. But in the edit, the levels are way below that.
Exactly how are you measuring the levels in post? Are you metering a playback, judging by ear, or are you looking at the displayed amplitude of the waveform graphic in the timeline on the screen? If latter, could it just be a matter of selecting a different vertical axis zoom setting?
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Old June 1st, 2011, 04:18 AM   #7
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

I'm using the metering in the editing software, and trying to hit between -6 and -12 on the dialog. And to get there I need to add 21 dB of gain.

And it's just strange, because like I said I am showing good levels on record (though I don't have a scale there), and it sounds fine on the headphones (of course there's no scale there either).
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Old June 1st, 2011, 09:33 AM   #8
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

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Originally Posted by Barry Gribble View Post
I'm using the metering in the editing software, and trying to hit between -6 and -12 on the dialog. And to get there I need to add 21 dB of gain.

And it's just strange, because like I said I am showing good levels on record (though I don't have a scale there), and it sounds fine on the headphones (of course there's no scale there either).
What it reads on the meter depends on your meter ballistics. A signal reading -20dBFS on an averaging meter will read about -12 dBFS on a peak-reading meter. -6 dBFS is way, WAY too hot for dialog in a mix. If you're going to broadcast, the dialnorm specs call for dialog averaged over the entire program to sit at -24 dBFS +/- 2 dB measured on an averaging meter. Dialog levels are locked first, then music and FX should be mixed in proportion.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 10:33 AM   #9
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

No, this was for web. On YouTube I shoot for much much higher than broadcast.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 10:44 AM   #10
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Oh - but are you saying that the 680's metering will switch between average and peak? I haven't found that switch.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 11:14 AM   #11
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

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Oh - but are you saying that the 680's metering will switch between average and peak? I haven't found that switch.
Don't know about the 680 - my guess is that it is peak reading only but I could be wrong. Dialog levels bouncing around -12dB there would be about right. But I was thinking of in your editing software. In many DAWs and NLE's, Vegas and Soundforge to name just two examples, the meters are switchable or you can display both peak and VU meters side-by-side.

-6 dialog peaks still seem too hot to me, even for the web.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 02:41 PM   #12
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

For me I am just looking at the wav forms displayed in the timeline, and they usually look very low, causing me to bring up the levels a lot. I'm always afraid to try to record hotter because I don't want to blow a clients job. It hasn't been an issue because it still sounds clean, but not that this has been brought up I see it's a real issue, not just me forgetting to get good levels at the session. Hmmmmm
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Old June 1st, 2011, 02:53 PM   #13
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Somewhat related... I have the DR-100 - and thank goodness for the limiters!

I set the levels and had an inexperienced guy listen to the headphones for any problems like clothes rustling while I filmed an internal corporate project. When I reviewed the files, the levels were very hot - right up to 0 dBFS. Clearly, the presenter spoke softly for the test and became more animated during the filming.

Oh well. It sounds fine. It didn't hit the limiters too hard, and it's simply transparent. More than good enough for internal corporate work.

Assuming that the DR-680 has similar or better limiters, you can probably run it harder without much risk.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:01 PM   #14
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

Chad - yes, the waveforms in the timeline look almost completely flat. Even the slate. Fortunately this last project I was cutting in Premiere, and when you bump gain there it actually shows up in the waveform.

John - yes, I can just boost it beyond what looks good to me and put the limiters on. But wow - I'd really like to have a solid sense when recording of what it is that I'll get.

Kinda glad to hear that others have that issue...

I can't find anything in the manual to say what the levels on the meter mean, except when the clipping alert comes in.
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Old June 1st, 2011, 03:10 PM   #15
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Re: DR-680 Recording Levels are Low

If the OP adds brings up this issue on the last page of this thread, there are many more people very experienced with the 680 who could shed some light on the subject hopefully.

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