Old 12-06-2017, 04:12 AM   #1
uncleswede
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Default Idea for a VCA Folder

Hi.

This is my idea for a metered VCA folder - i.e. a folder track that can be collapsed & expanded but also acts as a VCA master, as well as as showing meter activity, for the VCA slave tracks within it.

https://youtu.be/550bCwRZqn4
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:46 AM   #2
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Hi.

This is my idea for a metered VCA folder - i.e. a folder track that can be collapsed & expanded but also acts as a VCA master, as well as as showing meter activity, for the VCA slave tracks within it.

https://youtu.be/550bCwRZqn4
If you uncheck master/parent send on the children and route manually, you can already make an existing folder, a folder and a VCA at the same time. Basically, already doable. Oh, this is tips and tricks, you must be doing it already, never mind.
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:48 AM   #3
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If you uncheck master/parent send on the children and route manually, you can already make an existing folder, a folder and a VCA at the same time. Basically, already doable. Oh, this is tips and tricks, you must be doing it already, never mind.
Yep - Tips & Tricks :-)

I've been doing this for a while but hadn't thought about sending the slave track's audio to the VCA track as well to get metering :-)
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Old 12-06-2017, 12:25 PM   #4
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The problem is if you need to add more children tracks. It removes the advantage of folders receiving automatically.
You are going to have to create one track outside the folder and route all children manually. So I don't see the advantage of this.
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Old 12-06-2017, 12:37 PM   #5
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The problem is if you need to add more children tracks. It removes the advantage of folders receiving automatically.
You are going to have to create one track outside the folder and route all children manually. So I don't see the advantage of this.
You don't have to create one track outside the folder. The folder is the folder and the VCA so it's way better in my initial testing - unless he is describing something different than I am. Here is what I'm speaking of, give it a try...

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...1&postcount=10
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Old 12-06-2017, 12:40 PM   #6
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The problem is if you need to add more children tracks. It removes the advantage of folders receiving automatically.
You are going to have to create one track outside the folder and route all children manually. So I don't see the advantage of this.
@Heda

I always have a pre-master track in my projects that I route all tracks to instead of directly to the master track anyway. I like VCAs but I like folders too, so it works me
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:09 PM   #7
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You don't have to create one track outside the folder. The folder is the folder and the VCA so it's way better in my initial testing - unless he is describing something different than I am. Here is what I'm speaking of, give it a try...

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...1&postcount=10
Oh wow.... that seems to be a much better solution than mine :-)

You get all the features for less work:

- True VCA control of slave tracks and sends
- Collapsible folders
- Metering on the VCA track

PLUS

- No need for a separate track ('pre-master' in my case) to route all playing tracks to
- the ability to put FX on the 'folder' track
- the ability to render the folder track

Unless anyone else can spot any problems with this approach, I think I will revisit my templates and change them to use this :-)

Mucho thanks to @Tod
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Old 12-06-2017, 01:28 PM   #8
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You don't have to create one track outside the folder. The folder is the folder and the VCA so it's way better in my initial testing - unless he is describing something different than I am. Here is what I'm speaking of, give it a try...

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...1&postcount=10
sorry but it doesn't make sense to me. First it removes the master parent send of the children tracks, then it sends to the parent track. Basically leaves them the same as normal folder.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:11 PM   #9
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sorry but it doesn't make sense to me. First it removes the master parent send of the children tracks, then it sends to the parent track. Basically leaves them the same as normal folder.
Hi heda, it actually works quite well, you have most of the advantages of a "Folder" track, but not the disadvantages.

I've started using the VCAs a lot, that way I can send all the child tracks to different FX busses if I wish.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:29 PM   #10
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Hi heda, it actually works quite well, you have most of the advantages of a "Folder" track, but not the disadvantages.

I've started using the VCAs a lot, that way I can send all the child tracks to different FX busses if I wish.
Hi Tod. I don't understand your post. You say "Next I unchecked the Master for the 4 tracks that are now child tracks"
Do you mean the parent send? Because if a track is child, there is no Master send. It is parent send. And you remove them, to just create them manually again the same? That's what I don't understand. You can always send child tracks to other bus, even if they send to parent track is active.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:37 PM   #11
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sorry but it doesn't make sense to me. First it removes the master parent send of the children tracks, then it sends to the parent track. Basically leaves them the same as normal folder.
I understand the confusion but what you get is the folder as a VCA so you no longer need a folder track *and* a VCA track for the children, you get both in a single track. If you don't have it figured out by the time I get home later this evening, I'll track template it for you unless Tod or someone beats me to it.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:14 PM   #12
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Hi Tod. I don't understand your post. You say "Next I unchecked the Master for the 4 tracks that are now child tracks"
Do you mean the parent send? Because if a track is child, there is no Master send. It is parent send. And you remove them, to just create them manually again the same? That's what I don't understand. You can always send child tracks to other bus, even if they send to parent track is active.
I'm sorry heda for the confusion. Technically you are probably right, they might not be what you call child tracks, although the VCA is still a folder track in the sense that it can collapse all the tracks associated with it.

Yes, a folder child track can be sent to an outside bus, but when you adjust the volume on the folder track, it does not adjust the relative levels of the child tracks to the outside bus. That's one of the main pitfalls when using folders and by using the VCA in the way described, it does adjust the relative levels of the child tracks. I'm still using child here simply because it's still part of a folder track that's used differently.

When Karbo comes up with track template, it might make more sense.
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:39 PM   #13
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ok I understand that you send the children to another outside BUS. You forgot to mention that you have to uncheck the send to master on the VCA/folder track and use that external BUS. It's ok. You save one track by using the VCA as folder, but then you have to always route manually all the children. If you work with a fixed template where you don't add more children tracks, it is good. But I like the folders receiving automatically from children tracks. That's one of the advantages of folders in REAPER
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:02 PM   #14
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If someone doesn't use VCAs so they can control folder volumes where children have sends, then this isn't for them as there is no problem for them to solve but many of us do and in that case, it's far better to have one track be VCA and Folder than having to manage two tracks to do what should be a single-track job.
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:54 AM   #15
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One of the uses of a Folder track though (apart from collapsing and hiding its children) is for shared Insert FX for all its tracks.

Clever though these routing workarounds are for bussing the contained tracks outside the folder and using the folder fader only as a VCA, if the "child" tracks don't pass audio through the folder then you can't use it to add a common EQ, compression etc.

So, I think there's still a valid Feature Request for an option to set up a standard folder which passes audio through it, but also acts as a VCA for the Sends Only of its child tracks.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:35 AM   #16
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One of the uses of a Folder track though (apart from collapsing and hiding its children) is for shared Insert FX for all its tracks.

Clever though these routing workarounds are for bussing the contained tracks outside the folder and using the folder fader only as a VCA, if the "child" tracks don't pass audio through the folder then you can't use it to add a common EQ, compression etc.

So, I think there's still a valid Feature Request for an option to set up a standard folder which passes audio through it, but also acts as a VCA for the Sends Only of its child tracks.
Nope .... I tested Tod's method for 'VCA Folders' yesterday and *was* able to route audio AS SENDS from the 'slave' tracks through the 'VCA folder' (but with the Parent send checkbox turned off), ending up with a 'parent' folder that acts as a traditional VCA (i.e. it changes the volume of the slave tracks *and* their sends) and has audio flowing through it, so you can meter, apply folder-level FX and render stems.

Here's a link to a simple project that demo's it.

https://stash.reaper.fm/32429/VCA%20Folder%20demo.RPP

The key things are:

- uncheck the 'parent send' check box on the slave tracks
- create sends from the slave tracks to the folder track
- group the slave tracks (Shift-G) as VCA slave
- group the folder track as VCA master
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:51 AM   #17
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OK my apologies, I clearly don't understand properly how this is set up. I need to try it out. It'll be great if it does work as I hope.

The bit I don't follow is this:

- uncheck the 'parent send' check box on the slave tracks
- create sends from the slave tracks to the folder track

I feel that undoes something and then does it again in a different way, but to exactly the same effect. So what I would expect to happen here (caveat: can't try it at the moment) is that if I pull down the Folder fader by 1dB, it will VCA the level of the child tracks and their sends down by 1dB AND reduce the level of audio passing through the folder by 1dB, so that the "dry audio" reduces by 2dB in total, but the "wet audio" (coming from the FX returns) by only 1dB.

If that's not the case, I can't see why it's not. And that's exactly the same behaviour you get when simply designating a standard "Parent/Child routed" folder as a VCA to its children.

Andy

Last edited by andyp24; 12-07-2017 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:57 AM   #18
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@uncleswede. you shouldn't do that. you are basically doing the same as a normal folder track. You should not use the vcafolder track signal. You must route children to a bus outside.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:27 AM   #19
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One of the uses of a Folder track though (apart from collapsing and hiding its children) is for shared Insert FX for all its tracks.

Clever though these routing workarounds are for bussing the contained tracks outside the folder and using the folder fader only as a VCA, if the "child" tracks don't pass audio through the folder then you can't use it to add a common EQ, compression etc.
Yes, you can because you manually route them through the folder. When I tested with a tone generator, there was zero difference as far as signals with a classic folder vs this method. It's kind of throwing me how this is confusing people when so easy to test.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:29 AM   #20
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OK, sorry, can you explain to me how manually routing them through the folder achieves anything different from automatically routing them through the folder (which is what ticking the Master/Parent send does)....?

I'm really not seeing what will work differently this way.

Andy

PS It may be easy to test, but not when you're away from your workstation computer!

Last edited by andyp24; 12-07-2017 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:34 AM   #21
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OK my apologies, I clearly don't understand properly how this is set up. I need to try it out. It'll be great if it does work as I hope.

The bit I don't follow is this:

- uncheck the 'parent send' check box on the slave tracks
- create sends from the slave tracks to the folder track

I feel that undoes something and then does it again in a different way, but to exactly the same effect. So what I would expect to happen here (caveat: can't try it at the moment) is that if I pull down the Folder fader by 1dB, it will VCA the level of the child tracks and their sends down by 1dB AND reduce the level of audio passing through the folder by 1dB, so that the "dry audio" reduces by 2dB in total, but the "wet audio" (coming from the FX returns) by only 1dB.

If that's not the case, I can't see why it's not. And that's exactly the same behaviour you get when simply designating a standard "Parent/Child routed" folder as a VCA to its children.

Andy
@Andyp24 @Heda

Hi.

I'd appreciate you loading the demo template when you get the chance and have a play with it. If it's not working as I think I would certainly like to know as I am considering altering some pretty substantial project templates...

@Andyp24

I tried an experiment where I measured the peak output at different fader settings of the same audio track under two circumstances:

1) a simple, ungrouped track
2) a VCA slave track as per the 'VCA folder' scenario

First, for the simple, ungrouped track I got the following peak values for the given fader settings:

- Fader 0db, track peak -5.7dB
- Fader -3db, track peak -8.7dB
- Fader -6 0db, track peak -11.7dB

Secondly, measuring the peak output of the "VCA Folder" (where the audio track is a VCA slave track as per the demo), I got exactly the same figures: i.e.

- VCA folder track fader 0db, track peak -5.7dB
- VCA folder track fader -3db, track peak -8.7dB
- VCA folder track fader -6 0db, track peak -11.7dB

In other words, lowering the VCA folder track 3dB did *not* result in a 'doubled' 6dB drop

I'm not sure what is going on 'under the bonnet', as it were, but I suspect that, once a track is grouped as a VCA master, it's fader no longer affects the volume of any media items on that track BUT it appears it can still receive audio from other tracks...

Last edited by uncleswede; 12-07-2017 at 07:14 AM. Reason: copy/paste error
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:34 AM   #22
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Try this attached template assuming I didn't make any mistakes (if so I will fix later). It's early, haven't had coffee yet. Turn your master track down some first since I added tone generator you can use to test with.

VCAFolder.RTrackTemplate
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:36 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by uncleswede View Post

I'm not sure what is going on 'under the bonnet', as it were, but I suspect that, once a track is grouped as a VCA master, it's fader no longer affects the volume of any media items on that track BUT it appears it can still receive audio from other tracks...
We are simply swapping out how the volume slider on the folder works. Instead of changing the volume of what is passing through it, it now changes the volumes of all the children instead, that's all it does. There probably is a caveat where if you insert on the folder, you'd probably want any FX to result in unity gain since that would be changing volume of what is "passing through" and would upset the send balances if there are sends on the children to tracks outside the folder.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:37 AM   #24
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@uncleswede. you shouldn't do that. you are basically doing the same as a normal folder track.
Well it certainly behaves differently to a normal folder track in that it's fader does affect the 'child' track send volumes.

I'd appreciate it if you have time to play with the simple demo project I've uploaded

https://stash.reaper.fm/32429/VCA%20Folder%20demo.RPP

Cheers
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:38 AM   #25
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Thanks karbomusic and uncleswede

I'll look at the template when I can and see if I can figure out what's going on. It would be great if this does work as advertised with no drawbacks, as I would also be altering my project templates accordingly if so!
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:16 AM   #26
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OK, I just managed to load up a copy of Reaper on my laptop and opened UncleSwede's project.

That's using a MIDI synth for the tracks, so I swapped it out for a downloaded test tone. I muted the track with the delay on it, so I'm looking just at the output of the "child" track in the folder.

Result: VCA fader at 0, output of first child track = a steady -3.2dB (which is the test tone level)
VCA fader at -6dB, output of first child track = a steady -15.2dB, so the volume reduction is doubled, as would happen with a "normal" folder track.

I think what's going on here is that when you're listening to a MIDI instrument which is an insert FX on the track, the "volume down by 6dB" command from the VCA is ignored (because it is a pre-fader gain trim, effectively, which makes no sense when related to MIDI data) and so only the "6dB down" of the audio passing through the folder is heard. For the audio send from the MIDI track, that is a Post-Fader send, so the "6dB down" command from the VCA does affect it, and that audio doesn't go through the folder, so that's its total reduction as well. Thus they stay in balance. But when it's AUDIO on the track, the folder VCA DOES turn it down 6DB before it gets routed to the folder and then down 6dB again AT the folder level.

I don't think this works differently from making a "normal" folder tbh

Haven't tried karbomusic's project yet.

Andy
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:18 AM   #27
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I admire your patience andyp24
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:20 AM   #28
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I don't think this works differently from making a "normal" folder tbh

It works different because...

A) You don't need an extra VCA track as you usually would when children have sends to other tracks outside the folder.
B) If you aren't using sends on children to tracks outside the folder, you don't need this setup.

Let's say I have a project with 20 folders and VCAs for each folder - I just saved myself 20 extra tracks. So this is solving an existing inefficiency, if you aren't having that inefficiency based on how you work, no need for this.
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:25 AM   #29
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Yep, just tried karbomusic's template and the same thing happens for the same reason.

The tone generator is a Post-Fader insert FX, so the track ignores the -6dB trim gain sent by the VCA. If you keep your folder/ routing structure exactly the same and replace your Tone Generator plugin with an actual audio file (tone or anything else) then the effect of the VCA is doubled by the time it gets through the folder track ie turning it down 6dB results in a 12dB gain reduction.

Andy
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:27 AM   #30
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If you want it to work properly with actual audio files, you DO still need another VCA track, because this method doesn't actually behave any differently from standard folders (by which I mean a standard folder track which you've also set up as a VCA master for its children).

Sorry.

Try it. Replace your Tone generator plugin with an actual audio file, note the peak, then turn down your VCA by 6dB and see what effect it has on the peak.

Last edited by andyp24; 12-07-2017 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:50 AM   #31
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If you want it to work properly with actual audio files, you DO still need another VCA track, because this method doesn't actually behave any differently from standard folders.

Sorry.

Try it. Replace your Tone generator plugin with an actual audio file, note the peak, then turn down your VCA by 6dB and see what effect it has on the peak.
I just recreated my testbed with real audio files and, sadly, you are right...
reducing the volume on the 'VCA Folder' track by 3dB reduces the output by 6db.

Oh well, at least I know I can use my original design

@Tod - you'll need to look at this. I can do a quick video for you, if you like, to demonstrate the issue with your VCA folder concept...
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:11 AM   #32
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I just recreated my testbed with real audio files and, sadly, you are right...
reducing the volume on the 'VCA Folder' track by 3dB reduces the output by 6db.
Yes it will do that, but when you adjust a folder track or VCA track under normal circumstances, do you look at the fader position? For me, it's my ears first. Then maybe the meter levels on the folder/VCA track, or child tracks themselves, or a combination of them.

I've been using this VCA idea on two projects, and I haven't found any problems with it yet. In both cases, I'm also automating the VCA tracks.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:31 AM   #33
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Yes it will do that, but when you adjust a folder track or VCA track under normal circumstances, do you look at the fader position? For me, it's my ears first. Then maybe the meter levels on the folder/VCA track, or child tracks themselves, or a combination of them.

I've been using this VCA idea on two projects, and I haven't found any problems with it yet. In both cases, I'm also automating the VCA tracks.
Hmmm ... good point. I did notice early on that the VCA folder fader was a bit sensitive but didn't realise why.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:38 AM   #34
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3 points to make in response to that.

1) If mixing "live" with a hardware surface, it's disconcerting for different channels to react differently to the movement

2) You don't gain anything from the "untick master/parent and send manually to folder" routing. It's exactly the same as making a normal folder a VCA master.

3) If you pull down the fader 3dB, the send reduces by that amount but the main output goes down 6dB so your FX balance is changed.
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:40 AM   #35
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Hmmm ... good point. I did notice early on that the VCA folder fader was a bit sensitive but didn't realise why.
Heh heh, well I wasn't aware of it until Andy brought it up, but that just shows me how much it hasn't mattered on my two projects.

It's totally logical it would do that, I don't know why I didn't think of it before.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:06 PM   #36
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3 points to make in response to that.

1) If mixing "live" with a hardware surface, it's disconcerting for different channels to react differently to the movement

2) You don't gain anything from the "untick master/parent and send manually to folder" routing. It's exactly the same as making a normal folder a VCA master.

3) If you pull down the fader 3dB, the send reduces by that amount but the main output goes down 6dB so your FX balance is changed.
Yeah, in a live situation it would be different. I've also not used any FX on the VCA tracks, but you could be right.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:23 PM   #37
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I wonder, what about sending the child tracks to the VCA track using "Pre-Fader"? That might work, I'm going to do a little testing.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:33 PM   #38
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Okay guys, set all the child tracks to "Pre-Fader" and see what you get. I think that might work.
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:47 PM   #39
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Have you tested it?😁

My instinct says it won't...

A "normal" VCA doesn't turn down the level at the point of the fader in the signal path. Its effect is right at the front of the chain, a kind of Gain Trim before anything else, and I think this is what Reaper also does. So whether the Send is taken pre- or post-fader, it will still always be after the VCA trim.

I think it has to be, otherwise the VCA couldn't affect the level of Pre-Fader FX sends, which it should.

Willing to be proven wrong on this though, if Cockos has chosen a non-standard signal path .

Andy
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:15 PM   #40
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Have you tested it?😁

My instinct says it won't...

A "normal" VCA doesn't turn down the level at the point of the fader in the signal path. Its effect is right at the front of the chain, a kind of Gain Trim before anything else, and I think this is what Reaper also does. So whether the Send is taken pre- or post-fader, it will still always be after the VCA trim.

I think it has to be, otherwise the VCA couldn't affect the level of Pre-Fader FX sends, which it should.

Willing to be proven wrong on this though, if Cockos has chosen a non-standard signal path .

Andy
Actually it still has problems, because if you turn down the volume of any of the child faders, it of course won't reflect the change on the VCA track, the level to the VCA track remains the same. As long as you leave the child track levels the same, it's okay.

Heh heh, I wonder about another track inside the VCA folder that would be used just for the FX? Will have to think about that one. The only advantage to that is that it could be tucked away inside the folder.
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