The Music & Work of Eric Beam
Hardware gain staging (with the DAW in mind).

For many when confronted with the terms dBFS, dBu, +4/-10, VU, etc their eyes gloss over. Without understanding a few simple concepts, integrating your DAW with external hardware can be a game of trial & frustration.

To properly drive & take full advantage of hardware in the analog realm, you need to 1st understand what signal level the device is designed to receive. This is when dBu comes into play.

  • dBu – (dB in reference to 1 mW at 600 ohms, equal to 0.775 V) All you really need to know is this is a measurement standard for audio signals.

Most professional audio gear is made/calibrated to function in a +4 dBu = 0VU environment. This means when a +4 dBu signal hits the hardware input, it will read 0 VU on the hardware’s VU meter.

  • VU – Unit of measurement originally developed in 1939 by the combined effort of Bell Labs and broadcasters CBS and NBC for measuring and standardizing the levels of telephone lines.

The question that often comes up is “How do my DAW levels relate to my hardware?”

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Pro Tools 3rd Party interface record offset. Explained by Dead Man Johnson…

Ever wonder why the timing of what you record sounds so off? Or why you get phase problems while parallel processing out of the box? Well you might just have horrible timing, or you might need to figure out your I/O offsets.  A/D D/A’s, drivers, & software can all contribute to this problem.

Video Update for Pro Tools 11.

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1176 Rev A clone

Finished up my 1176 Rev A clone. Mnat & hairball audio have really put together a great resource for authentic 1176 builds. The component choices & custom transformers are top notch. Unlike the current UA reissue you can choose between Continue reading

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I decided to run a quick comparison between programming a 2 bar drum loop via the Akai MPC 3000 & doing the same via Protools/midi track & a software sampler. I used the same samples for both. (my MFB-522 sample set.) I transferred the samples into the MPC via the analog  i/o. I also wanted to compare the “swing”, For the MPC I set the swing to 52%, & for the protools midi track I applied the “MPC 52%” swing quantize. The swing is very close but you can hear a difference with the hats & dual snare hits. The biggest audible difference is from the MPC’s signal-path. The MPC changes the overall frequency response & can add some grit if pushed.

I have to mention this comparison is only focusing on the “sound” not the functionality or advantages of using one over the other. For myself the MPC is 2nd to none with realtime sequencing workflow & interchange with my hardware synths/outboard. DAW midi timing/latency has never been consistent for me when dealing with hardware.

These are the results of my comparison.

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Improved AD/DA Conversion with external synchronization/clock?

Marketing leads us to believe that AD/DA Conversion will improve with external synchronization/clocks. This is not the case.

It’s no mystery that multiple digital devices need common clock reference to communicate properly. Large studios need common (house clock) to communicate from device to device & room to room. But do personal project studios benefit from external synchronization?

The short answer is no.

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Bring the noise!

For everyone that designs, tests, creates, calibrates, or has an odd preference for what they consider “listening enjoyment”, This is for you.

Having calibrated utility & test files is a must for any audio engineer. The corner-stone being pink noise. When it comes to generating tones/noise ITB I have found most DAW to be severely lacking in this area. After much frustration with the incorrect Pro Tools signal generator “Pink”. I’ve captured Tones/Noise from a calibrated D-Scope & Dolby SDU4. I’ve also included the “industry standard” DMU file that is most commonly used.

Source –

  • Prism dScope III via AES 24bit/96/48/44100
  • Dolby SDU4 via AMS MIOS 24bit/96/48/44100
  • Dolby DMU

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The never-ending question ITB vs OTB summing. I’m an advocate for analog processing no doubt, So in turn analog summing is convenient. But in terms of summing alone without processing..?? The question is still up in the air.

As an experiment I’d like to see what is preferred after some blind A/B testing. One of these is summed ITB. The other is 16 channels worth in the analog realm via a passive summing bus + makeup gain.

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