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DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
#3051569 06/29/20 01:42 AM
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Hey all,

I own a first generation PreSonus Faderport, because for a couple of hundred bucks it provides a delightfully tactile motorized fader and some good transport controls. It's a single channel and for that price it was (and is) worth it.

But here's one area where I find that control surfaces fall short with modern DAWs:

There should be two pan pots per channel.

Why? Because so many things are stereo now (be it effects, hardware synths, virtual instruments, etc.), and a single physical pan pot can't accommodate the dual panners in Cubase or many other software packages. On my Faderport, the knob defaults to the left pan control in Cubase which is perfectly useless.

I know cost is a big deal with control surfaces (and PreSonus has actually gone in the opposite direction by offering only one "global" pan pot for their 8-channel and 16-channel controllers), but Man oh Man, what I would give for a control surface that allowed me to control both panners with independent knobs per channel.

Is this so far fetched? Surely motorized faders are a much bigger cost contributor.

Todd


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Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051575 06/29/20 01:55 AM
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I don't understand your problem, but then I don't know Cubase. The intended purpose of a pan pot is to control a stereo source. Turn it all the way counterclockwise and the right channel goes away, and vice versa if you turn it fully clockwise.

Does Cubase send each channel (left and right) to its own pan pot so you can send the left channel source to the right channel output?

??????????

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051576 06/29/20 02:01 AM
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Hi Mike,

What you're describing is what Cubase/Nuendo would call the balance panner (i.e. controlling the left/right balance of signal). There are two other modes that give you a discrete pan control for the left and right signals in a stereo channel. It allows you to narrow the stereo spread, or skew it in either direction. I think the latest version of ProTools is laid out the same way (two pan pots), but I could be wrong.

You are correct, though. With the dual pan pots, you could technically invert the channel and send the LH signal to the right side, etc.

Todd


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Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051577 06/29/20 02:06 AM
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I just looked at my Faderport (which I haven't gotten around to hooking up yet) and you are correct, there is only one fader and one controller knob.

All I really want mine for is turning on record, I would put it inside my mic booth. A minor convenience in any case.
I wonder if you could assign the fader to be another pan knob?

One of the reasons I went on a "remix rampage" last year on Metapop was to learn more about the automation features in Waveform. That has become my go-to for creating finished mixes, the options are nearly limitless.
I just copy and paste as many duplicate tracks of the part I am mixing - let's just say lead vocal. Then I can put the effects on the individual tracks, fade them in and out, pan them, etc. A dry center vocal can get wetter and wider as a verse progresses if that seems to serve the song. Or more distorted/modulated/EQ'd/pich shifted, etc. I can leave the untouched vocal for contrast or clarity or fade it away. Anything is possible and once it's done I can move to another track as it willl repeat exactly every time.

If I wanted TEN pan tracks per sound I could easily have them.

More than one way to skin a cat and more than one cat needs skinning!!!!!


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Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051580 06/29/20 03:03 AM
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Two pan pots per channel would cause a significant price increase in products that already don't sell all that fabulously. It's not just the controls, it's the bigger hardware size needed to accommodate the two panpots, additional encoders to convert the panpots into something that the computer can understand, and so on. I would assume manufacturers consider panpot position to be something that's more or less set-and-forget during the mixing process, so you can use a mouse on a screen to adjust as needed.

If it was really important to be able to control the panpots, for example in real time for automating specific panning moves, I think your best bet would probably be to use a general-purpose control surface and do "MIDI learn."

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051605 06/29/20 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Sundown
Hi Mike,

What you're describing is what Cubase/Nuendo would call the balance panner (i.e. controlling the left/right balance of signal). There are two other modes that give you a discrete pan control for the left and right signals in a stereo channel. It allows you to narrow the stereo spread, or skew it in either direction. I think the latest version of ProTools is laid out the same way (two pan pots), but I could be wrong.

The "balance panner" is what we used to call the "balance" control back in the 1950s when stereo hi-fi home systems came around. It's a standard feature on hardware mixers that have stereo channel inputs - one channel strip with a left and right input. With the pan knob in the center you get left and right balance as it comes in, and as you turn it off center, the phantom center moves. All DAWs work that way when you have a stereo, rather than mono track. But you already know that.

It could be that newer DAWs have new geegaws that let you muck with the stereo field - widen, narrow, and maybe mess it up in other ways. I suspect that most of this is done with M-S manipulation, and there are plenty of plug-ins for that. I'd think that using two pots to control this would be awkward, or at least require more brain power than I'd want to exert. But if there's some capability to re-map the pan control on the Faderport, maybe you could re-purpose it as an M-S diddler.

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Mike Rivers #3051653 06/29/20 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
It could be that newer DAWs have new geegaws that let you muck with the stereo field - widen, narrow, and maybe mess it up in other ways. I suspect that most of this is done with M-S manipulation, and there are plenty of plug-ins for that.

I think Todd is looking for something simpler. For example, in Studio One there's a Dual Panpot plug-in you insert in stereo tracks, and then you can pan the left and right channels independently (e.g., left to center, right to full right). In Cakewalk, it's Channel Tools. But, the fact that these are plug-ins kind of implies that the companies think this is something that's not used all the time

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Anderton #3051684 06/29/20 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
in Studio One there's a Dual Panpot plug-in you insert in stereo tracks, and then you can pan the left and right channels independently (e.g., left to center, right to full right). In Cakewalk, it's Channel Tools. But, the fact that these are plug-ins kind of implies that the companies think this is something that's not used all the time

I can't imagine ever wanting to do that, but then I don't do very much with sounds that I record. Maybe for stereo sources that aren't really stereo, like the left and right outputs of a drum machine where there was too much cowbell in the right channel so you could move it out to the pasture.

If I have a stereo source, I want it to be stereo like I recorded it. I suppose if I wanted to make that sort of change I could always split the stereo track to two mono tracks and then I'd have the "dual panning," which wouldn't be stereo any more.

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Mike Rivers #3051691 06/29/20 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Originally Posted by Anderton
in Studio One there's a Dual Panpot plug-in you insert in stereo tracks, and then you can pan the left and right channels independently (e.g., left to center, right to full right). In Cakewalk, it's Channel Tools. But, the fact that these are plug-ins kind of implies that the companies think this is something that's not used all the time

I can't imagine ever wanting to do that, but then I don't do very much with sounds that I record.

It's not all that common...if it was, then on modern programs, it would probably be part of the virtual mixer instead of a plug-in. But here's a use case: You record an acoustic guitar part in stereo. Then you record an overdub of the same acoustic guitar in stereo. With a dual panner, one part can extend from left to center, while the other part extends from center to right. So they're more separated than if they were sitting on top of each other, but they still have a sense of separation.

I think this is all because of Pro Tools emulating your standard tape/mixer paradigm, where a track was mono, a channel was mono, and for stereo, you feed two channels. Or at least that's what you did until stereo mixers started becoming more popular. Pro Tools basically lived in a dual mono world that you could treat as stereo.

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051696 06/29/20 08:18 PM
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This sounds odd to me. Traditionally, you either have a stereo channel with a balance pot, or 2 mono channels with pan pots. In the latter of the two, you pan them hard left and hard right and link the channels so that moving one fader moves them both. In either case it seems the faderport would accommodate.


Dan

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.
Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
J. Dan #3051705 06/29/20 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by J. Dan
Traditionally, you either have a stereo channel with a balance pot, or 2 mono channels with pan pots.

You're correct, that's the way it's been handled traditionally. But most newer DAWs default to your choice of stereo channel with a balance control, or mono with a panpot. So they include a plug-in to offer something beyond the defaults.

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Anderton #3051719 06/29/20 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
It's not all that common...if it was, then on modern programs, it would probably be part of the virtual mixer instead of a plug-in. But here's a use case: You record an acoustic guitar part in stereo. Then you record an overdub of the same acoustic guitar in stereo. With a dual panner, one part can extend from left to center, while the other part extends from center to right. So they're more separated than if they were sitting on top of each other, but they still have a sense of separation.

Welllllll .... OK. All's fair in love and post production where, given the appropriate raw materials you can do things you never thought about when tracking. As for me, if I though I'd want to double that stereo-recorded guitar, I'd have just moved the mic (or the guitarist) for the second pass.

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Mike Rivers #3051748 06/30/20 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
As for me, if I though I'd want to double that stereo-recorded guitar, I'd have just moved the mic (or the guitarist) for the second pass.

Thanks, Mike. Can you explain to us this "microphone" of which you speak? smile smile

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051756 06/30/20 02:12 AM
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I only grew up in a DAW world (I played keyboards since '87 but I only got into recording around '99), so I don't have any experience with tape or large format consoles. I trust that on most large consoles a stereo source like a keyboard would be recorded on two mono channels.

When I started with Cubase VST 3.7 there was only the single balance panner. You had more control back then over how soft synths were routed, and you could always opt for dual mono recording of external sources (just like you can today). Once Steinberg introduced the individual pan pots for stereo channels and the "combined" panner with SX 2.0, I was hooked. I haven't used the balance panner since. Sometimes I'll record external hardware as two mono channels (specifically if I want to skew the start points and create an ultra-wide soundscape), but when I'm dealing with stereo effects returns or stereo VST instruments, I'm always using dual pan pots or the "combined panner" (which is just a different way of controlling and visualizing two pan pots). It allows me to narrow the spread or bias the spread in ways that a balance panner can't.

It's true that I can draw automation curves when I want sweeping dynamic effects, but for my selfish purposes, I would love to dial-in my stereo positions with two knobs. It's just a lot more satisfying than using a mouse.


Sundown

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Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3051764 06/30/20 03:47 AM
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MIDI learn!

And be thankful you don't have experience with tape. It sucked smile

Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Anderton #3051784 06/30/20 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
As for me, if I though I'd want to double that stereo-recorded guitar, I'd have just moved the mic (or the guitarist) for the second pass.

Thanks, Mike. Can you explain to us this "microphone" of which you speak? smile smile

Are we talking about two different things here?

Guitarist with mic placed for the first pass stays where he is. Engineer picks up the microphone stand, puts it in a different place and the guitarist records the second pass. If I'm using a single point stereo mic like my Studio Projects LSD-2, I might pull it back a few feet to get more room sound, move it so it's aimed at a different place on the guitar, or maybe replace it with a U87 and KM84 for the next pass.

If what you're talking about is using a track that's been recorded, put to bed, and then two years later when you decide to remix the project think "I wish we had doubled this track," then you need tricks. There are many, depending on what you want to hear.

Last edited by Mike Rivers; 06/30/20 12:14 PM.
Re: DAW control surfaces fall short on one detail...
Sundown #3052971 07/07/20 02:36 AM
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Hey all,

Just a funny bit of irony... I purchased Cubase 10.5 on a sale, and later in the year I'll install it when I roll to Win10. Right now I just downloaded the 10.5 demo to my leisure laptop to get a feel for it.

Funny enough, one of the things they discarded (versus version 6.5) is the dual pan pots on stereo channels. They still have the combined panner (which is very much the same thing as two pan pots in practice), but the option of having two totally discrete pan pots is gone. But even stranger, they allow you to continue to use dual pan pots if you have a remote control surface that supports it (of which none I know of none).

I'm actually going to try using the traditional balance panner on some projects to see what results I get. Maybe I've been overcomplicating things.

Todd


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