VST Instrument Master Volume

  • #89611

    Do you adjust the master volume on a VST3 (or any virtual instrument) to stay out of the yellow/red?

    Also, I noticed you can cause your compressor to “clip” if the master volume on the VST is too loud. I didn’t know it can affect a compressor and other tools either.

    Last, I noticed that if you click the gear>wrench>then adjust that volume knob that it makes your VST louder. I read that is a volume multiplier volume dial and makes the VST volume louder. I mention this because my VST synth has distorted.

    What is your gain staging process for VST or virtual instruments and their volume knobs in relationship to all the volume settings? Or your mindset.

    What would be your 1,2,3,4 method for gain staging.

    Anyway, there is a lot to consider. I now realize this and just asking about your thought process.



    I was going to use a gain plugin, but found out about the volume multiplier dial in the VST wrapper settings.

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    Hey William!

    How to gain stage in FL Studio is definitely still a very relevant concept to understand in music production in today’s modern age of music making on a computer!

    We typically know gain staging when it comes to recording so that we hit the sweet spot to avoid unwanted noise and hiss from hardware components, but not be too loud without distorting!

    The concept of gain staging is that the volume at each stage is at a sweet spot so that each audio effect/process can manipulate the audio at its best.

    This starts with the INPUT of your audio signal.. so for example, on most Virtual Instruments/Synths, this would be the Oscillator (Generator).  This would be the first place to adjust your volume before it starts hitting other audio effects the Virtual Instrument may have, like a compressor, chorus, reverb, etc.

    Then from there, you can adjust your volume’s before and after usually as it goes into each effect..

    Finally at the very end of the audio chain is the MASTER volume.. this is the very last step, and is usually meant as a “trim” to adjust the Virtual Instrument’s volume for the actual song/mix.

    Depending on your Virtual Instrument, if your volume is way too loud, this is where you’ll hear distortion, but not all Virtual Instruments are like this.. and sometimes it’s just one effect that is causing distortion within that Virtual Instrument.

    If the volume of your virtual instrument can’t get loud enough, you can try that Volume Multiplier you mentioned under Levels adjustments under the wrench in the FL Studio Wrapper..

    It’s usually nice to have the volume a little hotter (too loud), as it’s easier to turn things down then not be able to turn things up..

    The biggest thing is to make sure distortion is not happening when you don’t want it.

    Does that bring some clarity to how to gain stage in FL Studio and Virtual Instruments?


    That helps. However, I notice that the synths usually have a master volume and peak meter to show if your in the red. Am I correct to think that you should keep it out of the red or even the yellow (in the synth plugin)?

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    Best practice is to keep the master volume out of the yellow/red, but it’s important to understand that when we talk about “32-bit Floating point” you can actually push you volume louder, then turn it down after.

    Some synths will distort if it shows red, so this is bad.

    If you turn it up loud, and there’s no distortion, you can turn down your volume on a mixer fader that your virtual instrument is routed to.

    When it comes to hardware recording, we have a fixed volume, so red is bad, and yellow is to be very cautious that you may distort.

    When you’re ITB (in the box), we don’t always have to play by those rules – and it’s typically a “by ear thing”.. if it’s distorting, then pull back on the master volume of your virtual synth there!


    Thank you. This all helps me think about all those volume knobs. I will start thinking in terms of signal flow like you said. Start at the OSC and work your way forward like you said. This helps.

    The other problem I ran into was some synths sounding too quiet to work with, but when turning them up they would distort. I will take a linear approach like you mentioned.

    Last, I don’t have to use a gain plugin in FL when we got that volume multiplier dial, too. I used to think I needed a gain plugin to bring up the volume of the synth but fl studio gave us that volume dial in the wrapper. I was like Yay! I can get more volume to work with that way.

    Anyway, thinks for the OSC tip, too. It shows me you have to pay attention to ALL of the volume knobs.

    I own a digital 8-track recorder and you are right about the hardware level settings. Its nice to have and you get zero latency when recording vocals and guitar. Then you transfer the mp3 or wav over to your DAW.

    Your “Make a Beat From Scratch Vol. 1 – GratuiTous” is really good, too. I am picking up some new tips. I learned something about the mixers I didn’t think about before. 😉

    Thanks! Feel free to add anything now or later. Take care.


    I hope others add to this or other conversations, too. Or ask questions about anything in other’s or my questions. Hearing different perspectives is helpful.

    Pardon me if I am redundant (got ADHD), it helps me to think or type out loud to “get it” and reinforce the information. Its a lot to take in if you want to mix and master music. I’d rather do it myself and throw it up on some online service that puts it on Spotify, etc.

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    Yeah if you’re experiencing any distortion issues in the signal flow, just work your way from the beginning, and adjust your volume accordingly to try and hit the sweet spot.

    With more digital VSTs, you will not experience this distortion if driven too loud, but some are more “analog emulations”, which will cause distortion on your master volume if driven too hard.

    Another thing is if your instrument is too loud being pushed into your master, then you may experience distortion.. but if you drive the audio loud on an individual mixer insert, you can typically turn it down BEFORE it hits the master, and you’ll be good to go.

    Thanks for the question 🙂


    “some are more “analog emulations”, which will cause distortion on your master volume if driven too hard.”

    That never occurred to me, good thought.


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