Audio levels, Contraption I/O Activity Monitor, etc.

1 post / 0 new
Winslow17's picture
Joined: December 29, 2010

By way of intro: I am new to AM, and to (making) electronic music in general (tho I am proud to say I saw Mr. Moog Himself demo his synthesizer, then a huge rack of electronics, back in 1970 or sol), but I have been having a great deal of fun with this program. (And for me, that does not mean emulating Girl Talk, though what he does with AM is certainly intriguing. My main inspiration, if I must drop a name, is Atom TM, aka Sr. Coconut, aka a zillion other personas.)
One thing that's not clear to me is the matter of audio levels. I often find that the AM setup I have patched together pins the SoundOut level meter up top - the green bars hit or even stay fixed the red area at far right. Sometimes I can back off on a volume control here and there, or add in a Gain control - perhaps as the next-to-last contraption - just to attenuate the signal. But sometimes even that doesn't seem to work. Sometimes, though, I have to say, even with this meter showing solid red, the actual sound I hear from AM isn't that bad; it's not as clipped or distorted as I'd expect, anyway. Is there some kind of AGC at work?
I have discovered the "Show Contraption I/O Activity Monitor," in the drop-down View menu, but it's not clear to me how to make the best of use of this. It seems to show when the output of one contraption is overloading the input of its follow-on contraption, but I have had trouble getting all of these indicators down into the green zone without losing some other aspect of my setup: I lose a certain sound in the mix, or I might have trouble getting a side-chain trigger input to register in SouthPole.
I am still exploring the whole business of compression, too. I understand the concept, just haven't mastered all of the parameters.
So, my main question is, what are the best practices regarding these intermediate, internal levels, and the final output level? Is there a rule of thumb as to how high to set the output of each contraption? Should one expect to use lots of Gain controls here and there throughout a setup, just to keep things leveled, so to speak? Should I care if those I/O indicators show green or red?
Can anyone recommend some good info about how, and where, best to apply compression, either in general or specifically with AM? I have been playing it by ear, but not always with great success.
If I pass the output of one contraption - Bassline, for instance - to two separate contraptions, simply be making two direct connections from Bassline, does each of those follow-on devices get half of Bassline's output signal? Or do each of them, because this whole program is digital, get the full signal level? (From what I can tell, the former seems to be the case.)
Am I simply overlooking something?
Thanks in advance. I'd be curious to know if others have thought much about any or all this, what they've learned, etc.

Win, in Calif.