Mastering the Mixing Console

by Joe Waters

Previous Nextcentered text

Balancing Drums and Bass and Chords and Phrases

When you select a "style" to play along with, it is like picking your own backup band to accompany your solo playing. That "band" can include up to 8 individual players, each with different instruments. When you play a chord, the whole band starts playing in tune with the chord you selected. As you change chords, the players alter their accompaniment to match the new chord. You hear the whole band playing, but, in fact, there are individual instruments making up that style and you can listen to each instrument all by itself. You can turn individual players on or off and you can adjust the sound of each individual instrument. (See the earlier lesson on changing accompaniment voices for a simple method of changing accompaniment instruments as you play.)

You can have any player you choose switch instruments. You can even decide where your band members sit on the stage! All of this arranging with your arranger keyboard can change the overall sound of that backup band (style) quite a bit. You accomplish all this arranging in the MIXING CONSOLE.

MIXING CONSOLE buttons on different keyboardsThe [MIXING CONSOLE] button is on your keyboard panel, but it is in different positions on the different keyboards. On the PSR-2000/2100, it is part of the DIGITAL STUDIO buttons to the left of the main screen. On the PSR-3000, it is on the right above the ]EXIT] button. On the Tyros 1/2, and the S-910, it is grouped with the BALANCE and CHANNEL ON/OFF buttons. On the Tyros3, with its tilting screen, it is located to the left of the bottom of the main screen.

On all the keyboards, notice that the [MIXING CONSOLE] button has the word "PART" underneath it with arrows going to and from the button. There are four different parts that you adjust using the MIXING CONSOLE:

  • the PANEL PART
  • the STYLE PART
  • the SONG (CH 1-8), and
  • the SONG (CH 9-16).

Mixing Console (Panel Part)Each of these parts has its own dedicated screen. The PANEL PART screen is shown here. From here you can adjust the VOLUME for each of the major sound parts (SONG, STYLE, M.PAD, MIC, L/R1/R2/R3). You can also view (and change) the VOICE for L/R1/R2/R3. The PAN POT row is for moving the part sound to the left or right for stereo output.

Repeatedly press the [MIXING CONSOLE] button and you see the MIXING CONSOLE screen cycle through each of its four parts. In this lessons, we will focus on adjusting the accompaniment voices in the style, so the part we will discuss is the STYLE PART.

MIXING CONSOLE (STYLE PART)

The STYLE PART screen includes several different mixing options as indicated by the tabs at the top of the screen. The first is VOL/VOICE (shown here) and that is where we will be making changes in this lesson.

The VOL/VOICE display screen can be somewhat imposing -- look at all of those options! This screen, like many other screens you will encounter, shows a variety of options that you select by using a combination of the [A] ... [J] buttons on the left and right side of the display screen and the [1] ... [8] buttons beneath the screen. Let's look at some of those options.

VOICE

There are five rows and eight columns of information on this screen. In the screen shot above, the third row, the VOICE row, is selected. This row is bracketed by the [C] button on the left side of the screen and the [H] button on the right side of the screen. You can tell that it is selected because the title of this row is highlighted. Note also that the instrument symbol in column one is also highlighted, so we know that column one (RH1 voice) is also selected.

8 Accompaniment Tracks -- Note that each of the three bottom rows ( [C] for VOICE, [D] for PANPOT, and [E] for VOLUME) have eight possible options, each of which corresponds to a different accompaniment track. These options are selected by using the eight numbered keys under the MAIN screen. Press any of those numbered key buttons (above or below the number) to see how the highlight moves from column to column as you press different numbers.

PANPOT

Below the VOICE row is the PANPOT row. To select this row, the 4th row), press either the [D] button on the left or the [I] button on the right side of the screen. By changing the settings in this row, you adjust the position of the instrument in your orchestra. A setting of 64 puts it right in front of you. Using the Data Entry wheel, moving counterclockwise toward 0 moves the sound of that instrument toward the left side of your keyboard. Moving the setting clockwise toward 128, moves the sound to the right-side of your keyboard. You can also change the PANPOT using the numbered buttons. The lower button moves the PANPOT setting down (toward the left); the upper button moves the setting up (toward the right).

VOLUME

The bottom row, which you select by pressing either the [E] button on the left or the corresponding [J] button on the right, is for changing the VOLUME of the selected individual instrument. Select any instrument track by pressing the corresponding numbered button on the bottom. The slider on the selected track will be highlighted. In this screen shot, the BASS track is selected. The top numbered button now moves the volume of that selection up and the bottom button moves the volume down. You can also change the volume by using the Data Entry wheel. We'll try some of this out a little later in this lesson. For now, press the various lettered buttons to see how the highlight line moves when you press each button.

Changing Track Instruments

All styles can have two Rhythm tracks, a Bass track, two Chord tracks, a Pad track, and two tracks for Phrases. Styles will seldom use all of the available tracks and the tracks that are used may vary among the four style variations (A - D) that come with each style.

The third row, VOICE, shows a small picture to represent the kind of instrument used in that track. In the screen shot here, the BASS track is selected in the VOICE row. The style currently loaded is the Tyros3 default style, EasyPop. If you now press one of the [3] buttons (for BASS), you will see the VOICE(REVOICE) screen that shows the instrument being used on that track.

This is a standard voice selection screen. The selected instrument is highlighted -- The EasyPop style is using the VintageRound Mega Voice. The category (folder) for this voice is shown on the bottom left side of the screen and the pages in that folder are shown below the folder line. You can use the standard navigation tools to go to a different page or even to a different voice category and select a different voice for this particular track.

Press the [EXIT] button to return to the MIXING CONSOLE. If you want, you can select a different instrument before returning to the MIXING CONSOLE.

Exercise 1 - changing track instruments

While you are in the MIXING CONSOLE, press the [START/STOP] button to start the style playing. You will immediately hear the rhythm tracks. Play a chord with your left hand and you will hear all the other tracks as well. While the style is playing, press the [C] button to select the VOICE row and the [3] button to select the BASS voice. You will see the current BASS voice in the VOICE(REVOICE) screen. Try selecting different BASS instruments to see what impact they has on the style while it is playing.

You can do this with any of the tracks. Experiment and try out different voices. You can't hurt anything since the preset styles that come with your keyboard can not be changed, that is, none of the changes you are making will alter the original preset style. In the next lesson, we'll explain the various options available for saving the changes you have made to the style in a new version of the style.

You might also try out different voices by the method suggested by Dick Roberts in his article on Changing Accompaniment Voices .

Changing Track Volumes

Mixing Console-Style-Volume-BASSThe volume for each track is adjusted up or down by using the upper and lower buttons located right underneath that track. First, make sure you select the VOLUME row by pressing either button [E] or [J]. Now, press the buttons above or below the numbers located at the bottom of the screen to select the appropriate track (voice). If you wanted to select the BASS voice, you would press one of the [3] buttons. To select the first chord track (CHD1), press one of the [4] buttons.

Once you have selected a particular track notice that the volume for the instrument on that track will go up one number every time you press the button above and go down one number every time you press the button below the number. If you press the top (bottom) button and keep it pressed, the numbers will go up (down) rapidly. The highest possible number is 127 (loud) and the lowest possible number is 0 (silent). You can adjust the sound even quicker by turning the Data Entry wheel located to the right of the number buttons.

How Loud Is Loud?

MASTER VOLUME Control

The total sound coming out of your keyboard is set by the Master Volume knob. This sets the volume for the instrument as a whole. No matter how you have set the balance between accompaniment, left and right hand voices, moving the Master Control knob moves everything up or down. When I am adjusting sounds, I like to keep the Master Volume set about half way. This provides a suitable overall sound so that I can hear all the voices comfortably in my study without disturbing a lot of other rooms in the house. If the various instrument sounds are balanced at this level, they will continue to be balanced if I move the volume up all the way. Set at its maximum volume, my PSR-3000 can be pretty loud in my study, but that very same maximum volume may also be barely adequate in a large room filled with a crowd of people. Figure out what overall volume you generally play at and set the Master Volume at that level before you start balancing parts or adjusting individual instruments.

MASTER EQ

The overall loudness and tone of the sound coming out of your keyboard can be significantly affected by the Master EQ setting. This allows you to adjust your keyboard for different playing environments. What sounds fine in a small room in your house may not be appropriate if you are playing outdoors or in a large hall. See Gary Diamond's article on the Master EQ setting for outside events and larger rooms. For most of these keyboards, adjusting the EQ setting may be one of the first things you want to do -- it will make a dramatic difference in the should coming out of your keyboard.

BALANCE Control

Balance Controls on MAIN screenThe second level of adjustment is done using the BALANCE controls. Pressing the [BALANCE] button brings up these controls at the bottom of the MAIN screen. You can also see these from the MIXING CONSOLE (see the PANEL PART illustration above).

If you set the volume for the STYLE up to the maximum of 127, that will be as loud as you can set it. However, if your master volume is only half way, turning up the master volume will increase that accompaniment sound (as well as all other sounds) even more.

When you are changing the volume of the STYLE, you are changing the overall volume of all the parts in the style. Here, too, just like in finding a comfortable setting for your overall Master Volume, you may want to pick a standard setting for your Style volume, say for example, 90. Then, you adjust all the individual style parts so they sound good together. That way, depending on the song you are playing and the panel voices you select for the left and right voices, you can always adjust the style volume higher (or lower) and the volume for all style parts will move up (or down) in unison. That is, if they were balanced with the overall STYLE volume at 90, they will remain balanced when you move the overall STYLE volume up to 100 or down to 85.

MIXING CONSOLE

To change the volumes for the individual tracks in the style, you use the MIXING CONSOLE VOL/VOICE tab and the VOICE row (see the screen illustrations above). So, if you adjust the sound of, for example, the drums in the rhythm track [2], how loud they sound to your ears will be determined by a the combination of the volume you set for the RHY1 & RHY2 in the MIXING CONSOLE, the volume set for the STYLE in the BALANCE Control, and the overall volume of the keyboard set by the MASTER Volume and the EQ setting for the keyboard.

Blending the Four Style Variations

Before I give you some hints on balancing the individual track volumes, let me warn you right now that changes made using the MIXING CONSOLE as described here affect all four style variations (A, B, C, and D). So, suppose the track for CHD1 (chord 1) has a piano playing. If you select variation A and set the volume of that piano to, say 90, then the volume of the CHD1 track in all four style variations will be set to 90. This is not necessarily bad, but it does mean that when you are adjusting the volume for that CHD1 track, you will want to test your setting in each of the four style variations. In fact, you need to balance all the instruments so they sound good in all four style variations.

Similarly, if you change the instrument in a particular track, for example, changing a GrandPiano to a HonkyTonk piano, that instrument change will be applied to all four style variations. In some cases, this is good and that is what you want to do. But not in all cases. You may be adjusting a style that had a GrandPiano in the CHD1 track for style variations A and B, but has a JazzGuitar playing in that track for variations C and D. If you changed the GrandPiano in variation A to a JazzOrgan, that track would have a JazzOrgan in variations B, C, and D. You would have replaced not only the original GrandPiano sound in A and B, but also the JazzGuitar sound in C and D.

For many styles, the restrictions mentioned above won't be a problem. You can make these "higher level" adjustments and the style will sound just the way you want it in all four variations. But for some styles, this blending of the volume and instrument selection across all the variations may not work well. You may have a style that uses a pad voice in PHR1 for variations A and B and a TromboneSection in that PHR1 track for variations C and D. It may not be possible to pick a volume level for that track that sounds good in all the variations. In a case like this, you need to adjust the instrument and volume individually for each style variation. To do this, you will use the MIXING CONSOLE, but you do it from within the DIGITAL RECORDING section. The lesson on Fine Tuning Volume Adjustments explains how to do that. I just wanted you to be aware that adjusting voices and volumes at this level impacts all four style variations equally.

Exercise 2 - Tune A Style

OK, how about another exercise to see if you can adjust a style. Beguine is one of the styles that was converted from a batch of styles originally on the Technics KN5000 arranger keyboard. Click on that style name to download the style. Put it on your USB drive or floppy disk and take it to your keyboard. From the MAIN screen, press [D] to load a style, and tab over to your USB (or FLOPPY) drive. You should see a style named BEGUIN there. You may want to copy the style over to your USB drive, but you can also work with it on your USB or FLOPPY drive. Press SYNC START and then play a chord with your left hand to start the style playing. Press the four variation buttons (A-D) to see what it sounds like in all variations. When your done trying it out, press STOP.

Tempo - The conversion software set the tempo of every style to 120. For a slow ballad or a fast swing, this would obviously be the wrong speed. In this case, however, the original tempo on the KN5000 was 118 so the 120 is close. But move the tempo down to 118 anyway.

Volume - Press the [MIXING CONSOLE] button to go to the Mixer. If you are not looking at the MIXING CONSOLE(STYLE PART) screen, press the [MIXING CONSOLE] button again until you get to the STYLE PART page. Notice all those volumes set to 100. Try moving the 8 individual volume levels (counting from left to right) to these settings: RHY1=56, RHY2=85, BASS=85, CHD1=75, CHD2=75, PAD=60, PHR1=68, and PHR2=100. Now press SYNC START and try a chord to start off the style again. Press the different variations while the style is playing. You should hear a big difference from the original flat 100 settings.

Some Tuning Hints

CHANNEL ON/OFF in MC Style screenIf you press the CHANNEL ON/OFF key, the lower part of the MIXING CONSOLE VOL/VOICE screen will show what is going on in the 8 style tracks. You see the 8 style tracks each with an icon of the kind of instrument on the track and whether it is ON or OFF. Some tracks do not show any instrument because that track is not used in the style. If the track is ON, there is an instrument assigned to that track.

A track may be marked ON but not used in simpler variations of the style. If you press the corresponding number button, you can turn that instrument OFF. To isolate the sound of any particular track (instrument), turn all the track OFF except the one you are interested in. In this screen shot, everything is OFF except the CHD2 track.

Try this now, with your style playing (remember to play a chord to hear all the parts). Turn everything off except the drums. Try each of the 4 variations and you will clearly hear how the drum pattern changes in each variation. You can try the same thing with the other tracks.

In adjusting a style, you may find it helpful to do that adjustment one track at a time. Get the rhythm tracks set to the right volume in all four variations. Then, turn the BASS track on and adjust its volume until it sounds fine with the rhythm tracks in all the variations. Next, add the CHD1 track and adjust it. You get the idea.

If you are in the MIXING CONSOLE, press the [E] or [J] buttons to see the volume adjustment. Adjust up or down using either the top or bottom numbered buttons below the instrument or the Data Wheel to make large adjustments very quickly. For these adjustments, the Data Entry Wheel may be more convenient. To add another track, set its volume down to zero, then, with the already tuned tracks playing, gradually increase the sound of the new track until it reaches the volume you want and blends well with the other tracks playing.

OK, everything is tuned just the way you want for this style. But, as mentioned above, if you were to turn your keyboard off, all your tuning of volumes or replacement of voices, would be lost. If you want to keep your version of this style, the next, critical step, is to save your work. The next lesson details the steps needed to SAVE your creation.

 



 

This page updated on March 3, 2014 .