PreSonus Blog

Monthly Archives: May 2019


Friday Tips: Testing, Testing!

Studio One has several analysis tools, and you can use them to learn a lot about how effects work. One of my favorite test setups is inserting the Tone Generator at the beginning of the Insert Device Rack to generate white noise (a test signal with equal energy throughout the audio spectrum), the Spectrum Meter at the end of the Rack, and the device under test in between them. Here’s the Tone Generator, set to generate white noise.

As one example of the benefits of testing gear, a lot of engineers like the gentle tone-shaping qualities of Pultec’s MEQ-5 midrange equalizer. So you need an MEQ-5 plug-in, or the hardware, to obtain that effect with Studio One…right? Maybe not.

One reason for the “sound” of Pultec equalizers is that they used passive circuitry, so the EQ curves were broad. But the Pro EQ can do gentle curves as well, simply by choosing a low Q setting. The screen shot shows Pro EQ settings for a “Pultec-like” curve, with a considerable amount of boost and cut.

But how much is it really like a Pultec? Let’s find out. Choose the same settings on the Pro EQ and on an MEQ-5, then run some white noise through both, using the Spectrum Meter’s FFT analysis.

 

The white, smoothed line shows the average frequency response (white noise is changing constantly because it’s random, so in this case we want a smoothed, average reading). The top graph is the Pro EQ, and the bottom graph is the MEQ-5. Sure, there may be some subtle sonic differences due to the use of different filter topologies. But if you’re looking for those gentle, tone-shaping curves, the Pro EQ does just fine.

You can also find out exactly what’s going on with some effects. For example, Studio One has a phase shifter effect, and you probably know that phase shifting produces notches in the audio. But how deep are the notches? And how far apart are they? Let’s take a look.

The Phaser is set to 8 stages, so there are 4 notches. For this measurement, we want to know the instantaneous value of the notches, so the average isn’t smoothed. With depth up full, the notches are around -35 dB or so.

While we’re at it, let’s check the frequency response of guitar cabinets, so we can find out why they sound so different from each other.

The upper image shows the response for a Mesa Boogie Mark IV cabinet. Note the prominent peak in the 3 kHz range, and the rolloff below 200 Hz—now you know why those solos can really cut through a mix. Compare that with the lower image of a 1965 Fender Princeton. It has a low end bump to give a full sound, a bit of a notch around 1.5 kHz, and has more high end above 5 kHz than the Mark IV.

As to why these readings matter, suppose you recorded a guitar part, and want it to have more of a Mesa Boogie vibe. Just tweak your EQ accordingly to approximate the curve.

Using white noise for testing can also show why SSL E-series and G-series EQ curves are different, the differences between standard and constant-Q parametric stages, what really happens when you move graphic EQ sliders around, and more. If you’re curious about scratching beneath the GUI of your effects, Studio One’s analysis tools can reveal quite a bit.

 

 

 

Friday Tips: The Air Machine

Boosting the highs a bit is a time-honored mixing and mastering technique. You don’t want to overdo it, but a little brightness can give a song a lift, increase vocal intelligibility, articulate instruments better, and add some welcome “ear candy.” If you look at the spectral energy of a lot of hit records going back decades, you’ll often find a few extra dB of boost in the 7 to 10 kHz range, to add some “air” and sweetness.

So just boost the EQ a little bit, right? Well, that’s one option…but we can do better. The Air Machine FX Chain (Fig. 1) is equally at home on individual tracks in the Song page (try it judiciously on drums, drum room mics, acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, etc.), or on finished mixes in the Project page. And yes, there’s a download at the end so you don’t even have to create this yourself.

Figure 1: The Air Machine modules.

Here’s how it works. By choosing the Splitter’s Frequency Split mode (outlined in orange), the Splitter acts as a crossover that sends the high frequencies through the right-hand split. The default crossover frequency is 7 kHz, but we’ll have more to say about this later.

The high frequencies then go through the Binaural Pan processor, which spreads out the stereo imaging. Because high frequencies are very directional, this not only increases the sense of “air,” but the feeling of space. Then, the Mixtool adds the appropriate amount of high-frequency boost.

As to assigning controls to the FX Chain, see Fig. 2.

 

Figure 2: Under the hood of the Air Machine FX Chain.

 

The Air Width parameter alters the Binaural Pan Width parameter over its full range. The Air Boost control sweeps from no boost (0 dB Gain on the Mixtool) up to a maximum of about 6 dB. You really don’t want to go any higher than that.

The one control I couldn’t put in the FX Chain was the Splitter’s crossover frequency, so you may want to open up the FX Chain to alter this. The higher the frequency, the more boost you can apply without the high frequencies becoming overbearing. Sometimes, though, you might want to bring the crossover frequency down to 5 kHz or so if you want a more pronounced effect…or even up to 10 kHz for just a light dusting of high frequencies.

Yes, it really is that simple. And yes, the effect is best when used subtly. But try it—I think there’s a chance this may end up becoming one of your favorite FX Chains.

Download the Air Machine FX Chain here.

 

 

Advanced EarMix 16M Routing for Whole-Band Scenarios

To learn more about the EarMix 16M, click here!

Richard Gaspard takes you on a deep dive on configuring and using the EarMix 16M for a whole band scenario in this five-part series. Check it out!

 

The Latest and Greatest Just Added to the SHOP!

We recently welcomed a lot of newcomers to the PreSonus Shop! Here’s a round-up of all the latest additions.

First up, Sugar: The Ultimate Full Spectrum Enhancer.

Shop Now!

Sugar is designed by a team of award-winning engineers to offer their most useful and essential harmonic enhancement techniques in one centralized plug-in. The resulting color palette is a fast lane to pro-sounding records—Sugar is a full-spectrum enhancer that will add punch, thickness, depth, warmth, edge, and grit to all your tracks. Sugar is a shortcut to those punchy kick drums, thick basses, sharp snares, edgy guitars, airy and creamy vocals, warm mixes and wide masters and much more.

Add Sugar to your workflow here!

 

 

 

 

Next, from Cherry Audio, check out Voltage Modular Core and Electro Drums and Voltage Modular Ignite!

SynthAnatomy.com says Voltage Modular is the:

“Best Software Modular Synthesizer Plugin Release of the year 2018!”

Voltage Modular is a virtual modular synthesizer that delivers the sound quality and “hands-on” experience of modular synthesis for a tiny fraction of the cost of equivalent hardware systems. Patches ranging from simple tones to wildly elaborate evolving soundscapes are easily created with surprisingly light processor overhead requirements. Voltage Modular is designed to be the best sounding, most powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use virtual modular instrument available.

 

Shop Here!

Shop Here!

 

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New from SonalSystem the Folktronic series and Dark Matter series.

 

Thoughtfully designed around electronic, left of center sounds and textures, Dark Matter was conjured for all types of users and scenarios: composers/artists/producers interested in cinematic style sounds and sequences, and anyone looking to add evocative modular and synthesizer based elements to their compositions.

 

Shop now!

 

Organic meets electronic in the latest loop packs from SonalSystem. While it may seem like an unusual pairing on the surface, Folk-Tronic allows you the freedom to explore new sonic possibilities and stretch the limits of your arrangements. Take your audience on a journey to escape the noise of the world and dive into a pastoral plane.

 

 

 

Last but not least, check out what’s new from BingoShakerz!

Shop Now!

 

Trap Kits” features 630+ MB (uncompressed) of prime-time Construction Kits and samples for instant beat inspiration.

Packed with five fully mixed and mastered Construction Kits and an additional selection of single 808, Clap, Hat, Kick, and Synth sounds.

Each Construction Kit offers full mixes, and all components are broken out into constituent parts for maximum programming ease.

Booming 808 sounds, lush pads, crispy snares, warm chords, nostalgic synth and choir loops…  “Trap Kits” delivers an expansive collection of sounds for any hip-hop and trap music producer.


JL & Afterman are back with their brand new package of essential production tools!

Soulful House is loaded with ten fully mixed and mastered construction kits and captures deep bass loops, funky beats, chunky guitars, soulful piano, Rhodes loops, no-kick top loops, driving percussion workouts, blistering pads, and string loops.

Each Construction Kit offers club-ready full mixes and all components broken out into constituent parts for maximum programming ease, including MIDI files.

Expertly crafted by JL & Afterman – Soulful House is a must-have collection for any Funky, Classic or Soulful House music producer!

 

Let’s Shop

Bingoshakerz are happy to present their latest imprint – Afro & Melodic House, by Lowton Records!

This collection features ten fully mixed and mastered Construction Kits. Packed with 550+ MB (uncompressed) of tribal beats, analogue bass loops, ethno-grooves, melodic synths, native and organic vocal sounds, percussion, and FX loops!

Each Construction Kit offers club-ready full mixes and all components broken out into constituent parts for maximum programming ease, including MIDI files.

All loops are ready for instant drag & drop action into Studio One.

This is a prime-time collection of sounds for any Deep, Afro, and Melodic House producer!

 

Explosive underground beats, industrial vibes, and analogue melodics: Melodic & Dark Techno 2 is here!

Packed with 630 MB (uncompressed) of analogue bass loops, dark and moody textures, stripped beats, pounding kick drums, tech-twisted percussion and top loops, modular synths, pulsating melodics, and FX loops!

This collection also offers a massive stack of single drum hits including kicks, claps, snares, percussion, and synth shot sounds!

Expertly crafted by Dominik Saltevski, (Autektone, Reload Black) Melodic & Dark Techno 2 is the definitive collection for any modern techno producer.

Melodic & Dark Techno 2 delivers the essential track building tools which are ready to be instantly loaded into Studio One.

ALL this for less than $20 US:

  • 10 Atmosphere Loops
  • 15 Bass Loops
  • 15 Clap Loops
  • 11 Song-starting Drum Kits (77 loops in total)
  • 30 FX Loops
  • 15 Hat Loops
  • 15 Kick Loops
  • 15 Melodic Loops
  • 15 Percussion Loops
  • 15 Synth Loops
  • 20 Top Loops
  • 75 Single Hits/One-Shots

 

Shop Now!

Introducing the SPARK Collections!

Hit the ground running with the new Spark Collection of loops and add-ons from PreSonus! These low-priced loop packs are a great place to start making music for less. These professional, royalty-free tracks are a great source of inspiration for starting a new song, learning how to mix, or adding a little flavor to your existing compositions. We’ve launched Spark Collections with a whopping 35 packs… with many more to come!

Everything from trap, reggae, pop, and sound FX are available in the Spark Collections – for just $4.95 USD each!

 

 

Shop Now!

Tailor make your ATOM!

Express yourself with these custom vinyl adhesive skins for your ATOM! Exclusively available at shop.presonus.com, you can pick a skin that best suits your creative mojo.

Available in seven stylish styles and for less than $10 USD!

PreSonus Fam Friday with Mike Cole!

The StudiodLive 64S is by far one of PreSonus’ most epic, most anticipated product launches in our history… Here’s one of the guys who helped make it happen. It’s Mike Cole for PreSonus FAM Friday!
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
I started on May 29, 2018. So 29,203,200 seconds.
What’s your official job title?
I’m a Software Engineer.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? Why did you choose to work here?
It was destiny that I came to work here. I’m from Baton Rouge, first of all, so it’s awesome to be home. I started playing music when I was 13 or so and my dad bought me a 4 track tape recorder to record myself with after watching me play with our answering machine for hours. I wanted to post my recordings on the internet, so I figured out that you could plug the headphone jack of the tape recorder into the mic input of a computer, and then I downloaded a little program called “Kristal” to record with. Turns out, that program eventually became Studio One. This experience was the gateway to a 10-year stint as a sound guy with various production companies, and eventually a degree in computer engineering. PreSonus sponsored my senior design project. I was thrilled when I got an email from Jim Odom after graduating. It really feels like I’ve finally found a permanent place in the world. Never been around so many people who will nerd out on audio like me, and I love it!

Choose a movie title for the story of your life.
“UFO dreams: The Man Who Wears Alien Shirts”

What was the first 8 track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?
In 2001, I bought P.O.D’s “Satellite” because I was a youth of the nation at that particular time.

Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
I’m a big fan of Ice JJ Fish. He’s really pushing boundaries.

What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
I always do “Last Resort” by Papa Roach. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?
I’ve been a sound guy for the past decade or so, and I also write and play music. I’m between bands at the moment if anyone is looking for someone to jam.

What instruments do you play?
Drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and am terrible at keys and brass.
What do you love about the StudioLive?
The amount of I/O you can get with the StudioLive 64S for this price point is truly remarkable. I think it is an incredible value and has the potential to be very disruptive.

Why did you choose this as your favorite?
The StudioLive 64S was the first big release I had a significant role in here at PreSonus. I’m proud of the work we did!

Got any tips for working with the StudioLive 64S?
The user layer is probably the best feature of the console. Use it!

What are you currently working on at PreSonus? What’s next for you?
Getting my design feet wet on secret projects (mwahaha) and also helping to refine some important engineering processes like automated product testing and other things most people would find boring.
What’s the strangest talent you have?
I am able to pogo stick with no hands while making up jingles for local businesses.
Anything else you want to share?
Yeah, I just want to say that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

Friday Tips: Attack that Autofilter!!

Studio One’s Autofilter has a sidechain, which is a good thing—because you can get some really tight, funky sounds by feeding a drum track’s send into the Autofilter’s sidechain. Then, use the Autofilter’s sidechain to modulate a track’s audio in time with the beat. Funky guitar, anyone?

But (there’s always a “but,” or there wouldn’t be a Friday Tip of the Week!), although this is a cool effect, a real wah pedal doesn’t start instantly in the toe-down position before sliding back to the heel-down position. Your foot moves the pedal forward, then back, and it takes a finite amount of time to do both.

The “decay-only” nature of autofilters in general is certainly useful with drums. After all, drums are a percussive instrument, and a percussive filter sweep is usually what you want. But the other day I was working on a song, and really wanted an attack/decay filter effect that was more like a real wah pedal—where the filter moved up to the peak, before moving back down again. Here’s the result.

 

On the Autofilter, ctrl+click on the LFO sliders to zero them out, so that the LFO isn’t adding its own signal (although of course, you can do that if you want—the 16 Step option is particularly useful if you do). The screen shot gives a good idea of a typical initial setting.

The dark blue track is the guitar, and the green track, the drum part. I often cut up tracks are that modulating other tracks, and Track 3—a copy of the main drum track—is no exception. This track’s pre-fader send goes to the Autofilter’s sidechain input. The track’s channel fader is down, so that the audio doesn’t go through the mixer. We’re using this track only to provide a signal to the Autofilter’s sidechain.

Track 2 is a reversed version of the drum part. It also has a pre-fader send that goes to the Autofilter sidechain (conveniently, you don’t need to bus signals together to send signals from multiple tracks into a Studio One effect’s sidechain). Like Track 3, the track’s channel fader is down, so that the audio doesn’t go through the mixer

The end result is that the reversed drums provide an attack time that sweeps the filter up, while the forward drums provide a decay that sweeps the filter down. So is the sound more animated than using only the forward drum part? Listen to the audio example, and decide for yourself. The first section uses the forward trigger only, while the second section adds in the attack trigger—the effect is particularly noticeable toward the end.

Join us for a PreSonus Premiere Event on May 21

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Tune in May 21, 2019 at 10 a.m. CST on Facebook or our YouTube channel for a PreSonus Premiere Event.