PanLab2Jun 01, 2022
Article written by Omar Colom and Laura Massas
“QLab is a ubiquitous tool, and one that I use on almost every live sound production I am involved with. There has never been an easy or intuitive way of positioning sounds in a space using QLab alone. As live sound engineers and designers we’ve somehow gotten used to that. I wanted to change the game.”
You know when we see each other's faces and how it feels like a stare down between two people? This is that moment reader. Imagine the feeling of my eyes burning into your soul from across time itself because we are so close to one another--like telepathic twins separated by miles but linked together via our minds. That is how important this is and we want you to pay attention. If there was ever an argument or disagreement about what should happen next with regards to these sentences then no doubt all bets would be off...
Do I really need to say more here?
Did we just uncover a way for you to create a virtual map of your sound system, in which you can position individual QLab cues? Yes, we did. Can you create sequences of movements, allowing the user to automate the movement of sounds around the map? Again, Yes. Oh and Yes you can even do it over WiFi, did we not mention that? panLab 2 is a powerful spatial audio mixing solution designed to integrate seamlessly with QLab.
I think I have said enough here. Click the link below to learn even more or download a FREE 7 day trial and find out for yourself.
Check out the interview below.
Responses provided by: Daniel Higgott
Q: What drove you to create the app?
A: As with all my products, I created panLab 2 because it was something I needed in my professional life, and it didn’t exist yet. QLab is a ubiquitous tool, and one that I use on almost every live sound production I am involved with. There has never been an easy or intuitive way of positioning sounds in a space using QLab alone. As live sound engineers and designers we’ve somehow gotten used to that. I wanted to change the game.
Q: What other apps have you developed?
A: I’ve developed various products for private clients, but in terms of publicly released apps, there are two currently available.
macroLab is a QLab programming assistant, allowing the user to build fully customisable macros to speed up their workflow. It is available as a freemium macOS app, with 4 macros available to everyone for free, and an unlimited number of macros available to paying users.
The Audio Toolbox is an iOS swiss army knife of sound tools. There are various calculators, including a delay time calculator and a time calculator. There is MIDI support for testing and triggering of MIDI. It includes a QLab Remote, allowing users to trigger QLab cues over WiFi. There are plenty more features as well, all designed with Live Sound Engineers in mind.
Q: Who are your target users?
A: panLab is designed for sound designers. Primarily theatrical sound designers, but really anyone who designs sound using QLab. We have been approached by a wide range of clients, with use cases from stadiums, to corporate audio and immersive events.
Q: Do you work in the industry, if so, what sector and what’s your technical background?
A: Yes, I work in the live audio industry. My background is in musical theatre and I have acted as a Sound No.1/A1 on major musicals. I now work primarily as an audio programmer, designer, and associate designer. I’ve been working in live audio for over 15 years.
Q: What was the process for you to code and test this app?
A: I always like to try and get my software out to as wide a variety of beta testers before I launch a product. As well as reporting bugs, it is always so useful to gain feedback from real world users. I have added plenty of functionality to my products as the direct result of user feedback.
Q: What was the process to unveil and launch to the public?
A: This is something I am really learning as I go along. Generally trying to reach my potential customers directly via social media is my primary source of promotion. My products are so niche that I know quite a large proportion of my customers either directly, or I will know people who know them. With panLab 2 we have also been able to include the industry press as part of our promotion strategy. This may not lead to as many direct sales, but is great for brand awareness.
Q: How long did the total process of creating your app take?
A: panLab 2 has been an entire year in development. It is the work of two people, myself and my brother. The work of creating a product never stops, and whilst we are concentrating on promotion and distribution this month, development work will continue very soon on the next incarnation of the software.
Q: How did you get the word out there about your app once you launched?
A: Social Media, personal contact, traditional printed and industry media. Word of mouth!
Q: What’s your approach to user experience and design principles?
A: This is something that really interests me. There is a trade-off between usability and feature set that constantly needs to be made. panLab 2 has been designed to be so simple to set up, users should be up and running mixing spatial audio in under 5 minutes. One of our competitors offers a much more flexible product, but the user needs to know how to manually manage the relationship between all of their loudspeakers. There will be some users who will prefer that, but personally I would rather create a product that everyone can use without needing to be a spatial audio geek.
Q: Does your app work offline?
A: Yes, panLab 2 works anytime it can be connected to a QLab workspace, no need to be on the internet.
Q: Is your app the same thing from when you first created it or has the idea evolved?
A: panLab 2 is an evolution of panLab, our original product. panLab was a very powerful multi-point panner. panLab 2 has taken that concept up a gear, and it is now a spatial audio mixing environment.
Q: What platform is this app on and how should people new to your app be using it?
A: panLab 2 runs on macOS. Users should be able to launch the app for the first time and figure out how to use it pretty quickly, that has been central to our design philosophy.
Q: Can you break down each part of your app and what people can and can’t do with it? A: I’m not sure how I could break panLab 2 down, as it is based around solving a single problem. Things you can do with panLab 2 include:
- Create a virtual map of your sound system, in which you can position individual QLab cues
- Create sequences of movements, allowing the user to automate the movement of sounds around the map
- Create ‘derived outputs’, which are a bit like the aux sends of the spatial mixing world. Good for things like sub feeds
Q: How’s the feedback, the audience response, since launching your app?
A: Amazing, people seem amazed this product hasn’t existed before. It seems like it is a must-have tool for our target audience.
Q: What stands out about your app compared to other options?
- We are the only spatial mixing solution that doesn’t require a single piece of additional hardware or software to be run during performances, only whilst the user is programming their audio. This is because all output level data is stored directly within the QLab cues.
- We are by far the easiest spatial audio mixing solution to set up, you should be up and running in under 5 minutes
- We don’t require the user to change their workflow in any way. panLab 2 can exist on top of your existing setup, and can be used on some, or all of your audio. It’s up to the user.
Q: How do they buy the app? Are there additional features?
A: You can buy panLab 2 from https://innovateaudio.co.uk – There is only one version of the app, you either have a license to use it, or you don’t. You can try the app for free for 7 days. After that you could either rent a license for a month, or own a perpetual license.
Q: What’s next for the app?
A: The next big feature for the current version will probably be the ability to create a library of sequences, which can be transferred between cues.
The next phase of our roadmap will be to create versions of panLab designed to work with other hardware or software. Maybe we could build a product that offered a spatial audio matrix channel on a DiGiCo for example. Now that we have the algorithm and the app structure, the possibilities are endless.
Q: Best advice you could give to someone reading this article?
A: Go and buy panLab 2!
Well AVE community, we hope this has been helpful in introducing this app to you or shedding light on some of the capabilities if it’s something you already use!
Stay tuned for the next app highlight soon!
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