LMMS Guide Part 3: Panning, Volume, And Sound Effects

This guide will demonstrate how you can adjust the volume and panning of tracks, beats, and even individual notes. I will also demonstrate a few sound effect plugins that come with LMMS as well to play around with.

In previous tutorials, there was a quick tour of the LMMS interface showing where the sounds and instruments are located, how to use the beat/bassline editor, the piano roll, basically, everything needed to get started right away creating melodies. The previous guide showed how to create a simple drum roll, and change the tempo and time signature.

Volume Control

​You’ve seen the master volume control in previous tutorials. You can also change the volume of each track on the song editor and beat/bassline editor. In the piano roll, you can even change the volume of each note. You may have even fiddled with them before. The default volume level is 100% (maximum is 200%).

Song Editor And Beat/Bassline Editor

​The tracks on the song editor and beat/bassline editor that can be changed are sample tracks (to play sound files as effects), and instrument tracks (sound samples, simulated instruments). Changing them is as simple as turning the “VOL” dial on the track.

lmms volumes

Piano Roll

Every note on the piano roll can be as loud or as quiet as you like. See this example below:

piano roll lmms

You click on an area under where it starts to change the volume of an individual note or chord, Also, for convenience, you can simply drag your mouse over the volume controls section of the piano roll to increase or decrease the volume of multiple notes at the same time. Expanding the Note Volume section will make it easier to adjust the volume and give you a little more control.

lmms volume

Panning

To control the panning is to control how much the sound leans towards the left, center, or the right. In other words, the lower the panning value, the more you will hear a sound come from the left speaker, and the higher the value, the more you will hear it come from the right speaker (0% is the default). Like the volume controls, these are very easy to change for tracks and instruments using the “PAN” dial.
On the piano roll, to change the panning of the note, click the black area where it says “Note Volume” at the bottom-left corner of the piano roll screen, to switch it to “Note Panning” to change the panning of each note. Click again to switch back.

lmms length

I find that changing the panning on the track has a far more noticeable effect than changing the panning of individual notes.

A couple Of Sound Effects

Let’s take a look at a couple of plugins out the multitude that are shipped with LMMS, specifically Freeverb v3, and the TAP Pitch Shifter. These are accessible via the FX Mixer.

lmms effects chain

To add a sound effect, press “Add Effect”. A window will appear with a long list of plugins available. I encourage all of you to explore whichever plugin you like so as to exercise your creativity in your compositions with different ideas. To search for a particular plugin (in this case “Freeverb”), simply click on the text field at the top and begin typing to narrow down the list until you see the plugin you wish to add.Each plugin can be modified in a window that can be invoked using the “Controls” button on its plugin entry.

Freeverb

​This plugin is an interesting one. It changes the acoustics of the entire track. When you add it, you may find that it increases the overall volume of the whole project. At the moment, that’s all the plugin has done to your song. With the controls (whose window appear when you add the plugin), you can control the Wet and Dry levels, the Room Size, Damping, and Width levels.

lmms freeverb effects chain

Wet Level

​This appears to create an echo effect that is especially noticeable with many drum sound and effects. Try it out for yourself.

Dry Level

​Changing this affects the deep “boom boom” sound like bass beats. The lower the number, the less pronounced the beating is.

Room Size

Since this appears to be an acoustics plugin, changing the room size alter the overall effect of the plugin on the project. The greater the figure, the larger the impact, and the chances of annoying artefacts appearing in your project because so many sounds are trying to come through your audio output.
Feel free to experiment with these controls however you wish.

VyNil

Enabling this effect will have the project sound like it is being played on a vinyl record (hence the name). With it you can change the overall quality of the record by changing the year it’s supposed to resemble (1900 – 1990), how much crackling you hear, the amount of “wear” (which decreases quality of course), and rotations per minute (RPM), and how warped the surface is.

lmms vynil

Just be aware that this plugin may occasionally make a rather abrupt beep while it’s enabled. I don’t remember this appearing on any exported tracks (covered next tutorial), just only running LMMS with it.

Tips

If you plan to have numerous instrument and soundtracks in your project, the audio can end up rather scratchy. To mitigate this, setting the master volume to something like 30% and increase or decrease the volume of each track as needed.Also remember, some instruments and sounds are going to be louder than others so bear in mind that you may need to turn some tracks up higher and some lower to have the sounds blend in nicely.

Instrument tracks created with ZynAddSubFX can have their master volumes changed. To do this, click on the track name, which opens a little window, and click the “Show GUI” button. This will open up the configuration window for ZynAddSubFX where you will find the Master Volume dial on the top left corner of the window. I will cover editing other options for ZynAddSubFX instruments in a later tutorial.

Conclusion

​Open up a project, like the one created in the previous tutorial, and try out your volume settings. Then experiment with the two sound effect plugins covered in this tutorial (and maybe others), and maybe even play with different instruments. Or you can create a new song of your own and test your own creativity if you want to.

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