Master Level / Channel Trim Question
July 31, 2017 at 2:20 am #2596821
I recently bought a Pioneer DDJ-RR and played around with it for the first time a few days ago. Question: How much should I be tweaking the master level and channel trim? Relatedly, what’s the best way to set these up? Do I set the channel first and then the master or vice versa. I don’t know how common the meter design is, so just in case: I get 3 green bars below 2 yellow bars below 1 red bar.
PS — I tried to jump on the Pioneer DJ forum to get an answer, but the site just kept sending me round in circles without ever seemingly giving me an opportunity to post. I’m a fan of this site, so I’m happy to just become a part of this community, but if anyone has had, and solved, a similar experience over at Pioneer, please pass along your tips.
Thanks,July 31, 2017 at 3:12 am #2596831
Quick follow-up: The recording function in Reckrdbox DJ also allows for level adjustment. Any tips on using that properly would also be appreciated.
July 31, 2017 at 5:48 pm #2597211
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by DJ Or.
General order of gain staging:
– pick a track, scrub to the “loudest” section of that track
– set your channel gain to roughly 0db (not exactly sure where that would be on the RR, but half way through the yellow is normally a good guess for starting point (never red – red is bad).
– then turn up your master to the desired volume, but not more than 0db (again, this is likely to be approximately half way through the yellow)
– don’t touch the master again, you’ve set it where it needs to be. Adjust each track you load to 0db using the channel gain.
If this isn’t loud enough, you need more from your PA and amps – pushing the controller higher will just distort your sound and lead to clipping.July 31, 2017 at 9:17 pm #2597221
Thanks, Todd — that’s very helpful!August 1, 2017 at 6:33 am #2597261
I do things similarly, although in Serato I can adjust the gain for the tracks within the software and it is stored so that the next time I load a track it comes back up on the deck to the spot where I set it previously… I’m not familiar with Recordbox or whether it has a gain adjustment inside the software like Serato.
Next I use the gain adjustment on the controller to get a level that most loud parts of tracks peak just into the yellow, some very loud sounds might get a little further into the yellow (never red), and quieter parts of the tracks at least light up part of the meter.
I use the master to get the volume needed for the circumstances. If I’m playing at home, I rarely turn the volume up anywhere near unity, it’s usually about 30 percent to 50 percent. If I’m playing at an event that a mellower level of sound is appropriate I adjust accordingly, and if it’s a full on dance party, I adjust the master to put out a strong signal which is lighting most of the green part of the meter, and only occasionally blinks the first yellow LED. This sort of signal is plenty strong for the input on my EV ZLX12P speakers when the input knob is set to 12 o’clock (there is a detent at 12 o’clock and that is where I usually set it for line level signals)
Now, I’m not using a Pioneer controller, so your mileage may vary… but getting levels where more than the first bit of yellow is blinking usually doesn’t sound as good to me, especially at the loudest parts of tracks. Getting the green lit up and an occasional blink of yellow is usually plenty at both the master stage and the channel stage so that I get a loud signal that doesn’t leave out any of the quieter details.
If I put out a signal that is peaking halfway up into the yellow or more, the input meter on my EV speakers is reading an overly loud signal, and it registers an “input clip” well before I ever see a RED LED blink. In general, I don’t usually alter the input level of the powered speakers, as they have a master volume adjustment which I set to ZERO as appropriate, or sometimes -3 or -6 depending on the event.
If I’m at home and decide to use a PA speaker instead of the home stereo in my living room, I adjust it to somewhere in the -18 to -24 range usually. If I’m using the home stereo, I set the stereo to about 11-12 O’clock on the volume knob, and then lower it from there if necessary.
So, to summarize, NEVER putting any stage into the red is usually good practice. My gains on my controller, as well as the master, are usually near 12 O’clock to get good signal, and adjusting the output device (Stereo, PA, etc) to get enough volume but not have distortion, is usually my starting point. I don’t typically mess with the master output once things are going, unless I need to turn things down a bit.
When there is a need for quieter music for a period of time, such as a contest, or some speaking or announcements, or a phone call at home… I use channel faders to reduce the volume.
Having levels set, and master consistent, allows me to also set the Mic volume to an appropriate level and keep it there. Altering the master messes with this setting along with the music. So I try to set it and leave it, unless I end up turning the whole system down a bit, and in this instance having the mic and music both come down together retains the balance I achieved in the initial setup…
Given your description of the metering on your Pioneer unit, I’d guess that loud bits of the track should peak just into the first yellow LED, and only very very rarely should your second yellow LED ever light up. As far as the master, I’d shoot for peaking at the highest green LED and occasionally lighting the first Yellow… See how that works out, but definitely stay well below the RED… knowing what you’re playing out through would also help… but as a general tip, I try and set my master to make the volume on my home stereo similar to what it would be if I was just playing a CD at that volume setting on the amp/tuner. Let us know how it’s all working out for you, and best of luck…
Sorry for the book, hope it’s helpful… and remember, my two cents is only really worth a penny…August 1, 2017 at 4:55 pm #2597911
Thanks so much, Isaiah! I really appreciate the detail — especially the point about erring on the low side b/c the output may be clipped without notice before getting into the red.
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