Master level meter higher than the sole added track

Hi there,

I’m either new to the site and to music production and I’m trying to figure out how things are correctly done.
I was doing some tests with my gear; more specifically I created a test session in Ardour and added a mono track for my microphone, then I connected my dynamic microphone (Shure BETA 58A through my audio interface (M-AUDIO M-TRACK MKII to that track and find out that - without applying any effect/plugin processor to the microphone track - the master level meter was showing higher db values than the track level meter (about 10/12dbs of difference).
I just couldn’t figure it out why this is happening… Shouldn’t the master incorporate all the tracks outputs? Therefore, in this case, I expected the master level to be just at the same level of the sole track I created… Can anyone help me to understand this?

Thank you very much in advance

P.S. I left this topc “uncategorized” because I couldn’t manage to find a proper category for it among the available categories, sorry for that.

The final comment on the thread might explain what’s going on (k-meter on the master vs peak meter on the track):

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Also, whether or not the mic track is set to mono with stereo outputs to master track might create this issue. A screenshot of your mixer window would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

As a comment, you really shouldn’t be recording so hot that your meters are peaking into the red. There’s nothing “nicely” about this at all. With digital recording you should aim to leave plenty of headroom.

Peaking whilst recording is a throwback to analogue tape recording where the tape had a narrow dynamic range and would naturally compress loud signals. Peaking in this way was a way to maximise the limited dynamic range without excessively damaging the audio (and, in some instances, the compression added character).

In digital recording, neither of these is true. The recording medium has plenty of dynamic range, so peaking isn’t required to preserve fidelity. And the medium also does not tolerate signals that peak above 0dbFS, and will destroy them.

So turn down your recording gain and avoid peaking. You can increase the overall gain of the recording within Ardour using the mixer, or plugins, and preserve the recording quality. A good rule-of-thumb is to leave 12db of headroom.



Thanks for that, it never actually occurred to me look under ‘meters’ in the manual! I shall have a read and digest it.

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I have indeed tried that sort of thing. I have now reached a happy medium with a combination of mixing desk levels, Ardour track levels and the Master track level so all is good. Thanks to everyone for your input.

Hi and thank you very very much for the answer!

It must be as is explained in the thread you linked to me, in fact I verified that the track and the master have different meters (specifically: the track has Peak +6dBFS meter, while master has K20/RMS meter), so I guess the same audio level is just represented with a different value.

Anyway, although I read the link you suggested, I still can’t understand why different meters exists and, more important, why they are used in different places around the mixing process…
Could you help me understand that? Otherwise, if you think this is a better way, can you recommend me some sources where I can find these explanations?

Thank you very much again!


here it is the screenshot you asked for!

Meanwhile, I added a couple of tracks in order to do some other tests… Regardless, from the picture it can be seen that the master meter shows an higher level than the track.
As I stated before, I think this behaviour can be explained by the fact that tracks and master have different meters, as @bachstudies suggested.

Anyway, let me know if you see anything else interesting looking at my mixer window screenshot.

Thank you very much!

Yeah it’s exactly as @bachstudies says. If you look at the very bottom right, you’ll see the individual channel strips are in dBFS and the master channel is in K20 metering. You can also see on the master channel that the peak volume was -28 dbFS (the peak reading is always dBFS). That is consistent with what you are seeing on the channel for the beta58. So all is well, no problems here.

Sure. Different meters for different purposes. This might help:

When you say that the -28dbFS is consistent with what I see in the BETA-58A channel, you are saying that since my channel is showing a value of about -28dbFS is correct that the peak stated by the master channel is the same?
Sorry about this last question, but I’m really new of this stuff… : how exactly is a “peak” defined? When I got the screenshot, I was singing into my SHURE BETA 58A so that the level showed into the track meter was about -30db. What exactly did the master store as “peak” value? The most high value my track (SHURE BETA 58A) meter showed at the since I stopped singing maybe?

Please see the link that @bachstudies posted:
the “Meter types” section explains this in a nutshell:

  • A Digital Peak Meter (DPM) displays the absolute maximum signal of the raw audio signal (for a given time). It is commonly used when tracking to make sure the recorded audio never clips.

  • An RMS-type meter is an averaging meter that looks at the energy in the signal. It provides a general indication of loudness as perceived by humans.

Ardour uses the latter on the master-bus by default.

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