PreSonus Blog

Friday Tip of the Week—How to Gain Better Vocals

Vocals are the most direct form of communication with your audience—so of course, you want your vocal to be a kind of tractor beam that draws people in. Many engineers give a more intimate feel to vocals by using dynamics control, like limiting or compression. While that has its uses, the downside is often tell-tale artifacts that sound unnatural.

The following technique of phrase-by-phrase gain edits can provide much of the intimacy and presence associated with compression—but with a natural, artifact-free sound. Furthermore, if you do want to compress the vocal further, you won’t need to use very much dynamics control because the phrase-by-phrase gain edits will have done the majority of the work the compressor would have needed to do.

The top track shows the original vocal. In the second track, I used the split tool to isolate sections of the vocal with varying levels (snap to grid needs to be off for this). The next step was clicking on the volume box in the center of the envelope, and dragging up to increase the level on the sections with lower levels. Although you can make a rough adjustment visually, it’s crucial to listen to the edited event in context with what comes before and after to make sure there aren’t any continuity issues—sometimes soft parts are supposed to be soft.

The third track shows the finished vocal after bouncing all the bits back together. Compared to the top track, it’s clear that the vocal levels are much more consistent.

 

There are a few more tricks involved in using this technique. For example, suppose there’s a fairly loud inhale before a word. A compressor would bring up the inhale, but by splitting and changing gain, you can split just after the inhale and bring up the word or phrase without bringing up the inhale. Also, I found that it was often possible to raise the level on one side of a split but not on the other, and not hear a click from the level change. Whether this was because of being careful to split on zero crossings, dumb luck, or Studio One having some special automatic crossfading mojo, I don’t know…but it just works and if it doesn’t, you can always add crossfades.

That’s all there is to it. If you want to hear this technique in action, here’s a link to a song on my YouTube channel that uses this vocal normalization technique.

 

New Loops from MVP!

New MVP Loops at Shop.PreSonus.com!
MVP Loops offers nothing but the best in sample sounds, loop libraries and music software. Their team are responsible for millions of records sold worldwide and have worked on some of the biggest projects of this generation.


Lust and Loyalty 

Lust & Loyalty from MVP Loops is a modern R&B product that gives you the best of both worlds. Whether you are looking to make a modern ballad or something a little more trap dirty, Lust & Loyalty has what you need: 12 melodic construction kits with 625 amazing loops, riffs, and samples. The sounds have all been processed through the best gear and converters to give you the sound that you have come to expect from MVP Loops.

All keys and tempos have been provided, and the sounds are amazing. In the style of modern day hit makers such as Chris Brown, Rihanna, Beyonce, and more, Lust & Loyalty has what you need to make modern R&B and modern R&B trap.

Get Lust and Loyalty here.


Sound Mob- Live Edition – Vol. 2 

Sound Mob Live Edition Vol. 2 is here from MVPLoops! Following up on the huge success of the Sound Mob series, this version boasts 2.51 gigs of sounds containing 1,449 loops, riffs, one-shots and samples in an incredible package. Recorded at our facility in Los Angeles using the best musicians and gear, Sound Mob Live Edition Vol. 2 is a special product. Whether you are looking to create a hit like “It’s a Vibe” from 2 Chainz, Jhene Aiko, Trey Songz, and Ty Dollar Sign or a classic sample-based Jay-Z style hit like “Show Me What You Got,” Sound Mob Live Edition Vol. 2 has what you need.

Get Sound Mob Vol. 2 here.


DREAM

Looking to produce a big song to grab the Top 40 crowd, get placed in a movie, or expand an album? Look no further than DREAM, a new product from MVP Loops that represents the current drama-drenched, Top 40, uplifting sound! Music is coming back to the forefront of productions, and artists are looking to bring in as many people as possible—whether it’s Beyonce, Adelle, Wiz Khalifa, Sam Smith, or many other chart-toppers—they have found a formula for making a hit for the masses. DREAM represents this style.

DREAM contains construction kits, loops, samples, riffs, and multi-formatted kits in Audioloops and Impact kits. The sounds are big, featuring bold piano melodies, strings, huge synths, leads, basses, and cracking drums.  DREAM is perfect for collaborations of hip-hop and R&B.

Get Dream here.


Smoke Shop 

Welcome back to the West Coast. Smoke Shop features ten modern West Coast construction kits in the style of Kendrick Lamar, SchoolboyQ and YG.Smoke Shop is filled with tons of content including drum one-shots, riffs, full mixes, drum and instrument mixes, giving you the flexibility to sample grooves or individual instruments to create your next masterpiece.

Get Smoke Shop here.

Friday Tip of the Week: Strums Made Easy with Step Recording

One of the main differences between guitar and keyboard is chord voicing. Guitar chords typically have six widely separated notes, whereas keyboard notes tend cluster around two areas accessible by each hand. For example, check out the notes that make up an E major chord on guitar.

If you’re a keyboard player using chords to define a chord progression, it’s easy enough to have chords hit on, for example, the beginning of a measure. But “strumming” the chord can add interest and a more guitar-like quality. Although you can edit the notes in a chord so that successively higher notes of the chord have increasing delay compared to the start of the measure, that’s pretty time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to do guitar voicings—and strum them.

Stepping Out. The core of this technique is step recording, which is easy to do in Studio One once you’ve inserted a virtual instrument. Steps are keyed to numbers on the screen shot. This assumes the strummed chord will start on the beat.

 

  1. Define your MIDI region, then open it in the Editor (F2).
  2. Click on the Editor’s Step Recording button—the one that looks like stairs going down and up.
  3. Choose a note length value of 64th notes.
  4. Click Enable.
  5. Play the notes of the chord, from low to high (or strum down from high to low), starting from the beginning of a measure.
  6. You’ll probably want to extend the note lengths.
  7. This will be a fairly slow strum, and there may be too much time between notes. No problem: select the notes, set quantization as appropriate to move the strummed notes closer to the first note (e.g., a half-note in the example above), and then choose Action > Quantize to 50%. Moving the notes closer to the first note speeds up the strum.

The moral of the story is that chord notes don’t always need to hit right on the beat—try some strumming, and add variety to your music.

 

 

 

 

Vocalign Project 30% off in March at shop.presonus.com

From March 1 to March 31 you can get VocALign Project for 30% off the regular price—that’s down to $104 USD from $149.

Click here to shop!

VocALign Project 3 provides the latest version of the basic and legendary VocALign program that has been available since 1995, providing instant tight alignment of one audio signal to another. Simply capture a Guide signal with the right timing, capture a Dub signal to be aligned, press one button, and a new aligned Dub is generated and returned to your DAW.

Quietly legendary, VocALign’s early life included use in music production ranging from Shania Twain and Steely Dan to Black Eyed Peas; as well as in popular TV shows such as Friends and Seinfeld and in blockbuster films including Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

ARA (Audio Random Access) is a pioneering extension for audio plug-in interfaces. Co-developed by Celemony and PreSonus, ARA technology enhances the communication between plug-in and DAW, and gives the plug-in and host instant access to the audio data. Synchro Arts and PreSonus have worked together to integrate VocALign tightly into Studio One with a simple, streamlined workflow to provide automatic, instantaneous time alignment of the selected audio signals.

Editors can save hours in the studio and let VocALign do the fine re-timing work automatically. Users simply select Guide and Dub audio events and drag and drop them into VocALign which instantly edits the Dub audio to match the timing of the Guide.

 

Click here to shop!

 

Limited Time Offer–Buy a Pair of Sceptres, Get a FREE Monitor Station V2!

New Month, New Promos!

Now through the month of May 2018, score a FREE Monitor Station V2 when you purchase a pair of Sceptre monitors, either the S6s or S8s!

Check out what our friends at All Things Gear recently said about the Monitor Station V2:

The design of the PreSonus Monitor Station V2 is quite well-done — and we love the new color-scheme, which gives the device a much more professional and sleek look. The PreSonus Monitor Station V2 may largely be targeted at home use, but you could easily make a solid case for it being used in a pro studio too. It’s well-designed, well-built, and extremely easy to use.

AND you get it FREE when you purchase a pair of Sceptres! 

People are talking about the Sceptres too! Check out what Sound on Sound had to say about the monitors:

It looks like Presonus have done it again; I was really impressed with their budget Eris speakers and now the Sceptres firmly establish the company’s position in the mid-priced monitor marketplace.  

Interested? Find a dealer in your area and take advantage of this deal! You won’t be disappointed.

Click here for required rebate form! [PDF]

This offer is available worldwide.

  • To find a dealer in the USA, click here!
  • To find a dealer outside of the USA, click here!

Friday Tip of the Week: Studio One’s Other Equalizer

The Pro EQ isn’t the only equalizer in Studio One: there’s also a very flexible graphic equalizer, but it’s traveling incognito. Although the Pro EQ can create typical graphic equalizer responses, there are still situations where a good graphic equalizer can be the quickest and easiest way to dial in the sound you want—and the one in Studio One has some attributes you won’t find in standard graphic EQs. Once you start realizing the benefits of this technique, you just may wish you had discovered it sooner.

The secret is the Multiband Dynamics processor. A multiband dynamics processor is basically a graphic EQ with individual dynamics control for each band, but we can ignore the dynamics control aspect and use just the equalization.

The reason why setting up this EQ can be so fast is because of being able to solo and mute individual bands, and move the band’s upper and lower limits around freely to focus precisely on the part of the spectrum you want to affect. Of course you can enable/disable individual bands in the Pro EQ, but you’ll still hear the unprocessed sound at all times. With the Multiband Dynamics serving as a graphic EQ, the ability to focus on a specific band of frequencies is something that’s not possible with standard parametric-based EQs.

The first step is to defeat the compression, so set the Ratio for all bands to 1.0. Attack, Release, Knee, and Thresholds don’t matter because there’s no compression.

Now you can adjust the frequency ranges and level for individual bands, and this is where being able to mute and solo bands is incredibly helpful. For example, suppose you want to zero in on the part of a vocal that adds intelligibility. With a parametric EQ you would need to go back and forth between the frequency, bandwidth, and gain to find the “sweet spot.” With the Multiband Dynamics processor, just solo the HM band and move the range dividers until you focus on the vocal frequencies with the most articulation, then boost that band’s gain. Simple.

Even better, the Multiband Dynamics processor has a Mix control so you can blend the processed and unprocessed sound to make the overall effect of the EQ more or less drastic. And speaking of drastic, the Gain control does ±36 dB so you have more control over level than most parametric EQs.

Being able to define individual bands, solo them, and adjust their gain and frequency ranges precisely can be a very useful technique that supplements what you can do with the Pro EQ. For general tone-shaping, try the Multiband Dynamics processor—you might be surprised at how fast you can dial in just the right sound.

Friday Tip of the Week: Synthesize OpenAIR Reverb Impulses in Studio One

Convolving white noise with audio produces reverb but frankly, the results aren’t all that inspiring compared to the impulses obtained from “sampling” real rooms. However, there are ways to make white noise impulses that provide a unique, “idealized” sound compared to standard impulses.

  1. You need a noise source, so insert Mai Tai and create a noise-only preset.
  2. Sculpt the noise to emulate a “room.” Suppose you want a 2.0 second reverb from a highly damped room. Use the amplitude envelope to provide a 2 second fadeout, and the filter envelope to damp the sound. I also add a little delay to make the noise a wider image.
  3. Transform the instrument sound to an audio track.
  4. Normalize the audio, then bring the peak level down by about 7 or 8 dB. Open Air seems happiest with impulses that don’t use up all the available headroom.
  5. Export the WAV file.

Now bring the WAV file you just saved into Open Air, and check out the clarity and smoothness of the sustain—it has an “idealized” quality, sort of like how CGI is an idealized version of an image. Listen to the audio example processing some percussive sounds from Impulse, and you’ll hear what I mean.

Here are a few other hints:

  • When you shorten the reverb in Open Air, it sounds more gated. Once you find an impulse you like, generate versions at different lengths, and then you can choose the length that’s appropriate for the music.
  • Create short reverb impulses and reverse them—you’ll hear the best reverse reverb sounds ever.
  • Make a bright, sparkly vocal reverb by filtering out the lows, or to create the Taiko Drum of Doom, create a long impulse but filter out all the highs.
  • Try different effects, like “chopping” the noise for rhythmic effects.

The bottom line is this is an incredibly flexible way to come up with reverb sounds…and you can end up with different reverb sounds than any other reverb processor on your hard drive. Have fun!

A Hockey Stick and a StudioLive Leap into a Studio…

The one and only Leo from Frog Leap Studios shares metal covers, tutorials, how-to videos and other fun, super rad stuff with his audience of over 2.3 MILLION subscribers. He’s also a PreSonus user! We recently caught up with Leo at NAMM this year and partnered with him for his next adventure, the StudioLive 32 Series III!

Watch him open and set up his new StudioLive and then make music with a Hockey Stick… yep!

 

Leo and Rick at NAMM!

Friday Tip of the Week: The Ultra-Tight Rhythm Section

Last week, we used the Gate for drum replacement. This week, let’s use it to tighten up an electric bass part—and end up with a rhythm section that’s tighter than a comic book superhero’s costume.

We’ll use a fairly basic example of sidechaining to create this tightness. While most people understand the principles behind sidechaining, I haven’t heard very many people actually use this particular application. But with electric bass, using a drum sidechain signal to gate the bass adds a percussive overlay to the bass’s melodic character that fits perfectly with drums.

For the bass sound, in this example I’m using my bass expansion pack for Cakewalk’s Rapture Pro (I’ll be porting the samples over to Presence XT soon). The drum loop track has a send that drives a Gate inserted in the bass track, with the Gate’s sidechain set to External so it’s triggered by the drum’s audio.

Although different situations call for different Gate settings, I find the key to getting good results with electric bass is the Gate’s Release control. Because bass has a natural decay, a little release time prevents the bass from sounding too percussive—the attacks are all properly in place, but the bass note trails off gracefully, even though the drum transient may be long gone.

However with more electro-oriented material, using a sharp decay with an electric bass provides an unusual type of effect—you have the organic, natural sound of the electric bass modulated by the clipped, percussive decays caused by gating with the drums. As always, experimentation can yield interesting—and sometimes delightfully unexpected—results. Try it!

It’s Not Voodoo—it’s PreSonus Studio Magic 2018

We’ve updated Studio Magic Plug-in Suite for Mac and Windows! Worth more than $400 but provided free to new and existing registered owners of any currently available PreSonus audio interface or mixer, the 2018 Studio Magic Plug-in Suite software bundle includes seven popular plug-ins in VST, AU (Mac), and AAX formats. All you have to do to get Studio Magic 2018 is register your qualifying hardware at my.presonus.com!

Learn more about Studio Magic 2018 here:

Take a closer look at each plug-in in the YouTube playlist below!