Setting up the same volume for every sound > how?

Hi there.

One of the biggest problems with keyboard guy (like me) is that every sound has another volume.
Like the FOH guy says: “10 Sounds = 20 different Volumes” :slight_smile:

How do you guys deal with that?
A bargraph meter and a db Value next to the “master Output Gain” in canabile would be very usefeul. (is is this already there and I can’t find it?) It would also be useful to have a “CLIP LED” which is always on once a specific (0dB) volume was reached. (and it should be reset-able with clicking onto the CLIP LED)… like in many DAWs.

I see the “Main Speakers” volume meter in the “monitor” section… but it doesn’t show any values. And I can’t make the meter bigger.


Too many guys look at meters.
The perceived sound may be much louder or softer than the meter tells you, It’s about where the* predominant energy* of a sound is.
50 hz can send the meters to the end stops without causing too much ear damage. Try that in the hi midrange and see what happens! Some textures need to be louder than others, and some softer - regardless of what the meter says.
As long as you’re not overloading, it’s how it balances to the ear that is most important.

Putting that to one side, I find the best way to achieve balance, assuming you’re working with other players, is to play the loudest song. Set your gain to that. Then play the softest song , Adjust the gain for that.
To achieve that, and assuming that you have your internal balance the way you want it, you should be able to run all your racks and top level VST devices to a rack devoted to volume only.
You can store the fader state of that rack for each song. You can even apply a midi controller to that fader for easy adjustment.

So, two things.
1, Make sure your internal balance between your various plugins is as you desire it.
2, Set the loudest and softest songs while playing with your band and store that gain into a master rack,
3. Adjust all other songs as desired and store those.

LOL 3 things. :smile:

This only fails if other members of your band are not consistent with their levels.

Compressors are a compromise that should only be used in this context as an absolute emergency measure, to control peaks which can wreck your sound. (That is, when the use of a compressor is for anything other than a creative decision, I’d be very careful.)

That worked good when I was young and when we made band rehearsals every week and play the songs again and again. Now I have a new band and we’ll play every song only 1 time… after that… we will play the gig. (and never practice again)

I used a Roland Fantom X6 and a mackie mixer, which has an led output meter with some more leds then the cheaper mixers… that worked fine for me for the last years.
The FOH guy expects always the same level from the musicians. Also because small shows might be played with no FOH guy… the Drummer is the FOH guy.

The mackie 802 VLZ3 mixer I used had 12 Leds, and db meters usually have a full wave bridge rectifier infront of the db meter with defined db steps. I think this might work better then the continuous meter in cantabile.

So… as I don’t have the chance to play the song over and over again with the band to setup the level, I think I’ll try to use my mackie again… at least when adjusting the levels after I created the sounds.

Another thing is… how do you guys deal with Keyboard Solo-Volumes?
Do you add more volume when playing the solo?
Or should this be automated? Say… with +3dB on every solo?


Plain meters are only limited help when calibrating your sounds - peak meters are useless, and RMS meters are also of limited value - as @Ade outlined above, different frequencies have different impact.

What I do to calibrate:

  • I use LUFS meter by Klangfreund to measure my output; it’s part of my master rack. LU (loudness units) is a frequency-weighted measurement and is better at estimating actual loudness
  • with LUFS meter, I do a rough calibration of my sounds so they are all at the -26 dB LUFS, which is a good level to give enough headroom for solos and peaks. For this calibration, I play the sounds at a medium volume in their intended style - not just long single notes.
  • next, I play these sounds with my standard “loudness calibration” MP3 loops - essentially a middle-of-the-road mix of some drums, bass and guitar playing a basic rock beat in A. One of these loops has no keys at all, the other has a “reference” piano playing for two bars, muted for the next two bars, so I can alternate between reference and my current sound. With these two loops, I fine-tune the first calibration “by ear” to adjust to different sound characteristics.
  • All this I do at rack state level, so I can make sure that my rack “presets” are pretty uniform in loudness
  • Last, I do some final adjustments of levels at song level - I may need my piano to be a bit softer in a quiet ballad than in an uptempo number. Or when I pull together layered sounds, I need to look at the overall level across all layers and adjust accordingly.
  • For solos or effect sounds (brass stabs), I kick in an additional 3-4 dB in level, plus frequently an additional EQ with a slight presence boost. Mostly, I have “Solo” sounds in my racks, which have these additions pre-dialed-in, but in some songs, I simply automate the gain control with a “solo” state
  • This should keep your sound guy/gal happy: levels are consistent, and no need to push a fader for every solo - your tech can concentrate on the overall mix

Hope this helps!




Your FOH guy probably doesn’t want all sounds to be the same level - he probably wants all your levels to be the correct level relative to each other, so he can sit back and not have to make adjustments. I doubt he means that a quiet pad in the background of a ballad should be the same as that gut-busting Hammond organ in a heavy rock song. What this means is that unless you want to be riding volume controls throughout your gig, you need to go through your songs at home and carefully pre-program your levels, probably by playing along to a good recording of the songs and using your ears as Ade suggests. Just make sure your recordings are all at the same level, so you’re not aiming for a moving target. A good level meter plugin can also be useful if you know roughly what levels you need to aim for, or what levels are generally too low or too high. But as Ade says, different types of sounds cut through completely differently at the same meter level, so use them with caution. I use traKmeter, but there are plenty of other good free level meter plugins.

For solo volumes, it’s the same as anything else, just make sure the levels you pre-program are set at the correct relative level to everything else. Perhaps a piano solo in a ballad only needs a couple of extra dB, whereas a synth solo in a loud song with guitars might need an extra 6dB. I certainly wouldn’t choose a standard +3dB or whatever.

For venues with a good PA setup and decent FOH guy, another thing you can consider is to send more outputs to FOH. I send 4 stereo pairs, for pianos, leads/solos, organs/pads, and Mellotrons. This means the leads can always be kept fairly high by the FOH guy, and he can also independently tweak the levels of things when I’m playing multiple sounds at once if he needs to (eg to bring out a lead more, if I’m playing organ with it). You just need to pre-program which audio outputs each Cantabile rack/plugin sends to for each part of each song. But depending on the venues you play, you might not be offered the luxury of more than a basic stereo pair. To help matters, make sure you have your own DI boxes for all your sends, then all the venue needs is enough connectors on their stage box, and enough faders on the FOH desk.


Something else which I’ve setup, and found to be very useful, is a sub-rack with a controller to gain - and the range of control is limited from-3 to +3db
In this way, you can achieve soft control of your master gain without risking jumping to full blast or disappearing into the abyss.
The idea of giving stems to the FOH, as Neil is doing, also has some appeal, especially where material is being performed without production rehearsal. i.e. just getting through the song once.

That worked good when I was young and when we made band rehearsals every week and play the songs again and again. Now I have a new band and we’ll play every song only 1 time… after that… we will play the gig. (and never practice again)

I think you might find it works good now that you’re old! :wink: Once you have some base parameters set between softest and loudest, you can pretty much slot in new material with some degree of confidence. You have to give yourself at least some kind of starting point to address the problem you’re discussing here otherwise you’ll be chasing your tail, looking at meters which don’t really tell you what your ears (and the ears of your FOH person) are telling you.

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