eight-track digital recorder output is too quiet....
February 5, 2006 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Output from my TASCAM DP01-FX eight-track digital recorder is too quiet....

I have a TASCAM DP01-FX eight-track digital recorder. I have been moving mastered tracks from the eight-track to my laptop via USB. The files are WAV files. I’ve found that no matter how high I set the levels when I master them, the output from the TASCAM is very quiet. I can fix it to some degree by using Audiograbber’s ‘normalize’ function, but is there another way I can make my songs much louder?
posted by Tixylix to Technology (6 answers total)
So your just moving the files from the recorder to your laptop as files, not audio? If so, you're going to have to use some sort of software to do something like normalize (Peak has Normalize and Gain Envelope, that would do what you're doing). Are the peaks in your recording close to max when you bring them in? Have you thought about running your adio inputs into a compressor and then into the recorder? What are you recording?
posted by doctor_negative at 9:46 PM on February 5, 2006

> How can you tell if you need a receiver or preamp with your turntable? Connect it directly to the line input of your sound card and try recording. If the sound you record is very weak and somewhat distorted you definitely need to connect through either a stereo receiver or a good Phono Preamp.....
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on February 5, 2006

dhartung- as you can see in the description, he's transferring via USB. There's no preamp or anything like that. He's transferring files, as far as I can tell, like you would transfer songs to an iPod or something.

My guess is that there's some sort of internal compression happening internally that's making the tracks too quiet.

Unfortunately, I don't know how this device works, so I can't help much there. But I definitely think this is an internal software problem with the device- just look for a setting in the menus to make sure it's not limiting at some low level. Ideally, your tracks are somewhere between -6 and -2db, IIRC.
posted by fake at 10:36 PM on February 5, 2006

doctor_negative has it right, but for a little more detail read on....

Sounds like you're transferring digitally, ie WAV files directly from the recorder. The issue is not that the output level is too quiet but that the input gain is probably too low so they're being recorded quietly and not using the full range of your ADC.

Check the peaks and RMS level of the files you're getting. If the peaks are well down (say, -12dB or lower), you can stand to use more input gain and you'll get better precision since you're not wasting the top bits. If the peaks are coming up to -2dB or so, you don't want more gain or you'll clip; the way to increase average level from there is with a compressor.
posted by polyglot at 10:37 PM on February 5, 2006

I have a PC based studio and I use normalize all the time. High end recording software has a normalize function just for the purpose you describe. So, as long as it's not introducing too much noise, it really isn't an issue.

A problem I routinely have (I am an idiot sometimes), is that I have my monitors cranked, and turn down the master fader to control volume. Then when I mix, I forget to turn the master back up and end up with a quiet mix. Reading the manual for your Tascam, it looks like a similar situation would be that when you master, you need to make sure your levels are hot as they can be. From p24 in the manual - Make the mix moves (faders, pan, etc.) that you practiced earlier. These mix moves will affect the sound of the final master stereo track.
I have a feeling that if you push these levels up as high as you can without distortion, you will solve your problem. I suspect (couldn't find it in the manual) that the master fader doesn't do anything during digital mastering, it just controls analog playback volume.

An quick way to figure this stuff out for sure is set up a mix with the track faders up nice and high, then pull the master fader down all the way. Then "master" that mix using the procedures on p24 of the manual. If the file works (ie you can hear music) then the master slider doesn't affect the digital mastering process, and your problem is almost certainly in the position of the track faders. Crank 'em.

Big picture: every recording environment has its quirks, and you just have to stick with it til you figure them out. When I was 18, I recorded in a semi-pro studio (it was crappy but we were paying for it) for the very first time. During mixdown I figured out that the idiot who set up the studio somehow wired everything in mono. So I had to crawl behind the rack and figure out what was wired wrong. The guy who owned the studio didn't believe that it was mono. I had to pan an individual track left and right (with no effect) to show him that there was a problem. That studio had been set up that way for years.
posted by tcobretti at 7:19 AM on February 6, 2006

Response by poster: Well, it sounds like I'm doing the right thing, putting them through a normalizer. (Yes, I am transferring files.) All my faders are cranked way up high, pretty much as high as they can go. So I guess I will look at doing what polyglot says, if I can figure out how to do such a thing.

posted by Tixylix at 2:13 PM on February 6, 2006

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