Wanted to seek some advice/discussion re sounds levels in Zoom self tests vs sound levels achieved during the OM, and I suppose, the OM sound experience in general.
I realise I’m not Robinson Crusoe here re these and similar challenges, but it’s becoming a bit frustrating that the levels I’m hearing during self testing ( ie creating a Zoom meeting, playing, recording it and listening back), are not reflected in my OM. Sorry about the long post, but thought it best to get it down in one hit. I’m reasonably comfortable now with my current setup below, as I feel it gives me alot of options along the chain, it appears stable, plus its provides an ongoing learning experience. It also provides a very easy switch between recording AVOYPS, and streaming to Zoom. I’m pretty technically savvy, but this is relatively new subject matter. I realise as well that there are many ways of doing this with different gear and setups, and I have learnt a lot through this great community in this regard.
Focusrite -》Reaper-》OBS -》Zoom
(Using Windows 10)
Focusrite 2i2 ( Input1- Guitar, Input 2 - Mic, Headphone monitors in headphone jack)
Reaper - 3 tracks.
(i) Guitar ( + any effects )
(ii) Vocals ( + any effects)
(iii) Backing Track (optional)
All tracks routed individually to OBS via Rearoute, rather than directly via the master track. This way I can have separate inputs into OBS to individually control any settings for each track input.
3. OBS Corresponding inputs in the mixer for Guitar/Vocals/Backing Track. Webcam
Using Virtual Audio Cable and virtual camera to send all to Zoom. All global audio devices disabled in OBS. Have a compressor and limiter on the vocals, basically to help retain volume levels when I’d turn away from my dynamic mic. ( Much learning to be done there)
Zoom Speaker -》Focusrite. Mic -》Virtual audio cable. Original sound on etc.
All the above working fine, and levels all sound good during recording tests in Reaper, OBS and Zoom self test.
Now I realise local network configurations, wider network behavior, Zoom resource management etc can play a part in sound issues like dropouts, static, distortion, echoing etc. I’m not referring to those here, as I’m not having those types of issues.
I’m referring specifically to the sound levels/ mix of guitar, vocals, and any backing tracks.
In the recent OM, I did several Zoom ‘self-meetings’ to test, and then configure and fine tune my guitar/vocal/ backing track levels, so I had a good overall mix between the 3; the aim being to have the vocals sit above the guitar/backing track, with the guitar perhaps slightly more prominent than usual ( being a guitar community after all). The end result being I was happy where everything sat in the mix.
At the OM, when I started playing, the sound of my guitar was very low to my ears, almost a dry sound. ( in fact, the instant I hit the unmute button on Zoom). Vocals sounded fine, backing track sounded a bit loud but OK. Volume knob on guitar was in the right place, but while playing I did notice the guitar input on my Focusrite never hit the green light once. I saw the vocal input pumping away in the green no problem. Alerted me that something was amiss somewhere, despite all being ‘perfect’ immediately prior. Threw me out as I couldn’t ‘lock in’ to the song properly. Anyway I got through it, so no excuses there.
Immediately after finishing my performance, and hitting mute on Zoom, I strummed my guitar and the sound level returned to ‘normal’.
Just listened to the OM recording sent to performers, and the discrepancy in my levels were even more prominent than I’d heard. The guitar levels were way low, and the backing track was too high. (The backing track was a custom track, with all guitars, vocals removed, so basically just piano and drums). Vocals sounded fine.
I suppose after all this ranting, my basic problem is how can I trust my ears to get the mix levels right locally, when those levels don’t appear to be reflected in Zoom. Or more to the point, what compensatory measures may I need to undertake locally in my mixing, so I’m achieving the desired sound mix levels in Zoom?
I am missing something somewhere, perhaps in a few places, not in part due to my inexperience with the subject matter.
Appreciate any input.