Stage- vs. Channel-strip Metaphor — Comparing Performance when Adjusting Volume and Panning of a Single Channel in a Stereo Mix

Gelineck, Steven and Korsgaard, Dannie and Büchert, Morten

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

This study compares the stage metaphor and the channel strip metaphor in terms of performance. Traditionally, music mixing consoles employ a channels strip control metaphor for adjusting parameters such as volume and panning of each track. An alternative control metaphor, the so-called stage metaphor lets the user adjust volume and panning by positioning tracks relative to a virtual listening position. In this study test participants are given the task to adjust volume and panning of one channel (in mixes consisting of three channels) in order to replicate a series of simple pre-rendered mixes. They do this using (1) a small physical mixing controller and (2) using an iPad app, which implements a simple stage metaphor interface. We measure how accurately they are able to replicate mixes in terms of volume and panning and how fast they are at doing so. Results reveal that performance is surprisingly similar and thus we are not able to detect any significant difference in performance between the two interfaces. Qualitative data however, suggests that the stage metaphor is largely favoured for its intuitive interaction — confirming earlier studies.