PreSonus Blog

Creating Room Ambiance with Virtual Mics

By Craig Anderton

Supplementing close-miking techniques with room mics gives acoustic sounds a life-like sense of space. Typically, this technique involves placing two mics a moderate distance (e.g., 10 to 20 feet) from the sound source. The mics add short, discrete echoes to the sound being mixed.

This tip’s goal is to create virtual room mics that impart a room sound to electronic or electric instruments recorded direct, or to acoustic tracks that were recorded without room mics. Unlike a similar FX Chain-based tip from over six years ago, this Track Preset (see the download link at the end) takes advantage of a unique Track Preset feature that makes it easier to emulate the sound of multiple instruments being recorded in the same room.

Using the Track Preset

Load the Track Preset Virtual Room Mics.trackpreset. After opening the Mixer view, in Small view you’ll see an audio track and four FX buses (fig. 1).

Figure 1: The Track Preset in the Mixer’s Small view.

The Track Preset includes a stereo audio track. This hosts the sound you want to process. Its four sends go to four FX Channels, each with an analog delay set for a different, short delay time (11, 13, 17, and 23 ms). These are prime numbers so that the delays don’t resonate easily with each other. The delayed sounds produce a result that’s similar to what room mics would produce.

The FX Channels are grouped together, so altering one Room Mic fader changes all the Room Mic faders. The levels are already offset a bit so that longer delays are at a slightly lower level. However, you can edit individual Room Mic faders by holding Opt/Alt while moving a fader. Note: Because the faders are grouped, you can simplify the Mixer view by hiding Room Mics 2, 3, and 4. Then, the remaining Room Mic 1 FX Channel controls the ambiance level.

Under the Hood

Fig. 2 shows the expanded Track Preset.

Figure 2: Expanded Track Preset view.

The Audio track has four post-fader sends. Each goes to its own virtual mic FX Channel with an Analog Delay. Aside from the delay times, they all use the settings shown in fig. 3.

Figure 3: This shows the delay that’s set to 11 ms. The other delays are set identically, except for the delay time.

Using the Virtual Room Mics with More Than One Track

Loading another Virtual Room Mics.trackpreset does not load four more FX Buses. Instead, a new track appears, with its Sends already configured to feed the existing FX Buses. So, you can treat the Virtual Room Mics.trackpreset as a single room for multiple tracks.

Because new tracks appear with Sends already configured, you can vary the send levels slightly for different tracks to place the instruments in different parts of the room. For example, to move the instrument closer to the listener, turn down the sends going to room mics 3 and 4 (with the longest delays), and turn up the sends going to room mics 1 and 2 (with the shortest delays). To place the instrument further away, do the reverse. This more closely emulates recording multiple instruments in the same room. It’s a cool feature of Track Presets used in this type of application.

Workflow Tips

To hear what this FX Chain can do, load a mono Audioloop like Pop > Guitar > Dry > 01a Basement Jam E min. You’ll hear the guitar playing in a room, with a lifelike stereo image.

The main use for this Track Preset is when mixing a combination of acoustic instruments that are miked in a room, and electronic or electric instruments that are recorded direct. Adding room ambiance to the sounds that are recorded direct will let them blend better with the acoustic sounds. It’s best to insert this Track Preset early in the mixing process, so that your mix starts with a consistent acoustic space.

Notion Mobile 3.3 Now Available

Notion Mobile v3 took mobile music creation to the next level with support for iOS, Android, Windows, Fire OS and macOS. Now v3.3 adds many enhancements and fixes,
leading with its support for layout control, enhancements to its notation including writing for harp, and a new cross-platform document recovery feature.

Notion Mobile is free, and all add-ons are included in a Studio One+ membership or available through the Feature Bundle in-app purchase. The update will automatically update on your device over time (if you have automatic updates switched on), or you can download it immediately from your preferred App Store by searching for ‘Notion Mobile’. More about Notion Mobile here, or click below for the full 3.3 guide.

Notion Mobile 3.3 New Feature Guide and Release Notes (click to open):

Thumbnail of Notion release notes. Click to view

The Sweet Spot with Grammy-Nominated Producer 6ix

Logic’s Grammy-nominated producer breaks down his Sweet Spot.

Before he found success as an avant-garde hip hop producer, 6ix was just 30 units shy of a degree in neurology and physiology at the University of Maryland. But inches from the finish line and with “no plans of doing music career-wise,” 6ix’s life took an unexpected turn when he met Bobby Hall, aka Logic, at a beat battle.

“There would be these beat battles that I would do with my boy, Owen, and we ended up winning them all. I was like, ‘damn, there might be something here,’ and that’s when I met Logic.” From the outset, their creative connection was undeniable: “The first day I met him, he was like ‘you’re gonna be my producer.’ I remember dropping out of school, and then I moved to LA like 3 days later. I just stuck with my gut, and it worked out.”

In the 15 years since, the Grammy-nominated 6ix has gone on to produce 8 full-length records for Logic and has worked with Drake, 21 Savage, Khalid, Dizzy Wright, Sylvan LaCue, and more. “Being an Indian dude in this space, I wanna show people that it’s possible. That you don’t gotta follow the same route every time. Like, you don’t gotta be a doctor or engineer or whatever. It’s possible. Like, if I can do it, anybody can do it, really.”

Watch this episode to hear 6ix’s origin story and see how he uses the Eris Studio 5 Monitors and Sub 8BT Subwoofer to dial in his Sweet Spot.

In this episode of The Sweet Spot, 6ix talks about his origins, creative philosophy, and songwriting process.

“What really got me into music as a kid was probably my dad and my uncle,” he says. “There’s something about tapping into what I loved growing up that kind of relieves all pressure for me and I get back into that mindset of doing it for fun.” And for 6ix, a critical part of that mindset is keeping it simple: “I’m a big proponent for simplicity [because] it really lets the artist shine and lets the fans connect to what they’re really saying…Sometimes all it takes is a kick, snare, hat, a sample chop, or a dope piano or Rhodes part, and a bassline.”

When it comes to gear, the Eris 3.5 studio monitors and Sub 8BT subwoofer give 6ix the low-frequency foundation he needs for his bass-heavy beats: “Having good speakers is very important for me, especially for my low end. That’s why I like these Eris studio monitors so much. I just plugged them in straight up, and the levels were perfect. Everything is super accurate. I can hear the kick and I can hear the bass in two different spaces. I could mix full records on these speakers, just because everything is leveled and in place. I’m really impressed with how these sound.”

Any final words of wisdom? “I like the simple process. I’m at a point in my career where I’m having fun just making music that I wanna make at the crib, at the house. I feel comfortable here and I can just be my total self, and that’s my Sweet Spot.”

PreSonus products used: PreSonus Eris Studio 5 Monitors and Sub 8BT.

Check out the all-new family of Eris Studio Monitors and watch the rest of our Sweet Spot series here.

The Sweet Spot with Multi-Platinum Producer Warren Huart

The Grammy-nominated multi-Platinum producer breaks down his Sweet Spot.

From the studio with chart-topping artists like Aerosmith and The Fray, to empowering 700,000+ subscribers on his world famous YouTube channel, Produce Like A Pro, producer and engineer Warren Huart is a multi-platinum prodigy with a deep passion for audio education and DIY ethics.

Warren’s impressive resume carries some serious weight – but he hasn’t let it cloud the air of what really matters: the music. Check out this episode where he discusses how he’s happiest when working with an artist he can co-write with, produce, play instruments, engineer, and mix, all while being able to achieve great sound from relatively inexpensive gear like the new PreSonus Eris Studio Monitors.

Long before the platinum certifications and star-studded CV’s, Warren got his professional start at just 16 years old when he left home to join a funk band. “I’ve been doing music professionally my whole life, and I learned to record out of necessity. I started on 4 track cassettes, moving into ADATS, and eventually into the earliest DAWs.”

His passion for educating others is a direct result of his own DIY educational path: “I started the YouTube channel purely and simply to connect to people. Between the beginners and the incredibly successful there’s a massive, massive gap there. So I came in to make it all make sense.” And now, the Produce Like A Pro YouTube channel is packed with the kind of educational content he wishes had been available when he was still learning: “I realized I had no advantages when I started. I never went to school for this and that is what most people are facing these days. I wanted to illustrate how you could do it by just working hard at your craft.”

When it comes to mixing, “a good pair of monitors is paramount. For me, I want two things: I want detail in the mid-range so I can get in there and mix everything, but I also want an additional, extended low end that you can now get in smaller speakers.” And the newly-redesigned Eris studio monitors deliver both at a shockingly affordable price point – which is crucial for Warren and his audience.

For Warren, accessibility is everything: “Like PreSonus, I believe very strongly in the democratization of the music industry. It has been one of the most important things for us, because now we’re able to access incredibly inexpensive, great-sounding equipment.” And in spite of having near-limitless access to any audio equipment under the sun, Warren is a huge fan of thoughtfully-priced products that punch well above their weight, like the PreSonus Eris Studio 8 Monitors and Sub 8BT: “Despite the fact I’m sitting in front of some relatively expensive equipment, 90% of my life is spent on speakers that are about $300. Bravo to PreSonus for producing a pair of speakers that’s really gonna kick down some doors.”

Any final words of wisdom? “I’m at my happiest when I’m working with an artist that I can co-write with, produce, play instruments, engineer, mix. For me, that is my Sweet Spot.”

PreSonus products used: PreSonus Eris Studio 8 Monitors and Sub 8BT.

Check out the all-new family of Eris Studio Monitors and watch the rest of our Sweet Spot series here.

Don’t Make This Mixing Mistake!

By Craig Anderton

Do you think of mixes in absolute terms, or relative terms? Knowing the difference, and when to apply which approach, can make a huge difference in how easily mixes come together. This can also affect whether you’re satisfied with your mixes in the future.

Mixing is about achieving the perfect balance of all of a song’s tracks. When you start mixing, or if you mix in parallel with developing a song, your mixing moves are absolute moves because you haven’t set up the relationship among all the tracks yet. For example, the guitar might be soft compared to the drums and bass, so you increase the guitar’s level. At that point, you don’t yet realize that when a piano becomes part of the mix, the guitar will mask it to some degree. So, now you’ll need to readjust the guitar’s level not only with respect to the drums and bass, but also in relation to the piano.

The further your mix develops, the more important the relative balance among all the levels becomes. Remember: Any change to any track has an influence on every other track. I can’t emphasize that enough.

A Different Way to Finish a Mix

At some point, your mix will be “almost there.” That’s when you notice little flaws. The drums are a bit overpowering. The bass needs to come up. The background singers don’t have quite the right balance with the lead vocal. Two keyboard parts are supposed to be the same level, but one is slightly louder.

The absolute approach to addressing those issues would be to make those changes. The kick comes down a bit. The bass comes up. You balance out the background singers and the keyboards. Then you render another mix to see if the problems have been addressed. It’s better, but now the bass is masking the low end of the keyboards. So, you bring up the keyboards a bit, but now they step on the background vocals…

If you’re not concentrating on how the tracks fit together in relative terms, then you’ll constantly be chasing your tail while mixing. You’ll keep making a series of absolute adjustments, and then wonder why relatively speaking, the mix doesn’t gel.

The Relative Approach to Mixing

VCA Channels are the key to relative mix edits, because they can offset tracks easily compared to the rest of the mix. Take the example above of the drums being a bit overpowering, the bass too soft, etc. Rather than try to fix them all at the same time, here’s what I do:

1. Choose the issue that seems most annoying. Let’s suppose it’s the drums being overpowering. I always start with fixing tracks that are too loud instead of too soft, because lowering the level of the loud track will make all the other tracks louder, relatively speaking.

2. Select the drum tracks (or drum bus) and choose “Add VCA for Selected Channels.”

3. Lower the VCA channel for the drums by (typically) -0.5 dB, but no more than -1.0 dB.

4. Not change any other track levels. Now it’s time to render a new version of the mix, and live with it for a day.

Having softer drums will change the relative perspective of the entire mix. Maybe the bass wasn’t that soft after all; maybe it was just masked a bit by the kick. Maybe the rhythm guitar is actually louder than it seemed, because its percussive strums were blending in with the drum hits—but the strums weren’t noticeable until the drums were softer. And so on.

That -0.5 dB of difference will change how you hear the mix. -0.5 dB may not seem like much, but that’s just one perspective. A different perspective is that it’s making every other track +0.5 dB louder than the drums. So, you need to evaluate the mix with fresh ears, because that one change has altered the entire mix.

An advantage of using VCA channels is that when you add the VCA Channel, its initial setting is 0.0. It’s easy to see how much you’ve offset the track level with the VCA, compared to (for example) changing a drum bus fader from -12.6 to -13.1. It’s also easy to get back to where you started in case after listening to the track, you decide other tracks were the problem, and the drums need to return to where they were. Just reset the VCA to 0.0.

Let’s suppose that after listening to the rendered version a few times at different times of the day, it seems like the drums fit in much better with the overall mix. Make the change permanent by de-assigning the tracks to the VCA Channel, and then removing the VCA Channel. (Or, leave it in and hide it if you think you might need more changes in the future.)

Next, let’s suppose the bass still seems a little soft. I’ll repeat the four steps listed above, but this time with the bass track, and raise it by +0.5 dB (fig. 1). Then it’s time to render the track again, and live with it for a day.

Figure 1: A VCA channel has altered the drum mix by -0.5 dB. That VCA Channel is about to be removed, because -0.5 dB turned out to be the right amount. Meanwhile, a VCA Channel has been added to see if increasing the Bass level by +0.5 dB helps it fit in better with the mix.

It might seem that this one-track-at-a-time approach would take forever, especially because sometimes you may need to revise earlier changes. But it can save time, for two reasons:

  • Mixing sessions don’t go on for hours. Because you listened to the rendered mix with fresh ears and know what you need to change, you make the change. After rendering the new mix, you’re done for the day, aside from listening to it several times under various conditions. Your final mixes now become 5 to 10 minutes at a time spread over multiple days. An additional advantage is that you always hear the mix with fresh ears, instead of having listener fatigue set in during a long mixing session.
  • Often, after taking care of the most problematic tracks, other issues resolve themselves because they weren’t the problem—their relationship to the problematic tracks was the problem.  Fixing those other tracks fixes the relationship.

If after repeated listening over a few days (and being brutally critical!) I don’t hear anything that needs to change, then the song is done.

A Corollary to Relative Mixing

This approach is also one reason why I don’t use dynamics processors in the master bus, except for the occasional preview. All dynamics processors are dependent on input levels. As you change the relationship of the tracks, you’re also changing how a master bus’s dynamics processor influences your mix.

Some people say they need to mix through a dynamics processor, because the mix doesn’t sound right without it. I think that may be due to mixing from an absolute point of view, and the dynamics processor blurs the level differences. I believe that if you achieve the right relative balance without using a master bus dynamics processor, when you do add dynamics processing during the mastering process, the balance will remain virtually identical. Your mix will also gain the maximum benefits from the dynamics processing.

Once you start considering when to employ a relative mixing approach compared to a more absolute approach, I think you’ll find it easier to finish mixes—and you’ll end up with mixes you’re satisfied with years later.

Tuff Beats

By Craig Anderton

Calling all beats/hip-hop/EDM/hard rock fans: This novel effects starts with drums modulating the Vocoder’s white noise carrier, and takes off from there. The sound can be kind of like a strange, aggressive reverb—or not, because the best part of this tip is the crazy variety of sounds that editing or automating parameters can create.

The following audio example plays just a few of the possibilities. The first two measures are the original loop. Then, several 2-measure examples alter Vocoder parameters.

Track Layout

Fig. 1 shows the track layout:

  • The Drums track hosts the waveform that modulates the Vocoder via a pre-fader send to the Vocoder track. How you set the Drums track fader depends on whether or not you want to mix in unprocessed sounds.
  • The Carrier track generates white noise as a carrier for the vocoder’s sidechain (fig. 2), as sent through a pre-fader send. You’ll probably want to keep the Carrier track’s fader at minimum.
  • The Vocoder track produces the processed output to mix in with the drums.

Figure 1: Track layout for Tuff Beats processing.

Figure 2: Tone Generator settings.

Editing the Effect

Figure 3: Typical Vocoder settings.

The only crucial setting is that the Carrier Source must be set to Side-Chain (fig. 3). Aside from that, you have plenty of options for subverting the sound:

  • Release. At longer release times, the sound is like a strange reverb. Shorter settings are more like doubling.
  • Release automation. Try drawing waveform automation with the Paint tool, like negative-going sawtooth waves and triangle waves. Freehand drawing can produce even wilder effects.
  • Attack. Turning up Attack reminds me of a transient shaper, because it softens the drum attack.
  • Patch Matrix. This alters the “reverb” character. You can get some pretty whacked out filtering effects.
  • Matrix automation. Now you can really go insane. Choose Write for the Vocoder’s automation mode, and “draw” on the Patch Matrix as you would an Etch-a-Sketch. This changes the filtering effects, and the automation remembers your moves.

It doesn’t take much effort to come up with some pretty novel sounds, so…have fun!

Reinvent Your Stereo Panning

This tip is about working with stereo, NOT about Dolby Atmos® or surround—but we’re going to steal some of what Atmos does to reinvent stereo panning.  Studio One’s Surround panners are compatible with stereo projects, offer capabilities that are difficult to implement with standard panpots, and are  easy to use. Just follow the setup instructions below, and start experimenting to find out how surround panning affects stereo tracks. (Surround panners work with mono tracks too, although of course the stereo spread parameter described later is irrelevant.)


When you’re ready to mix, choose Song > Spatial Audio. Select the parameter values to the left in fig. 1. In the output section (fig. 1 right), select 5.0 for the Bed format, and Stereo for both Speakers and Headphones so you can use either option to monitor in stereo.

Figure 1: Parameter setup for Surround panning with stereo projects.

After choosing Dolby Atmos for spatial audio, channel panpots turn into surround panpots. Double-click on them to see the “head-in-middle-of-soundfield” image shown below. Choose Disable Center, which isn’t used. LFE Level doesn’t matter, unless you’re using a subwoofer.

Using surround panners for stereo offers several adjustable parameters:

Spread. Move the L and R circles to set the left and right pan position spread, or click and drag in the numeric Spread field. The spread (fig. 2) can go from 0 (mono), to 100% (standard panning), to 200% (extra wide, like binaural panning).

Figure 2: (Left to right) 14.8% spread, 100% spread, 200% spread.

Direction. After establishing the spread, click on the arrow and rotate the spread so it covers the desired part of the stereo field (fig. 3). You can also click and drag on the numeric Direction field. Between spread and direction, you can “weight” the stereo spread so that it covers only a sliver of the stereo field, covers center to right or left, mostly left, mostly right, etc.

Figure 3: (Left to right) Panned from left to center, panned to a narrow slice of the stereo field, and panned almost full but tilted toward the right.

Size. This has no equivalent with stereo panpots. Click on the arrow, and move it closer to the head for a “bigger” size, or further from the head for a “smaller” size (fig. 4). You can also click and drag on the numeric Size field. The result isn’t as striking as with true surround, but it’s much more dramatic than standard panning. Note the “cloud” that shows how much the sound waves envelope the head. All the previous images showed a small size.

Figure 4: (Left to right) Biggest size/least distance, moderate size/moderate distance, smallest size/furthest distance.

Flexible automation. A joystick or controller pad can automate two of the parameters simultaneously. Or, modulate all three parameters using three controls from a control surface. This is a huge deal compared to standard panning. For example, suppose an instrument is ending a solo, while another solo starts. The one that’s ending can pan to a narrower spread, move off to the side, and become smaller just by moving three controls.

Other Features

  • Balance Tab. The surround panners can also serve as conventional balance controls. This setting interacts with the panners. For example, if the L and R buttons are close to each other, there won’t be much balance to adjust. I rarely use the balance option. To make sure that surround panning isn’t altered by a Balance parameter setting, check that the balance “dot” is in the center of the virtual head.
  • Size lock. This maintains the same Size setting, regardless of what you do with the Direction and Spread parameters. Hold Shift to bypass Lock temporarily, and fine-tune Size.
  • Object Panner. Right-click on the Surround panner, and you can choose an Object Panner instead. This is less relevant with stereo, because front/back and lower/higher directionality doesn’t exist like it does in a true Atmos system. However, the Object Panner does have Size, Spread, and Pan X (left/right) parameters, so feel free to play around with it—you may like the interface better than the surround panner. It’s also possible to do crazy automation moves. In any case, you can’t break anything.
  • Other. This is another function you reach via a right-click on the Surround Panner. You’ll see a list of other plugins on your system that may have spatial placement abilities, like Waves’ Nx series of control room emulators, Brauer Motion, Ozone Imager, Ambisonics plugins, and the like. If you insert one of these, you can revert to the stock Studio One panners or choose other options by clicking on the downward arrow just under the “other” plugins name.

It may sound crazy to use Surround panners in stereo projects—but try it. You can truly do stereo panning like never before.

Studio One: Mix in a New Dimension with Jeff Ellis

The GRAMMY-winning recording and mix engineer shows us how he uses Studio One to create an artful immersive mix.

Jeff Ellis is a force to be reckoned with. The LA-based recording and mix engineer started his career as an intern at the legendary EastWest Studios, where he was selected to engineer Frank Ocean’s debut album – the dynamic and lushly layered Channel Orange.

Just one year later, Ellis’ work was nominated for both Record of the Year and Album of the Year at the GRAMMY Awards, where he won Best Urban Contemporary Album – a success that led to engineering Ocean’s critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Blonde and building a star-studded CV of artists like Doja Cat, Odd Future, The Neighbourhood, Akon, Skylar Grey, Nick Jonas, and more.

Watch this episode to see how Ellis uses Studio One to create an immersive mix in his Atmos room at EastWest Studios.

In this episode of Mix In A New Dimension, Jeff Ellis uses Studio One’s spatial audio to create an immersive mix of Mayer Hawthorne’s horn-heavy love ballad, “For All Time.”

Having mixed the record in stereo, Ellis was already deeply familiar with the track and felt it was ideally suited to a spatial mix. “That particular album is so high-fi, and there’s so much depth to it. It’s so well arranged, and it’s just like a classic album.”

For Ellis, the single greatest piece of guidance when mixing in Atmos is making sure that the Atmos version is not a different piece of art: “I don’t want you to get a different emotional response from the song depending on if you listened to it on stereo or spatial audio. If I’m able to get the song to be more immersive and have a little bit more depth without any of the artistry of it changing, that’s gonna be my ultimate goal.”

“In this particular song, the drums are right in the center. I took the overhead cymbal sounds and widened those out a bit. And then for all the percussion elements, I put the overheads up and widened it out. The kick and snare are pretty much right up the center, or close to it. And I’m just massaging the sounds out into this big, Atmos field. And as I’m doing it, I’m going back and forth between the Atmos mix and the stereo mix to make sure none of the intrinsic level relationships between the parts of the song are changing as I’m panning these things out.”

Any final words of wisdom? “Make sure that the balance between the elements in the song and the aesthetic don’t change between stereo and Atmos – it’s just getting more immersive. Be sensible, be artful, don’t be a technician, and have fun with it.”

PreSonus products used: Studio One
Try Studio One+ and check out the rest of our Mix In A New Dimension series here.

Presence Electric 12-String (the Artist Version Remix)

Presence’s sound library includes a fine acoustic 12-string guitar, but not an electric one. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the more popular blog posts in this series was about how to create a realistic electric 12-string preset with Presence.

Unfortunately, that was before Studio One introduced Track Presets. The preset relied on a Multi Instrument, so it worked only with Studio One Professional. However, thanks to Track Presets, we can revisit our electric 12-string, and make a plug ’n’ play version that works for Studio One Artist as well as Professional (download link at the end).

Overcoming the Sampling Problem with 12 String Guitars

Sampling a 12-string is difficult. The sound is constantly changing due to the shimmering effect from slightly detuned strings. Furthermore, some notes are doubled with octave-higher notes, while other notes are doubled with unison notes. My solution is not to try and sample a 12-string guitar, but to construct one from three sets of 6-string guitar samples.  

Each of the three Presence instances (fig. 1) loads the preset Guitar > Telecaster > Telecaster Open from the stock Presence library:

  • One instance provides the main guitar sound.
  • Transposing another instance up 12 semitones provides the octave-above notes.
  • A physical 12-string guitar doesn’t have octaves on the 1st and 2nd strings, so the third Presence instance provides a unison sound for the higher strings.

Figure 1:  With three instances needed to create a single instrument, note that all three Monitor buttons must be enabled to play the instrument from your keyboard or MIDI guitar controller.

Limiting Note Ranges

In the original preset, Multi Instrument Range edits prevented the unison sounds from overlapping with the octave-above sounds. In the Artist preset, two Input Filter Note FX restrict the ranges (fig. 2).

Figure 2: The upper Note FX Input Filter restricts the range of the octave-above notes to A#2 and below. The lower Note FX Input Filter restricts the range of the unison strings to B2 and above.

Emulating the 12-String “Shimmer”

A 12-string is never perfectly in tune, which gives a shimmering effect. The octave instance is transposed up +12 semitones, but the Pitch Fine Tune setting is +5 cents. The unison instance Pitch Fine Tune is -2 cents. This gives the chorus-like that’s inherent in 12-string guitars. Detuning the virtual strings provides a more realistic sound than trying to “fake it” with a time-based modulation effect.

About the Analog Delays

The higher string in a pair of strings plays just a little bit late, because your pick hits the main string before the octave or unison string. To emulate this effect, the Analog Delay (fig. 3) provides a 20 ms delay for the octave and unison instances. (We can’t use Presence’s Delay, because the mix needs to be 100% delay—no dry sound.)

Figure 3: Analog Delay settings used to emulate string pluck delay.

Without this delay, the emulated 12-string lacks realism. The Analog Delay also adds some High Cut to reduce some of the brightness caused by transposing the octave strings. The Width settings provide a big stereo image, but for a more “normal” sound, turn ping-pong mode to Off.

The octave and unison instance levels are -6 dB below the main guitar sound. With physical 12-string guitars, the octave strings are thinner than the strings that generate the standard pitch. So, they generate less output. Lowering the level of the octave strings gives a better overall balance. Technically, the unison strings could be at the same level, but their levels are also a little lower to avoid an unbalanced sound compared to the octave strings.

EQ Settings

The Octave and Unison string instances use Presence’s internal EQ to attenuate the highest and lowest frequency bands. The main instance attenuates the low band, but peaks +3 dB at 3 kHz. Regarding the Pro EQ3 settings, open up the preset if you want to deconstruct the programming. The main aspects are a bass cut to give a more trebly, “Ricky”-like 12-string sound, a high-shelf boost for a little extra brightness, and a narrow notch around 3.2 kHz to reduce some “string ping” inherent in the original samples. As always, though, adjust for your tastes in guitar tone.

So, Studio One Artist aficionados, what are you waiting for? Download the preset, and get ready to make some cool electric 12-string sounds.

Download CA 12-String Electric Artist.trackpreset here!

Faster, Simpler, and Better Comping

At first, this might not seem too exciting. But follow the directions below, and try comping using this method—I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This tip shows how to:

  • Audition, select sections of, and promote Takes while listening to the rest of the mix, at any level you want.
  • Listen to the edited Parent track made up of the Takes you’ve promoted, at any time during the comping  process. Again, this is in context with the mix.
  • Do all of the above while looping, so there’s never a break in the editing process.
  • Do comping with only the Arrow tool—you don’t need the Listen tool.

Preparation: Set Up Dim Solo

First, implement the Dim Solo function described in the blog post Super-Simple Dim Solo Functionality. Dim Solo allows soloing a track or tracks, while all the other tracks are at an adjustable lower level. The process works by assigning all tracks except for the one you want to solo (e.g., a vocal track with its Take layers) to a VCA channel. You can then “dim” all the non-soloed tracks with the VCA level fader to whatever level you want while you comp, and hear the Takes in context with the song. After auditioning and selecting the desired sections of your Takes, set the VCA fader back to 0.0 to return to the original mix levels. The minute or two it takes to set up Dim Solo is more than offset by the benefits it offers to comping. For more details, refer to this blog post for how to create the Dim Solo function.

Faster Take Auditioning, Selecting, and Promoting

After setting up Dim Solo and using the VCA Channel fader to adjust the level of the mix (which excludes the track being comped, because it isn’t part of the VCA group), here’s how to audition and select Takes:

1. Safe Solo (Shift+Click) the parent track with the Takes. This is important! It allows soloing the Parent track without muting the tracks that are playing back at the dimmed level.

2. Loop the section with the Takes you want to audition.

3. Click a Take’s Solo button to audition it while the song loops (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Take 3 is being soloed for auditioning, and for selecting sections to be promoted to the Parent track. Turning off the Take’s Solo would solo the Parent track, so you could audition the edited parent track and hear any Take sections that had been promoted.

4. If you hear a section in a Take you want to promote to the Parent track, use the Arrow tool (which turns into an I-beam cursor when hovering over a selected Take) to click+drag over the section.

5. Continue soloing Takes while the music loops, and select the sections you want to promote to the Parent track. If needed, alter the loop start and end points.

6. If at any time you want to hear the edited Parent Track with the Takes you’ve promoted up to that point, make sure no Take layers are in solo mode.

Better Music Through Better Comping

One reason I wrote up this tip is because of an interesting side effect. The Takes I selected as “best” when auditioned in the usual way were often not the same Takes chosen as “best” when listening to them in context with the music. A technically perfect Take is not necessarily the same thing as a Take with the best feel. Listening to, selecting, and promoting the Takes in context with the mix makes a big difference in helping to select Takes that fit the music like a glove.