Cubase Meter - Customising for Headroom

Customising your DAW's Metering to display critical information for mix projects.

Gain Staging

Cubase Meter – Customising for Headroom is a detailed video tutorial explaining how to structure the master meter in Cubase.

Customising the Cubase meter will help you to keep the headroom intact and gain stage easier. Every time I start a fresh mix project in Cubase I like to customise the layout, create key commands for the tools that I will be using, colour code channels and so on. It is a process that is worth exploring as it can help with streamlining your workflow and therefore freeing valuable time for the creative processes.

The Cubase master meter is a Peak Programme Meter which can be customised using the preferences option. The behaviour of the meter is not as detailed as true peak meters or even VU meters but it is a usable meter only after you have customised it.

To understand how to customise the master meter it helps if the following are digested and understood as they are extremely relevant when it comes to metering mixes and channels.


Headroom is the difference between an audio tracks peak level (when the meter is displaying its highest value) and 0 level (ceiling) on the output meter. Let me give you a simple analogy I always use to explain headroom to my students. You are 6 feet tall and you enter a room that is 10 feet high. You have 4 feet of headroom. I know it’s simplistic but it works for me.

Dynamic Range

In digital audio we are concerned with two values: the noise floor which is the lowest or quietest value, and the ceiling which is 0. This difference between the noise floor and ceiling is what we refer to as dynamic range. In layman’s terms think of this as being the difference between the quietest and loudest part of an audio signal.

Gain staging

Gain staging involves optimising the audio signal through each and every process whilst maintaining ample headroom and a healthy signal to noise ratio, all the way from external hardware to the final stereo mixbus. We achieve this by managing the relative gains of every process and sound and making sure not to exceed the ceiling.

I make sure to create different ranges on the meter for different readout purposes and for that the meter’s display is very useful and flexible.

In the video, I show you how to customise the Cubase master meter to suit different needs.

The plugin used in this video:

Steinberg Cubase

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Customising your DAW’s Metering
  • Colours and Folders
  • Peak and Average
  • Setting Limits
  • Ceiling and Headroom

If you found this tutorial helpful then maybe the following will be of interest to you:

Metering Explained – VU LUFS LU K-Ref….

Gain Staging using VU Meters

Gain Staging using True Peak Meters

MixBus Strategies

Headroom and Dynamic Range

ISP – Intersample Peaks

Normalisation – What it is and how to use it

Stealing Transients – Maximising Loudness