In the mixing stage, it’s very easy to push the levels a bit too far or just add too many sounds in to the same frequency range making the mix clip at times and after the mixdown (exporting to WAV), you have a piece of music with a distortion which doesn’t sound good at all. Nastily clipping song is very hard or impossible to fix afterwards and as frustrating to master.
Luckily there’s an way to make sure the clipping won’t destroy your mixdown. What is it? Export to WAV using 32-bit floating point format (It’s the native format of FL Studio mix engine).
The thing is, 32-bit floating point format has a virtually unlimited amount of headroom (Headroom is the space between the highest signal peak and 0.0dB, measured by dB’s. Anything peaking above 0.0dB will usually cause clipping). By exporting your song to WAV using 32-bit floating point format, you don’t have to worry about the clipping issue: just normalize the exported wave file and you’re all good.
However, if you exceed the 0.0dB limit while mixing, you will HEAR clipping. But the clipping doesn’t happen inside FL Studio – it’s just the signal that goes to the DA-converter of your sound card. So no audio data has been actually destroyed.
Okay, I’ll demonstrate all this in the following video:
Even so, don’t be fooled by the 32-bit floating point system. You still need to mix your songs properly by setting the levels in balance (my mixing guidelines might help you out) and it ‘s always a good practice to keep the peaks below 0.0dB. And if you wan’t to edit your WAV file with a third party program, it needs to support 32-bit floating point format – otherwise you need to export your WAV to 24-bit or even 16-bit and these won’t protect you from clipping. So try to make it a habit to not exceed the 0.0dB. Just to be safe. 🙂
ps. Thanks to Nucelon for bringing this up.