Mixing Tip: Use 32-Bit Floating Point Format To Avoid Clipping

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Use 32-Bit Floating Point Format To Avoid Clipping

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.

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21 Comments on "Mixing Tip: Use 32-Bit Floating Point Format To Avoid Clipping"

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Jon W

Great tip!

I’ve been using 32 bit floating because I assumed it was the best option, but didn’t really no why.

So now I do 🙂

Thanks!

Petri Suhonen

Neat little trick yeah 🙂

Chad

Hey, how are you Petri? Good I hope. I have a question about exporting out to WAV. What if I created the beat on another system like Native Instruments Maschine? I bounced the track to FL to mix there, can I still follow your suggestion on the exporting out and importing back into FL? Thank you for your time.

Jabari

Yeah same here.. Now I know what its for

RP

Would these be OK to do on individual tracks you want to bounce to audio and re-import? Or is this a technique best applied to the master buss?

Petri Suhonen

Yep, it works with individual tracks as well.

DSP
hahaha man this is very slick, i dont know if this can fix a bad mix, a distorted mix or unclear mix, anyway i do some experiments. But until then i have 1 questions and is about mixing. How to start a mixing process? 1. With Master track empty 2. With some eq, compression… (mastering setup) After experiments….i find that no mater how good it is a mix, when mastered bringing eq, compression, limiter… the whole track will change, you know? Everything will change, your track become louder and louder and this will afect entire track: dynamics, harmonics and even… Read more »
Petri Suhonen
Hey there! This won’t fix a bad or unclear mix, but will help you to avoid the distortion which happens if you push the level faders too far. However, I have to say this: it’s ALWAYS a best practice to avoid clipping by simply turning your faders down and keeping everything in moderate level. It won’t hurt you 🙂 Now to your question about mixing/mastering: If you can make your mixes sound good in a way like you described, then it’s ok. Everything depends what kind of mix you wan’t to achieve and what’s the end result you are after… Read more »
dsp
Well, I read that article a few days ago. You know how I got on this site? I search on google for flp mastering template 🙂 I found something, also i found this site and i read some tutorials. After a while using the same technique, and or experiment new tehnique you get into a monotonous situation. Music evolves and you have to step with her. I do not have great equipment, and i know, without some acceptable gear it is impossible to get a good, good, warm and nice sound. I heard some songs of yours on youtube, and… Read more »
Petri Suhonen

Cool, as they say Google is your friend (mostly) 🙂 And I agree, trying out different production methods is highly recommended to avoid stagnating.

About the good equipment: I think the key is to learn the gear and software you already have throughly. You can make incredibly good sounding music even with free software if you know how to use them 🙂

Thanks for checking my music, btw 🙂 In some of my downtempo style of songs I’m using drumloops yeah.

Oh and Tiesto got a permission to play my stuff through my record label, but it was cool nonetheless 😀

Denis
Tiesto played your material? That must be really cool my friend, congratulations! And btw I exported my track in FL Studio on 32 bit float .wav at around -4 dB but it still clipped at a few points. Should I re-import the track in a new FL project file, then click “normalise” so that the entire wave would shrink a little and export again as 32 bit float without clipping, then send it for mastering? Or should I just pull down the master fader to around -6 dB straightaway to avoid any possible clipping? The reason I didnt do this… Read more »
Petri Suhonen

Thank u, Denis! Yea it was cool indeed to see Tiesto playing ‘The Wall’!

About sending your track for mastering: skilled mastering engineer has all the necessary tools and know-how to make it louder, so don’t worry about it sounding too “soft”. Just make sure you leave enough headroom for him to work by droping the master fader -6db like you said or even more. Also, no need to normalize it. And use either 24 or 32 bit depth. Also, ask the mastering engineer if he has any other requirements for the track.

Hope this helps!

V-Tyle

Thanks, your tutorials are always great!!!Keep more coming.

Petri Suhonen

Will do, thanks!

Austin

Quick question, I use fl studio’s too and whenever i open a new song it automatically puts a default limiter on the master. I have producing for almost a year now and I dont really see a problem with using it but also I can’t seem to not use the default limiter because everything seems to clip after I take it off ha. Is this something to worry about? usually i will mix my songs fine and then send a wav to my cousin who is really good at mastering and he will master it.

thanks:)

Petri Suhonen
Hey Austin, Everytime you start FL Studio, it loads a template and it seems you’re using the template “Basic with limiter” or something similar so it throws a Fruity Limiter to master channel automatically. You can change this by going to File -> New from template -> and choosing “Empty”. Now, everytime you start FL Studio, you have a clean (empty) template with no effects in any channel. About using limiter on a master channel when mixing: some people use it, some dont. I think it’s first essential to understand WHAT the limiter does to the dynamics of your song… Read more »
K-stereo

Is it possible to make good sounding beats/professional ,using nothing but Fl studio ?

Petri Suhonen

Absolutely!

Ivan

Tank you for this tutorial!It helps me alot!!!!

steve king

thanx it really helped me

Ajay

So i really do not need headroom if i use 32-bit float?

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