Should my recording levels be different depending where in the mix the track will be panned?

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Should my recording levels be different depending where in the mix the track will be panned?

Post by armans »

I am recording a lead vocal in a project and I notice that my stereo output in my DAW is actually lower than my track level. I assume this difference has to do with my mono signal becoming stereo on the main output. This got me thinking that perhaps I should record my lead vocal a little louder since it is a mono track that will be softer in the final mix because it will come through in stereo. Is this important somehow when gain staging and should I record my vocals louder because of this? I usually record with my peak levels at around -12dbfs so when I play just the vocal the peaks in my stereo bus are around -15dbfs.
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armans
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Re: Should my recording levels be different depending where in the mix the track will be panned?

Post by The Elf »

No, no and no.

Record at a sensible level (-10dBFS is what I personally promote as a good target) and preserve that level throughout the signal chain to the fader.

Stereo or mono makes no difference to the requirements of the recording level. The level of any track in the mix is about mixing, not the original recording level, and the final level of any signal in the mix can be manipulated to suit.
Last edited by The Elf on Thu Dec 01, 2022 10:38 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Should my recording levels be different depending where in the mix the track will be panned?

Post by Luke W »

No, you're already doing the right thing by recording a decent signal with a sensible amount of headroom, so I'd stick with that approach! Any final volume decisions can then be carried out at the mix stage, and you'll have a much easier time with that if all of your signals are sitting at sensible, and relatively consistent levels.

Edit - Beaten to it!
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Re: Should my recording levels be different depending where in the mix the track will be panned?

Post by Dave Rowles »

armans wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 10:09 am I am recording a lead vocal in a project and I notice that my stereo output in my DAW is actually lower than my track level. I assume this difference has to do with my mono signal becoming stereo on the main output.

No, it could be the pan law your DAW is set to, or it's the processing that you're doing to the vocal that is reducing the level vs the recorded level. As mentioned, you seem to be recording at the correct level.

The default pan law in logic, which I use, always messes me up and it's the first setting I change if I don't use a template for a new project.
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