Hard pan on mixer doesn't work

• Nov 5, 2021 - 14:54
Reported version
S4 - Minor

1) take any score (for ease of testing, take any score with a few instruments and drums)

2) In the mixer, pan drums (or anything else) hard right, and everything else hard left (or vice versa)

3) play back in headphones --} there is a significant bleed between right and left channels.

The issue is critical because it does not allow creation of click tracks for live performance, which is essential to any live performance where some instrument(s) in the score supplement live instruments on stage, as well as 100% of the time in live situations where in ear monitors are used.

Same issue is present when exporting as MIDI or mp3.

There were reported issues with this in earlier versions of MuseScore, with blame placed on Fluidfonts and Zita and workarounds discussed and worked on, but it seems the issue has not been resolved and discussion of this issue died out..... Need to fix this...


Frequency Many Once
Severity S1 - Blocker S3 - Major

Certainly not a Blocker (blocking the use of MuseScore entirely) nor Critical (crashes, hangs, corruptions, loss of data).
And you're all but one.
Maybe the fix from back in 2.0 doesn’t affect drums?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Jojo, I am a former QA manager, and in my QA career a functional issue like this that essentially totally precludes software from being used for its intended purpose, albeit only in a live performance, makes software essentially unusable for those users and therefore a functionally critical issue. But regardless of how we classify this issue in terms of its functional severity, the bottom line is that we cannot use a score written in Musescore for any live performance whatsoever because we need a click for the drummer and a backup track with non-live instruments. (Numerous bands as far as I know use this system routinely). Because the same issue carries over in Midi as well and cannot be fixed in say Garage Band, I am not sure what we can do to perform live with our score other than just rewrite the whole score from scratch in some other score editor. To us, it's a show stopper, literally. But ok, maybe it's not such a big deal to other users - if so, I apologize for the alarm bells.... For us, it is essential, we just cannot use the score....

P.S. I saw the thread that you referenced, I do not see a fix though... Seems to me that it was just closed without a clear resolution.

MuseScore primarily and foremost is a note editor and its purpose is to produce sheet music, so producing live performances is not at all its intended use. The fix is, as listed in that other issues, is in d79ce4f

Workaround No Yes

The per-channel reverb setting in the mixer is not what is relevant here - that's only used for MIDI output. And if you export to MIDI, you would presumably find find the pan works as expected, unless your MIDI player is also adding reverb in both channels. Nothing MsueScore can do about that.

But in MuseScore if you turn off the global reverb in View / Synthesizer, you'll hear a clean separation of the channels. So the issue it's simply what we already know, the reverb is always in both channels regardless of the panning of the source. Not sure if it's still that way in the development builds of MuseScore 4, which are moving to an all-new playback engine.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc and Jojo -- thanks so much for your comments.
Marc, I do not see any settings for a global reverb in the Synthesizer... Not sure if I am missing it, but I just do not see it... As far as midi export with a hard pan - the crossover of channels still occurs when I import the midi into Garage Band (and then try to re-pan in there) - from some online discussions of the issue, it appears there may be something inside the midi file itself (perhaps some kind of a header with file properties) that essentially locks in an incomplete pan regardless of what midi player you use after the file is created. At least that's my basic understanding, although it is possible that perhaps I didn't fully get it as I am not savvy in sound engineering.

Jojo - many thanks for double checking there was a fix. How do I actually use that fix? Is there a way to copy and paste the code in some MuseScore system file? Obviously, the fix is not in the current version of the MuseScore itself, so how can I use it?

As for a workaround, I found one. Here it is for anyone struggling with this issue for live performances or backing tracks like me:
1) For a "click," export to mp3 the drum part only, panned hard one way, with all other instruments muted.
2) For backing track (non-live instruments,) export to mp3 those instruments, with all others muted, panned hard the opposite way.
3) Add the 2 mp3s as separate tracks in Garage Band.
4) In Garage Band, set up pan of the drum/click track hard same way as in MuseScore, and set up pan of the backing track hard the same as in MuseScore.
5) Export combined tracks to mp3 from Garage Band. This results in an mp3 with the click track separated from the backing track. Then run that mp3 through any device to the DI Box -> Mixer -> PA/IEMs

Given the existence of this work around, although it's quite inconvenient, the MuseScore panning issue is not as severe as I had initially thought. Jojo, please -- if there is a fix that I can apply to the software per your reference, kindly let me know how to apply it. Many thanks.

Reverb cannot possibly be locked into a MIDI file - there is no sound at all in the file, just note on and note off instructions. Sounds is 100% up to the playback program. If GarageBand is too limited to shit it off, try another.

Within MuseScore, see View / Synthesizer / Master Effect. Either remove the reverb effect entirely or reduce the output to 0. It absolutely works, I just tried it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc and Jojo, sorry for the delay in responding - I was traveling. Many thanks again for your replies. I tried Marc's suggestion and listened in the headphones, and it seems to work. I will try later in the day how mp3 and MuseScore directly work when output to the PA system and in ear monitor for the drummer. I am hopeful that the reverb off in Zita would work on that as well without crossover. If so, then it is just the issue with the reverb and not that the previous fix does not work for drumsets. I will test on PA system and report back to you. If this works, it would be a game changer for us and a total non-issue for MuseScore.

Just to make sure I took the reverb off correctly -- all I have to do is to turn the output all the way to "Dry," correct? Or is there some other way to turn off the reverb?

Thanks so much again.

Severity S3 - Major S4 - Minor

That should work but if there is still some bleed, the more complete way would be to use the drop down to set "Effect A" to "NoEffect".

I'd still recommend leaving this issue open as it isn't nice that reverb kills pan - what if you want both? But since all of this will be pretty drastically different in MsueScore 4, it may already be a non-issue. Will be good to test as that development continues.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi again, Marc and Jojo. I tested the click track function (pan) on a PA system and here are a few observations:
1) There is still a slight carryover between channels that is audible on high volume, and only when the "silent" instrument on PA channel is playing solo. In our case, this manifests when the drummer starts receiving a timing click for 1-2 measures before he starts playing and during the next measure where the drummer is giving the rest of the band a click by tapping sticks together. Once the full band starts playing, the faint carryover is not perceptible, but it is perceptible (to the audience) from the PA speaker itself before the main track and band start playing, albeit it is relatively faint.

2) This issue manifests irrespective of whether Zita is used on "dry" or if the Effect A is set to "No effect." The issue also does not depend on whether the track is played directly from MuseScore or from an mp3 exported from MuseScore.

3) The issue does not depend on just drums. I set the drums to the same pan as all other instruments and panned a trumpet to where the drums were, and the PA system picked up the trumpet. At different pitches different instruments would be more or less audible through the PA system, although I couldn't figure out what specific frequencies make the issue manifest more. I tested drums on toms, high hat, and cow bell with different level of manifestation, but all manifested to at least an audible degree.

So, in sum, the issue is still there, albeit only perceptible on high (performance situation) volume. Because this issue would affect all bands or groups using click tracks (and the way one WOULD put together a click track would be only through an orchestration software like MuseScore), I would still keep the issue open. At present, the cleanest way to separate channels appears to be exporting 2 separate tracks -- one for click and one for track -- and then re-combining them back into a combined track in something else like GarageBand.

I would love to see this fixed in MuseScore 4, as it would save us (and perhaps other performers using PA systems with click tracks) from this clunky workaround. But I agree, the issue, given the availability of a workaround and its effect on what likely is a relatively small group of MuseScore users, should remain a minor one. I do hope, as Marc suggested, that the issue can be kept open until it can be re-tested in MuseScore 4.

Many thanks again to both of you for generously donating your time to attend to this and for your great suggestions and insight.

In reply to by mgorokhovich

One last thought / test --> to rule out a possibility that this faint carryover is happening on our mixer, DI box or stereo headphone splitter, I will run a few more tests comparing carryover from MuseScore and from the alternative workaround involving exporting separate tracks and recombining them in Garage Band. If the carryover is still the same, then it's something in our cables and/or mixer / DI box. If not, then it will confirm the problem is with MuseScore. I'll report back tomorrow on those additional tests.

Indeed, it does seem pretty likely this is an artifact of your PA setup. If you don't hear it with headphones, that seems to rule out MuseScore as the cause.

In reply to by mgorokhovich

A slight upgrade that makes this workaround a bit less of a PITA:

BACKGROUND - I'm performing a piano concerto with orchestral backing that I transcribed into musescore (It's a pretty obscure concerto so no pre-recorded backing track exists to my knowledge). In addition to the orchestral backing coming out over the speakers for everyone to hear, I need a click track to make sure I don't lose sync for certain passages where the orchestra doesn't really have a pulse.

NOTE - Using Marc's workaround of removing the Zita 1 reverb plugin from the synthesizer worked for me as well, but there's no harm in leaving this here for cases where turning off reverb is too undesirable.

WORKAROUND - you can use the Parts feature to generate the separate mixes. For me, I made one part with just the click track, and another part that contained the entire orchestra. In my eyes, this improves the workaround in two key ways (I was also doing it the way you described before realizing this upgrade):

  1. Rather than having to generate multiple copies of the file, delete undesired tracks, and export one-by-one, saving the different mixes as Parts of the main score allows you to export all mixes in one batch

  2. If you have to change the score, the "mix parts" update accordingly and you just have to do one (batch) re-export as opposed to going through the entire process from the previous point