MainStage Mondays: 7 Tips For Balancing Your Patch Volumes

One of the constant struggles for keyboard players is getting the levels right. Here are 7 ways I adjust levels to keep them under control: 


1. Use a Multimeter to identify problems. the FX plugin Multimeter can help you analyze frequency, level, and even panning issues. I like to put one on my master output to keep track of signal issues. 


2. Play all the notes on your keyboard at once to find maximum peak. This should give you the maximum possible sound output for each patch. 


3. Use the Expression control instead of adjusting the volume. This will control the relative volume instead of the actual volume, making it less likely to create huge jumps in volume. 


4. Decrease, don’t increase. It’s always better to reduce your volume than to bump it. There’s only so much headroom you have before you’ve maxed out all of your sounds. 


5. Do a run through with the Multimeter. Scroll through each preset, playing the parts as you’ll play them live. Adjust the volume accordingly. 


6. Put a “glue” compressor on the master output. Using the Compressor plugin, select “Vintage VCA”. Then turn on the limiter, and adjust as you see fit. This will even out sudden spikes in the audio, while not compressing the signal too much. 


7. Remember that every extra sound increases your output volume. If you have 3 separate virtual instruments playing together, you’ll see a noticeable bump in your overall volume even if the volumes are set low on your plugins. Compensate by adjusting the individual volumes of the instruments. 


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