Ok so I’ve written this about 50 times over the years, just wrote it again and thought I’d paste it here. If I’ve directed you here by email, apologies for my laziness…
Question: “my track peaks at -11dB, do I have to turn everything up to make it over -6dBFS? I don’t want to mess up my mix balance accidentally”
Short answer: this is what 24-bit is for. Export at 24-bit and don’t worry in the slightest.
Slightly longer answer: 24-bit has a greater dynamic range, ie a lower inherent noise floor (same thing in digital). Rule of thumb is 6dB = 1 bit.
16-bit dynamic range = 16×6 = 96dB (ie noise floor at -96dBFS)
24-bit dynamic range = 24×6 =144dB (so, noise floor at -144dB)
This is where the ‘over -6dBFS’ recommendation comes from. To ‘use all the bits’. But it’s not worth worrying about AT ALL. If you’re peaking at -11 then you still have an effective noise floor of -133dB. So, you know… it’s probably alright 😉
Similarly, if you’re anywhere over -48dBFS then you’re better than 16-bit.
In summary, read the short answer again 😀
Hope this helps!