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Old 12th January 2013, 04:51 PM   #11
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Oneonta, NY; USA
"What does it mean to peak the VU meter at 3% harmonic Distortion?"

If you think about it, what's a VU meter actually telling you? It's responding, somehow, to the audio level you are trying to record. You probably want it to give you some representation of the full, flat (un-equalized) audio spectrum, and respond as fast as it can, realizing that it has inertia and can't really follow the peaks - that's why some "modern" recorders also included a "Peak Level LED".

That said, as you increase the amount of signal recorded on the tape while looking at the harmonic distortion, once you get to a certain level, the HD increases very rapidly, indicating that you are approaching tape saturation. It makes sense that if you can, you try to set a point, somewhere on the upper scale of your machine's VU meter that correlates to some known level of HD, above which you may not want to go. I think that most VU meters indicate up to (at least) "+3", and my memory is that a lot of studios set the 3% HD level (for a particular tape formulation) to this +3. Just to keep you happy, please understand that once this level is set and the signal backed off so that the VU meter now reads "0", the HD at this level is probably down in the tenths of a percent. In the end it's how it sounds - right??

I'm actually going to be doing some dubbing shortly and have calibrated the meters on my Revox to the above level (for new RMG LPR35 tape). Will listen to the results while varying the record level and attempt to correlate audible distortion to a (peaking) meter deflection - in an attempt to find out that - let's say, I drive the meter to +3 (peaks) and not hear any problem; or maybe I need to back off a bit, or can I maybe I can actually "hit it harder".
In the end it's how it sounds -right?


Charles

Last edited by stellavox; 12th January 2013 at 04:57 PM.
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