How Do I make my guitar signal louder? (Basic questions in Reaper)

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by AxiomXIII, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. AxiomXIII

    AxiomXIII SS.org Regular

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    I want to get into recording and want to start Out by doing some guitar covers with a backing track.
    When moving the Backing track to Reaper I notice that its extremely loud compared to my guitar Signal which I keep between -6 and -12ish dB.
    The songs loudness obv comes from it being mastered etc but other guys on YouTube have the same Volume in their guitar covers.

    To get things even I have to lower the backing tracks volume to Like -11dB and Boost my guitar to +2.5 to have it sound okay without getting a red bar.

    My Question is how to get my guitar Signal louder without clipping etc.
    Im using a POD HD500X directly into my PC and I have my Patches Set Up so they are at -6 to -12 dB max.

    I'm a total noob at this since im starting Out so bare with me.
    For more details on my settings or gear in this Situation feel free to ask.
    More Tips are appreciated as well.
    Thanks!
     
  2. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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  3. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    One BIG thing to keep in mind here... The backing track you're playing along with is a full mix, with a lot of different instruments covering a wide range of frequencies, and has almost certainly already been mastered to CD level. That one track on its own, when imported to a DAW, is going to already be peaking just about -0db. If you add ANYTHING to the mix, it's going to clip at the master.

    So, you do what you're doing - turn down the backing track, maybe 6-12db, and then record your guitar tracks along at that level. Advice like tracking with your peaks at -12db is definitely best practice for digital recording, and often times a full mix of individual tracks peaking in the -12db range will all sum up to -3db or soin the master bus so there's no need for them to be any louder than that. But, it's important to rememebr that the backing track you're playing to isn't just one more instrument in a mix, it's in and of itself a full mix. If you try to add anything else to it, even something quiet, when it's already using all your headroom... Then yeah, it's gonna clip.
     
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  4. Handbanana

    Handbanana SS.org Regular

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    Also look into running your backing track through a sub-out. This way it bypasses your master chain and isn't affected by any plugins on your master bus. Not quite sure how to do this in reaper, but I use it in SO3 for referencing.
     
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  5. AxiomXIII

    AxiomXIII SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the reply! (and everybody else too)
    I understand recording at -12dB for more headroom is important.
    But in the guitar cover case when I finished recording my guitars at that level along with the backing track until it sounds good, its still at like -12dB overall.
    When I want to upload it then it would be super quiet. (not?)
    So my problem is to understand what to do to get it louder in the end if you know what I mean
     
  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Two things you can do.

    1) Since your backing track is probably already mastered, and there's no need to add much additional compression to the master bus (though, some light compression on your guitars might help them sit in the mix a little more evenly), balance the backing track and your lead track to taste, and then in Reaper's master bus, slide the fader up until you're peaking at -0.1 to -0.2 or so.

    2) export the whole thing with peaks wherever they happen to fall, -6 to -12 probably, and then open in an audio editor and normalize it.

    It's a somewhat different process than what you'd do with a mix of tracks you recorded yourself, since in that case you'd probably want to go through a mastering workflow or, if you just wanted to get the volume up, just hit it with a limiter, but in the case of an already-mastered track like this additional limiting to the mix will both likely make it TOO hot, as well as give you audible pumping and distortion as the track hits the limiter.

    Definitely spend some time thinking about WHY the backing track alone is eating up your headroom and adding anything else is making it clip, and how you can work around that. I can tell you what to do, and that'll solve your immediate problem... But, the better you understand what's going on here, the better you'll be able to record and mix your own stuff. :yesway:
     
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  7. AxiomXIII

    AxiomXIII SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the tips!
    The First step you mentioned was what I figured Out after some experimenting.
    I think I just have to experiment with stuff and try some different reaper Plugins and what they do etc.
     

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