Finding Your Proper Gain
This is a question I have run into a lot recently! Most audio engineers start by setting the fader on their audio console at 0 or, as its called, unity gain, and then setting the input channels also at unity gain. From there they adjust the gain knob on the console for each channel until they feel it's loud enough in the room.
While this may seem like a logical way to approach the process, it's actually a little backwards.
The gain control on a console is the most important thing you can set. It's important to set it so that there is enough of a signal coming into the console before it even hits the faders. Why? It's because the flow of audio through the console starts with the gain control.
For proper gain setting start by muting your channel. With good signal coming in and your channel selected or soloed, turn up the gain until your signal's highest point is -12db on the channel input meter or the solo meter. Next Check your mains fader for your main speakers, set it low, way lower than 0, start with -20 on the fader. Next bring up your fader on the input channel until you have the level you want in the room. If your fader is way at the bottom of the range or way near the top adjust the master as necessary and re-balance your input fader. In this way your input signal is strong, creating lots of signal for in ear monitor mixes, and low noise for working with signal. Your master is also now a real master volume control and not just a pretty fader sitting at 0.
Try it out and let us know what you think!
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