I make demos on Ableton, but I am new to the world of mixing.
I've never been good at balancing volume levels. I do my best to dial in my levels--whichever knob I reach for first, typically--but the result is always frustrating and never consistent. For example, I'll end up with all my DAW levels cranked so high the audio is distorting while my MacBook is on its lowest volume. Or I'll cap out the volume on my laptop/headphones/etc, but the DAW levels will be as low as they can go. Sometimes, I'll think my levels are okay only to touch my keyboard and nearly blow out my eardrums.
I'm hoping that you can help explain the best practice with regard to volume settings ("signal chain?") so that I can focus more on music and mixing and less on finicking with volume controls.
Here are some of the various different ways I can control volume with my at-home set up:
- Instrument volume level, ex. MIDI controller volume or electric guitar volume knob.
- Studio Monitors (Level currently at +4db).
- Laptop (Standard MacBook volume up or down keys).
- Audio Interface ("Channel 1 Gain"; "Channel 2 Gain"; “Monitor”; “Input Playback/Direct”; and “Headphone Volume”).
- In DAW (Clip gain adjustments; Faders; Master Volume; Control knob with headphone logo next to it).
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, by Bobby Owsinsky, says that many mixers monitor at conversation level (79 dB SPL) or lower. My track volume in Ableton reads -5.55 (unit?).
I seriously need to balance volume levels before I can actually learn to mix! Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you.