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Old 02-06-2020, 01:06 PM   #1
Thonex
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Default The PAN LAW Discussion... aka What is Cockos doing?

Hi everyone,

Coming from Nuendo (a serious post production app) there were/are things I rely on daily and expect to work. One of them is Pan Law an the other is proper crossfade visuals (support this bug thread regarding inaccurate crossfade displays)

I'd like to open this up for discussion because if there is agreement... I'd like to follow up with a bug report.


This is the way Reaper's -3dB Pan Law works by default (notice the VU dips below -12dB -- which it shouldn't from my experience):
Reaper's broken (?) default -3dB Pan Law -- Sine wave at -12dB:

Out of the box, I would expect a Pan Law of -3dB to behave like this (note that the VU is always at -12dB even when combining L and R):
Reaper's Deprecated Pan settings at 0db (???) Pan Law -- Sine wave at -12dB:

Now... the ONLY way I was able to get Reaper to behave like this (after much testing) was to right-click on the Pan knob and choose these settings:
Why would the only option (that I could find) to make this behave like a true -3dB Pan Law be deprecated with a 0dB override?

Also, this is what I have led to believe is the way a -3dB Pan law would behave. No?

Discuss


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Old 02-06-2020, 01:29 PM   #2
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I've been meaning to post my findings about the default pan mode. There does appear to be a bug in the pan calculation.

I plotted the position of the pan knob vs. the level for each channel as well as the L+R sum.

0.0 dB, Stereo balance/mono pan:


Am I crazy or should the level not rise to ~1.23 before falling back to 1? How did this go unnoticed for so long?
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thonex View Post
This is the way Reaper's -3dB Pan Law works by default (notice the VU dips below -12dB -- which it shouldn't from my experience):
Raper's broken (?) default -3dB Pan Law -- Sine wave at -12dB:


According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_law):

Code:
a signal panned hard left or right is at full level and becomes progressively lower in level as the pan is directed to the center.
This appears to be exactly what your -3 dB pan law example is doing. It looks like the signal drops from -12 dB (hard left or right) to -15 dB in the center, which is a drop of 3 dB (per channel, so overall no drop in perceived volume level when they are summed together), and is consistent with the pan law that was used for that example.


PS -- The DAW is "Reaper", not "Raper".
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErBird View Post

Am I crazy or should the level not rise to ~1.23 before falling back to 1? How did this go unnoticed for so long?
Awesome post ErBird... and that really does support my finding.

How did this go unnoticed for so long? You won't really notice it unless you are using a sine wave or very very consistent volume item. For me, things were not feeling right... so I fired up the Tone Generator (http://=https://forum.cockos.com/sho...bug itself LOL) and then I went down the rabbit hole.

But the real culprit here IMO is the -3dB Pan Law that should be balanced at unity.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:50 PM   #5
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Might wanna read up on some Reaper history to know why that pan law was deprecated. It had a very weird taper:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=433802
https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=2241439

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Old 02-06-2020, 01:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lunker View Post
According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_law):

Code:
a signal panned hard left or right is at full level and becomes progressively lower in level as the pan is directed to the center.
This appears to be exactly what your -3 dB pan law example is doing. It looks like the signal drops from -12 dB (hard left or right) to -15 dB in the center, which is a drop of 3 dB, and is consistent with the pan law that was used for that example.


PS -- The DAW is "Reaper", not "Raper".
Fixed the typo... but what the Pan law does in other apps (AFAIK) is compensate for the combining of signals so that when panned in the middle, there is no gain... so a -3dB reduction... WHEN AT THE MIDDLE. What Reaper is doing is some kind of non-equal-gain pan law.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
Might wanna read up on some Reaper history to know why that pan law was deprecated. It had a very weird taper:

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=433802
https://forum.cockos.com/newreply.ph...te=1&p=2241423
That second link isn't working.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:55 PM   #8
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Sorry, wrong clipboard. It's this: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=2241439

So yeah, pan law taper was super-weird and it got fixed with proper sinusoidal panner.

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Old 02-06-2020, 02:03 PM   #9
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Actually, THIS is an interesting thread...

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?p=434029

However, before we go down the rabbit hole, my basic point is Reapers default Pan Law doesn't seem to function as industry norms. No? Is it an industry norm to have a bump in the middle... or a dip in the middle (0dB and -3dB Pan Laws in Reaper respectively). The only way to get a balanced Pan is with the silly pirouettes I had to go through with the screen shot in the OP.

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Old 02-06-2020, 02:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErBird View Post
Am I crazy or should the level not rise to ~1.23 before falling back to 1? How did this go unnoticed for so long?
Deprecated mode (what you get if the scale for of each channel is limited to 1.0):



Current mode:



Paging @Mercado_Negro...
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:06 PM   #11
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AFAIK sinusoidal and/or square root panners are the norm, no? Just like what Reaper has now by default?
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:07 PM   #12
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Just to counter what you're saying, Reaper's -3 dB pan law with gain compensation (boost pans) checked works great for me - much prefer it to Pro Tools' -3 dB pan law. Reaper's seems smoother, and when a mix is mono'd I don't lose things that are panned more than 80% - which happens in Pro Tools and some other DAWs. Technically correct or not, I actually really prefer it!!
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:12 PM   #13
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Here is Nuendo's default -3dB Pan Law in action with a Sine Wave at -12dB:



That is the way I would expect Reaper's -3dB to work globally. Not having to use a deprecated preset buried in some menu.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:16 PM   #14
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By all means set the default pan law in Project Settings, Advanced tab however you want... But that deprecated pan law is indeed pretty wrong.

Hopefully Mercado Negro will post here about why To me current default pans better and sounds more natural.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:18 PM   #15
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Looks like Nuendo defaults to a linear taper, which gives the first stereo image I posted above. REAPER defaults to a sin taper which gives the second image. This is why REAPER offers 5 different modes. In any case, this is not a bug.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwa View Post
Looks like Nuendo defaults to a linear taper, which gives the first stereo image I posted above. REAPER defaults to a sin taper which gives the second image. This is why REAPER offers 5 different modes. In any case, this is not a bug.
Thanks Schwa! But is Reaper's 0dB pan law by default the correct choice as a default? Unless I'm mistaken (and maths aside), the industry norm (AFAIK) behavior is to have a balanced -3dB Pan Law.. as per my second GIF in the OP or as per the Nuendo example above. No?
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:35 PM   #17
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There is not really a correct default, as REAPER’s tracks are multi-purpose. Folder tracks, bus tracks, tracks with stereo media, and tracks with mono media would all benefit from different pan law configurations...

0dB being the default law gives predictability with gain, and if you start panning you can tweak that track as desired. Or if the use of the track is known before hand, it can be tweaked in a template...
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:40 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thonex View Post
Thanks Schwa! But is Reaper's 0dB pan law by default the correct choice as a default? Unless I'm mistaken (and maths aside), the industry norm (AFAIK) behavior is to have a balanced -3dB Pan Law.. as per my second GIF in the OP or as per the Nuendo example above. No?
Not sure about the most common pan law, SSL consoles for example have a -4,5dB pan law. Personally my default is -3 gain compensated which works well for me.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:01 PM   #19
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-3.0 dB, Stereo balance/mono pan:


This one looks better. Please verify the first image I posted is the intended behavior. For 0 dB pan law, the curve should "squish up" against y=1, not overshoot it. The level of the right channel is higher at 50% pan than it is at 100%. This can't be right...
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwa View Post
Looks like Nuendo defaults to a linear taper, which gives the first stereo image I posted above. REAPER defaults to a sin taper which gives the second image. This is why REAPER offers 5 different modes. In any case, this is not a bug.
I think an issue here is that if you are bringing material in from another DAW and then setting the same Pan Law, it is going to sound much different. And the only way you can get it to match how it was sounding in a previous DAW before bringing into Reaper is to set the Pan Law to "deprecated" behavior.

I hate to even say it, but maybe there should be a Pan Law mode that is matching DAW industry norm that isn't deprecated behavior with the weird taper ED is referring to? Because I definitely don't get a weird taper using a -3dB Pan Law in Pro Tools or Cubendo (or Logic or DP that I can remember). And I also import a lot of sessions from those DAWs as audio and it would be really nice to be able to match the Pan Law.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:23 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Not sure about the most common pan law, SSL consoles for example have a -4,5dB pan law. Personally my default is -3 gain compensated which works well for me.
Just an aside that SSL uses -4.5 dB because it assumes a high end mixing environment that can actually handle it. Theoretically the max is 6 dB something, but there isn't a mix environment on earth that perfect. Thus, 3 dB is often used because it comes closer to matching most environments.

A hidden point there is there can't be a perfect default because the imaging accuracy of monitoring environment is part of the equation.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:11 PM   #22
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So... by default... Logic works like Cubase and Nuendo... here is Logic:
I'm pretty sure Pro Tools is the same as Logic, Cubase and Nuendo. But I no longer subscript to PT
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:13 PM   #23
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Is it common for people to ride the pan pot around left and right in a mix without also riding the gain?

Can't say it's often I do sweeping pan moves, but when I do I'm using the fader too.

And if you're importing from other DAW's, which all have their own defaults and options, it would strike me as prudent to bounce the tracks so you can set REAPER's pan law to 0 dB and know for certain it will be the same level.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:29 PM   #24
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And if you're importing from other DAW's, which all have their own defaults and options,
This is where I disagree. And this is precisely the point I'm trying to make. It seems the de facto standard in the industry is to have an even gain behavior of -3dB pan law. I just checked confirmed on Logic, Cubase, Nuendo and even Kontakt:

Kontakt default pan law with sine wave:



So why is Reaper the odd man out?? Furthermore, to get it to behave like all the other DAWs I've tested, you have to use this deprecated hidden setting (which does what I'm after but is wrongly labeled. It should be -3dB not 0dB):

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Old 02-06-2020, 04:38 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thonex View Post
This is where I disagree. And this is precisely the point I'm trying to make. It seems the de facto standard in the industry is to have an even gain behavior of -3dB pan law. I just checked confirmed on Logic, Cubase, Nuendo and even Kontakt:

Kontakt default pan law with sine wave:



So why is Reaper the odd man out?? Furthermore, to get it to behave like all the other DAWs I've tested, you have to use this deprecated hidden setting (which does what I'm after but is wrongly labeled. It should be -3dB not 0dB):

There's a workaround, then?
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:41 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judders View Post
Is it common for people to ride the pan pot around left and right in a mix without also riding the gain?
Not if the chosen pan law fits their environment. That's it's point.

In reality pan law matters most when you automate, and -3 is the most common for the reasons I stated before - I'd say it's "standard" practice more than a true standard - it seems to be the closest to most non-ideal environments. I actually use -3dB/gain compensated when I automate (because switching to it from 0 dB doesn't change center) and when I'm not automating I don't care, as I'm changing volume as needed just like you mentioned anyway.. since there are several settings to deal with this in Reaper, the worst possible scenario is having it wrong when using automation or being oblivious to it when comparing tracks across DAWs.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:46 PM   #27
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You can set it to -3 dB and deprecated pan law (mode is one parameter and dB amount is another) and store this as default for all your projects in project settings... No issues whatsoever.
Ah... so there is a deprecated listing. But the -3 won't work as it should. To get it to work it needs to be 0dB which accoring to the rest of the industry is a mistake... it is behaving like a -3dB when Reaper is set to 0dB Deprecated..
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:49 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Thonex View Post
So... by default... Logic works like Cubase and Nuendo... here is Logic:
I'm pretty sure Pro Tools is the same as Logic, Cubase and Nuendo. But I no longer subscript to PT
Assuming the tone is a mono signal, this is by definition *not* a -3dB pan law. If it were, the signal peak would be higher at the extremes than when centered.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:52 PM   #29
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Does it matter more if it works how you want or what it says on the tin?

EDIT: I suppose Justin's word is the king here.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:56 PM   #30
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This is where I disagree. And this is precisely the point I'm trying to make. It seems the de facto standard in the industry is to have an even gain behavior of -3dB pan law. I just checked confirmed on Logic, Cubase, Nuendo and even Kontakt:

Kontakt default pan law with sine wave:



So why is Reaper the odd man out?? Furthermore, to get it to behave like all the other DAWs I've tested, you have to use this deprecated hidden setting (which does what I'm after but is wrongly labeled. It should be -3dB not 0dB):

Logic and Pro Tools both give a number of options for pan law. Logic didn't even have any until version 7 - it was 0dB pan law. Pro Tools used to only have -2.5dB.

So, given that you might not know which pan law settings someone was using before they hand over files to you, it would make sense to me to have them bounce the audio to stereo files post pan law.

I just found this, which you may find interesting; an test of most major DAW's pan laws: https://www.admiralbumblebee.com/mus...an-Curves.html
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:00 PM   #31
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Quote:
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Assuming the tone is a mono signal, this is by definition *not* a -3dB pan law. If it were, the signal peak would be higher at the extremes than when centered.
The pan knob becomes a balance knob on stereo tracks in Logic. So in that GIF it's not panning, but just attenuating the opposite channel.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:01 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin View Post
There is not really a correct default, as REAPER’s tracks are multi-purpose. Folder tracks, bus tracks, tracks with stereo media, and tracks with mono media would all benefit from different pan law configurations...

0dB being the default law gives predictability with gain, and if you start panning you can tweak that track as desired. Or if the use of the track is known before hand, it can be tweaked in a template...
Hi Justin,

So sorry I missed you post...

I think as I'm digging deeper in this... what really rubs me the wrong way is there seems to be a de facto (wrong or right) standard of -3dB equal gain panning in the industry. Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Kontakt... they all follow this behavior. What comes closes to this in Reaper is the Reaper3.x Balanced (deprecated) combined with a Reaper Pan Law setting of 0dB.

That's why I started this thread.. I can't tell if your labeling is wrong, or why it's deprecated... and why it is sort of buried as the last option combined with the labeling of 0dB but which behaves like a -3dB Pan Law.

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Old 02-06-2020, 05:02 PM   #33
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Quote:
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The pan knob becomes a balance knob on stereo tracks in Logic. So in that GIF it's not panning, but just attenuating the opposite channel.
Right, this is the key confusion of the OP, I believe.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:05 PM   #34
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Not if the chosen pan law fits their environment. That's it's point.

In reality pan law matters most when you automate, and -3 is the most common for the reasons I stated before - I'd say it's "standard" practice more than a true standard - it seems to be the closest to most non-ideal environments. I actually use -3dB/gain compensated when I automate (because switching to it from 0 dB doesn't change center) and when I'm not automating I don't care, as I'm changing volume as needed just like you mentioned anyway.. since there are several settings to deal with this in Reaper, the worst possible scenario is having it wrong when using automation or being oblivious to it when comparing tracks across DAWs.
Yes, exactly.

The other case would be if someone handed an unfinished mix to you from another DAW. Then levels could be out of whack if you do not set the same pan laws (assuming there's a way to get REAPER to set pan pots from a different DAW's project file?). If it's compensated then centre-panned tracks could be 3dB too loud.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:06 PM   #35
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Assuming the tone is a mono signal, this is by definition *not* a -3dB pan law. If it were, the signal peak would be higher at the extremes than when centered.
Ok... then Cubase, Logic, and Kontakt (and I highly suspect Pro Tools too) all behave this way and I'd be curious to see how Ableton and (say) Studio One do it.

To get Reaper to behave like all the other DAWs was a process of trial an error for me... with a sine wave. Not what we should expect for the general user to go through I'd guess. But I think this needs to be looked at. Now I know the trick. But unless someone stumbles on this thread... they will never no that the Reaper 3.x Deprecated at 0dB will result in the rest of the worlds DAW's -3dB pan law.

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Old 02-06-2020, 05:08 PM   #36
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Right, this is the key confusion of the OP, I believe.
OK... I'll do more tests with a stereo sine wave. That sounds totally fair.

Thanks... will report back tomorrow.

You guys are great for listening.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:10 PM   #37
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A detailed article to resume all this with charts and daw comparaison should be made... by those who understand if possible :P
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:10 PM   #38
Judders
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Originally Posted by Thonex View Post
Ok... then Cubase, Logic, and Kontakt (and I highly suspect Pro Tools too) all behave this way and I'd be curious to see how Ableton and (say) Studio One do it.

To get Reaper to behave like all the other DAWs was a process of trial an error for me... with a sine wave. Not what we should expect for the general user to go through I'd guess. But I think this needs to be looked at. Now I know the trick. But unless someone stumbles on this thread... they will never no that the Reaper 3.x Deprecated at 0dB will result in the rest of the worlds DAW's -3dB pan law.

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Originally Posted by Judders View Post
I just found this, which you may find interesting; an test of most major DAW's pan laws: https://www.admiralbumblebee.com/mus...an-Curves.html
If someone is transferring projects between DAW's, they are likely experienced enough to be aware of pan laws.

Otherwise, pan law has zero effect other than how much you ride the gain when performing/automating pan moves.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:11 PM   #39
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If it's compensated then centre-panned tracks could be 3dB too loud.
Yea, I just referenced it as I use it in Reaper because it saves me re-balancing when I switch to it in order to automate (assuming the tracks are center when I switch, it's a net zero difference), not stuff coming to reaper from another DAW.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:12 PM   #40
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OK... I'll do more tests with a stereo sine wave. That sounds totally fair.

Thanks... will report back tomorrow.

You guys are great for listening.
You want to be testing on a mono channel in Logic to see the pan law in action.
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