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#410947 - 05/05/17 05:46 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone
Matt Finley Offline
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Disclaimer: I write Brazilian and Latin jazz, and my comments are based on styles in that genre. Nevertheless, I think anyone in any genre should be aware of the default values BIAB uses.

In this post, I will talk briefly about Tone, Reverb, and Pan in BIAB and why you should experiment altering their default values.

Tone
One of the first things I do when starting a song, after choosing the instruments, is to make the Mixer window (in version 2017) wide enough so that I have a slider for Tone control on the far right (instead of just a number). This gives Tone the same 'importance' as Volume, Reverb and Pan as you consider your mix.

The default tone value of 0 for each instrument often sounds 'muffled' to me. The available range [not sure why] is -18 to +18. I leave the drums fairly low, maybe 6, and the bass not much higher, maybe 10, but I raise the guitar and piano up to around 16. This makes these instruments really come alive in the mix.

Reverb
The available range is 0 to 127. To my ears, the default setting of 40 is too high for any instrument. Too much reverb leads to a muddy sound, with instruments too far in the background. [Be aware that you can choose the baseline of how much reverb to apply in Preferences, RealTracks, Reverb Strength, so if you have altered that from 100%, your value of 40 will not equal mine.] Assuming you are using the default, then here are the settings I generally use to give my mix a crispness that is lacking in the default value of 40:

Bass - 0 (in other words, no reverb added)
Drums - 0
Piano - 14 to 20
Guitar - 20+ but nowhere near 40.

Pan
I've noticed that the jazz and Latin styles often have guitar and piano panned on the same side. The default varies; it is NOT always 0 (centered). Although they are panned different amounts by default, I immediately pan one of them to the opposite side of the other. This means using negative numbers (or move the slider to the left) to send an instrument to the left side of the sound stage. Bass, being very hard to determine direction, is generally (correctly) panned to the center (0), and drums should be at or near the center as well. My piano might be 20 right, and my guitar (a lighter sound) might be 40 left, so it stands out.

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The great thing is that PG Music has given us an easy way to override the defaults to make the mix sound like you want. Don't settle for the defaults. Try adjusting all three of these things [tone, reverb, & pan], as well as volume to get the instrument sounds 'right' before you proceed with composing, arranging, or editing. It might take some getting used to, if you haven't altered these settings before, but you'll be happier with your results, and your mix should 'pop' better.
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#410958 - 05/05/17 06:32 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Charlie Fogle Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
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Loc: South Carolina
Good info. Thanks for posting.
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#410975 - 05/05/17 10:29 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
lambada Online   embarrased
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Registered: 12/18/06
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Interesting, I must admit, I've started adding much more reverb to my solo instruments - some up to 90! Most I leave at between 0 and 20. I might need to revisit my solo instruments. I had no idea you could edit tone (which i generally ignore) with a fader. I definitely need to revisit this on my mixes. I've found panning left and right very helpful. I have the drums and bass at either -5, 5 or -10, 10. I usually put the other instruments at - or + 20/25 or 35 depending on how many. I keep the solo instruments at 0. I also set the drums to volume 90 and one at a time match the other instruments to it (eg bass 88, 86 or 84). Some solo instruments have to be lowered a fair bit. I find some rock n roll styles are way too loud in the overall mix, so a few songs I set at -2 - -5 on the song settings. Generally I leave them at 0. One style that I've used I had to put up to over 5. Not sure why. I play/stream live using the .mgu files. I also have Neutrina running on most tracks. I steam the whole thing on automatic via jukebox in the file special option. All the settings I use I have learnt from reading this forum, so all honour goes to you guys! All failings are based on the fact that I base my settings on my ears! grin


Edited by lambada (05/05/17 10:32 PM)
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#410983 - 05/06/17 12:32 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
LtKojak Offline
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Registered: 12/26/11
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Thank you for the tip, Matt!

I've never even knew of the existence of a "tone" slider.

Much appreciated!

Yours very truly,
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#410985 - 05/06/17 12:54 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: LtKojak]
John-Luke Offline
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Registered: 05/18/03
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Loc: France
Very good tips indeed.

But raising the guitar and piano up to around 16 is rather a high value which can look excessive. Anyway, it's mainly a matter of personal taste.
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#410991 - 05/06/17 03:08 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
VideoTrack Offline
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Registered: 06/05/12
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Good tips Matt, thanks. Maybe one for the Tips and Tricks section?

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#410999 - 05/06/17 05:01 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: VideoTrack]
MarioD Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
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Loc: Hamlin NY
Originally Posted By: VideoTrack
Good tips Matt, thanks. Maybe one for the Tips and Tricks section?



Yes this should be in the Tips and Tricks section. I never knew about the tone slider either. Why did PGMusic hide it?

I do all of this in my DAW Sonar and the type and amount of reverb depends entirely on the song, as Matt said. If I'm trying to emulate an orchestra setting in an opera house I would use a Cathedral type reverb with a fair amount of reverb. But if I was trying to emulate a crowded jazz lounge I would choose a small room and very little reverb. I will add that adding a small amount of reverb to horns, either MIDI or RTs, adds a lot. YMMV.
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#411000 - 05/06/17 05:10 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Notes Norton Offline
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Registered: 07/06/00
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Loc: Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.A.
Good advice, Matt.

Little adjustments can make a very big difference.

Notes
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#411078 - 05/06/17 05:26 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 160
Thanks thats very useful Matt .
So ive noticed this recently as I was listening to some songs using Ozone (mp3) and when I used the side option I obviously could hear only the far sides of the song but the lead vocals were still clear whereas a song I mix the vocals are almost none existant on the sides.My question Do producers delibrately pan a lead track far right and another far left as well as in the centre?
Hugh


Edited by Hugh2 (05/06/17 05:27 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#411083 - 05/06/17 06:16 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Noel96 Offline
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Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 12244
Loc: Australia
Thanks for taking the time to put this together and to post it, Matt. You've given me a few things I need to try when I start working on my next song.

Appreciate it,
Noel


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#411140 - 05/07/17 05:23 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Notes Norton Offline
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Loc: Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.A.
As a bit of a traditionalist, I pan the bass and kick drum in the middle. With a wavelength longer than the width of your head, you are going to hear them there anyway.

Vocals, always centered unless there is a good reason to put it elsewhere.

Instruments that share the same audio frequencies I like to pan to different sides. How much? It depends.

I also like to adjust reverb/echo according to the song. For some songs I like to put them all in the same room, but for others I realize that a guitarist might dial in different FX settings than the synth player or the vocalist.

When on the gig, I pan everything center. Only a few people in the entire room will be in the stereo sweet spot, and some will be near one channel or the other. I remember eating lunch in a restaurant, and if seated either in the front or the back of the room, all you could hear was one stereo channel. At times that sounded weird, like not being able to hear the lead guitar, just the lead guitar's reverb.

For tone and all of the above, I just twiddle the virtual or actual knobs/sliders and let my ears be the judge.

Insights and incites by Notes
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#411171 - 05/07/17 07:56 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Notes Norton]
Hugh2 Offline
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Registered: 04/24/16
Posts: 160
Hi Bob,
Thats interesting about panning centre for gigging,never thought about it.
Just to say I bought some of your styles from NortonMusic and they were fabulous.If ever you get the time could you do some more ABBA styles.The one I got was great thanks,Hugh

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#411176 - 05/07/17 09:00 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Notes Norton]
Tony Wright Offline
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Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 582
Loc: Waterloo Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: Notes Norton

When on the gig, I pan everything center. Only a few people in the entire room will be in the stereo sweet spot, and some will be near one channel or the other. I remember eating lunch in a restaurant, and if seated either in the front or the back of the room, all you could hear was one stereo channel. At times that sounded weird, like not being able to hear the lead guitar, just the lead guitar's reverb.


This why I have never understood the value in having anything panned other than center. Especially since many performers will be using mono PA systems. Why do PG produce styles with instruments panned left or right? How can they decide how the user wants to set up their sound stage?

On the other hand I always play my keyboard piano sounds panned fully left and right, not for a stereo effect but because the piano sounds are terrible if you sum them to mono ahead of the speakers.

Tony

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#411189 - 05/07/17 12:46 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
Matt Finley Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 16511
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
I tend to think of PG Music's settings as suggested starting points, nothing more.

I'm glad they use some panning off-center, just because if you don't change it, it sounds better than if it started as mono. For special purposes like Notes is describing, changing the settings is easy.
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#411195 - 05/07/17 02:24 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Tip: Don't forget to adjust Reverb, Pan, and especially Tone [Re: Matt Finley]
jford Offline
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Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 10028
Loc: Pensacola, Florida
Quote:
Why do PG produce styles with instruments panned left or right? How can they decide how the user wants to set up their sound stage?


Actually, there are no panning settings in styles. Default behavior for panning depends upon your settings under the "Pan" column in the Preferences "Channels" tab screen.

If you click on the "Overrides" tab under Preferences, you can uncheck the box for pan to ignore loading that setting for any loaded song.

If you save your songs with everything centered, it is not panned.

That being said, there are some stereo RealTracks instruments for which you can adjust the pan to slide the center of the stereo field left and right, but yes those specific tracks are recorded stereo.

But pan settings are a factor of the settings made under Preferences, or in the Mixer and then saved, not in the style definition.
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