Volume discussion


#1

I originally placed this in an existing users post, but I think it should be it’s own, so here we go!

Since we are on the topic of volume, I just wanted to share with the dev team that one of the struggles I have with Syrinscape, are the many volume controls scattered all over the place. It really is daunting.

My work flow:
So I will look through my local file explorer and play sounds locally, to figure out which ones I want to upload. I play them locally, and they are loud, but then I upload them into Syrinscape, and I can barely hear them, so I scramble around to all these different volume control settings scattered throughout the creation interface, and make sure they all the way up, and then go to the master volume and make sure that is up, and then the player volume. I do finally get it really close if not the same volume as if it was local, but there has to be a better way. Oh, and another thing that I noticed, is browsing through and listening to the online library samples (samples and elements), and playing them individually - many time I can’t even hear the sounds, and there is no volume control for those. Do this test if you don’t believe me - load up a soundset and play a mood, now go to library, find an element, and play through some of them while the mood is playing. Same thing happens when playing sounds in the element playlist - even though those are full volume, I play some individually to figure out which I want to keep or discard, and I play them, and barely hear them.

A couple ideas that come to my head:

  • I think all sounds uploaded should be automatically normalized if they aren’t already, and if audiophiles don’t agree, then a checkbox to normalize on upload as an option.
  • I think all sounds in the online library (samples and elements) should be a max volume. We are screening these, looking for the right sound for our soundsets, so we need to hear them. So many times I just hear nothing when screening these files.
  • I think the sounds in the element playlist should be at a max volume. Even though the slider is at max, many times I still cannot hear them. Again, I usually copy existing elements to my own soundset, and then I remove and adjust element playlists while a mood is playing. I just did this very thing with the Guard Cries and Scared GenCon Attendees elements.
  • Do we really need all the existing volume controls? We currently have:
    • Master Online Volume
    • Soundset Initial Volume
    • Element Initial Volume
    • Individual Element Playlist Volumes (for each sound)
    • Mood Element Target Volume.
    • Each Individual Element Volume next to the round activation button.
    • Variable 3D positioning Volume (variable - not even sure how we can predict the volumes of this in a Mono or Stereo config). Most times I turn this off since I don’t have Dolby 5.1 Surround sound during session, but it still makes me wonder how the premade soundsets provided by you, that are in 3D, translate to a mono or stereo sound setup. Many included elements are 3D.
    • Distance setting under 3D Positioning.
    • Online Player Volume.
    • And while it isn’t a Syrinscape volume control, we also have to look at and tweak the computer system volume, while troubleshooting stuff.

I think I have them all covered, but whew, what a daunting list of places to look for volume issues. I’m not really sure how I would redesign this, but I figured I’d bring it up first, and then brainstorm about it later. Heh.


#2

Hey @dorpond Thanks as always for your thoughtful input.

I think every one of the ‘volumes’ your refer to is essential to creating the realistic and immersive sound you hear in Syrinscape’s official content. I’ll step through and reference each one to give you a bit more of an idea of how they are working together to make Syrinscape sound great.

Master Online Volume
This is just a normal Master Volume like on any app. Sure you could use the system volume instead, but that is harder to get to. When i am running a game, I often give a quick touch to the Master Volume to make the overall sound a bit louder or softer.

Soundset Initial Volume
This helps to adjust the relative volume of an entire SoundSet compared to ALL other SoundSets in Syrinscape.This provides a potential boost up to 200% (very useful since almost every other thing in Syrinscape makes sounds quieter). I generally set this to 140% as one of the first things I do when I make a new SoundSet. It is important to have there so if we discover a SoundSet is generally louder or softer than the rest of the content we can adjust it globally rather than having to adjust every volume of every element in every mood.

Element Initial Volume
This is ONLY the volume that an element is set to when it FIRST loads into the Fantasy Player. This is important because a MOOD ramps to its set volume. For example if an element is sitting at 100%. It starts and ramps to 5%, you can get a weird BURST of volume as it gets to the ‘correct’ setting.

Individual Element Playlist Volumes (for each sound)
These can usually be left alone, BUT if one or more of the samples in a Playlist are quite different in volume from other samples, this inequity can be fixed here. You can also randomise the playback of a sample in the Playlist here by setting a range. I use this fairly frequentlyl.

Mood Element Target Volume.
When you click a MOOD, Syrinscape starts a certain list of elements and sets them to a certain volume (that’s all in fact that a MOOD does)… this is actually the MAIN thing Syrinscape does. Note: Syrinscape actually RAMPS (gradually changes the volume) between whatever the current volume of that element is and the NEW setting = this is one reason why an Element Initial Volume can be important)

Each Individual Element Volume next to the round activation button.
This is the same as the volume setting in the Fantasy Player and allows the user to quickly change the volume of a running Element without having to create a MOOD to get the element to that volume. The current playing state of Syrinscape can then be saved easily as a new MOOD in ANY SoundSet. I often use this during Play to tweak what I am hearing (eg boost the music up a bit, or turn down the weapon clashing sounds after I’ve heard them for a while).

Variable 3D positioning Volume
This is another one of the MAIN things Syrinscape does. I actuallly think your comments here might hint at a bit of a basic misunderstanding of the way we design sound in Syrinscape. These settings should be used with MOST of the sounds you are bringing into an environment (whether you are using surround speakers or not). Note we hear sounds in 3D even though we have only two ears. Dropping sounds into a 3D environment and applying the appropriate 3D effects in reverb and the resultant variations in phase that create an immersive effect is how we do sound design. YOU don’t need to think about this though… just think about where the sounds might be positioned in reality. Making a town? Position your dog woofs to be 20 to 40 metres away in ANY direction. Having a conversion with a vendor? Place him directly in front of the listener at about 5 meters. Makes sense?

Distance setting under 3D Positioning.
Note, that along with the above setting, yes, any setting here will tend to make sound softer… that’s why we’ve got that 200% boost on the SoundSet Initial Volume, to get you back up.

Online Player Volume.
This is important so players playing in your game can tweak the volume THEY are hearing relative to what everyone else is hearing depending on the peculiarities of their system, sound setup etc.

Wew! That was a lot of words. :smiley:
Have a read of all that, and let me know if it makes sense? AND ask more questions.
This should go into our (being worked on now) documentation for the Online Player!!!
So much the infos!!!


#3

Yes, sometimes when you are trying to audition an element, it is set so low you can’t hear it. Can we force elements to play at full volume when they are being played from the Library search results @sonofconan


#4

We cooooould do this but,

  1. that would put considerably more load on our servers
  2. you actually probably want to do more than just normalise. You really need to compress to… and that is something that needs a human ear AND eye.

Here is a video about that:


#5

Thougths others?

@new_vision @Steve @sonofconan @ominousbarry


#6

Hey Benjamin, I would love to hear the above explanation as well, because your explanations were rather enlightening. It is good to know all this. In fact, that ramp up volume - I was completely clueless that was what it did by the name of it. Maybe a note explaining that in app would be helpful?

Yeah, I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a better way, but like you said, they are all needed. So then I wondered if it would be useful to have like a volume mapping screen or something, to see at a glance, what all volumes are set to, but as with every new addition, comes an even more learning curve and confusion to users.

All I know is that so many times I face the volume demons.

Oh, and thank you; audition is such a better word than screening. I audition stuff all the time and I would have to say that more than 50% of the material in the library is not loud enough to properly audition it. I would be giddy if that could be addressed.


#7

I’ve edited my post above to include info on what a MOOD volume does.

Read again and ask more questions! :slight_smile: :smiley:


#8

@dorpond I think if you just set the master interface global volume to 100% and the online player volume to 100%, you’ll get very close to the same volume when playing individual samples from the library as you get when playing them locally (outside of Syrinscape).

There’s still a small difference (to my ears), and samples played via element playlist will also have distance/reverb applied which may reduce the volume further, but it’s pretty close.

Right now, the online player volume will reset to 50% every time you launch it, so just set these two volumes each time you start a session and you should be OK.


#9

I haven’t read everything in this post, apologies if I repeat someone else and for my laziness to read off a LED screen instead of paper.

I am with @dorpond, there are too many volume controls. Major annoyance for me is having to set the master volumes to max every time I start the OLP and every successive reboot (as I sufferer many errors and crashes asTia & Ben know). I understand the reason for a volume on the online player, but not for the one on top of the window screen. We all have a controller on our computers, no!

Fewer would be better. Having just the minimum as in the actual player is enough. Plus having the online player resemble the actual player will help easy of access.

Jumping to the sample volumes, again, like @dorpond sometime I will upload a sample that sounds great, but when placed in the mix, is lost. This is either due to the compressor or the sample not recorded at a maximum level. Thing is, I can’t tell. An off button for the compressor would be nice. But even simpler would be a green/yellow/red LED bars, so I can see my output volume and individual volumes of samples/elements. If I can see that a sound has rendered too load or not load enough, I can quickly go back and sort it out. Instead of adjusting volumes, changing effect, ect, just to get the sound to sit in the mix that I’d like.

I believe these are the main little tweaks that could make the online player easier to use, especially for those of us who have been using other professional audio
programmes. Familiarity bread rapidity. Then we should look at the 3D. How to position sound in particular places, get it to move how we want, adjust the amount of effect we want on a sound, etc.

I would drop a mic about here, but I’m worried about breaking it =)


#10

Funny you mention positional sound placement, but I thought back about 6 months ago, how cool it would be to have a Unity, top down style Interface, and placing monster around the center point (listener), and having the moving sounds move around the center point. This way, at a glance, we could see exactly what’s going on, and what creatures they were.

Was my fantasy interface :slight_smile:

But there is a certain simplicity to visually see in g what’s going on. Now that I know @sonofconan develops in Unity, I wonder how tough it would be to switch over to a visual interface like that? That would be cool, seeing the dragon flying around the listener :sunglasses:


#11

Thanks @ominousbarry.

We do need the global volume control in the online player so that the GM can adjust the volume in sync for all remote players. The online player volume control is then for each player to tailor their audio to their particular environment, and we don’t just rely on them using system volume so that they can set the online player either louder or quieter than other system sounds.

Remembering previously set volume level is on our list of things to fix. And I think we might be able to bring the default/initial volume level closer to the system level.

Besides that, as explained by Ben I believe all of the volume controls are necessary. I’m not sure how we can reduce them. But in normal playback (not creation), only the global volume, element volume, and online player volume will be at hand.

The coloured glow around an element or sample (in the element playlist or library) is actually already indicating the average amplitude (since the last update) while the element or sample is making sound. This updates up to 5 times per second. You should be able to use this to identify quiet elements and samples that are getting lost and need boosting.