Simulating Instrument Placement

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Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby PonE-Sharp » 12 Mar 2013 15:56

This is something that has been bugging me for quite a while. How do I simulate the distance/placement of an instrument?

Now, I don't just mean panning. I'm talking about how, say, the Horn sections are always behind the woodwinds, and the percussion behind them. It's really easy to tell how far back instruments are, as they seem to have more 'width', I supposed you'd call it.

Right now, I've been using the Stereo Enhancer in FL Studio to try and get the effect, and while it somewhat does the job, it sounds rather cheap and I feel like that method will lead to acoustic problems in the future.

I remember Cubase's reverb had a knob that did the trick really quick and easy. They simply called it 'Mix', but I have no clue what it's mixing, and I cannot load the effect into FL Studio.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby Conduit » 12 Mar 2013 16:25

The reverb mix knob was most likely mixing the dry and wet signal. This is one way that would work, since instruments placed further back would have more reverb, and therefore could be simulated with a "wetter" signal.

You could also try using 5.1 surround or something similar. I don't know about FL, but logic allows you to chose if you want a instrument in stereo or surround, so you can just place them that way.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby Alycs » 12 Mar 2013 16:41

Yeah, using Reverb and Delay is the best way to simulate this. If you picture a concert hall, the instruments in the back will have the slightest of delay before they reverb, and will have a larger effective room size.
Instruments in the front won't have a delay, but will have a smaller effective room size.
Instruments to the left will have the original sound heard on the left, but will echo slightly on the right, and will have a room size effective that will be (in a square room) approximately 3^(1/2) the size of the farthest instruments.
Same with the ones on the right, but with the panning reversed.

Really, getting placement is a matter of trial and error, you just have to play around with knobs until you get something you like.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby FLAOFEI » 12 Mar 2013 17:03

A "Mix" knob controls how much of the signal is run through the filter in question.

Logically controlling the dry/wet ratio would be controlling if the instrument is behind something or if the sound waves are bouncing of stuff before reaching the listener. Dry signals would be a strait path from instrument and wet signals bouncing.
You might also want to reduce higher frequencies from the wet signal, since higher frequencies don't reflect as well as lower frequencies. The Fruity Reverb has a knob for that called High Dampen. (But thats realy more for the acoustics of whatever the sound reflects on I'd guess, not placement)

I guess you could use a Chorus effect as well, since it takes the signal, duplicates it, detunes slightly, and sends it back out. Then you instantly heve several instruments instead of one... Wait... that has nothing to do with placement... Sorry, I should sleep now...
Btw, Im not speaking of experience in what works for placement, Im just applying what litle I know of acoustics and audio filters and drawing conclusions... But I do know what the wet/ dry knob dose BD
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby the4thImpulse » 12 Mar 2013 17:35

no no no, plain and simple its volume. If someone is talking far away from you they sound quieter than if they were right in your face.

Reverb and delay simulates a room, it will help space them out a bit and give them that 'depth' you want BUT only volume places them behind another instrument. Volume.



Good mixing requires skilled use with volume, panning, and EQing. Reverb and delay are effects, they don't mix audio and using them to do so will rarely work the way you want it too.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby froggy » 12 Mar 2013 22:20

ponies are homo
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby PonE-Sharp » 13 Mar 2013 03:59

Oh man, this is harder than it sounds, getting all the placements right. I'll get to it eventually, though, its just fiddling around to find the sweet spots now that I know the science behind it!

Thank you everyone for your help ^.^
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby Navron » 13 Mar 2013 08:00

This video may reek of the 60s, but it's an amazing video about mixing:

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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby Forza SoundFire » 13 Mar 2013 08:21

The area of sound you're wanting to investigate is called psychoacoustics.

Investigate ICLD, ICTD & D/A Ratio. (Inter-channel level difference, inter-channel time difference & direct/ambient ratio, respectively).

High frequencies are more directional. So, if the source is projecting sound towards you, the tend to get more of the higher frequencies than if it were facing away.
Generally, the waveform from L to R becomes more and more different with increased distance.
Very close instruments get what's called the bass-tip, where you get a lot of bass frequencies. (this happens when you are VERY close to a sound source)

There's also the HRTF (head related transfer function), but that's more tricky to emulate unless you have the right tools.

Your brain picks up many, many clues. Like the all the properties (like ITD, EQ...) of reflections.
It's also important to mention that in a real world environment, you can turn your head. This helps a lot in localisation.

There's some really great psychoacoustics papers on google scholar. I suggest a visit.


the4thImpulse wrote:no no no, plain and simple its volume. If someone is talking far away from you they sound quieter than if they were right in your face.

Just NO. Sorry.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby Raddons » 13 Mar 2013 08:29

I learned with dealing with that video that Navron posted (he said 60's so I'm assuing it's "The Art of Mixing" as I can't see it right now) that reverb plays one of the bigger parts in depth in the mix. A great video. Sorry 4th, but that's not 100% correct.

Fantastic video, it puts lots of things into perspective for me. I'd suggest watching it all the way through.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby the4thImpulse » 13 Mar 2013 08:45

Cloud wrote:Sorry 4th, but that's not 100% correct.

the4thImpulse wrote:Reverb and delay simulates a room, it will help space them out a bit and give them that 'depth' you want


There are two important parts to the OPs question. How to simulate placement, and how to simulate room.

Now everyone did great in saying reverb simulates room, and I agreed with that in my post. But some said it simulates placement, which is totally wrong. Everything exists in one room, therefore one reverb is required and every thing should be bussed to that reverb. Just because a flute player is infront of the tuba player doesn't make them in two different rooms and they don't have different amounts of reverb effecting them.

From the listening point, the audience, the reverb will 'appear' to be quieter because you are close to the sound source, and the tuba will 'appear' to have more reverb because you are further away from the sound source. This is a VOLUME difference, not a reverb difference.

To simulate distance and direction in music all you need is volume and panning. Those are the two most important tools. Effects come later to fill it out and give it 'depth' and 'room'.


I hope this is a much better way of explaining myself, I was is quick hurry in my last post to give him the right answer.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby HMage » 13 Mar 2013 09:31

Volume, panning, timing, room amount, amount of lows <200hz, amount of highs >5khz.
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Re: Simulating Instrument Placement

Postby bartekko » 13 Mar 2013 14:00

the4thImpulse wrote:Now everyone did great in saying reverb simulates room, and I agreed with that in my post. But some said it simulates placement, which is totally wrong. Everything exists in one room, therefore one reverb is required and every thing should be bussed to that reverb. Just because a flute player is infront of the tuba player doesn't make them in two different rooms and they don't have different amounts of reverb effecting them.

They can have different amounts of the same reverb affecting them. The further away from the audience, the larger the amount of reverb relative to the dry signal, the stereo width of reverb is lower.
The more stuff obstructs the player the more lowpass filtering there is too. Make sure no highpass filtering is added because although it makes the sound clearer it also makes it less realisting for that very reason.
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