In the mixing stage, it’s easy to push the levels a bit too far, or add too many sounds into the same frequency range, making the mix clip. Then when it comes time to mixdown (exporting to WAV), you have a distorted track, which doesn’t sound good at all.
A heavily clipped song is near impossible to fix and will cause nothing but frustration during the mastering stage for you or your mastering engineer
Luckily there’s a 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 the FL Studio mix engine). 32-bit floating point format has a virtually unlimited amount of headroom.
What is 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. But for a more articulate explanation on headroom, visit this page here.
By exporting your song to WAV using 32-bit floating point, 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 your Digital to Analog (D/A) converter in your sound card. So no audio data is destroyed, it’s more of a limitation on the hardware than the software.
Okay, I’ll demonstrate all this in the following video:
Even though 32-bit floating point may come in handy, it’s still important to not be fooled by it. It’s always a good idea to implement good mixing practices and that includes making sure your tracks aren’t hitting 0dB in your DAW. Not only will this ensure your mixes sound good, but it’s good etiquette when sharing files with other musicians, producers or engineers.
So try to make it a habit to not exceed the 0.0dB. Just to be safe. 🙂
For more details, check out mixing guidelines, which can help you to implement good mixing practices.
ps. Thanks to Nucelon for bringing this up.