Tags: posts polarity-music

Better Panning in Bitwig Studio - Simulating Real-World Stereo Field

Tutorial | Feb 01, 2023

In this video, I'm discussing panning in Bitwig Studio. I explain how pan knobs can be a bit unnatural because they don't take into account the room environment and the direct signal from both the left and right side. I suggest using the grid to split up the signal and add attenuation, blending, delay, and a low-pass filter to simulate the room environment and create a more realistic stereo field. I also provide a free preset for viewers to try out.

You can watch the Video on Youtube

How can you make the pan better?

To make the pan better, you can use a blend to mix the left and right channels together. You can also use an attenuator, multiplier, or modulator to control the levels of the left and right channels. Additionally, you can add a delay and low pass filter to the signal to simulate the sound of the room and give the panning a more realistic feel. Finally, you can use an all-pass filter and/or convolution reverb to further simulate the sound of the room and create a more natural-sounding pan.


If you don't want to watch the Video, or search for a specific topic, here is the transcription of the video with links to video markers:

[00:00.000] Hey folks, welcome back to another video.
[00:06.760] Today it's about panning and inside Bitwig Studio we have a lot of pan knobs everywhere,
[00:12.080] so we have here the tool where we have a pan knob and also of course the track here which
[00:16.720] also features a pan knob.
[00:19.420] But when you pan something you want to position your audio in the stereo field and this is
[00:26.960] basically when you use these pan knobs a bit unnatural.
[00:30.520] So I have the sound source here which is piano and by the way I don't use here any
[00:35.240] room effects or delays on it.
[00:37.720] So I switched everything off, it's basically just a dry piano.
[00:52.960] You can see here the left side goes completely quiet.
[00:56.600] And this is unnatural, that's not what happens in the real world.
[01:02.080] And I want to show you in this video what you can do with the grid to actually make
[01:08.060] kind of a better pan or maybe think about these things a bit differently than what you
[01:15.320] normally do.
[01:16.640] So let's go here to some paint environment.
[01:22.040] So let's imagine you are in a room.
[01:25.800] This is your room basically and you are somewhere in that room maybe here and something is playing
[01:34.520] in that room.
[01:35.520] Maybe a piano, maybe some guy playing a guitar or whatever, a sound source or maybe a radio
[01:42.440] or someone talking.
[01:45.320] And what usually happens inside the door is that you get direct signal from the sound
[01:51.440] source from the left side in your ear and also from the right side in your ear.
[01:57.760] So both of these signals, direct signals go direct into your left and your right ear.
[02:03.280] This is what happens here, right?
[02:05.680] And then when you pan to the left side or to the right side, what you usually want to
[02:09.920] do is you want to reposition the audio source here to the left side or to the right side.
[02:16.640] So let's imagine we position this here to the left side.
[02:20.560] And then what happens inside the door is that you completely remove the right side here
[02:28.040] and only get the direct signal from the left side, which is unnatural.
[02:33.960] This is, you can see that's not what happens in the real world.
[02:38.360] At least you get a direct signal from the right side, you're also to your right ear.
[02:43.600] And this one here should be maybe a little bit quieter and also a little bit delayed,
[02:50.880] right?
[02:51.880] Because it needs to travel a longer distance here than this signal, maybe.
[02:57.080] So it's probably nanoseconds or milliseconds or whatever.
[03:01.960] It's just a short amount of time and it's even more amplified when the sound source
[03:07.000] is further away.
[03:09.080] So this is one key point of panning.
[03:12.360] And then there's the room, right?
[03:14.080] When you are inside the room, so this is usually why you use reverb in the setting here, right?
[03:20.320] You want to put this instrument inside of some kind of space, some kind environment.
[03:27.120] You usually don't get in the real world only the dry signal.
[03:30.120] This is why you have on pianos all the time some kind of effect here, reverb or an convolution
[03:37.080] reverb or maybe a delay or something just to give a sense of space environment to your
[03:44.720] sound source.
[03:46.280] So you usually don't want to use a dry signal all the time.
[03:49.840] So inside our graph here, this would be basically having sound traveling here to the wall here
[04:01.640] and then get diffused and then back to your ear and the diffusion, basically what it does
[04:08.200] is it diffuses the sound, well actually that's not what I want, you get multiple of these
[04:15.160] things, right?
[04:18.560] Get the diffuse signal to your right ear.
[04:20.960] It's delayed, it's muffled a bit, maybe a bit filtered because it depends on what kind
[04:26.160] of material your wall is in your room.
[04:31.000] Maybe it's concrete, maybe it's wood, I don't know.
[04:35.040] So everything, every material has its own sound to its tonality and it diffuses the
[04:41.720] signal differently.
[04:44.200] So this is what you get and you also, of course, get on the left side here a bit from the right
[04:52.160] channel and back to your, oh it's also wrong, right?
[04:57.680] And this is also diffuse.
[04:59.040] So you diffuse this, here's diffusion, right?
[05:06.760] And also here, of course.
[05:08.840] So this is basically too much to simulate because we don't want to make some kind of
[05:13.960] ray tracing a reverb that's not possible.
[05:17.240] You also get, of course, your diffusion from here to there, right?
[05:21.360] And then it bounces back to different walls.
[05:26.920] And every time you lose energy, which means loudness, and every time you diffuse the signal.
[05:32.400] This is basically how reverb works or what it tries to simulate.
[05:35.880] It tries to simulate the room, diffusion, and also with decreasing loudness over time.
[05:47.240] But it's too much.
[05:48.240] But I want to give you an idea how you need to think about this stuff.
[05:52.640] So you have your sound source in here and you want to reposition this in the room.
[05:58.360] And in here, you can see it sounds completely unnatural.
[06:01.240] So first up, there is no room.
[06:08.160] And also the direct signal from the right channel goes completely away when we pan
[06:12.240] to the left.
[06:13.240] This is not normal.
[06:14.240] So we can kind of recreate this in the grid here.
[06:20.320] Inside the grid, we can split up the signal and do left and right channel, also merge
[06:28.400] it back.
[06:32.520] And we can implement here maybe an attenuate, left and right.
[06:42.200] And to use a value slider and we put this into bipolar mode so we can use positive and
[06:48.360] negative values.
[06:50.680] And to use the modulation out here.
[06:54.640] You don't actually need to use a modulator and attenuate.
[06:57.240] You can also use a multiplier here, but just for the sake of to make this pretty simple
[07:01.600] and clear what happens, because you can see the modulation here, I use the modulator.
[07:07.780] So when we pan to the left, you want to completely remove the right signal here, actually like
[07:16.280] this, and when we pan to the other side, we do something like this.
[07:24.880] So let's try it out.
[07:28.120] It's basically the same.
[07:32.320] We completely remove the left or right direct channel completely.
[07:41.760] And this is unnatural.
[07:43.320] What we can do now here is we can say, we want to blend in, let's use a blend here.
[07:55.720] So when we move to the left, we want to plant in something from the right channel, right,
[08:02.960] the right signal, and here also the left signal.
[08:06.920] And then we want to have a delay, or maybe you can use the out pass, which is kind of
[08:13.120] a delay and a diffusion in one bit.
[08:18.000] So we can try to use that also here, the left channel.
[08:25.000] And let's try out if we are left, so we completely remove this here, or actually, that's not
[08:45.560] And
[09:23.040] And also we can try to simulate kind of the material of the walls by using a filter.
[09:35.320] So we use here a low pass on that, also low pass here.
[09:42.040] And we can maybe use a value here in the modulator, this modulator, and can call this material.
[10:00.320] So dependent on the material, it changes the sonic qualities of the diffuse signal.
[10:10.760] So this is completely to the left side pen signal, but we still get information on the
[10:26.280] right side. And the right side is basically diffused, delayed, and it has a bit of low
[10:32.480] pass on it. And maybe we can use some more all-pass, or just leave it at one all-pass
[10:43.600] spot to use a value and a modulator here. Okay, let's call this phase, pull this down,
[10:59.600] and then modulate it by the same amount. Let's go 0.3.
[11:28.120] And this is basically just the beginning, just to give you a rough idea how you can
[11:54.280] think about panning your signal. Of course, you can exchange the all-pass here for something
[12:01.960] better. You maybe can come up with a convolution reverb here. Use a convolution reverb and
[12:11.160] then use a modulator out, bring the signal in here, and then use a side chain module,
[12:16.400] bring it back. You can use instead of an all-pass, you can use a convolution reverb. So this
[12:21.280] is possible. Or you can also go wild here with the all-pass devices and then implement
[12:27.280] some better room simulation if you want to. But sometimes this is just enough just to
[12:33.360] delay the signal a bit, diffuses the bit, and use a low pass on there just to give the panning
[12:42.400] a bit of more realism. Let's put it that way. Instead of, you know, just completely remove
[12:50.040] the dry signal from the left or from the right, which sounds completely unnatural, right?
[12:56.080] So I want to give you basically a rough idea about how to think about these things in Bitwig
[13:04.560] Studio and maybe come up with your better solution for this kind of stuff, okay?
[13:11.920] So that's it for this video. I put the link to this reset here in the description. It's
[13:17.120] free to use, of course. It's just, you know, for the sake of this tutorial. And yeah, leave
[13:22.960] me some comments if you have some ideas about it and please leave a like. Thanks for watching
[13:27.800] and see you on the next video. Bye.