Tutorials / 16 June 2020

Seven features on BandLab Web you may not know about

BandLab Mix Editor Features Desktop

BandLab lets you focus on creating music and collaborating with fellow musicians without bogging you down in sound engineering technicalities. But that’s not to say BandLab isn’t a full-fledged DAW – far from it. In fact, the Mix Editor is so good at putting the music first that you may not even be aware of some of its deeper capabilities. Harnessing these well can make the difference between an average mix and a jaw-dropping masterpiece.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the lesser-known features in BandLab (Web).

Mix and FX automation features

Give the mix dynamism by modifying the prominence of different parts throughout the song. You can move sounds within the stereo image, or even morph and change effects settings over time. All of this can be done using automation.

Enable Automation Choose Automation Features BandLab Mix Editor

Where to find and how to use these features

  • To view and edit automation, click the button to the right of the “Add Track” button.
  • This, by default, will show volume automation on each track. You can change this to panning automation by hitting the drop-down menu underneath a track’s name and selecting “Pan”.
  • The lines you’ll see overlaying your tracks represent each track’s volume or pan value over time – these are called automation “curves”. (Yes, even when they’re straight!)
  • Clicking on an automation curve will create a ‘node’ at that point in time. Clicking at different points on the curve and then moving the nodes up or down will create a steady change from the first to the second node’s value:

Creating Automation Nodes BandLab Mix Editor Features

  • If you’ve added effects to a track, the automatable parameters of those effects will be shown in the track’s automation selector. Automation curves will be created for them.
  • To record automation data from a hardware controller that you have mapped to a parameter, hit the red record button. Any moves you make with the hardware controller – say, sliding a fader – will be recorded, and you’ll see them on the automation curve as a series of nodes:

Recording Automation Feature BandLab Mix Editor

But wait – what’s mapping, and how do you start?

MIDI mapping features

Creating and editing automation is one way of doing things, but it feels much more natural to use hardware faders and rotary controls. If your hardware controller – keyboard, drum pads or similar – has such features, you can ‘map’ these controls to parameters in your mix, giving you that true hands-on feel. It’s really easy to set up, too.

MIDI Mapping Features BandLab Mix Editor

Where to find and how to use this feature

  • Click on the “MIDI Mappings” button at the bottom-right of the Mix Editor. This will open the MIDI Mappings panel where all current mappings are listed. The red boxes around the on-screen controls show you what can be automated.
  • Click on a red box (a brighter border around indicates that it’s active) and wiggle a fader or knob on your hardware controller. A controller number will appear in the red box, and an entry will appear in the MIDI Mapping panel. Repeat for all parameters that you want to map to a controller.
  • Click the “MIDI Mappings” button again to disable mapping mode. Now, when you move a control on your hardware, the mapped parameter in your mix will follow along.
  • Don’t forget you can record your hardware moves, too (see above).

Read More: How do I do MIDI mapping with BandLab? 

Live session features

While music-making is often a collaborative effort, getting the band together isn’t always easy, and scheduling sessions can break the creative flow of a project. BandLab’s Live Sessions feature solves this by allowing more than one person to work on the same mix.

Live Sessions are created through the Mix Editor’s Collaborators feature, which allows you to invite people to a session. In a normal session, collaborators can listen to a mix, chat and create their own revisions of it. However, they can’t add their own recordings to your original version of the mix. Changing the session to a Live Session changes this – it allows collaborators to add their own parts to the mix.

Inviting Collaborators Live Session Features BandLab Mix Editor

Only one person can record a Live Session at any one time, though. That said, control can be passed to any other collaborator, allowing them to add their own parts to the music. This can be a fabulously organic way to develop an idea, allowing everyone to chip in while being inspired by what everyone else is doing. It’s not exactly like jamming with the band in a live studio, but it’s the next best thing.

Where to find and how to use this feature

  • Click the “Collaborators” button at the bottom-right of the Mix Editor to open the Collaboration panel.
  • In the panel, click the triple-dot button to open the popup menu, and select “Invite Collaborators”. This will open a panel where you can enter usernames to send invites to, along with a short message.
  • Click the “Start Live Session” button at the top of the Collaboration panel.
  • Your collaborators will see a message informing them that a live session has been started, and they’ll be presented with a “Join” button.
  • To pass control to one of your collaborators, hit the double-arrow button in the green banner at the top of the Collaboration panel. This will open a pop-up form where you can assign control to another collaborator.
  • When you have finished working on the session, hit the “End Session” button. The session will no longer be live, but you can carry on working on it as you normally would.

Read More: How do I start a Live Session?

Region editor

Sometimes, you need a greater degree of control beyond the basic cuts and edits that you can perform on the Mix Editor’s main timeline. Perhaps there’s a small glitch or pitch inaccuracy that you need to correct. Maybe you want to reverse a sample or make major pitch and timing changes to a section. You can do all of these in the Region Editor.

Where to find and how to use this feature

Open the Region Editor by either double-clicking on an audio region in the main timeline, or by clicking the “Editor” button at the bottom-left of the Mix Editor window. Think of the Region Editor as a focused, detailed view of the source track. You can zoom in, scroll it back and forth to see other regions on the track, adjust region start and endpoints, and so on.

To make pitch or timing adjustments in the Region Editor, position the playback cursor at the beginning of a section, right-click and select “Slice”. Repeat the process for the end of the section, and it’ll leave you with an isolated portion of the track. Now, with the newly trimmed-out region selected, use the pitch shift, playback rate and reverse controls to make your desired modifications. If the part you’re editing had been previously duplicated, a new version of the part is created so that those earlier takes remain unaffected.

Read More: How can I change the speed and pitch of my audio track? 

Fade editor

The Region Editor also allows you to add fades to the start and end of a region. You can do so by dragging the small handles shown near the top of each region in the Region Editor. This is useful for blending one part with another or to prevent clicks and pops at the start and end of a region.

Where to find and how to use this feature

Open a part in the Region Editor, then click-and-drag the handles left and right of the region, like so:

Fade Editor Features BandLab Mix Editor

To create a fade that spans multiple regions, you can use volume automation on the tracks that you wish to fade.

Read More: How can I fade in and fade out tracks on BandLab?

View setting features

Although the Mix Editor looks pretty cool out of the box, you can actually change its appearance quite dramatically. The following features are available, all of which are accessible from the “View” menu at the top of the Mix Editor window:

View Settings Density BandLab Mix Editor Grid Size

  • Themes allow you to switch the overall look of all aspects of the BandLab Mix Editor.
  • Track Density changes the height of tracks between compact and large, fitting more or fewer (respectively) on-screen.
  • Grid Size determines the distance between vertical time marker lines, as well as the grid regions and the way objects ‘snap’.

Metronome sounds

Although the built-in metronome is an invaluable tool, the default sound it uses won’t be to everyone’s tastes. To tweak this, the Metronome Settings pop-up provides a range of different sounds that you can choose from. Simply open the popup, hit the Metronome Sounds box and choose one of the options from the drop-down menu. Our favourite? The “Cat” meows!

Metronome Sounds Feature BandLab Mix Editor

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