Academy Dashboard Forum Production Analog Recording Reading VU Meters & I/O Level Reply To: Reading VU Meters & I/O Level

John Gleason

    Kaleb, just a little more background: when you set the switch on your unit to +4dBu (the 0 VU standard for pro equipment) or -10dBV (the 0 VU level for home stereo gear), the meters will show 0 VU to the appropriate standard (you don't have to make any adjustment yourself). I use the needle-type meters all the time to show me what is going on "outside the box," but you shouldn't rely on them too much since most of those meters average the signal and may not reflect peaks which may be distorted or clipped. The bar-type string-of-lights meters can show the peaks but I always feel I'm missing some information and tend to treat them like "idiot lights" on auto dashboards (just being me!). In the end, the meters in your DAW will show you the final result, and if you exceed the peaks on the fader meters the signal is clipped and the peaks are gone forever (easy to hear). Everyone has their own idea of where to set the signal level on their tracks, with 0 VU being the de-facto standard, some go a little lower (a lot depends on how you handled the compression to tame the peaks). Basically, don't clip your signals and leave some head-room at the top for mastering!

    'Hope this helps.