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Media 100 HD audio export levels

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Brian Groves
Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 9, 2015 at 5:10:13 pm

Has anyone run into this…

I finish my program, audio levels sound great. I export to Quicktime or Windows Media for customer files, and the audio level drops by at least 10db. If I "fudge" the output by boosting the Bus level by 6 or 8 db… the audio level sounds "correct" but I will get fuzzy clipping for anything that is loud but within range in the edit. I can't seem to find any adjustment options for audio output or figure out why it would drop so much when creating a digital file.


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Floh Peters
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 9, 2015 at 5:19:02 pm

How do you monitor your audio? Which output do you use for Media 100 audio monitoring? If you have a Kona or BM card, these do give a different audio level than the Mac Line out output.



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Brian Groves
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 9, 2015 at 5:27:39 pm

I have a Mackie Mixer and a Kona LHi card. Audio out from Media 100 goes to the Kona… I monitor by sending the audio from the CPU to the mixer, the audio from the Kona to the mixer, and the output of the mixer goes to my speakers.

The part I can't figure out is… when listening to iTunes… my CPU "level" on the mixer channel is at a certain level. When editing, my Media 100 "level" on the mixer is about the same. If I pump audio from a deck or Bluray player into the mixer, once again, the audio level on the mixer channel is about the same. But when I export and play that movie using the CPU channel… large audio drop.

Any ideas?


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Robert Stone
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 9, 2015 at 5:46:02 pm

Aloha Brian,
Have you checked your MAC master audio out level in the menu bar?
I just did this on my MacPro - listened to iTunes (iTunes volume all the way up) at a reasonable level.
Then played a Quicktime movie, which played at a lower level, due to my Mac level being about half.
Yes it also affects the iTunes level, but iTunes seems to be higher than Quicktime.
Hope that helps!

Robert C. Stone
http://HippieFilm.com
http://MauiTVSpots.com


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Brian Groves
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 9, 2015 at 7:40:25 pm

Hello,

Thank you for your interest. I have tried to simplify things a bit. Here is where I get confused… all mixers and speakers aside.

If I purchase a track from a royalty free music house (Premiumbeats.com), and simply import it and place it on my timeline… Media 100 shows that the audio is WAY overblown… pegged in Red, lots of distortion, etc. So, in Media 100, I bring down the level of the track to -12 or -14db. It then "shows" the track playing where you would want it to… -20db to -10db in the audio window. When I then go to export that track and just play it as a quicktime movie or in iTunes… it sounds too quiet. So why does the "import" via Media 100 (no speakers, just digitizing) blow up the volume so far?

Brian

P.S. Visited Maui back in March. No place like it.


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Robert Stone
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 10, 2015 at 4:05:22 am

Aloha Brian,
In my opinion, I don't think Media 100 changes any of the volume levels on import. My experience is that music producers pretty much across the board push every track to the upper limit. I almost always have to lower levels on music. Sometimes I will drop the tracks into PEAK or Audition before importing and drop the level there, especially if I'm doing a music heavy edit. Then, the music imports at a "reasonable" level.
As far as output levels, I do a lot of broadcast commercials and the cable system requires the level peak at -12 or less, so that's where I'm riding my final mix. PBS shows about the same, actually a bit lower. I would say if you're just going to Quicktime or iTunes for your own usage, bump it up a bit (or don't drop it as much) in Media 100. Remember, the "Norm" for iTunes, YouTube, etc is mostly maxxed out audio - basically too hot across the board, for my taste!

Robert C. Stone
http://HippieFilm.com
http://MauiTVSpots.com


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Floh Peters
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 10, 2015 at 8:50:11 am

[Brian Groves] "If I purchase a track from a royalty free music house (Premiumbeats.com), and simply import it and place it on my timeline… Media 100 shows that the audio is WAY overblown… pegged in Red, lots of distortion, etc. So, in Media 100, I bring down the level of the track to -12 or -14db. It then "shows" the track playing where you would want it to… -20db to -10db in the audio window. When I then go to export that track and just play it as a quicktime movie or in iTunes… it sounds too quiet"

Actually what you are seeing (or hearing) is the difference between balanced and unbalanced audio outputs, plus the ability to change the levels on your Mac output. The out from the Kona card is set to a broadcast level and using balanced outputs, so the level is much higher compared to the Mac output.
When you play a clip via the Mac out, it will be much lower than the Kona output. As a test, you could set your system audio out to your Kona card temporarily to see what is going on there (System Preferences->Audio->Audio Output). Now if you play an imported song in Media 100 (leaving the levels untouched) and via QuickTime Player (or iTunes, as long as the iTunes level is not lowered) they should be identical.

Now, Music you buy is leveled to 0dBFS, which is the actual highest possible level for digital audio files. Everything above 0dBFS would give you digital clipping, which is really bad. If you do video editing, you usually aim for a much lower level, and you give yourself some room for digital peaks, dynamic in the movie and the fact that you usually don't do a hard digital limiter to cut off your peaks. Plus, depending on which clients you produce for (e.g. TV Stations), you do have additional requirements, e.g. Loudness norms you have to follow. Therefore the audio level of videos you produce is usually lower than the level of a music track.
Now, depending on where you want to play back the clip, you can do some additional "magic" to make it as loud as possible. E.g. if you upload to YouTube or other sharing sites, a lot of audio processing like normalization is done there to make everything (more or less) equally loud. If you go to DVD (via DVDStudioPro), you have to encode the audio to AC3 with the correct settings depending on the way you mixed. If you want to post it somewhere else (like your website) you could do an audio "normalization" in an audio app before exporting your final master…

Again, this all depends on where and how you have to deliver your "master".



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Brian Groves
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 10, 2015 at 4:41:22 pm

Ah Haaaahhh!

Just got this to all sink in. The "Balanced Audio" level of the Kona out vs the unbalanced from the mac makes perfect sense. The "embarrassing" part of this is that when editing, I do two things… I am always watching the audio levels via the audio window, and I shoot for having my levels stay between -20db and -10 db. This seems to keep digital VO files that I capture from clipping and it keeps purchased music from clipping after bringing the audio way down. I create my "mix" between the two so that they "look" fine on the meters and I can change the actual flow to the speakers to be whatever I feel like in the moment… knowing that as long as the levels show healthy head room, all will be well.

However, virtually every project that I create anymore ends up on a customers website or YouTube channel. When I listen to these exported files on my laptop before I upload them, they always seem much quieter than what I typically hear on YouTube or websites. I have been scolding myself for somehow not doing things right. I guess the trick is to keep doing exactly what I do… but perhaps add a step to boost and normalize the audio as a final step.

Does this "sound" correct? Pun intended.

Brian


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Floh Peters
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 10, 2015 at 5:09:48 pm

[Brian Groves] " but perhaps add a step to boost and normalize the audio as a final step.

Does this "sound" correct? Pun intended.
"


Yes. But YouTube is pretty good at normalizing your audio anyway in my experience, so you don´t have to do that (I guess the videos you uploaded to YouTube are okay so far).



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Brian Groves
Re: Media 100 HD audio export levels
on Jul 10, 2015 at 5:13:33 pm

Many thanks Robert and Floh. Nice to know there are still Media 100 folks out there!

Brian


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