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 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 & 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.
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.
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.
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.
We would love for you to get Studio One 3 Professional or Notion 6 for 35% less this Valentine’s Day! If you’re running Studio One 3 Artist, Notion 5, or maybe even Studio One version 1, this is a great, inexpensive time to get up to speed with Notion 6 or Studio One 3 Professional. Or both, with some money left over to spend on the sweetheart of your choice.
What if you’re not running Notion OR Studio One? Well, we still like you, and you can switch to PreSonus for a lot less money with a discounted Crossgrade. The already low Crossgrade price has been dropped by 35% in this sale, as well.
If you’re interested in a crossgrade from your existing DAW, all you need to do is find a local dealer, online dealer, or contact PreSonus directly with a copy of the UPC code or original purchase receipt for the other DAW in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualifying DAWs include:
Studio One comes with keyboard shortcut mappings for Cubase, Logic, and Pro Tools, so those switching to Studio One can use the keyboard shortcuts with which they’re familiar—as well as navigate the trial version without having to learn a lot of new shortcuts. To add to that list, I mapped Sonar’s shortcuts to Studio One; these mappings are included as an alternate key scheme in the most recent update. What I learned in the process might be useful if you want to create mappings for a program you were using prior to migrating to Studio One.
Spoiler alert: Ultimately I think it’s best to learn Studio One’s keyboard shortcuts unless you use multiple DAWs and don’t want your brain to explode learning all the variations. Many of Sonar’s shortcuts are based on the traditional Windows approach of using control keys to navigate quickly through menus rather than calling up functions directly. Also, many functions for which Sonar has few or no keyboard shortcuts (e.g., automation) have shortcuts in Studio One, and assigning some shortcuts to Sonar can overwrite useful Studio One shortcuts, so you need to create a new shortcut for any you remove. For example, Studio One’s reverse audio shortcut is Ctrl+R—the same as Sonar’s shortcut to refresh the Media Browser. A Sonar user will more likely want the refresh function, although that means creating a new shortcut for reverse audio.
Another example is for Sonar users who miss its ProChannel. Yet Studio One has a functionally similar Console feature when you open the channel—you see what effects are inserted, and a thumbnail of their settings. So I mapped Studio One’s Open Channel to Ctrl+I (the screenshot shows assigning this in the process of creating the key scheme), Sonar’s shortcut for opening the ProChannel. Although this overwrote Studio One’s shortcut for Invert Selection, I think Sonar users will be willing to sacrifice Invert Selection for having something similar to opening up the ProChannel. The shortcut I is another conflict, which opens Sonar’s Inspector. In Studio One, I enables auto-punch, which you can also enable by clicking on a transport button—but since Sonar users have always enabled auto-punch via a Control Bar button anyway, it made sense to give up I for the Inspector.
Then there are the design differences. For inserting effects in clips (Events), Sonar includes an FX rack that behaves like the one in its Track or Console view. In Studio One, the equivalent appears in the Event’s Inspector. However, having already mapped a Sonar shortcut to open the Inspector, I assigned Studio One’s Insert Event FX to Sonar’s Open Clip FX Rack shortcut. Sonar users can use that to insert an Event FX quickly, and hopefully they’ll realize they can open up the Inspector to see all the options for Event FX.
Nudge is another example of accommodating a common Sonar function. In Studio One, the number keypad is more for navigation and marker recall and with Sonar, nudge operations. So I assigned Sonar’s “greatest hits” nudge functions to the keypad.
Then again, sometimes you get lucky. For example, Studio One’s Audio Bend panel relates to what Sonar’s AudioSnap does, so I just assigned the AudioSnap shortcut to it. And while there’s a shortcut to hide selected tracks in Studio One, I find Studio One’s Track List the most convenient way to manage track hide/show. Sonar’s Track Manager handles show/hide well, so I used its shortcut to open the Track List. Another sneaky trick is that
Studio One doesn’t have a dedicated Navigator pane like Sonar, but if you reduce the track heights to the absolute minimum, the visual representation of a song is very similar.
Studio One doesn’t have screensets per se, but the five Console Scenes for which shortcuts exist are similar, so I assigned number keys 1-5 (which Sonar uses for screensets) to the scenes. Only problem is the tool shortcuts also use number keys, so I changed them to Ctrl+Shift+[function key] because Sonar users are familiar with using function keys to call up tools.
Finally, note that Sonar has many functions that aren’t assigned to default keyboard shortcuts, yet some of these functions do have default keyboard shortcuts in Studio One. So if you’ve created your own custom shortcuts in Sonar or another DAW, if Studio One has a similar function it may already have a default shortcut. If not, you can create similar (if not identical) custom shortcuts in Studio One. Another nice touch: When you open the list of keyboard shortcuts from Help, they reflect whichever mapping you’ve chosen—not just the Studio One defaults. And don’t forget you can create Macros to re-create another DAW’s workflow in Studio One, and then assign the Macro to a shortcut.
Still, after spending way too many hours going over the similarities and differences between Sonar’s and Studio One’s keyboard shortcuts, I have to say that I’ll be learning Studio One’s shortcuts. It’s clear a lot of thought went into choosing and assigning them, so I believe a little effort spent now will save a lot of time overall. My recommendation for learning shortcuts is to print out the list, and learn a new one every few days—you won’t regret it.
Creating tempo changes can add a significant amount of emotional impact to a piece of music, and you can create these changes with the Tempo Track. MIDI will follow tempo variations, as will Audio Tracks in Timestretch mode and also, Acidized WAV clips. To open the Tempo Track, click the Clock icon in the Track Column.
It’s important to remember that tempo changes remain in effect until any subsequent tempo changes, and the Transport tempo indicator always reflects the current tempo. Note that unlike other programs where the timeline doesn’t change, a very useful Studio One feature is that the timeline reflects tempo changes. For example if you change two measures to half the original tempo, those two measures will last twice as long graphically as the other measures in the timeline. This also means that if you draw a linear series of tempo changes (see below), they will appear to have a curve but the changes themselves are still linear—it’s just that the timeline display reflects whether the tempo is speeding up or slowing down. That’s pretty cool.
I was hoping you’d ask…
I mainly use three types of tempo changes, because each has their use.
Short changes. These happen over a short range, like slowing down the tempo slightly during the measure before going into the big chorus, or speeding up a little during a couple measures before a solo comes to an end.
Long-range changes. Here’s a good example of why tempo changes can be really handy. For a particular set, there was a song at 127 bpm followed by one at 133.33 bpm (locked groove tempo). I started a linear tempo change about 2/3 of the way through the first song, slowly increasing the tempo to 133.33. It took long enough that you didn’t really notice the tempo was changing, but it added a feeling of anticipation and segued perfectly into the second song.
It’s easy to create a linear series of tempo changes. Choose the tempo change resolution with the Quantize parameter (it doesn’t matter if Snap to grid is on or off). Hold [Option/Mac] or [Alt/Windows], click, and draw the line. While still holding down the modifier key, you can drag up or down to change the final tempo. Holding the shift key gives 0.1 BPM resolution. For finer resolution, place the cursor in the section containing the tempo change, and enter the number in the Tempo Track field. (Note that the screen shot doesn’t show the fine resolution of the tempo changes, but they’re there.)
“Time Traps.” Suppose you want to add a short, almost subliminal “dramatic pause” at some point, like just before some booming snare drum hit signals the start of the chorus. Although you could shift your tracks over a bit or insert some space, it’s much easier just to do a radical tempo drop (e.g., from 120 to 50 bpm) for a fraction of a beat where you want the dramatic pause. This sloooooows everything down enough to add the pause. (Ideally, you’d want something that sustains over the pause—silence, a pad, held note, etc. but that’s commonly what will be happening anyway.)
Studio One has a neat trick for doing these: you can edit non-consecutive tempo changes simultaneously. This is important because the amount of tempo change is pretty crucial to get the desired effect, so if you want to add more than one time trap in a song, adjusting one can adjust them all. Simply use the Arrow tool to click and drag over the tempo change you want to edit, then hold down Shift and use the Arrow tool to click and drag over any additional tempo changes you want to edit. Editing one edits them all.
Modifying the tempo track can allow a song to “breathe,” like what happens when musicians play together. If you haven’t experimented with subtle (or even dramatic) tempo changes, you’re in for a treat when you do.
We’ve got two tremendous new sample/loop collections from SonalSystem, the brilliant minds who brought us the lauded “Biscuits and Gravy” drum loops a while back. Now, they’ve got a killer hip-hop pack and an indie guitar pack, and each is available in three editions: Gold, Silver, and Platinum and are compatible with Studio One Prime, Artist, and Professional (Versions 3.5.4 and higher). Click here to shop!
Crafted with a focus on composition, this library is a perfect companion for producers, film/tv composers and songwriters across genres who are looking for inspiration along with studio quality sounds to complete their vision.
Music City Drums vol.2 – Boom Bap: These hip-hop drums were recorded using an extensive collection of vintage drums, classic mic pres, and choice microphones. Because Sonal System took an old-school approach to recording and sampling, the timeless and gritty vibe of hip-hop’s golden era can now be a bold, colorful addition to your sonic palette.
In the previous Friday Tip of the Week, we covered how recording soft synths and amp sims at higher sample rates (like 96 kHz) can give higher sound quality in some situations. However, we also discussed some issues involved with recording at higher sample rates that aren’t so wonderful.
So this week, it’s time for a solution. Offline upsampling to higher sample rates can let you retain the CPU efficiencies of running at a lower sample rate, while reaping the sonic benefits of recording at higher sample rates… and you can do this in Studio One by upsampling in a separate project, rendering the file, and then importing the rendered file back into your original project.
But wait—wouldn’t you lose the benefits of upsampling when you later convert the sample rate back down to 44.1 kHz? The answer is no: Rendering at the higher sample rate eliminates any foldover distortion in the audio range, sample-rate converters include an anti-alias filter to avoid this problem, and 44.1 kHz has no problem playing back sounds in the audio range.
However, note that upsampling can’t fix audio that already has aliasing distortion; upsampling audio to 96 kHz that already contains foldover distortion will simply reproduce the existing distortion. This technique applies only to audio created in the computer. Similarly, it’s unlikely that upsampling something recorded via a computer’s audio interface will yield any benefits, because the audio interface itself will have already band-limited the signal’s frequency range so there will be no harmonics that interfere with the clock frequency.
UPSAMPLING IN STUDIO ONE
We’ll assume a 44.1 kHz project sampling rate, and that the virtual instrument’s MIDI track has been finalized but you haven’t transformed it to audio yet. Here’s how to upsample virtual instruments.
That’s all there is to it. If you want to upsample an amp sim, the process is similar: export the (presumably guitar) track, save the amp sim preset, render at 96 kHz, then import the rendered file into the 44.1 kHz project.
Listen to the audio example “Upsampling with Amp Sim,” which plays the sound of an amp sim at 44.1 kHz and then after upsampling to 96 kHz. The difference isn’t as dramatic as last week’s synth example, but you’ll still hear that the upsampled version is clearer, with more presence.
Do bear in mind you may not want the difference caused by upsampling. When I did an upsampling demo at a seminar with a particular synthesizer, most people preferred the sound with the aliasing because the upsampled sound was brighter than what they expected. However when I did upsampling with an amp sim, and with a different synth, the consensus was that the upsampled version sounded much better. Regardless, the point is now you have a choice—hear the instrument the way it’s supposed to be heard to decide if you like that better, or leave it as is. After all, distortion isn’t necessarily that horrible—think of how many guitar players wouldn’t have a career without it!
Although upsampling isn’t a panacea, don’t dismiss it either. Even with synths that don’t oversample, upsampling may make no audible difference. However, sometimes synths that do oversample still benefit from upsampling; with some sounds, it can take 4x or even 8x oversampling to reproduce the sound accurately. As always, use your ears to decide which sound works best in your music.
A Sweeter, Beefier Ampire
Let’s transform Ampire’s Crunch American from a motor scooter into a Harley. Here’s our point of departure:
Insert the Multiband Dynamics before Ampire. The default patch is fine, but drag the High Mid and High gain and ratio settings down all the way. The goal here is to add a bit of compression to give more even distortion in the mids and lower mids but also, to get rid of high frequencies that, when distorted, create harsh harmonics.
After Ampire, insert the Pro EQ. The steep notch around 8 kHz gets rid of the whistling sound you’ll really notice in the before-and-after audio example, while the high-frequency shelf adds brightness to offset the reduced high frequencies going into Ampire. But this time, we’re increasing the “good,” post-distortion high frequencies instead of the nasty pre-distortion ones.
Those two processors alone make a big difference, but let’s face it—people don’t listen to an amp with their ear a couple inches from the speaker, but in a room. So, let’s create a room and give the sound a stereo image with the Open Air convolution reverb. I’ve loaded one of my custom, synthetic IR responses; these are my go-to impulses for pretty much everything I do involving convolution reverb, and may be available in the PreSonus shop someday. Meanwhile, feel free to use your own favorite impulses.
Of course, you can take this concept a lot further with the Channel Editor if you want to tweak specific parameters to optimize the sound for your particular playing style, choice of pickups, pickup type, and the like…hmmm, seems like that might be a good topic for a future tip.
That’s it! Now all that’s left is to compare the before and after example below. Hopefully you’ll agree that the “after” is a lot more like a Harley than a motor scooter.
Check out these new loop bundles over at shop.presonus.com—demo tracks are available to listen before you buy.
Culprate returns to Loopmasters for his second sample pack of a series which feature fully produced loops and sounds taken from previously released productions. This time out Culprate has chopped and mutated samples from the incredible 5 Star EP and includes all the best basses, tones, drums, FX and more from Ono, Tentacle, Finger and My Rock which can all be used in your productions 100% royalty Free.
5 Star Glitch Hop packs some serious weight, with a fine selection of loops, one-hits and multi samples. The loop content includes filthy basslines, epic digital synths and hard-hitting drums broken down into tops, percussion and full drums. Every musical loop is key-labeled for instant studio sound swapping and easy integration into your tracks.
The one-shot samples feature tough bass hits, hard kicks and snares, cinematic FX, synthetic synths and edgy vocals. You’ll find every one in the pre-formatted sampler patches. The collection is delivered with tempos ranging between 100-140BPM offering content for genres including glitch hop, downtempo, electronica, breaks, techno, dubstep and EDM.
Deep Trap from Loopmasters is a soulful collection of trap samples, with heavy bass, haunting musical elements, rich vocals, and incisive drums. Provided 100% royalty-free for your music, let Deep Trap take you on a wonky walk along the deep and chilled boundaries of Trap!
Deep Trap has over 300 loops including drums as full loops, kick/snare and hat variations to build upon. An abundance of musical loops feature organs, synths, plucked instruments, leads, and keys to enrich the mix—while solid bass, warped vocals, and filtered FX loops will fill out the sonic spectrum alongside 135 one-hit samples.
Deep Trap comes from the producers who brought you Chilled Trap and is heavily influenced by old school deep house and RnB tracks. We then extracted the essence from these two classic styles and blended them together with modern trap drums for an original take on Trap music.
Expect to hear extended jazzy sounding chord loops, classic FM bass sounds mixed with 808 bass sounds plus catchy lead melodies inspired by classic RnB tracks from the past. Also included is a special collection of chopped vocal loops to add depth to your mix. The drum loops section features multiple rhythm and sound variations plus tasty organic percussion loops to nicely fill out the space between kicks and snares. Add you also get one-shot drum samples to embellish your beats and create long, moving arrangements. Just experiment and have fun!
The collection has was designed with Trap in mind, but with wide-ranging applications for house, ambient and minimal genres. Deep Trap ensures every musical element is key-labeled.
Loopmasters present Future Bass Generation: a full-throttle collection of sounds for a fresh Future Bass sound, featuring tough synth lines, sharp beats and booming bass. Provided for you 100% royalty-free by Dan Larson, this collection of storming sounds will deliver that sleek Future Bass sound direct to your DAW!
Future Bass Generation Is a heavy pack with tons of loops, hits, sampler patches, and MIDI files. Over 300 loops are included with drum loops sharper than a razor’s edge–provided in full drums, tops, percussion, builds, fills, kicks, snares, and tom variations to make the beat kick! A load of fat synth loops including pads, keys, plucks, arps and xylophones feature, played in chordal and monophonic combinations, which perfectly compliment the earth-shattering bass loops. Build and drop FX are included, as well as chopped vocal loops for added chaos and atmosphere!
Over 150 hits come complete with urban synths, big kicks, tight snares and sparkling percussion to sequence in Studio One. 55 patches are ready for deployment in your favorite software sampler. A bonus collection of 150 MIDI files allow you to use the existing content in your sequencer, then flip, reverse and transpose it to fit your music.
For fans of Slushii, Flume, San Holo, Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, Illenium and more, this is the definitive Future Bass sample pack. At tempos between 160-175 BPM, this pack is ideal for up-tempo Genres including future bass, hardcore, drum & bass, and jungle.
Immersion is an electronic landscape of sound from Loopmasters – featuring rich instrumentation, lush vocals, lo-fi drums and dreamy synths. This pack is 100% royalty-free, and comes with loops, hits, MIDI and sampler patches for your musical productions– so bring your scuba gear and dive deep into Immersion!
This pack features over 256 loops, including fat bass, sharp drums [kicks, snare, hat, percussion, clicks, snaps, and claps], atmospheric FX, pitched vocals and diverse musical elements: synths, arps, piano, pads, and strings. The 294 one-hit samples included feature bass hits, drums, FX, and synths—with an awesome selection of multi-sampled instruments to play over a number of octaves, as originally intended.
60 sampler patches are formatted for Studio One, as are over 40 MIDI Loops which give you the freedom to edit, transpose and reverse existing sequences for more melodic experiments. Immersion comes at 140BPM, making it ideal for trap, chillout, electronica and downtempo genres. All musical content is key-labeled.
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
Five years. I started off in Product Management and then moved into Marketing Dept and then Sales and then Education…. Next thing you know, they’ll be asking me to mop the floors.
What was the first 8 track, cassette, CD, digital download you purchased?
What’s your side hustle?
I play drums in a band called Minos the Saint. Maybe you have heard of us… I also am the orchestra director at Istrouma Baptist Church, where I do some drumming, conducting, and arranging (using Notion). I also do a lot of work with soloists and groups in the area, whether it be side-man drumming, engineering, mixing, or producing.
What other products do you have?
All of them…. haha. I use ADL700, ADL600, Studio One, RML32, Studio One remote, Central Station Plus, Temblor 10, Eris 5, Eris 8, Sceptre 8, FaderPort, Air 12.
Why did you choose Notion as your favorite?
As an educator, Notion is the easiest and most fun product to teach others. You can do so much with it and it helps your workflow—more on that later. I like sharing that with others.
Tell us about a successful event you worked.
I attend education conferences year-round and work one-on-one with teachers to find the best solution for their instructional, rehearsal and performance spaces.
What are you currently working on–What’s next for you?
In the summer, music educators and students are involved in many music camps, marching band activities, and Drum & Bugle Corps tours. PreSonus provides the on-the-field reinforcement for The Blue Devils, The Phantom Regiment, Spirit of Atlanta, and many other successful competitive programs. Marching groups these days have significantly more audio technology requirements, whether it be scenes, routing, or remote control. I’m working with them to ensure groups have an easy-to-use, powerful, and flexible solution that fits their needs.
Got some tips?
The power of Notion is in the simplicity of the workflow and the flexibility to use it across multiple devices. The graphic display appears very sleek, but it’s a very powerful notation program, with some surprisingly quick engraving tools. My first tip is to learn the keyboard shortcuts on a computer, which are super intuitive (q=quarter note, d=dot, <=crescendo, #=sharp). On a computer/laptop or iPad, I suggest the handwriting feature, which enables you to write directly on the score with a mouse, finger, stylus or the Apple Pencil.
Anything else you want to share?
Notion is tightly integrated with Studio One. Sometimes, the classical musician in me wants to compose in Notion, then send the score to Studio One (I simply click “Send to Studio One”), where I can then use Studio One to produce tracks around my score. Other times, I’d prefer to write a song on guitar and vocals, and then “Send to Notion” so I can write scoring around my song.