Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Plugins Mixing Auto gain staging Hornet LU meter Normalizer

Auto Gain Staging Plugins: A Game Changer for Audio Production

Tutorial | Aug 06, 2019

In this video, I talk about my favorite topic, auto gain staging plugins or functions. I discuss the Hornet LU meter plugin and how it can automatically analyze the loudness of tracks and apply gain until it reaches the desired reference value. I also mention the Hornet normalizer plugin, which continuously analyzes and compensates for changes in real-time. I question why these features are not integrated into every DAW and suggest adding a threshold value to prevent excessive gain during quiet parts. I mention that Hornet plugins are affordable and recommend checking them out. Overall, I express my desire for these features to be integrated into DAWs and emphasize their usefulness in my workflow.

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Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

Question 1: Why is automatic gain staging not integrated into every DAW on the market?

Answer: The lack of automatic gain staging integration in every DAW is a bit puzzling, considering the benefits it offers. Automatic gain staging plugins or functions can analyze the loudness of audio tracks and apply the necessary gain adjustments to reach a specific reference value. This saves the manual effort of adjusting fader settings individually for each track, especially in projects with a large number of tracks. Having this feature integrated into a DAW would streamline the workflow and make the process more efficient. It is unclear why this feature is not universally implemented, but it would certainly be a valuable addition for many musicians and producers.

Question 2: Why is the lack of a threshold value in the Hornet normalizer plugin an issue?

Answer: The Hornet normalizer plugin applies automatic gain adjustments based on the analyzed loudness of the audio material. However, it does not have a threshold value, which means it applies gain adjustments even to very quiet parts of the audio. This can result in a significant increase in volume when the playback reaches louder sections, potentially causing a peak and affecting the overall mix. Having the ability to set a threshold value would allow the plugin to only measure audio material above the set threshold, ignoring quieter sections. This would provide more control and prevent unnecessary gain adjustments in silent parts of the audio.

Question 3: Why does the video suggest integrating the Hornet normalizer plugin into the DAW itself?

Answer: The video suggests integrating the Hornet normalizer plugin into the DAW because of its usefulness in automating the gain staging process. Currently, the plugin is an external tool that needs to be manually applied to each track. However, having this functionality built directly into the DAW would eliminate the need for additional plugins and streamline the workflow. By providing an automatic leveling function within the DAW, users would be able to set a reference value and have the software automatically adjust the gain levels of all tracks accordingly. This would save time and effort, especially for those who frequently work with multiple tracks and need to ensure consistent volume levels.

Question 4: What other solutions are available for automatic gain staging?

Answer: In addition to the Hornet normalizer plugin, there are other plugins and tools available for automatic gain adjustments. The video briefly mentions the Hornet LU Meter and VU Meter plugins, which can be used manually to analyze loudness levels and set appropriate gain values. Additionally, there are other plugins, such as the Auto Gain plugin, that can automatically write automation to the DAW, evening out volume changes over time. These tools provide alternative approaches to automatic gain staging and may be suitable for specific use cases. However, the video highlights the Hornet normalizer plugin as a particularly useful and affordable option, and suggests integrating such functionality directly into the DAW itself for a more seamless and efficient workflow.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00:00] Hey, welcome back to another video.
[00:00:07] And today's topic is my absolute favorite topic of all.
[00:00:10] And this is auto gain staging plugins or functions.
[00:00:15] And I want something like this forever integrated into a DAW.
[00:00:20] But for now, we have to rely on plugins.
[00:00:24] And for this, I'm using the Hornet LU meter.
[00:00:27] And I already made a video about this, I know.
[00:00:30] But I just want to give you a small recap of what this plugin is doing.
[00:00:35] So LU meter.
[00:00:38] And we have the strum loop here.
[00:00:39] And the strum loop is too quiet.
[00:00:41] So you have to normally go in and change your fader settings, right?
[00:00:47] Something like this.
[00:00:48] Until you have some nice gain staging volume for all your tracks.
[00:00:55] So this is just one track, but imagine you have a project with a lot of tracks.
[00:01:00] And with this plugin here, I can analyze the loudness.
[00:01:08] And it applies automatically some gain until it hits the right reference value, which is
[00:01:14] here minus 23 loves.
[00:01:21] And every time I change something, for instance, with an EQ 5 here, you can see I am exceeding
[00:01:28] the zero line.
[00:01:29] So I am above minus 23 loves.
[00:01:32] And I have to start the analyzing process again.
[00:01:36] And it compensates for my changes in the EQ here, which is pretty nice.
[00:01:45] But every time I make a change, I have to go into this plugin here and start the analyzing
[00:01:51] process again.
[00:01:53] And this is a bit tedious to do every time.
[00:01:57] But this plugin is more meant for one time use.
[00:02:01] So when you basically a mixing engineer and you get a lot of tracks, so 20, 30 tracks
[00:02:09] or so, you have to gain stage manually.
[00:02:13] You have to go into every track and set the right gain volume.
[00:02:17] But with this plugin, you put it on all tracks and then set all tracks to one group.
[00:02:23] And then you have to just open one of these windows here and can start the process from
[00:02:28] one instance and have set all tracks to the right reference value, which is pretty great.
[00:02:37] But for my workflow here, it's not so good.
[00:02:43] So I just wanted to insert at this point from the video a small information why also auto
[00:02:48] gain staging is nice.
[00:02:50] Because I'm using this for dynamic processors most of the times when you have, for instance,
[00:02:58] you're in a compressor or dynamic processor and you want to tweak the settings.
[00:03:06] But when you're done tweaking your settings for this drum loop and you want to save this
[00:03:16] preset, this compressor preset, it means basically nothing because when you exchange the drum
[00:03:22] loop for something else, you have a different input level now.
[00:03:30] So there is a different level of compression happening.
[00:03:38] And you basically have to tweak all your settings again.
[00:03:40] So the preset is not much both.
[00:03:44] So I'm using for this the LUMeter in front of the compressor and know that every time
[00:03:57] I input something, it's always minus 23 loves.
[00:04:03] So all the settings I save with the preset for the compressor make more sense in a new
[00:04:08] context.
[00:04:09] So I standardize basically my input levels with these with these plugins.
[00:04:17] So this is maybe not useful on every track.
[00:04:20] But when you have a master preset with like multiple compressors and limit hours and so
[00:04:26] on, everything relies pretty much on your input level.
[00:04:31] And you can set these input levels pretty easily with these plugins by Hornet, for instance.
[00:04:38] So just a small information why I'm using this also.
[00:04:42] There's a new plugin by Hornet, which is called the normalizer.
[00:04:50] And VST 3 version is not working for me on Mac.
[00:04:53] So I have to use the VST 2 version.
[00:04:58] So yeah, and this one has a content continuous mode, which analyzes all the time.
[00:05:08] So let's hit play.
[00:05:10] As you can see, it's already applying some gain here until we are at our reference value.
[00:05:17] So you can see.
[00:05:20] And when I make a change, let's go to EQ 5.
[00:05:33] It compensates for my changes in real time, which is pretty great.
[00:05:39] It's exactly what I want.
[00:05:44] You can see it's pushing the gain more up because we have removed all the frequencies
[00:05:56] here.
[00:06:02] So my first question in this video is why is this not integrated in every DAW on the
[00:06:09] market?
[00:06:10] I don't know, that's just absolutely no brainer to have.
[00:06:15] Just have a function here at the start, activate automatic leveling, and then you're good to
[00:06:21] go.
[00:06:22] Why I have to go into here and go to gain and apply manually gain to an audio track
[00:06:30] all the time?
[00:06:31] Or when I'm changing something here, why I have to move the output parameter myself?
[00:06:37] It's something a computer can do easily in real time.
[00:06:45] But for now, we have to rely on plugins.
[00:06:50] But there is still with this plugin a downside.
[00:06:53] And this is quite parts.
[00:06:56] As you can see, when I have to play head on stop or the transport on stop, it stops also
[00:07:02] analyzing the input.
[00:07:04] So nothing is happening.
[00:07:07] But when I start play and it comes to the quiet parts, you can see it cranks up the
[00:07:15] volume pretty heavy until 30 dB.
[00:07:23] Which is not a problem because there is nothing there to blow your ears out.
[00:07:29] But when you go back to the material, you have a heavy peak.
[00:07:39] So my second question is to Zavirio from Hornet plugins.
[00:07:44] Why is there no threshold value?
[00:07:47] So we can say only measure audio material above this threshold and everything below
[00:07:55] just ignored.
[00:07:57] That would be my question.
[00:07:59] And I want this feature integrated into this plugin.
[00:08:03] Please I beg you.
[00:08:06] That's all I want.
[00:08:08] The normalizer is pretty cheap.
[00:08:10] It's only 5 euros.
[00:08:11] I think it's too cheap.
[00:08:13] When this plugin is working, it's an absolutely no brainer.
[00:08:17] Just put it on every track and you have the right output value and make it 20 euros at
[00:08:22] least.
[00:08:26] So Hornet has a lot of different plugins for the same stuff and I don't know why.
[00:08:34] So we have this LUMeter here, which I'm using at the moment, which works pretty fine with
[00:08:39] just manually hit analyze and then we have the right output volume.
[00:08:44] And then you have the same plugin, which is called VUMeter, which is the same plugin.
[00:08:52] Just it doesn't measure in loves, it measures in VU units.
[00:08:59] So this could be easily integrated into this just with the switch to switch between the
[00:09:03] units.
[00:09:04] Because in the normalizer you have this.
[00:09:07] You can change the units here, even though RMS are short loves or momentary integrated
[00:09:16] and so on.
[00:09:19] So when this thing is working here, I think these plugins are pretty obsolete.
[00:09:26] I don't know.
[00:09:30] I think there's another plugin that does exactly the same, but I don't see it.
[00:09:37] I think it's the auto gain here.
[00:09:39] It's also a different approach.
[00:09:42] I think this one is even writing automation when you have some, I mean, there's a reason
[00:09:47] for that when you have some vocals and you analyze these vocals and write automation
[00:09:54] to your DAW.
[00:09:56] So you even out basically the volume changes over time a bit and you can change, tweak
[00:10:05] the automation a bit for yourself manually.
[00:10:09] Maybe there's a use case for this.
[00:10:14] But yeah, I just wanted to make a video about this because I'm pretty curious and yeah,
[00:10:22] a bit puzzled about this, why this is not integrated into everything where is in audio
[00:10:30] output.
[00:10:31] So this should have a threshold value and this plugin should be integrated into Bitwig
[00:10:42] itself or in every other DAW on the market.
[00:10:46] And I don't know why this isn't the case.
[00:10:50] So don't get me wrong on this topic.
[00:10:52] I'm not mad about anything.
[00:10:55] It's just, I really like to have functions like this integrated into DAWs or to behave
[00:11:03] to normalize like I would, but I think it's pretty great.
[00:11:07] We have these solutions at the moment and I want to encourage you visit hornet-pluckins.com.
[00:11:14] Savirio make pretty great small little useful tools and they are pretty cheap.
[00:11:20] There's also a summer sale as you can see.
[00:11:23] And yeah, I hope we see something like this integrated into Bitwig soon.
[00:11:30] Would be nice.
[00:11:33] And I also understand that there are a lot of mixing engineers out there that don't want
[00:11:39] to have something like this at all.
[00:11:42] They want to set all the volumes manually because that's their job.
[00:11:49] But for me in my daily work, when I tweak a lot of small stuff and the game changes all
[00:11:56] the time, I want to have a tool like this that compensates for all my changes would
[00:12:01] be pretty great.
[00:12:03] And I want to close down this video here and thanks for watching.
[00:12:07] And I'll see you in the next video with more creative and constructive content.
[00:12:15] Hopefully.
[00:12:16] Thanks for watching.