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Gain staging and podfarm insert using cubase


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I have cubase LE elements 12 on a PC with Podfarm 2 plugin. Just been introduced to gain staging by a mate as my mastered tracks have previously sounded a little (but significantly) distorted.
To gain stage, I tick the Pre filters/gain/phase from the rack dropdown in the mix console which causes the gain to be present in the pre filter settings box (all good).
I have a guitar track with a pod farm insert. For this track I take the fader to zero and then try to get the output track level down to -18 (from what I can gather, standard gain staging). As I drag the gain down, the podfarm insert effect is reduced and by the time the track level is -18 the effect on the guitar has gone.
What am I doing wrong?
Thanks, Neil.

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