Old 11-11-2017, 11:40 AM   #1
Tesgin
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Default Why is master bus meter discrepant from submix meter

I set up a simple project to test my meters:

I have a pink noise wav file (-15 dBFS RMS) on track 2. No effects or plugins. Slider is at zero. Pan law unchanged.

That track is sent only to a submix bus, which also has no effects or plugins. The submix is sent to the master bus.

The fader on the submix and on track 2 both read -5.0 peak, but the master bus reads -7.4 peak.

There are no plugins or inserts on any tracks. There are, in fact, no other tracks.

Why is that? They should be the same.



In fact, even if I route track 2, with the wav file, directly to the master bus, the outcome is the same. The output on track to is discrepant from the output on the master bus by almost 2.5 dB.

Is this a glitch?

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Old 11-11-2017, 11:58 AM   #2
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I don't think this is a glitch, it has to be in a setting you have somewhere in your audio preferences.... I just set up a sample project to test this and both tracks and master read exactly the same.
Have you ever changed your meter settings on the master buss?
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Old 11-11-2017, 12:03 PM   #3
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They would only be the same if you have 0db pan law set or if you have boost pans ticked. You are seeing the result of -2.5db pan law.
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Old 11-11-2017, 12:08 PM   #4
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They would only be the same if you have 0db pan law set ......
I always use 0db an law, so that makes sense. I was just posting back here to mention this, but you were so fast!
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Old 11-11-2017, 12:42 PM   #5
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I always use 0db an law, so that makes sense.
OT: I've begin using -3 because it saves me the extra step of having to do the exact same thing pan law is doing for me when I pan something. -3 is my choice based on my system since -6dB is the choice in a perfect monitoring system (perfect phantom center) but since none are perfect, between -3 and -4.5 work great here. Of course if any pans get automated then at least some compensation is required or the volume is going to dip or boost as it moves across the stereo field.
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Old 11-11-2017, 01:58 PM   #6
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OT: I've begin using -3 because it saves me the extra step of having to do the exact same thing pan law is doing for me when I pan something. -3 is my choice based on my system since -6dB is the choice in a perfect monitoring system (perfect phantom center) but since none are perfect, between -3 and -4.5 work great here. Of course if any pans get automated then at least some compensation is required or the volume is going to dip or boost as it moves across the stereo field.
Further OT....
That makes sense if that works for you...ha ha. I have been using 0db for years, it may have even started as a mistake...But it's how I've mixed "in the box" for a long time, it's what sounds right to my ears and room
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Old 11-11-2017, 01:59 PM   #7
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OT: I've begin using -3 because it saves me the extra step of having to do the exact same thing pan law is doing for me when I pan something. ...
What do you mean by this? I THINK I know, but in case I don't (and if it helps others), could you explain this please?
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Old 11-11-2017, 02:47 PM   #8
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What do you mean by this? I THINK I know, but in case I don't (and if it helps others), could you explain this please?
Just ignore the parts you already know...

When panned center using 0dB, the signal is going to be louder than if panned to one side because we lose the volume from one of the speakers that we had when the signal was dead center. That's not usually a big deal, as we'll immediately adjust the fader when we hear that difference (assuming we wanted to pan and keep the same relative volume).

However, if we set the pan law to something that is suitable, we don't usually need to make that post-pan volume readjustment, it happened during the act of panning due to the pan law used. I tend to enable it per track when I need it. Say I have a instrument who's level is perfect and all I want to do is move it in the field, I'd rather not have the perceived volume change because it was already just where I wanted it.

Now... if we are automating a pan, we likely want some pan law regardless if we are just wanting something to move around the field without volume changes. Since we are automating, we can't make the manual post adjustment because the pan position is literally a moving target after the file is rendered. Pan law attempts to fix this by compensating for that volume change as the pan is occurring.

Pretty easy to test, slowly pan from far left to far right with zero dB, it should get louder as it passes the center. Change it to something like -3dB, it should stay closer to the same volume for the entire trip.
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Old 11-11-2017, 11:13 PM   #9
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They would only be the same if you have 0db pan law set or if you have boost pans ticked. You are seeing the result of -2.5db pan law.
Bingo. You are correct. The other piece is that if the master bus has the width at zero, it drops the volume as well. I thought that was only if I had something in that box in the panning law window, but apparently not.

I am finding it difficult to figure out how that window in the panning law pop-up and the gain compensation work. I understand the principles involved, but not the settings.

Thanks a million,
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Old 11-12-2017, 05:05 AM   #10
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Pretty easy to test, slowly pan from far left to far right with zero dB, it should get louder as it passes the center. Change it to something like -3dB, it should stay closer to the same volume for the entire trip.
Agreed with this, but how do you handle track bussing in Reaper then with a default -3dB panlaw I wonder.

Since Reaper doesn't distinguish between tracks and busses I think I'd need to change the -3db back to 0dB every time for busses so the -3dB doesn't get applied twice (or several times when sub-bussing). As I find this a little workflow killing I've stayed with 0 dB panlaw for now.

Or am I thinking wrongly ?
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Old 11-12-2017, 05:09 AM   #11
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If you aren't panning the buss and what is sending to it, why would it matter? As in I'd have to check but don't remember it being problem. IOW it would be very rare for me to pan the children and the parent.
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Old 11-12-2017, 05:58 AM   #12
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Well I thought exactly when not panning the buss the problem arises ?
When using a -3db pan law this means a 3db reduction when panned center no ?
Thus when the bus is not panned (what is usual here too) it would apply the -3db a second time (if I don't change the bus pan law back to 0 db) which sounds not quite right to me.
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:01 AM   #13
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Well I thought exactly when not panning the buss the problem arises ?
When using a -3db pan law this means a 3db reduction when panned center no ?
Thus when the bus is not panned (what is usual here too) it would apply the -3db a second time (if I don't change the bus pan law back to 0 db) which sounds not quite right to me.
I don't see why unless you apply the pan law to the buss itself (and even then I'm not sure this matters because it is static and would be accounted for when you create the buss and set the initial level). I don't apply it globally most of the time, I apply it when I need it to individual tracks to pan something that I'm may pan more than once or automate. There is also the option to not reduce the center but boost the pan. I'll test later since maybe I'm missing something - all I remember is setting a track to say -3 and it pans evenly, didn't seem that complicated.
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:07 AM   #14
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Did a quick test, the only way I see it being applied twice (and mattering) is as I described above. Being applied twice wouldn't matter unless you are switching it after you already have a balance best I can tell and even then, if you used boost pans instead of reduce center it wouldn't happen then either? I didn't test much, just a track in a folder using pink noise FWIW.
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:43 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
I don't see why unless you apply the pan law to the buss itself (and even then I'm not sure this matters because it is static and would be accounted for when you create the buss and set the initial level). I don't apply it globally most of the time, I apply it when I need it to individual tracks to pan something that I'm may pan more than once or automate.
Oh ok, now I get it.
I was talking about having a default -3db pan law (so the busses would be set to this automatically too).

Little misunderstanding, sorry.

edit:
In addition, you're right, if not changing the pan law afterwards it shouldn't matter, because you adjust the bus gain taking the current pan laws into account.

Last edited by nofish; 11-12-2017 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 11-12-2017, 09:59 AM   #16
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The other piece is that if the master bus has the width at zero, it drops the volume as well.
Every Width knob has something like a -6db Pan Law built into it. Each channel is attenuated by half, then they're added together, then that goes to both channels. If the two channels are exactly the same, the output level (well, everything really) is exactly the same as the input. When the two channels are different, it's difficult to say where it will fall, but usually somewhat lower than the louder of the two..


I like 0db Pan Law for exactly the reason described here. I suppose it can always be compensated elsewhere, but my analog experience makes it uncomfortable for me to turn something down just to turn it back up further down the line. Also, I think I've come to expect it to get quieter when I pan. In a way, 0db is like moving the instrument on a straight line in front of you. As it moves left or right of center, it also gets further away, and should get quieter. The other Laws are more like moving in an arc around you so that the source is always about the same distance away. Not that either way is right or wrong, but I have my preference and it works for me.

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