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Viewing topic "+12db Output gain causing internal compression/clipping?"

     
Posted on: August 12, 2016 @ 02:44 PM
The Beatsmith
Total Posts:  42
Joined  04-15-2006
status: Regular

Hi all,

Long time since I’ve had to worry about Motif issues! I have a Classic 6 that I still use pretty much everyday :-)

For the past few years, I’ve had the Utility / I/O / Output / OutputL&R;gain set to +12dB. I use it in a studio environment and I’m going straight into an SSL Alphalink SX.

I used +12 to get the levels up a healthy amount, nowhere near 0dbFS but around-10 to -6 or so, and to reduce the signal to noise ratio. Setting it to 0db has me recording in at around -23 or even lower, which just means I have to boost up the gain in the DAW afterwards.

However, I’m only just now noticing some internal clipping on the Motif with the +12 setting. This is especially apparent with drum sounds, which I rarely use, but was messing around with the other day. Even though the drum/kick sound might only peak at -6dBFS in my DAW, it sounds a clipped.

For example, if you set the gain on +12 on the Motif and record in the audio, I can see the kick transient is rounded off a bit.

If I set the setting to 0dB on the Motif and record the kick in, then boost the clip gain by 12dB, the sound is very different (Uncompressed/clipped), and the waveforms often look completely different.

To clarify, I’m in Voice mode and the levels recording in the DAW are quite conservative. It’s not clipping in the DAW. The volume slider on the Motif is set to max, and I’m connecting to my SSL Alphalink via balanced cables, but I’ve also used unbalanced cables, the result is exactly the same. The SSL inputs are all +4dB.

Am I missing something here? Why is the Motif clipping internally at such a low level? Why even offer the option of +18dB if even quiet sounds are going to clip? Especially when there’s no indication of when it’s clipping?

What is your Motif output gain set to?

Many thanks!

Ed

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Posted on: August 12, 2016 @ 03:56 PM
5pinDIN
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Joined  09-16-2010
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How does it sound with headphones connected directly to the Motif PHONES jack?

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Posted on: August 12, 2016 @ 04:06 PM
The Beatsmith
Total Posts:  42
Joined  04-15-2006
status: Regular
5pinDIN - 12 August 2016 03:56 PM

How does it sound with headphones connected directly to the Motif PHONES jack?

Hi!

It sounds the same - meaning, as an extreme, If i set the output to +18dB and i play the kick, it’s obviously distorted. Setting the output to 0dB and playing the kick, it’s not distorted, but just very quiet.

Turning down the volume slider on the Motif doesn’t affect the level of distortion.

For example, try DR: RockST1, the kick. Play it hard with +12 or +18, it will clip, regardless of the volume slider level (watch your ears in headphones, however!).

Now, for low impedance headphones, this will be very loud and playing the board with the output gain in the Motif set to 0dB is enough.. But for my SSL interface, the hardest kick at +12dB will only reach -5dbFS, and it clearly sounds distorted from within the Motif. If I play the kick with the Motif set to 0dB output gain, it’s peaking at -20dbFS, which is a bit low.

If I play some DX7 style EP chords with the output gain at 0dB, it’s around -30dBFS to -35dBFS in my DAW… so that +12dB boost is useful.

Cheers!

Ed

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Posted on: August 12, 2016 @ 10:15 PM
5pinDIN
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The Motifs (Classic/ES/XS/XF) were not designed to output +4dBu levels. While there could be a problem with your Classic, it’s more likely that you just need to amplify its output a bit before the SSL interface.

If you route a Part to the assignable outputs, and set all the output gains to +12dB, how do the main/assignable/phones outputs compare, with reference to the distortion you’ve experienced? If they all sound about the same, I would suggest that you get a small mixer and insert it between the Motif’s outs and the interface’s ins. You could then reduce the Motif’s output setting to 0 or +6dB (at which there should be no internally generated distortion), and then increase gain on the mixer to satisfy the input requirements of the interface. I believe your SSL will accept levels as high as +22dBu.

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Posted on: August 13, 2016 @ 09:19 PM
The Beatsmith
Total Posts:  42
Joined  04-15-2006
status: Regular
5pinDIN - 12 August 2016 10:15 PM

The Motifs (Classic/XS/XF) were not designed to output +4dBu levels. While there could be a problem with your Classic, it’s more likely that you just need to amplify its output a bit before the SSL interface.

That’s cool, thanks. I’ve worked hard to have a low noise/ground loop level, so I’m hoping I can simply set it to, say, +6dB (if this definitely has no distortion) and then add +6dB clean clip gain in my DAW, or as desired. I’m happy with the quality of the sound, and would love to avoid spending lots of money on a Radial DI box.

I even switched to MIDI cables vs the lower latency USB to get rid of the digital noises that transfer across.

5pinDIN - 12 August 2016 10:15 PM

If you route a Part to the assignable outputs, and set all the output gains to +12dB, how do the main/assignable/phones outputs compare, with reference to the distortion you’ve experienced?

Yes, indeed it’s the same!

5pinDIN - 12 August 2016 10:15 PM

If they all sound about the same, I would suggest that you get a small mixer and insert it between the Motif’s outs and the interface’s ins. You could then reduce the Motif’s output setting to 0 or +6dB (at which there should be no internally generated distortion), and then increase gain on the mixer to satisfy the input requirements of the interface. I believe your SSL will accept levels as high as +22dBu.

That makes sense! I suppose I have two questions:

1) Why would Yamaha provide the +12 and +18dB output options if the Motif doesn’t have the headroom to deal with them? Especially since there’s no ‘red light’ to indicate any warning/clipping.

2) Would you or anybody be able to confirm that the +6dB output gain setting ‘safe’? I’d love to hear what you think, but In the meantime, I did a little test; I’ll spare you the audio files (unless you’re interested!), but check out the attached picture.

It shows a kick drum from DR: RockSt1 at 127 velocity, with various settings:

1) L&R;Gain: 0dB
2) L&R;Gain: 0dB + 6db Clip Gain
3) L&R;Gain: 6db
4) L&R;Gain: 6dB + 6db Clip Gain
5) L&R;Gain: 12dB
6) L&R;Gain: 18dB

As you can see, once we get to 12dB gain, it’s obviously rounding off the transient, and it’s audible.

But the option of using +6dB and then adding clean clip gain in the DAW looks like a good option - I couldn’t hear any obvious distortion/artifacts, with this example anyway and you can see that the dynamic range is preserved.

Would love some confirmation on if anyone elses Motif clips at +12 and +18 gain settings, and also if anyone knows if the +6dB output gain setting is definitely ‘safe’ and shouldn’t produce any clipping.

Thanks for any help that you can give!!!

Ed

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Posted on: August 13, 2016 @ 09:23 PM
The Beatsmith
Total Posts:  42
Joined  04-15-2006
status: Regular

Can’t seem to post a picture, I’ll try a link instead: https://i.imgsafe.org/000297d6d6.jpg

I also looked at (and listened to) the 0dB Motif audio with +12dB DAW clip gain and compared it to the +6dB Motif gain with +6dB DAW clip gain and they look and sound the same to me!

Thanks!

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Posted on: August 14, 2016 @ 04:46 AM
5pinDIN
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Total Posts:  9519
Joined  09-16-2010
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The Beatsmith - 13 August 2016 09:19 PM

1) Why would Yamaha provide the +12 and +18dB output options if the Motif doesn’t have the headroom to deal with them? Especially since there’s no ‘red light’ to indicate any warning/clipping.

I’m not privy to Yamaha’s design choices, but I suspect they wanted to provide a means of increasing level of a User sound that was otherwise too low. Typically that wouldn’t be the case with Presets, and in general drum/percussion sounds are a bit “hot” - because they’re of short duration, they might otherwise sound too low in volume.

The Classic is the only model on which the output levels can be set so high. The ES/XS/XF have only two settings, 0dB and +6dB. The +6dB setting is the default, so only a lower level can be selected. That leaves room for levels in Master EQ to be raised without immediate risk of clipping. Even so, if the EQ levels are raised sufficiently, clipping can occur - I’ve certainly experienced it on my XS and XF.

 

The Beatsmith -

2) Would you or anybody be able to confirm that the +6dB output gain setting ‘safe’?

In this situation, ‘safe’ is relative. If the gain isn’t substantially increased (internally) elsewhere, then it probably would be ‘safe’. As I mentioned, other models have the +6dB setting as default, and I believe that’s also the default (as new or after a factory reset) for the Classic.

 

The Beatsmith -

I’d love to hear what you think, but In the meantime, I did a little test; I’ll spare you the audio files (unless you’re interested!), but check out the attached picture. [...]

Yes, the clipping is obvious at the higher output level settings.

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Posted on: August 14, 2016 @ 04:56 AM
5pinDIN
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Total Posts:  9519
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The Beatsmith - 13 August 2016 09:23 PM

Can’t seem to post a picture, I’ll try a link instead: https://i.imgsafe.org/000297d6d6.jpg

I also looked at (and listened to) the 0dB Motif audio with +12dB DAW clip gain and compared it to the +6dB Motif gain with +6dB DAW clip gain and they look and sound the same to me!

Thanks!

You’re welcome - I’m glad you found gain settings that apparently meet your needs.

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