First of all, when you are looking at a decibel meter software plug-in, dB is an expression of the ratio between your signal level and a reference level. This reference level I am talking about is 0 dBFS or the maximum level that can be represented in your digital audio workstation without distortion when you are messing with 16 or 24-bit recordings. Beyond that, there is no headroom that exists whatsoever except ugliness.

E.g., if a digital audio signal has a level of -12 dBFS, it means that the signal is 12 dB below the maximum level that can be recorded or reproduced by the music production system without ugliness. Similarly, if an audio signal has a level of -6 dBFS, it means that the signal is 6 dB below the maximum level.

Now, when you insert a utility gain plug-in on an empty effect slot. A 6 dB increase from your current level in dBFS represents double the signal amplitude. And if you do this you may not get distortion if the sound doesn't exceed 0 dBFS. But when it crosses that frontier all hell breaks loose.
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Mpumelelo von Mumhanzi
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