MIXING & EFFECTS
Mixer Track Properties
This section covers the Mixer Track properties panel. The Mixer Track properties panel integrates a parametric equalizer and PDC (Plugin Delay Compensation) controls.
NOTE: The integrated effects are the last processing/FX stage prior to audio leaving the Mixer Track and so follow any plugin FX loaded into slots.
Panel (A) Parametric EQ - The equalizer is very similar to the standalone Parametric EQ plugin which comes with FL Studio. However, the band types in this version are predefined and can not be changed: Band 1 - Low Shelf; Band 2 - Peaking; 3 - High Shelf. The graph for the Parametric EQ, Left-click to control center frequency (left-right)/amplitude(up/down) or Right-click to control bandwidth (left-right)/amplitude(up/down).
Panel (B) Plugin Delay Compensation (PDC) controls as discussed below. NOTE: Plugin delay compensation > Automatic must be deselected to manually access this section.
Plugin Delay Compensation - PDC
PDC is required when plugins (instrument or effects) have processing delays that put their audio out of sync with other audio or Mixer Tracks in the project. Most commonly an effect will introduce an unwanted delay that puts the audio on its Mixer Track out of sync with other Mixer Tracks. PDC works by adding the same delay to all other tracks to bring them into sync again. When several plugins introduce unwanted delay on several Mixer Tracks then multiple compensations are required so that all the tracks end up in sync when the
audio reaches the Master Mixer track.
- Automatic PDC - Use the Plugin delay compensation > Automatic option on the Mixer menu. This will automatically update PDC settings any time a change in plugin delay is detected with no further input required from you. While convenient, this method may use a little more CPU than manual PDC and in some
rare and complex inter-track-routing situations, fail. If 'Automatic PDC' fails:
- No direct to master routing - Make sure all Channel Rack instruments are routed to Insert Mixer tracks and not directly to the Master.
- Inter track routing - Where you want to route one Insert Mixer track to another, use 3 tracks. Starting with the original Insert Mixer track, deselect its Master Send. THEN route it to: 1. An Insert Mixer track that does go to the Master. 2. An Insert Mixer track with the send-to effects you want to add. This avoids the problem that Mixer sends are not delay compensated before arriving at the destination track.
If these fail, you will then be consigned to go down into the bowels of the manual PDC system. Down we say! Down to spend eternity unravelling the mess you created with the sidechain and send options.
- Delay Pre/Post - Left-click the upper/lower arrow switch to change between the upper, pre delay (used for instruments/generators) and lower arrow, post delay (used for effects). The Pre setting delays the audio prior to entering a Mixer Track,
Post delays the audio leaving a Mixer Track. NOTE: Plugin delay compensation > Automatic must be deselected to access this option.
- Delay entry menu - Use the drop-down menu to select from the following:
- Reset - Resets the PDC to 'none', the default 'no delay' condition.
- Set in ms (milliseconds) - Set the PDC in ms, a value entry box will appear after selecting this setting.
- Set in samples - Set the PDC in samples, a value entry box will appear after selecting this setting. This is the finest control over delay.
- Set in beats - Set the PDC in beats, a value entry box will appear after selecting this setting.
- Set from - This will list Mixer Tracks that have latency caused by plugins. Select a track to automatically adapt the current
PDC value to the selected track without the need to manually enter values.
NOTE: Plugin delay compensation > Automatic must be deselected to access the above options.
The Delay Panel (B), available on all Mixer Tracks, allows you to configure the mixer to use plugins that can't process audio in real-time,
including compressors with 'look ahead' functions and 'Convolution Reverbs'. Without PDC, affected plugins will sound out of time with the main audio. The PDC control settings allow you to compensate for
the unwanted delay so that the non-affected Mixer Tracks are synchronized with the delayed track. If you need to set up PDC manually, a tutorial is provided in the next section.
- Automatic PDC does not work for Plugins using multiple outputs (use manual setup, shown below).
- When using PDC, FL Studio will no longer respond 'instantly' as the audio output is delayed to sync with the slow plugin
- PDC is not related to the Mixer Menu > Disk recording > Latency compensation option. That strips ASIO audio interface latencies from input recordings.
Guide to Manual PDC - Effects
If a Mixer Track contains an FX plugin that introduces a unwanted delay (delay-affected) then the audio from this track will be out of sync with the other Mixer Tracks. PDC is nothing more complex than
delaying all 'normal' tracks by the same amount as the delay-affected track, bringing the two audio streams back in sync. To facilitate PDC, a highly accurate compensating delay is available through the Mixer Track
Delay Panel (B).
- Place the delay affected plugin on a Mixer Track and route any instruments to it that require the effect.
- Set up a NEW Mixer Track and use the Delay panel (B) to set the same delay as caused by the delay affected plugin and route all other
Mixer Tracks exclusively through this track. That is, disable the individual Master sends. Right-clicking the 'track send' switches will provide
a 'Route to this track only' send option.
Step-by-step instructions to using Manual PDC:
- Load the delay-affected (slow) plugin - Insert delay-affected plugin into any FX slot of any Insert mixer track or Send
track. Link the channels you would like to effect with the plugin to this Mixer Track.
- Determine the delay compensation - If you are not using the 'Set from' option you will need to manually record the plugin
delay compensation (PDC). This is shown in the hint bar when you hover over a plugin FX slot that contains a plugin causing
(and reporting) a delay, as shown below. Take note of this value and the units (usually samples).
- Compensating track - Use the 'Set from' PDC 'Delay entry' menu item OR enter the PDC delay value obtained above in the 'Delay entry menu' (B)
on a second Mixer Track that DOES NOT contain the delay affected plugin. It makes sense to re-name this track 'PDC' and change the color to something bright so you can easily locate it later.
- Route all normal tracks to the compensating track, disabling their individual Master sends - All audio (other than that running through the track containing the plugin causing a delay) must be routed
through the compensating track. You must DISABLE THE MASTER SEND of each Mixer Track routed to the compensating track so that the only path for audio from these tracks to the Master is
through the compensating track. Use the 'track send' switches and select 'Route to this track only' OR:
TIP: Use the Mixer menu option 'Create submix to' when setting up PDC projects. In this case:
- 4.1 Select the PDC Mixer Track (from Step 3.) AND ALL tracks EXCEPT the one that has the plugin causing the delay.
- 4.2 Right-click the PDC Mixer Track (from Step 3) and select Track routing > Create submix....
- 4.3 Press enter. Now all Mixer tracks will be routed through the PDC Mixer Track except the one causing the delay. The PDC Mixer Tracks (carrying all other tracks) can now be delayed to match the delayed Mixer track.
- Testing - The two audio streams should now be in sync. However, the PDC setting in the hint window is reported by the plugin, so if
this is not available you may need to tune the delay setting by ear, if so compare the PDC and non PDC paths using a percussive sound such as a 'hat'
sample. Set the step-sequencer to pattern mode and trigger the delay-affected and a normal instruments with equivalent steps. Make sure there are no
FX on the compensating channel while you test.
NOTE: If you intend to use a delay-affected plugin on the Master Mixer Track (and you are not sending audio out of FL Studio via an individual Mixer Track output), then you do not need
to compensate as all audio passes through the Master track and so all audio is equally delayed by the offending plugin.
Guide to using Manual PDC - Instruments
Some instruments give a delayed response to note input commands. It is possible to use the Pre delay setting on the Delay Panel
(B) to re-sync delayed and normal instrument audio, before either enter the mixer. Pre delaying simplifies the
internal routing and set-up requirements. The principle here is to add a pre-delay to each Mixer Track receiving normal instruments while the track
receiving a delayed instrument is not adjusted.
Step-by-step instructions to using instruments/generator PDC -
- Link the delay-affected (slow) plugin to the mixer - Select a Mixer Track and route the delay-affected instrument to this track. This
will be the only track that does not receive a delay compensation.
- Link normal instruments/generators - All normal generators/instruments may be linked to any other Mixer Track/s as usual.
All tracks used by unaffected instruments/generators must receive a Pre-delay compensation set in the Delay Panel
- Determine the delay compensation - The delay caused by the affected instrument/generator will either be noted in the documentation
that comes with the plugin OR if this is not available you will need to tune the delay setting by ear. If so compare a normal and delay-affected plugin using a
percussive sound with a sharp attack and quick release. Make sure there are no FX on the Mixer Tracks you are testing. Set the step-sequencer to
pattern mode and trigger the delay-affected and a normal instruments with equivalent steps.
- Delay setting - Select Pre delay and enter the PDC delay value obtained above into the 'Delay entry menu'
(B) of each track receiving a normal instrument.