PreSonus Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Musotalk and Transform Track

Am in the Hamburg office at the moment, helping to get the last things done before we release Studio One 2. Last week was stupidly busy, and I think this week will be no different.

Was in Berlin last few days – my first stop there was the studio of, which is a great German website specialising in in-depth gear reviews. I’ve known the main guy behind it, Non Eric, for many years but I was still very surprised at what a great webcasting setup he has there. He’s a real one-man band, running a highly professional operation using state-of-the-art gear, pretty much on his own, with just some camera guys when needed. All the audio editing is done on Studio One as well, which is pretty awesome.

On the downside, he insisted on me using his five year old Macintosh to demo Studio One on, and some of my demo material uses ridiculous amount of processing (my demo laptop is a PC Audio Labs machine with a quad-core i7 inside). So I had to do some serious fiddling to get everything working – but much to my surprise, it did! Quite remarkable that our super modern kick-ass software will still run well on relatively ancient technology. So if you’re running an old machine, guess what, it’s still going to be pretty awesome. The new Transform Track feature helps a lot here, because you can easily transform MIDI Instrument tracks with tons of plugins into Audio tracks that use very little power, including all the inserts on those tracks. What even more remarkable is you can edit the transformed track as much as you like, and still transform it back to MIDI while preserving your edits! It’s a killer feature, and totally saved my life during this demo!

We did a great show in the end – Musotalk wanted to shoot the whole thing live, which was a hell of a challenge given what we were doing, but we shot for about an hour and it worked out great. The video will be online from Tuesday 18th, so if you are a German speaker, do check it out. (But please forgive my less-than-perfect German!)


The new ARA audio plug-in standard

Audio Random Access, or ARA, is an extension to existing plug-in models like VST 3, VST 2, and Audio Units.

When we planned the PreSonus Studio One 2 release cycle, one of the features that we discussed was pitch editing, a function that many users need to fix errors in a performance. Some competing applications have pitch editing built in, but in a limited way, lacking access to details like vibrato. We considered building a solution using technology supplied by zPlane, who make the timestretch engine built into Studio One, but it would have been a very labor-intensive project.

Celemony’s Melodyne
seemed to be the best solution for graphical pitch editing, so we looked at the reasons a user would want an integrated solution instead of using the Melodyne VST plug-in. It turned out that a number of workflow issues made the VST plug-in inconvenient to use, but these issues could be solved by a collaboration between Celemony and PreSonus. We proposed to Celemony an extension of existing audio plug-in APIs that would give them the required additional access to the host audio data.

The major workflow issues we identified were these:

  1. The Melodyne VST plug-in uses a recording process to transfer the audio that is to be edited in Melodyne. But with ARA technology, Melodyne now has direct access to the audio data via the ARA interface, so that the user does not have to record manually.
  2. Once the audio was transferred to the Melodyne VST plug-in, there was no way to arrange the material, as Melodyne did not have any notion of what an audio event in the application was. Now, with, ARA Melodyne “knows” that an audio event is being edited, and because the Melodyne editing data travels with the audio event, the user can still freely edit the data.
  3. To free the processing power that a plug-in like Melodyne needs to do its tricks, the user had to “freeze” the material. At that point, the editing data was lost, and the user could not go back to make changes. Now, in Studio One, you can just freeze an event-based effect such as Melodyne to free the processing power. This freeze is reversible, so you can simply go back to the real-time processing and continue editing.

Our solution fixes all of these issues and gives us options to use additional capabilities of Melodyne and similar plug-ins in the future. For instance, Melodyne has the ability to extract a tempo curve from the audio material, which could be used.

If you want to see ARA in action, click here.

ARA will be licensed to other interested plug-in vendors in the future, free of charge. Companies interested in using the API should contact Celemony.

Press stuff

Ever wonder how all those magazines know all that stuff about all those products? Well, for one thing, most of the journalists are very smart and dedicated people – but also because people like me spend a lot of time visiting and talking to them to give them the info they need; and that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of recently. Just came back from visiting some rather excellent and very friendly UK music technology journalists to show them a preview version of Studio One 2.0. I love showing this program off – I’m really so very proud of being part of this, it’s so great.

On the other hand, you can never tell exactly how good it is until other people see it and give you their feedback. It’s always possible that what you as a developer think is great, other people might think is kind of boring or stupid. But in this case, I am very happy to report that the people who have seen 2.0 so far seem really blown away. Every demo I have done has left the audience with their jaws dropping in astonishment. That’s a pretty good start 🙂