I mixed for 3 years on an Allan and Heath as well as several other analog consoles and was used to running my channel gain at 0db with the transient peaks never reaching above +6 (this is unity gain right?). The meter measured from -64(ish) to 0db and then up to +12(ish) or so. Now that I am in a new location I have been running digital consoles that places 0db at the very top of the meter (clipping). The only part of the console that shows clipping at +12(ish) the way I am used to is the meter for the bus faders.

By observation I have found that at around -15db on the scale that clips at 0db will produce a 0db (10 or so under clipping) on the bus meters it sends to if both faders are set to unity. Now we are replacing the console with one that no longer has the metering scale I am used to.

Why do digital consoles now clip at 0db instead of +12 or so like I am used to with every analog console I have seen? And what is the proper gain level to use on these new digital consoles to have unity gain?

  • Others may be able to provide more detail and elaborate as I don't have an opportunity at the moment, however I can mention that the very root of it is that of different ballastics measurement scales (dBFS vs dBu or dBv, for example) Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 23:25

1 Answer 1


tl;dr: digital has no headroom. 0dB is the max.

this is the European kind. USA digital is 2dB hotter.

give it a bit of time, it will start to make sense.

metering scales

from here

  • So I should run the board around -18? And two of those say test is that the 0 I am used to seeing?
    – skids89
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 15:42
  • you can run the board at any reference level if you never leave digital. the analogue world will, however, expect 0dBu around -18dB or -20dB on your board, over which level it would accept peaks that won't clip. => soundonsound.com/sos/may00/articles/digital.htm
    – georgi
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 18:15
  • From other info I have since found -12 to -18 is the sweet spot. My metering at -15 is awesomely centered between them. Also digital works better pushed a touch as opposed to being conservative on signal strength.
    – skids89
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 22:46
  • "Also digital works better pushed a touch as opposed to being conservative on signal strength." Wrong! Bad information! Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 12:39

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