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I am using FL Studio 10 on a Windows 7 PC, I have some speakers I'm using as monitors, but here is my problem.

If you count the volume level knobs on the plugins (2 of them), volume level on the track, volume level in FL Studio, volume level in Windows' "Mixer" where "FLStudio" has it's own volume level, and the Windows Device Volume, AND the volume potentiometer knobs on the monitor speakers, well that's a crap load of possible volume settings.

What levels should everything be at to get a sound that will "travel well" to media players, car stereos, etc.?

Thus far I'm using this:

Volume inside the plugin left alone Volume of the instrument using the plugin = variable, but usually around 75% Volume of the track - left at default (80% I believe) Volume of FLStudio = 85% Volume on Windows Mixer's copy of FLStudio = 50% Volume on Windows Master = 50% Volume on speaker knobs = usually about 50%

It just seems with that many variables there's a lot of room for collusion.

Advice?

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3 Answers

Honestly, the volume level doesn't matter if you are worried about final output, signal level does. Use the VU meter in the application you are using for mixing and ensure that the audio never clips and that the majority of the time, the peaks are nearing, but not exceeding 0db. This will produce an appropriate signal level for consistent playback on a variety of devices.

As far as quality of monitoring, I would personally put the Windows volume mixer at 100% since it isn't going to cause clipping and then adjust other settings as necessary to have things at the level you desire. Track volume and FLStudio volume should be set based on VU meter. Speaker knobs should be adjusted to the level you want to mix at.

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You're asking about 'gain staging'. Gain staging is is the process of managing the relative levels in a series of gain (volume) stages to prevent introduction of noise and distortion.

You want signals as loud as possible without clipping when recording, you may treat them very differently when mixing the track.

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Each of the volume level adjustments serve a different purpose.

The level controls within FLStudio will directly affect the music you are producing. The level controls in Windows and on the monitor speakers will affect how you hear it while creating the music, but will have no effect on the final product.

Inside FLStudio:

The level controls in the plugins should be adjusted so the levels coming out of the plugin are relatively the same as those going in. Some plugins will affect the levels more than others, so these are necessary to keep a consistent level.

The level control on the track itself is used to adjust its level within the overall mix relative to all of the other tracks.

There should also be a master level control which will adjust the overall level of the entire mix. This should be adjusted so that the peaks are as close to OdB as possible without actually reaching it.

Outside FLStudio:

The levels for FLSudio in the Windows mixer should be set so the output is similar to other applications.

The master level in the Windows Mixer and the Speaker volume controls should be adjusted together. The main consideration here is that most computer sound cards produce a lot of noise. If you are using an external interface this may not be as much of a problem. You will need to set the output level from Windows to the point where it produces the best signal to noise ratio (most sound, least noise). You may need to balance this with the noise levels of the speakers since some speakers can be quite noisy at higher levels. In general, setting the output from Windows to a higher level and setting the speaker volume to lower levels will produce the least amount of noise.

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