Topic: Dangerous Default Settings for TotalMix - Gear and Ear Damage
I've been using TotalMix for a while now and am basically happy with it. However, every once in a while, I come across a major issue that is, from my point of view, a completely unnecessary risk to equipment and users' ears:
The default settings are suboptimal: for the master outputs, all(!) faders at 0dB in the mixing section, plus all outputs set to the pro reference level of +4dBu! I acknowledge that this is maybe due to new users wanting to get some output as soon as possible without clicking around. But it consistently wreaks havoc with my setup and here is why:
I have set everything to be safe with my monitors (they have very very sensitive inputs and very very high power, as many active nearfields do): -10dBV Output Level, all mixers down by approx 16dB etc. Now I have safe volume levels.
However, occasionally it happens that somehow the default configuration becomes active again: today I accidentally clicked onto an empty snapshot and - you guess it - FULL LEVELS (all faders unity gain plus +4dBu) that have almost destroyed my - expensive - nearfields (not mentioning my ears). Imagine that happens to someone using the device in a live context with a big PA system...
Another time somehow after a Windows update TotalMix "forgot" all of my snapshots and set everything back to +4dBu output and the mixers to 0dB. The first time I clicked play - Wham! (No, it was not the DAW - it happens also with standard music players).
And another time TotalMixFX defaulted everything to maximum again when I had the often-occuring settings mismatch between device and software, and I naively followed the "you can press undo to get back" hint, but after this did not work, pressing undo again reverted all my settings into a - you guess it - all-unity-gain +4dBu factory default configuration!
I payed *a lot* of attention in getting everything set up right, e.g. deactivating the DEFAULT double click fader actions (you can guess how I learned that it's a bad idea that accidental double-clicks can not only set the mixer faders but also the MASTER VOLUME to 0dB too), and deactivating the loading of Main volume/balance through snapshots etc. However, this did not prevent the issue from happening again.
Last but not least, I'm sure there are numerous other ways I have not yet thought of/experienced that will trigger a too-high or full output default configuration. My monitors have today somewhat entered their "fourth life" and I don't want to find out through TotalMix if they have as many as a cat.
Is it really a good idea and necessary to have these very aggressive default settings? Especially on the OUTPUT channels? Wouldn't it be safer to set them to -10dBV, and empty mixing snapshots to faders at -infinity? This would be a compromise for beginners, but also much safer in terms of the seldomly occuring software malfunctions, and of course, user error (a system that does not take user error into account is not well-defined per definition). Does any Hi-Fi manufacturer ship an amp that is turned all the way up when you power it on or switch sources?
Concluding, there are just too many ways to accidentally create potentially harmful output levels.
This will not only sooner or later kill very expensive gear, my ears aren't too happy about that either. And as said, consider the interface being hooked up to a big live PA: I'm sure there are some smaller gigs that use the interface - as intended - as a mixer/routing matrix directly before their amps, also relying upon the interface's DSP limiters... (on a side note, I also have an 1.5kW high-sensitivity active subwoofer connected to audio output 8 for separate control; linked to the master faders - fortunately, output channel 8's default config only sets the fader of mix channel 8 to unity gain, and I don't use that mix channel. Imagine the sub was connected to the main output, a configuration reset it would literally tear my studio apart with approx. 120dB SPL!)
Please, for health's sake, reconsider the default settings of the software! After my experience, the defaults are almost safety-negligent and in case there is no fix for this issue and one day my € 2k nearfields are blown, I will check with my legal counsel if this is not some kind of product liability issue. But I'm hoping this won't be necessary. As said, apart from that, happy user.
Thanks for considering a solution to this!