Gainstaging & Headroom

Is there a nominal level for volume and gain levels across the board for good gainstaging? I’m noticing I’m internally clipping once I punch up volume on the compressor - maybe I should be dialing that back and using output gain instead?

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Overbridge or standalone?

I don’t know about OB, but standalone the compressor can be an interesting distortion !

Having gain settings problems too, I think a mixer or other meter reference can really help, and choose a Master level position for good. MAX?
Tracks Overdrive increase volume too, not easy to set up! Probably some topics about it!

Standalone. I guess I’m just trying to understand how much headroom there is in each channel vs master buss, and whether it’s different going though the overdrive and compressor circuits. And given how… opaque we are to what’s actually bypassed, I don’t count myself on testing it thoroughly. I’d mostly just love to get a dev in here to answer this, because it feels like if I’m pushing my AR2, I’m very easily clipping. This is fine if I’m routing to an external mixer because I can just boost the gain there, but if I’m using it alone with headphones, it’s more troublesome, especially if I’m driving a higher-impedance set of headphones.

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Second this down to a tee. Especially using the unit standalone with headphones. Though my issues were mostly with samples driving the filter way too hard.

I even tried a splitter cable to listen to the main outs instead since they are 450 ohm instead of 45 ohm. I think we have similar cans too (dt990 here.) if you are the guy from discord I think you are :smiley: The splitter thing did not work, the main outs were actually lower in volume for me.

Anyways, I’ve tamed it down enough to enjoy the sound and find the distortion is there and usable when I want it still:

I keep track volumes at full. Their use is just to fade sounds in/out in a performance. Amp page volume steady at 100 and then I use the source or sample page for my actual volume mixing. If I introduce overdrive, I will cut the amp amount to compensate.

I keep the Volume in the compressor at 100 (boosted from stock) and just use makeup to balance comp volume dips only.

Its still a bit unclear though and as a noob I would love some best practices from EK themselves. My first few days with the unit had me hating the sound. I’m glad I came around though.

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Yall just need to get used to it. The gainstage aspects of analog drum machines and their infinite interactions with sound coming out is what sets them apart from most digital drum machines, and when dialled in just right, really make a pattern come alive. When you get enough hours in with the rytm, that stuff will just come naturally to you. I’m currently going through the same process with my RD-8, bit by bit getting better at it.

If you are really fussed, use sinewave samples loaded into the voices. Nonlinearity and saturation is pretty easy to hear with sinewave test signals.


Dude solid advice on that sine-wave thing. Major props.

I am getting used to the AR but this has already helped train my ear to the sound of the drive and when it happens.

It’s nothing about getting used to it. I’ve had my Rytm for over a year, used it for multiple live gigs, and as a professional sound engineer, it still feels like there’s way too little headroom at various parts of the gainstage. Having some good documentation on this would be nice.

Sine wave samples don’t translate to signals with a lot of harmonics. I’m not looking to hear how the nonlinear saturation sounds, I’m looking to figure out the threshold of clipping.

I did some tests using the onboard single cycle waves (using a mixer at 0dbu = -18.5dbfs) and observed the output with Bluecat frequency analyser and oscilloscope in on computer.

With a normalised sample source the sine showed noticeable clipping and harmonics when the sample level was raised above 100. It hit the overdrive circuit at 101. The oscilloscope showed very minimal change in shape but the harmonics were noticeable and exactly the same harmonics as if I increased the drive. Amp level made no difference to those harmonics.

I tested the compression in a similar way (with fastest attack and release with 1:2 ratio after matching the wet level with 127 threshold), distortion kicked in when threshold hit 96.

After all this I then checked the levels of this going into the octatrack, inputs and outputs seem to clip whenever signal exceeded 0dbu.

I have now reset all the LEDs on my mixer to show red the moment it hits 0db instead of always casually riding it higher :wink:



For me it starts with this:

That’s the only thing I’ve adequately crossreferenced/tested by now. I’ve marked the exact position of my Rytm master volume knob; where the master output is the same volume as the individual outputs.

Which is relevant because the individual outputs have a fixed volume that isn’t changing together with the master volume knob.

Interestingly, at init patch settings, the individual outs are not leveled to the master volume knob at 100%, but somewhere just beyond 75% (the master volume knob).

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Thanks all for reviving this thread some fascinating discussion here

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Worth mentioning, my tests were done with master volume knob at Max with all track levels at 127. Also worth noting I don’t fully understand the OT gain stage (and just sent it thru whatever project I had open) so take that part with a grain of salt.

I’m pretty sure adjusting the master knob did not effect distortion levels of the compressor, and track levels did not effect the overdrive amount pre-comp.

I haven’t touched the hardware individual outputs or compared with OB levels yet, but I would assume with an init patch all track levels default to 100 (attenuated?). I also had to adjust the compressor output from default for the dry signal to match uncompressed wet, I think level was 100 with 12 make up gain.

I turn the Global distortion up to about 20 and then the whole thing clips. It’s glorious.


I also find myself surprised how quickly the AR runs into issues with a clipping output signal. I use the track volume for balancing volumes across tracks. My rule of thumb is so set the kick drum to a track volume of 60 and mix all other tracks accordingly from that point. This way, I usually have at least -6db headroom.

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