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Thread: Setting Gain Structure on Controller, Speakers, Sub and External Mixer

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Cherry Hill, NJ

    Setting Gain Structure on Controller, Speakers, Sub and External Mixer

    Hello, I am interested in learning about accurately setting the gain structure on my gear. From my internet research on this board and other internet sites, I decided to map out the steps as follows:

    1. Get a one of the loudest musics in my library to use for gain staging.
    2. Turn all gain stages down to the left.
    3. Software/Serato: Set auto-gain, and set master software output at 12.
    4. Channel/Input: get the faders all up, then play the music, and for each channel, set the input gain/trim to peak at 0db (greens) before hitting the amber/reds. Once this is set, then pull back down on the fader a bit to about 95% of its volume capacity.
    5. Master volume: repeat the same process with the master volume, and not when the less hit 0db.
    6. Subwoofer: Turn up the volume on the subwoofer to 0db or until it hits green or until the limit light appear, then dial back a bit.
    7. Speaker/Amplifier: Turn up the volume on the speaker to 0db or until it hits green or until the limit light appear, then dial back a bit.
    8. External Mixer: repeat the same process for each channel on the external mixer as done for channel/inputs in #4 above.

    Now my questions:

    1. A. Is this the right procedure?
    2. B. To set the gain structure accurately, my research on this and other sources indicate that you have to get a loud music or louder point in a track. How do you get this? I can sort my tracks by dbs, but will that be accurate enough?
    3. C. The advice is to turn all gains down low, but do I need the speakers to be playing loud before setting any of the gains? For example, to set the gain structure on the Master Volume, does the speaker need to be turned on? If so, then I would be bugging my neighbor.. lol lol.
    4. D: To set the gain on the speakers and subs, I do need to supply it with input/music… assuming I am using one of the channels on the controller, should I set the volume on the fader all the way up or just use the master volume?
    5. E: And finally, once I set the gains, which of these MUST be left absolutely alone and not fiddled with?
    6. F: If I want to increase the volume, where should I do this: on the channel fader on controller, master volume or the channel volume knob on the External mixer?
    7. G: Finally, the Master volume / input channel knobs or faders on the External mixer replicates what is available on the controller? So which one should be using to control the main volume for instance? My sense is it should be the main volume on the external mixer….

    Sorry for these many questions .. but I appreciate your assistance in advance..

    Thanks, Oyi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Ottawa Ontario, Canada
    Your plan is pretty good except for part of the speaker setup. The mains should be set to a level that produces a good balance of sound with the sub/s, if that happens to be the same point the sub reaches it's max output then fine but there are cases where that may not be so.

    Also note that the input trim/gain on the active controller channel should get readjusted from time to time because some tracks will be louder than others, this will not affect the downstream stages however.

    With an external mixer in use at least one input channel and it's main bus will be in your signal chain all the time and the same procedures apply there.

    What I suggest you use for your overall level control is the master on the controller, you can see it at a glance so it's easier to keep an eye on. The controls on the external mixer should be left unchanged for the most part except if you want to kill sound to the whole system.
    Paul O'Brien
    Old Tech Guy

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