Now I'm a great believer in proper gain-staging in the DAW and I prefer to not bang into plugins with hot levels. I use Cubase which has trim at the beginning of each channel, so it's trivially reasy to set a healthy level into a plugin chain. Setting plugins for near-as-damn-it unity gain gives a relatively low output level, and smashing the guts out of it with a limiter then takes us to the expected listening levels - but in this case I wanted to have NO limiting. My peaks were rather lower than I needed for the final version, so I needed to apply clean gain - but which way?
- One option is to use the master channel fader - easy enough with about 6dB of boost available pre-dither.
- Or a clean gain plugin after the other inserts
- Another option is to apply the master buss effects on a sub buss and use the actual master buss trim to take the level-up.
- Or add overall gain on the output of the compressor plugin
- Or -use a final slot (pre dither) limiter with no gain reduction.
Overall there are several ways to skin this particular cat. This particular performance really needed to be clean and so I ended-up re-testing a number of assumptions about how gain works in the DAW. The different aproaches are really about workflow rather than effect - they all work. I'd be really interested to know what works for other folks?