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Lanes Audio Posts

ideas for broadcasting online using the Behringer X32

June 29, 2018 • Derek

“One thing I’ve found to be true over the last week is that if you want to get to know a device or piece of software well… teach people how to use it. You’ll probably learn something too.”

This observation, which I posted as a tweet, seems to hold true for several others. As I continued to help nick with his x32 broadcast configuration, which I began discussing in my last post, we made some interesting discoveries. These discoveries lead me to a fresh sound for my streaming setup as well.

The desire to revamp my broadcast configuration started with Nicks discovery of a rather disturbing problem with the combinator, which I will discuss in a bit. However, to fully appreciate this oddity, it’s a good idea to understand how multi-band compression works.

A multiband compressor allows you to split a track into different frequency ranges (called “bands”) and compress them independently.
You can choose to compress only a certain part of a track’s frequency spectrum, or apply different flavors of compression to several areas of the spectrum.

This effect is useful in a broadcast environment because, if used correctly, material from a wide variety of sources can be molded in to a uniform sound. If you listen to most terrestrial radio, you’ll hear how everything is at the same volume, has the same amount of base, etc. We weren’t trying to take the combinator to the extreme of some stations though. We wanted a more subtle version of that effect.

Nick and I discovered that there were two major contributing factors as to why the combinators defaults make this impossible. These problems effected him more than I, as his configuration is more reliant on the combinator than mine, so it will be discussed in a future post, as I said above.

Band separation

I had initially discovered The first, and biggest problem, which you hear in Drues video. The combinator uses a 48 db crossover between each of its 5 bands. This means that very little sound that one band processes is evaluated by the others. The results are a hollow and brittle sound, as the frequency components of most voices and music are brutally sliced apart by the crossover. The brittle quality comes from the fact that when sound falls through the proverbial cracks, you can tell. It’s basically the audio equivalent of having a group of people sing in harmony, with the problem of each person being in there own practice room! Naturally, the people will sing much better together if they are close to each other, and can hear those around them. So, the first thing to do is narrow the isolation of the audio on each band by changing the crossover from 48 DB to 12 DB.

Now that the harsh hollow brittle sound is eliminated, its time to configure the combinator as if it were a standard single band compressor.

All of your standard parameters are available for your tweaking pleasure… Threshold, ratio, attack, release etc. However, other parameters exist for further sculpting of sound.

Crossover Frequency:

This parameter adjusts where the audio is divided. If the material the combinator is to process has a lot of base, letting it focus more on shaping the lows may be ideal, same with the highs. Fortunately, its possible to make the distribution such that a very nice balance is achievable.

Band solo:

It is possible to isolate the audio processed by each of the 5 bands. If the audio is pumping or being crunched, the problem frequencies are obvious. Granted, that may be the desired effect, and if it is… use something else, there are software plugins that let you do hard clipping.

Band specific threshold and gain:

This lets the combinator be used as a dynamic eq.
Do fun mastering tricks like compress the highs, then turn them up, or play with the low bands so that you compress tracks until they have less base than you want, then boost the low gain until the base has came back. Then notice that material with less base gets more, and base-heavy tracks lose a bit of it.

spectral balance control:

This parameter is enabled by default. It does more harm than good, as Nick discovered.

the idea behind SBC seems to be that the overall output should increase if the differential gain of any band drops by a specified amount of DB. The degree of auto-makeup is governed by the Spectral balance controls threshold and speed settings.

Nick discovered a big problem created by SBC which, in his case, broke more than it fixed. The mock scenario was a voice break with a quiet music bed in the background. His voice was driving some of the bands in to limiting, and the SBC was trying to keep the combinators overall output gain the same as its input. The result was a strangely equalized bed being boosted in volume when he talked! No good!

So like a good tutorial-following person, he went to layer 1 of the combinator, and pressed the third knob below the display to disable SBC. However, nothing happened! So, I started playing around with a freshly instantiated combinator, and due to being in a hurry, accidentally pressed the fourth knob.

, that did it! The change was almost as amazing as that made when adjusting the band separation.

The rest of the story, as such.

After a bit of coaching from me, Nick was routing channels to sends, pairing them to create single stereo outputs, and processing each of them the way he wanted.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments so that the answers benefit others. Plus, embedding a twitter conversation that starts with the same text as a post title looks ugly to me. So, I’d rather not.

Categories: Behringer x32 • Tags: , ,

letters to audio equipment… or… typing to my mixer

June 24, 2018 • Derek

Did you know it is possible to access some equipment through other means than its physical controls, an app of some description, or skills for the various AI assistance such as alexa? It is! Even in the 21st century there are many uses for a command line interface, and a program called MX terminal makes one available for the Behringer x32.

In fact, MX terminal is described by its author as “A chat style app for the M32, X32, M-Air, and X-Air digital consoles.” What this means is that you have an interpreter which takes language which is easy to write and understand by an average user, and converts it to OSC (Open sound control.) So depending on your approach, you could write something as simple as “set channel 1 fader to 0” which would move the fader of channel 1 to unity gain, or bypass the interpreter and write “/ch/01/mix/fader I 0.749755621” and get the same result. That having been said, have a breakdown OF why this is the case.

  • “/ch/01/mix” is OSC for “set channel 1 fader.”
  • “I” is OSC for “I’m going to specify an integer between 0 and 1,
  • 0.749755621 comes from setting proportions like you would have in an algebra class. The possible range of the fader that the English interpreter understands is -90 to +10, but OSC likes its values as integers expressed between 0 and 1.

Fortunately, in most cases, we don’t have to solve such equations because we can use mx terminal to set fader values on any send, Matrix or DCA group we like. What we can’t do are things like insert effects at specific points and change the effect type unless we use OSC to do this.

My friend nick, who is one of the hosts of the Digital Domain online radio show, is now the happy owner of the x32, and has been able to do all of the routing and editing he needs for the broadcast as well as other projects. All of this work was able to be done with a combination of mx terminal, the manual, and information gathered from Drue brashlers effects tutorials.

Today, for example, he was able to use the following commands to

  • take one of the effects processors, and assign it to the combinator effect to get master compression,
  • specify that the left and right channel inputs were to be assigned to an insert,
  • rout the insert on the main out to that processor, and enable it.

/fx/4 i 39
/fx/4/source/l i 0
/fx/4/source/r i 0
/-insert/fx4L i 55
/main/st/insert/sel i 7
/main/st/insert/on i 1

After that, it was time to address the hardware to edit the effects parameters. That was simply accomplished by pressing the effects button, pressing the right arrow key 4 times to get to the relevant processors parameters, and following the tutorial linked above.

I’m not documenting this as a demonstration of why I should get out more. What I’m trying to convey is my appreciation for the resourcefulness and consideration of the developers and content creators which have enabled me to use the x32, and teach it on location, and remotely.

Categories: Behringer x32

apparently, tapedecks are still being made in 2018

June 18, 2018 • Derek

Although there are some consumer grade tapedecks that are still on the market, with mechanisms no better than lower-end models of 30 years ago, I found out that a professional model exists which may be worth your consideration. The features are interesting because the past definitely meets the present in some very positive ways, with the caveat that Dolby noise reduction isn’t an option. It’s rather unfortunate that it is no longer something a manufacturer can license, and that it’s not been made public domain.

Categories: Uncategorized

Please give me ideas as to the best way to give you free things.

June 15, 2018 • Derek

This web sight is about to undergo several changes so that it will be easier to present products and services Lanes Audio can provide. There are, however some effects and sfz instruments that I’d like to make available for free. That having been said I’d would appreciate knowing how you’d like them presented. I know of a few options, but you may come up with something else I didn’t think of.

  • I could make a category in the blog for all of the free stuff, with subcategories for things like Reaper FX chains, Impulse responses, and sfz instruments. The category could be displayed as a link on the home page, although I’m not sure if dropping someone in the middle of a blog would be the best way to present things.
  • I could make a page with all of the free stuff on it, with the items separated by headings. This could get to be a long list, however.
  • I could also make a page with items organized in to categories which, when clicked, would reveal everything in them.
  • I could make each item a page, but if I’m not careful this could become disorganized very quickly.

That having been said, although I’ve listed problems with every idea I’ve came up with, I’m sure there are ways to work around them. However, focusing on trying to get something to work that may be hard to navigate or maintain isn’t exactly a great use of time. That having been said, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave any suggestions you may have as a comment. Also consider following lanesaudio on twitter, because links to all of the downloadable goodness will be there.

Categories: FreeStuff • Tags: , , , ,

I made instruments, Andre Louis made a video!

June 9, 2018 • Derek

From age 7 to the present, I’ve thought samplers were one of the coolest electronic musical instruments! I didn’t know what they were called, or where I could get one, or even how to explain my obsession to the staff at the local music store, I just knew there was a really cool guy on Sesame Street who had a keyboard that I wanted!

Fast forward a few years, and I discovered Jim snowbarger’s material. One of the episodes of “The Snowman Radio Broadcast” consisted of a tour of his studio, which is where I learned what a sampler was.

Skipping past some false starts in my sampling efforts, I discovered the sfz instrument format, and Sforzando.

All that having been said, I’ve been making several SFZ instruments of rather unusual things over the last few years, 2 of which Andre used in one of his “inspired by sound” videos.

As he explained on the video…

Watch the Tray has a most unusual history, and it begins in a hotel in Wales.
I was away for the weekend some years ago, and I noticed that the silver tray on which the cups and other drink-making accouterments sat, made quite a great noise. This was discovered purely by accident, but it lead me to remove everything from the tray and record it using a recorder that I had with me at the time.

Equally, the Apple Watch case has an interesting start as an instrument. My wife Kirsten had bought me a travel-charger for my Apple Watch last Christmas. You have to have an original charging-cable to-hand, and put this inside the case. To do this, you take the lid of the case off, and wrap the cable around the inside of the unit, placing the magnetic portion in the space provided. You put the lid back on, and the magnet is visible on top. You would then rest your watch on top of the case and it would charge. me being me however, I discovered that after taking the lid of the case off, it would ring for a very long time if struck with an Alan key, so I set out to record this one day when the house was empty.

Later, he sent those recordings to me and I turned them in to playable instruments.

Watch his video, enjoy the track, the breakdown, and join the fun by downloading the instruments from there.

Categories: Uncategorized