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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:39 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 7:01 pm
Posts: 16
This is a guide I shared in the past with some SBU members who were having a difficult time navigating through the different sliders in ArcTan. Working this way has allowed me to work quicker, and has removed some of the guesswork with the ArcTan sliders. As with everything else, this is not a fullproof guide to ArcTan, but I do find that it gives me a running start with a majority of albums across genres.

If starting with your standard rock album, mixed without any hard left or right vocal panning, with not a lot of crazy vocal reverb, I have my ArcTan settings at the following:

Image Width: 290
Center Width: 75
Front Width: 90
Mode: Across
Adjacent Speaker: .30 with wrap OFF
Front and Center blends set to 1.0 (which means off)

Here is where the tweaking starts. I live monitor my rears closely at these settings, but with the rear Slice blend at "bypass" and set to 1.0. If I can eliminate most of the vocal in the rears on a track without doing anything else, or at least enough that they're well-masked unless your ear is right at the speaker, I'm done. If not, I'll try slightly raising my center and front width, but not too much. Too much makes the soundfield too front-dominant. I'll also try "sum" mode rather than "across." If I'm still not there, this is where the Slice blended rears come in. I then switch the rear blend setting to "processing," have my Slice humidity’s at .9 and .95, and start slowly moving that rear blend slider away from 1.0 until it sounds good to me. Some tracks take a lot. Some tracks only take a little.

There are some tracks where this all is hopeless because of a more reverb-y vocal, or a track where instrumentation is spare or the vocal is just mixed way up front. This is where I give up on isolating the vocal and see whether "diagonal" mode in ArcTan does a good job at giving me some nice instrumentation back there, but not worry so much about complete vocal isolation. In all probability, the listener is going to experience the vocal up front anyway. I then continue the same process with the Slice rear blend until I like what I hear.

That's pretty much how most of my conversions go. Bypass the "Free Mastering Tools." They're only there to provide a free alternative to mastering VSTs which you probably don't need unless you're working with a terrible source. Absolutely use ZAG, especially the latest version with per-track automation. Bypass ZPan unless you're working with something else other than ArcTan. Don't be afraid to use the limiters.

Hope this helps.


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