Some instruments, when compressed, lack “sparkle” if the stronger, lower frequencies compress high frequencies as well as lower ones. This is a common problem with guitar, but there’s a solution: the Compressor’s internal sidechain can apply compression to only the guitar’s lower frequencies, while leaving the higher frequencies uncompressed so they “ring out” above the compressed sound. (Multiband compression works for this too, but sidechaining can be a faster and easier way to accomplish the same results.) Frequency-selective compression can also be effective with drums, dance mixes, and other applications—like the “pumping drums” effect covered in the Friday Tip for October 5, 2018. Here’s how to do frequency-selective compression with guitar.
The compression controls are fairly critical in this application, so you’ll probably need to tweak them a bit to obtain the desired results.
If you need more flexibility than the internal filter can provide, there’s a simple workaround.
Copy the guitar track. You won’t be listening to this track, but using it solely as a control track to drive the Compressor sidechain. Insert a Pro EQ in the copied track, adjust the EQ’s range to cover the frequencies you want to compress, and assign the copied track’s output to the Compressor sidechain. Because we’re not using the internal sidechain, click the Sidechain button in the Compressor’s header to enable the external sidechain.
The bottom line is that “compressed” and “lively-sounding” don’t have to be mutually exclusive—try frequency-selective compression, and find out for yourself.
You’re probably aware that several Studio One audio processors offer sidechaining—Compressor, Autofilter, Gate, Expander, and Channel Strip. However, both the Spectrum Meter and the Pro EQ spectrum meter also have sidechain inputs, which can be very handy. Let’s look at Pro EQ sidechaining first.
When you enable sidechaining, you can feed another track’s output into the Pro EQ’s spectrum analyzer, while still allowing the Pro EQ to modify the track into which it’s inserted. When sidechained, the Spectrum mode switches to FFT curve (the Third Octave and Waterfall options aren’t available). The blue line indicates the level of the signal going through the Pro EQ, while the violet line represents the sidechain signal.
As a practical example of why this is useful, the screen shot shows two drum loops from different drum loop libraries that are used in the same song. The loop feeding the sidechain loop has the desired tonal qualities, so the loop going through the EQ is being matched as closely as possible to the sidechained loop (as shown by a curve that applies more high end, and a slight midrange bump).
Another example would be when overdubbing a vocal at a later session than the original vocal. The vocalist might be off-axis or further away from the mic, which would cause a slight frequency response change. Again, the Pro EQ’s spectrum meter can help point out any differences by comparing the frequency response of the original vocal to the overdub’s response.
The Spectrum Meter
Sidechaining with the Spectrum Meter provides somewhat different capabilities compared to the Pro EQ’s spectrum analyzer.
With sidechain enabled, the top view shows the spectrum of the track into which you’ve inserted the Spectrum Meter. The lower view shows the spectrum of the track feeding the sidechain. When sidechained, all the Spectrum Meter analysis modes are available except for Waterfall and Sonogram.
While useful for comparing individual tracks (as with the Pro EQ spectrum meter), another application is to help identify frequency ranges in a mix that sound overly prominent. Insert the Spectrum Meter in the master bus, and you’ll be able to see if a specific frequency range that sounds more prominent actually is more prominent (in the screen shot, the upper spectrum shows a bump around 600 Hz in the master bus). Now you can send individual tracks that may be causing an anomaly into the Spectrum Metre’s sidechain input to determine which one(s) are contributing the most energy in this region. In the lower part of the screen shot, the culprit turned out to be a guitar part with a wah that emphasized a particular frequency. Cutting the guitar EQ just a little bit around 600 Hz helped even out the mix’s overall sound.
Of course, the primary way to do EQ matching is by ear. However, taking advantage of Studio One’s analysis tools can help speed up the process by identifying specific areas that may need work, after which you can then do any needed tweaking based on what you hear. Although “mixing with your eyes” isn’t the best way to mix, supplementing what you hear with what you see can expedite the mixing process, and help you learn to correlate specific frequencies with what you hear—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jeff Timmons is a singer, songwriter, producer, and founding member of the Grammy-nominated, iconic 90s pop group 98 Degrees! The group has six studio albums, has sold over 10 million records worldwide, and have eight Top 40 singles in the US. Additionally, Jeff has worked on numerous other projects including two solo albums and has continued to establish himself in the music industry as a producer. We connected with Jeff on Twitter and discovered his love for Studio One. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with him and ask a few questions regarding his work and Studio One.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
We started 98 Degrees way back in 1995. We signed to Motown in ‘96, then were upstreamed to Universal shortly after. I’ve been producing and engineering since ‘99.
How has the music industry changed since your early days?
The obvious is the digital streaming component. It’s completely changed the game. There is a lot less artist development, unfortunately. But, your ability to be virally prolific is exponential and amazing.
Do you ever get sick of talking about 98 Degrees?
Not at all. Being a part of something like that has been a complete blessing. We’re very fortunate to have an amazing fanbase and to be still selling out shows 25 years later.
Describe the first time you wrote a song?
I first started writing songs in high school and I didn’t get into production until I built my first rig in the late 90s. I had all of this massive hardware in a road case and would cart it around from city to city, and back and forth from the tour bus. Wow, how times have changed!
Who has been an influence in your life?
From a production standpoint, everyone from Babyface, Max Martin, Anders Bagge, Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Timbaland… it’s a long list!
Have you ever wanted to give up on music?
A million times. Everyone knows it’s a hard business.
What keeps you going?
My love and passion for creating and playing with sounds won’t let me give up on it.
What do you like about Studio One?
The ease of use and GUI is amazing. The drag and drop of synths and VSTs, the new key detection feature, sequencing… these are all incredible features.
When did you first hear about Studio One?
I heard about it when it first came out. I’m always looking to get better, and my friend Dominic Rodriguez, who I really trust and is prolific in the K-pop space suggested I try it; I didn’t waste any time and joined. He was right! Learning a new DAW is like learning a new language.
What features are you most impressed with in Studio One?
The ease of use, and how quickly I can get things laid out. Again, the new key detection is amazing. The fact that I can then change the key to match on all of the tracks in a non-destructive way is just mind-blowing. I recommend it to everyone.
Any user tips or tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One?
I love how you can combine virtual instruments on single tracks. That’s incredible to me.
How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn?
I’m still learning all of the tricks and features because there are so many, but it didn’t take me long to start flying with it.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I get inspired by a lot of things. I’ll hear a new song, a riff or beat or melody of an old one, or a new idea will just pop into my head.
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
I’m working with a number of projects. I did all of the music for a show on Discovery Science called “Droned.” I’m working with a new hip-hop artist, a male vocal group called Overnight, and a young female pop sensation named Nicole Michelle.
One of my favorite techniques for larger-than-life sounds is layering a synthesizer waveform behind a sampled sound. For example, layering a sine wave along with piano or acoustic guitar, then mixing the sine wave subtly in the background, reinforces the fundamental. With either instrument, this can give a powerful low end. Layering a triangle wave with harp imparts more presence to sampled harps, and layering a triangle wave an octave lower with a female choir sounds like you’ve added a bunch of guys singing along.
Another favorite, which we’ll cover in detail with this week’s tip, is layering a sawtooth or pulse wave with strings. I like those syrupy, synthesized string sounds that were so popular back in the 70s, although I don’t like the lack of realism. On the other hand, sampled strings are realistic, but aren’t lush enough for my tastes. Combine the two, though, and you get lush realism. Here’s how.
That’s all there is to it. Listen to the audio example—first you’ll hear only the Presence sound, then the two layers for a lusher, more synthetic vibe that also incorporates some of the realism of sampling. Happy orchestrating!
Producer, DJ and songwriter ATB—also known as Andre Tanneberger, is a 25-year veteran of the international music business. His sharp rise began when he founded his first project, Sequential One, in 1993. After a string of hits until 1998, Andre moved on to focus on his own music as ATB. When his debut single “9 PM (Till I Come)” shot to the very top of the UK charts and scored top 10 successes in many other countries around the globe. He followed with an impressive string of hits like “Ecstasy”, “Let U Go,” “What About Us,” “Move On,” “When It Ends It Starts Again,” and “Connected.” Gold and platinum awards in numerous territories underlined his status, mirrored by his constant presence in the prestigious DJ Mag Top 100 rankings for a decade and a half. ATB is one of just a handful of musicians to have emerged from the German club scene to become worldwide superstars–from Australia to Asia, Mexico to Poland, Russia and, above all, in the USA.
Given his impressive resume, we’re really glad to report that ATB is an enthusiastic Studio One user. We were able to have a Q&A session with him recently where he talked about his use of Studio One.
What PreSonus products have you used and which do you currently use?
Presonus Studio One is by far my favorite PreSonus product. I switched from Apple Logic Pro years ago. The other PreSonus tool I’m using is the Classic Faderport which is absolutely essential for me.
For what applications are you using Studio One Professional?
I’m Using Studio One Professional for the entire process of creating music. Starting with composing, sound design, going over to recording, editing, mixing and also mastering, I simply do everything in Studio One. I do have three workspaces so I can work from everywhere. Most of the times I’m in my main studio in Bochum, Germany to write and produce songs for my project ATB.
What led you to choose Studio One? Was it the company’s reputation, audio quality, ease of use, specific features, price, other factors?
Honestly, I never thought about the price. 🙂 I found this demo CD of Studio One in a friend’s office at Musicstore Germany back in 2013 and asked him “What the hell is this?” He told me some things about Studio One and that he really likes some features. I went back in my studio, checked the demo version and the next day I switched over from Logic Pro to Studio One. The reason was the speed of creating music. The personalized folders with my favorite plugins and favorite plugin settings, the audio editing, the speed and look of the GUI, and the audio quality which sounded awesome. So many features… like dragging and dropping ideas to my “faves” folder including MIDI and all plugins made me so much faster while creating music. And this is absolutely essential to me. Tools are there for pushing your creativity, not to outbreak it.
What Studio One features have proven particularly useful and why?
I love the scratchpad as it makes arranging super easy. This is something which helps me to be very fast in trying new arrangements and in cutting out or copying entire parts of a track. Also, many drag & drop functions are really helpful, like saving channel strips via drag & drop. The macros are great tools to speed up steps while editing.
How does Studio One compare to other DAWs you have used?
Studio One is faster than most other DAWs and also very intuitive. How often did I think, “How great it would be to simply do this and that to reach my goal like cutting my master, doing fades and just drag and drop it to my master folder in Studio One…” and it worked! Also, the integration of Melodyne is the ultimate weapon. I’m saving so much time and I can change things on the run without any bridge or without using it as a stand-alone app. It feels like I have an “all-in-one” solution.
Which Studio One feature or concept doesn’t get enough spotlight (or isn’t talked about enough) in your opinion?
What we mentioned while talking to other producers like the JUNKX team—Robin Schulz, etc.: they worked on Ableton Live and never thought that Studio One gives you the amount of speed you need to use your creativity as much as possible. It can be so fast and may other producers don’t know about it!! The integration of Melodyne and other apps via ARA is something which is really amazing and some producers might not know about it.
Also, most guys we’ve talked about Studio One over the last three years thought that it’s a DAW for rock music producers. Not a very modern and fast developing producer tool also for electronic music and pop etc.
Any useful tips/tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One that would be of interest to our user base?
Using the drag & drop function for MIDI files in case you’re having an idea or sound which doesn’t fit to the track you’re actually working at but which could really be amazing and inspiring for another one is a great tool. You’ll never forget any idea you once had, as you can create an acoustic note in a second.
Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?
I’m really looking forward to new developments in Studio One. I’m sure you guys will have the next surprise already in your pocket 😉
Take a trip back in time with Nori Ubukata’s 20th Century Sound Box and rediscover the legendary analog sounds of the 70s and 80s.
Famed Japanese sound designer and synth/theremin artist Nori Ubukata recreated some of the most memorable sounds by electronic music artists such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Wendy Carlos. The set contains a total of 111 presets and Instrument+FX presets (adding reverb, EQ and other effects). Also included are 50 Musicloops with sound elements showcasing the best presets in musical context.
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Tom Brechtlein is a drummer’s drummer—a seasoned vet with a versatile skill set that is evidenced by the broad array of talent that has chosen to work with him. Tom’s client list boasts names like Chick Corea, Kenny Loggins, Wayne Shorter, Jean-Luc Ponty, Christopher Cross, and Robben Ford. So when it came time for us to make a diverse drum library that could serve nearly any need of our user base, Tom was our first call. The result of Tom’s sessions? He pulled out all the stops and delivered everything but the crawfish pot: Delivering brutal rock grooves, sludgy blues, Louisiana-worthy funk, and tasty jazz and fusion licks that will quickly make this library your secret weapon.
Hear more from Tom below!
When Harmonic Editing was announced, I was interested. When I used it for the first time, I was intrigued. When I discovered what it could do for songwriting…I became addicted.
Everyone creates songs differently, but for me, speed is the priority—I record scratch tracks as fast as possible to capture a song’s essence while it’s hot. But if the tracks aren’t any good, they don’t inspire the songwriting process. Sure, they’ll get replaced with final versions later, but you don’t want boring tracks while writing.
For scratch drums on rock projects, I have a good collection of loops. Guitar is my primary instrument, so the rhythm and lead parts will be at least okay. I also drag the rhythm guitar part up to the Chord Track to create the song’s “chord chart.”
Then things slow down…or at least they did before Harmonic Editing came along. Although I double on keyboards, I’m not as proficient as on guitar but also, prefer keyboard bass over electric bass—because I’ve sampled a ton of basses, I can find the sound I want instantly. And that’s where Harmonic Editing comes in.
The following is going to sound ridiculously easy…because it is. Here’s how to put Studio One’s Robot Bassist to work. This assumes you’ve set the key (use the Key button in the transport, or select an Instrument part and choose Event > Detect Key Signature), and have a Chord Track that defines the song’s chord progression.
Figure 1: Choose the Bass option to create a bass part when following chords.
The bottom line: with one take, a few clicks, and (maybe) a couple quick edits—instant bass part (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The top image is the original part, and yes, it sounds as bad as it looks. The lower image is what happened after it got robotized via Harmonic Editing, and amazingly, it sounds pretty good.
Don’t believe me? Well, listen to the following.
You’ll hear the bass part shown in Fig. 2, which was generated in the early stages of writing my latest music video (I mixed the bass up a little on the demo so you can hear it easily). Note how the part works equally well for the sustained notes toward the beginning, and well as the staccato parts at the end. To hear the final bass part, click the link for Puzzle of Love [https://youtu.be/HgMF-HBMrks]. You’ll hear I didn’t need to do much to tweak what Harmonic Editing did.
But Wait! There’s More!
Not only that, but most of the backing keyboard parts for Puzzle of Love (yes, including the piano intro) were generated in essentially the same way. That requires a somewhat different skill set than robotizing the bass, and a bit more editing. If you want to know more (use the Comments section), we’ll cover Studio One’s Robot Keyboardist in a future Friday Tip.
We post the latest things going on around the office, photos of our products in action, reviews, and we also connect with our users one on one. Most recently we connected with Singer/Songwriter/Producer Josh Cumbee from Los Angeles, CA. Josh is a diehard Studio One fan, and often shares his expertise with his Instagram following, and we are quick to share. We took the opportunity to talk to him more about his craft, Studio One, and what’s on the horizon for him.
Fully professionally, it has only been about 4 years—that was the first time a song came out with my name in the credits where I had to pinch myself. I had been playing piano and guitar since I was a kid, which drew me to USC for their music business degree as I figured there was no way to make the creative side into an actual job. I started moonlighting with composing for TV backing tracks concurrently with my day job—a couple twists of fate, a lot of hard work, and a few key helping hands later and it blossomed into a full-time profession.
What do you like about PreSonus?
PreSonus to me exemplifies accessible, no-compromises quality. With a lot of brands in the audio space, you either have to shell out a lot of hard-earned cash to get a high-end product, or the budget product sounds/feels/functions like a cheap imitation of the real thing. To me, Studio One is a top-shelf program that I’d be willing to pay a lot more forthe fact that it’s priced low enough for me to recommend to my peers, shoot, even my little brother who’s getting into making music… now, that’s cool.
What PreSonus products do you use?
I’m a die-hard Studio One evangelist. I also have a tried and true Central Station in my studio that I’d guess has been rocking for a solid 400 years at least.
Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?
I’m not even sure what the first song I wrote/produced would have been… but it was probably done on the ridiculous combination of Sony Acid 3 and a four-track Tascam tape recorder I stole from my dad’s electronics drawer. It was generally a misshapen cacophony of loops, poorly played guitar and tape hiss until I got into Garageband a while later in high school.
When did you first hear about Studio One?
A great producer from Nashville mentioned it to me. Pro Tools was the first serious DAW I learned, which I promptly abandoned for Logic because at the time working with MIDI was extremely difficult in PT. I had spent several years in Logic, but the updates (particularly in the GUI department) personally didn’t jive with me. Studio One was there in my moment of software weakness, and became one of very few tools I feel like I can’t live without.
What features are you most impressed with in Studio One?
Working with audio is a dream in Studio One. It is so easy to render, stretch, pitch shift, chop, Melodyne, change the BPM of the whole song at the drop of a hat… you name it. VST3 integration is a great CPU saver. The dual buffer is genius. Shout-out to those string samples. And Fat Channel. OK, someone stop me…
With the stems feature being as rock solid as it is, I am a big believer in setting up your template with stems in mind—that way you learn to work within that structure and if/when it comes time to export them for a collaboration, mixer, delivery, etc., you can really take full advantage of Studio One’s built in set up for that. I think everyone should at least know how to use the routing feature in the channel editor—you’ll be surprised when it might come in handy. If you’re a Logic refugee you can bring all the .SDIR’s from Space Designer into Open Air AND the .EXS instruments into Presence, which is great if there’s sounds you just can’t let go of. Also, I built a macro that removes all unused audio files, copies all external ones to the session folder, then saves it—highly recommended. Big fan of VST3’s, they’re way easier on your CPU and cross-platform compatible if you need to move a session across OS’s.
How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn?
It’s a great cross between almost every DAW; mix window feels like PT, main window reminds me of Logic, arranger functions feel like Ableton… sort of all the best parts of each plus some sauce all of its own. Porting and recreating my key commands was a hassle, and the depth of sub-menus can be a little intimidating at first. There’s a lot of genius features but sometimes you have to dig for them! So all that to say, easy at points, hard at others, worth it… 100x over.
Where’d you go for support?
Where else? Straight to the support ticket portal (once I have exhausted the forums of course).
What features do you want to see next in Studio One?
MIDI capture to complement the existing armed audio track capture feature. Mid-side mode for pan knobs. A native Auto Tune competitor for when I’m too lazy to tune backing vocals in Melodyne. Native WASAPI driver for Windows similar to FL Studio’s (which rocks). More control over multicore/threading. Dare I say… integration with UAD Hardware monitoring just to have the option.
Any other thoughts on Studio One?
Of course, if I were starting to make music now, knowing what I know, I’d definitely start with Studio One. But personally, having to start over in a new program proved an even greater gift for my creative process. It made me rethink all of my go-tos, presets, channel strips, templates, etc., even a preference to MIDI over audio or vice versa. Of course, you get set back a week or two in productivity as you’re relearning everything, but that process of education at this stage in my career definitely took the music to the next level for me. I’d recommend it no matter how entrenched you might be in your program of choice, even if just for that.
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
Just co-wrote and produced on Adam Lambert’s latest single, Feel Something (about which I’m very excited), and also a single for a band called Flawes entitled Don’t Count Me Out that I feel really jams. I’ve got a couple other things cooking as a writer/producer that I’m stoked on but my baby is definitely my artist project, for which I’ve written and produced an album on the heels of a feature with Armin Van Buuren that did pretty well. We have an upcoming feature slated (so excited) and going to start rolling out tracks as a solo artist this year once the partnership side is finalized.