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[Image: trakmeter_thumb.png]

Loudness meter for correctly setting up tracking and mixing levels (gain staging).

Digital recordings
The digital revolution brought many advantages to the field of audio processing: higher fidelity, less noise, non-degrading copies and the endless possibilities of digital signal processing. Unfortunately, however, digital audio also introduced some problems of its own.

Whereas the analogue domain is relatively inert against very high levels (overdriving some analogue equipment actually sounds pretty good), the digital domain punishes even small transgressions into forbidden territory with harsh clipping.

Gain staging
Professional analogue audio equipment is designed to be run at a nominal level of +4 dBu. This leaves a headroom for peaks of at least 20 dB to the clipping point.

Now let’s transfer this to the digital domain. First, choose an analogue reference level for your converter. Then, record with an average input level of -20 dB FS RMS.

I also recommend recording with a maximum level of -10 dB FS peak. This will leave enough space for sudden jumps in level and may also improve the sound of your recordings.

Why traKmeter?
Sadly, most digital audio equipment only has peak meters. This is readily understandable as you want to avoid digital clippings by all means. However, badly chosen meter ranges and scales often render these meters useless. And the lack of average meters does not exactly facilitate gain staging.

When I had realised this, I started coding traKmeter. It has evolved with my growing knowledge and recording experience, but the underlying ideas haven’t changed at all.

traKmeter has an average level meter that is centered around -20 dB FS RMS and a peak level meter that is aligned to -10 dB FS peak. It supports stereo and 8-channel audio signals, has two scales, two ballistics modes and is very easy to use. Additionally, all meters have been thoroughly validated.

Windows 7 (and above)
LV2 plug-in
VST2 plug-in
VST3 plug-in
stand-alone executable