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#2935863 - 07/02/18 07:41 PM Balancing Patches
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Hello all,

I'm sort of running into the same problem I run into with guitar, which is when you use more drive, the signal is more compressed but when it's cleaner it's more dynamic.

So, same issue with something like Piano versus Organ - Sounds that decay (and maybe have a transient attack) versus sustaining sounds.

I also feel like "brighter" "feels" louder.

So I ran a bunch of tracks in a DAW, playing sustained chords, single note lines and some background comping on Piano, Organ, Clav, EP, Synth Brass, and Strings.

Of course all patches are all over the place, but I was able to balance them pretty close by ear, and then just checked the levels in the DAW to fine tune them to be pretty consistent for each kind of playing - which a little margin for error of course.

Did I do anything useful?

For example, the Clav just "cuts" and feels louder, even though it doesn't register louder on the level meter. It and the EP are very very close (even at the same level setting) but the EP just "feels" quieter.

I even put a brick wall limiter on there so they CAN'T exceed a certain level, and some things (EP especially, but Organ to some degree) still just "seem" quieter - and I know they're well past the threshold.

So is this an exercise in futility?

Should I just go for it by ear and kind of "average" it out - or am I making the sound guy very happy by feeding him a constant signal :-)

I'm almost considering a Compressor at the end of the chain - or even the Limiter but only for the very highest peaks. That way "average" playing could still be somewhat dynamic.

Am I crazy - I know, trust your ears and not your eyes, but for the EP to sound "as loud" as anything else, it's would peak if everything else were set right below peaking (that's why I'm thinking a limiter to tame the peaks, but bring back the "fullness" of the sound).

Thoughts?


Edited by llatham (07/02/18 07:42 PM)

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#2935867 - 07/02/18 08:10 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: llatham]
J. Dan Offline
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Loc: St. Louis, MO
You're off to a good start but it really needs to be done in a band context (assuming this is for live) with the overall mix in mind. I tend to take multiple iterations of this. I start at home playing along with the original. I then go patch to patch to make sure things sound even, including a playlist of different songs I'm playing along with, and make adjustments accordingly. If there is a band practice, I'll make adjustments there, those these days doing fill-in work, I have to adjust on the fly in a live situation. I try to remember songs I had to turn up or down to be in the right place. Once I've had that experience and made further adjustments, I'll ask a trusted sound guy to offer feedback, and hopefully by then it's even enough that there are only a couple remaining patches that need attention.
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#2935871 - 07/02/18 08:21 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: J. Dan]
kelp Offline
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Registered: 07/24/10
Posts: 460
Loc: Milwaukee, WI USA
Ha! I've actually done that but used a VU meter (RMS levels, not peak). I've also recorded sections and checked levels on an EBU R128 meter. Got me really close. Then it was a practice or two with a notebook to log adjustments. I still make minor adjustments on the fly at shows. So many variables.
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#2935881 - 07/02/18 10:57 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: kelp]
Bobadohshe Offline
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Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 5844
Loc: San Diego / Los Angeles
What you did is one part of what should actually be a multi step process. I'd also say that the part you did is one of the less useful parts of that process.

J Dan's advice is the practical plan and it's pretty much what I do.

My first step in patch balancing is to set my rig up through my PA speakers (EVZLX12-P)s set up in stereo. I program the patches and balance them between each other and over both keyboards (in my Top 40 setup). I will also EQ some depending on what kind of patch it is, and I'll do some leveling. Certain patches are supposed to be a little bit quieter so I bake that in. Then I'll flip the switch to mono and see how it sounds.

Then the real test comes on a gig, and it's exactly as J Dan says: Play the tunes, adjust what you need to on the fly, do your best to remember what needed to be adjusted. Adjust, do a few more gigs, ask the sound guy! keep tweaking. I can't tell you how many times I though I had a great patch only to find it got swallowed up by guitars live. Or there was too much unnecessary bass in my sound. Or the string part just didn't cut. Or it sounded weak in the monitors but was actually perfect out front. Or I should play that up an octave even though it's not like that on the record. This iterative process is part of the fun - dialing it in and knowing you'll sound better and better each gig.
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#2935885 - 07/03/18 12:50 AM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: Bobadohshe]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Registered: 02/04/15
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Loc: California
All of above. I also do bake compression in to select split or layered patches if the two elements are going to fire off too differently. (Compression and volume address two different issues, and often what sounds like a volume issue is really a compression issue.)

I love my Yamaha FC-7 for its extra 10% boost at the top. That way if a patch doesn't cut, I can ride it higher on the fly. I am pretty good about adjusting the balance before moving on to the next tune (vol-store-store real fast), but I also end up keeping an mental OCD-list of patches that needed attention so I can hit them before any next time that might occur.
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#2936182 - 07/04/18 07:32 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: MathOfInsects]
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Thanks guys.

Luckily I'm going to be able to get by with just a single keyboard rig.

I'll also have a soundman with experience with the band who can tweak out front and I trust him. I'm just joining this band so I'm not sure what they do when PA is provided by the venue/client.

What you guys mention is pretty much what I do with guitar - I balance them at home at "close to gig volume" as much as I can, then get to the gig and find them all totally out of whack :-)

I'll spend hours getting the amount of delay right and get to the show and hit the switch and you can't even hear the darn delay!

But ultimately, I can get them all balanced by remembering what needed fixing.

I'm sure the same thing will happen here.

I just checked and I think what I'm going to be able to do is use a control knob to set the level on the fly, and then if I remember I can just write the patch again if I have time so I can save that volume. That actually would be easier than what I have to do with my guitar effects!

I was considering getting an Expression Pedal.

I'm playing the role of "utility musician" so I'm trying to KISS - 1 keyboard, one Studio Set with the patches I need, no effects switching - the band already plays without keys so anything I'm doing is "adding" and I'm not trying to cover parts note for note - just basically "filling out the sound" with Piano, or I also will play Acoustic or Electric Guitar. So since I'm doing all that, I want it to be as hassle-free as possible - I've already got sustain pedal and a pedal for Mod if I'm using both hands. But I'm so used to volume pedals for guitar that it's probably a good idea - and I may be able to store the settings the same way.

Luckily we do have one rehearsal before my first show, but after that it's trial by fire!


Edited by llatham (07/04/18 07:35 PM)

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#2936321 - 07/05/18 11:41 AM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: Bobadohshe]
kelp Offline
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Registered: 07/24/10
Posts: 460
Loc: Milwaukee, WI USA
Originally Posted By: Bobadohshe
Or there was too much unnecessary bass in my sound.


This is a very real thing! I play mostly bass synth parts and struggle with how counter-intuitive it is to cut bass to clean up the sound!
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#2936385 - 07/05/18 09:23 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: kelp]
rickzjamm Offline
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Registered: 11/05/13
Posts: 693
The Kronos makes this easy to do!!
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#2936589 - 07/07/18 04:00 AM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: rickzjamm]
Dave Keys Offline
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Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 80
Loc: Birmingham UK
This is a very good thread.
I find balancing patches can be difficult. What works at home in the studio, and looks balanced on a VU meter doesn't necessarily come over that way on a stage in the mix with the rest of the band. Last night we were doing 'Disco Inferno' and the Phased clav on the Nord was far louder than the strings, even though that isn't the case when monitoring at home.

Also, I find that using the Kronos as the mixer for the 2 boards, on certain Kronos Combi's such as the Eruption organ the sounds of the Nord is coloured by this. I'd be up for any tips on how fellow players have got around this.
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#2937371 - 07/11/18 11:59 AM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: Dave Keys]
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
So, darn if I didn't get to rehearsal and the sounds were all over the place - and not in any predicable way...

It also didn't help that I was playing through a pair of basic floor wedges that the singers were using and I didn't want to blast them out and it was a "low volume" rehearsal.

None of the sounds were as "full" as I had hoped so that also made me second guess my choices - I chose things like a "bright" piano thinking it's going to cut through the mix better, rather than a fuller and more natural sounding grand patch. But now I don't know if that's the right choice or not.

We have one more rehearsal so what I think I'm going to try is to get a volume on the piano from playing along to a track, and then play that same track with other sounds and balance them so they're all the "same volume" that way - maybe that will get me a better starting point (even though some songs will vary in volume overall).

Otherwise it's trial and error and I don't have enough trials except the one by fire that will be the gig!


Edited by llatham (07/11/18 11:59 AM)

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#2937373 - 07/11/18 12:03 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: llatham]
J. Dan Offline
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Registered: 07/25/08
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Loc: St. Louis, MO
I just play along with the CD and try to mix it like a studio mix with the CD as a starting point. I don't try to compensate up front for what I might guess may be different later.
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2937378 - 07/11/18 12:17 PM Re: Balancing Patches [Re: J. Dan]
Outkaster Offline
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Registered: 02/25/06
Posts: 6137
Loc: Rochester, NY
I have a problem because most of what I do is right on the fly so my sound guy bitches at uneven levels of three different brands of keyboards.
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