UPDATED 5/1/20 – we’ve extended this sale through the month of May!
Create while you isolate! Studio One and Notion give you all the tools you need to record, produce, and compose at home and they’re both on sale
for the entire month of April. UNTIL THE END OF MAY!
From April 1- May 31, save 30% on Studio One Professional, Studio One Artist, and Studio One Upgrades plus Notion. This offer is available worldwide.
Be safe, be inspired, and keep creating.
I’m not surprised. Or do you ever have one of those days? Of course you do! Wouldn’t it be great to go down to the beach, listen to the waves for a while, and chill to those soothing sounds? The only problem for me is that going to the beach would involve a 7-hour drive.
Hence the De-Stresser FX Chain, which doesn’t sound exactly like the ocean—but emulates its desirable sonic effects. If you’re already stressed out, then you probably don’t want to take the time to assemble this chain, so feel free to go to the download link. Load the FX Chain into a channel, but note that you must enable input monitoring, because the sound source is the plug-in Tone Generator’s white noise option.
Figure 1: Effects used to create the De-Stresser’s virtual ocean.
Fig. 1 shows the FX Chain’s “block diagram.” The Splitter adds variety to the overall sound by feeding dual asynchronous “waves,” as generated by the X-Trems (set for tremolo mode). The X-Trem LFO’s lowest rate is 0.10 Hz; this should be slow enough, but for even slower waves, you can sync to tempo with a long note value, and set a really slow tempo.
Waves also have a little filtering as they break on the beach, which the Autofilters provide. The Pro EQs tailor the low- and high-frequency content to alter the waves’ apparent size and distance.
And of course, there’s the ever-popular Binaural Pan at the end. This helps create a more realistic stereo image when listening on headphones.
Figure 2: The Macro Controls panel.
Regarding the Macro Controls panel (Fig. 2), the two Timbre controls alter the filter type for the two Autofilters. This provides additional variety, so choose whichever filter type combination you prefer. Crest alters the X-Trem depth, so higher values increase the difference between the waves’ peaks and troughs.
The Sci-Fi Ocean control adds resonance to the filtering. This isn’t designed to enhance the realism, but it’s kinda fun. Another subtle sci-fi sound involves setting the two Timbre controls to the Comb response.
As you move further away from real waves, the sound has fewer high frequencies. So, Distance controls the Pro EQ HC (High Cut) filters. Similarly, Wave Size controls the LC filter, because bigger waves have more of a low-frequency component. The Calmer control varies the Autofilter mix; turning it up gives smaller, shallower waves.
When you want to relax, this makes a soothing background. Put on good headphones, and you can lose yourself in the sound. It also makes a relaxing environmental sound when played over speakers at a low level. If your computer has Bluetooth, and you have Bluetooth speakers, try playing this in the background at the end of a long day.
This is just one example of the kind of environmental sounds and effects you can make with Studio One, so let me know if this type of tip interests you. I’ve also done rain, rocket engines, howling gales, the engine room of an interstellar cargo ship, cosmic thuds, various soundscapes, and even backgrounds designed to encourage theta and delta brain waves. I made the last one originally for a friend of mine whose children had a hard time going to sleep, and burned it to CD. When I asked what he thought, he said “no one has ever heard how it ends.” So I guess it worked! Chalk up another unusual Studio One application.
After last week’s thrilling cliff-hanger about how to preserve your WAV files for future generations, let’s look at how to export all your stereo audio tracks and have them incorporate effects processing, automation, level, and panning. There are several ways to do this; although you can drag files into a Browser folder, and choose Wave File with rendered Insert FX, Studio One’s feature to save stems is much easier and also includes any effects added by effects in Bus and FX Channels. (We’ll also look at how to archive Instrument tracks.)
Saving as stems, where you choose individual Tracks or Channels, makes archiving processed files a breeze. For archiving, I choose Tracks because they’re what I’ll want to bring in for a remix. For example, if you’re using an instrument where multiple outputs feed into a stereo mix, Channels will save the mix, but Tracks will render the individual Instrument sounds into their own tracks.
When you export everything as stems, and bring them back into an empty Song, playback will sound exactly like the Song whose stems you exported. However, note that saving as stems does not necessarily preserve the Song’s organization; for example, tracks inside a folder track are rendered as individual tracks, not as part of a folder. I find this preferable anyway. Also, if you just drag the tracks back into an empty song, they’ll be alphabetized by track name. If this is an issue, number each track in the desired order before exporting.
Select Song > Export Stems. Choose whether you want to export what’s represented by Tracks in the Arrange view, or by Channels in the Console. Again, for archiving, I recommend Tracks (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: The Song > Export Stems option is your friend.
If there’s anything you don’t want to save, uncheck the box next to the track name. Muted tracks are unchecked by default, but if you check them, the tracks are exported properly, and open unmuted.
Note that if an audio track is being sent to effects in a Bus or FX Channel, the exported track will include any added effects. Basically, you’ll save whatever you would hear with Solo enabled. In the Arrange view, each track is soloed as it’s rendered, so you can monitor the archiving progress as it occurs.
In Part 1 on saving raw WAV files, we noted that different approaches required different amounts of storage space. Saving stems requires the most amount of storage space because it saves all tracks from start to end (or whatever area in the timeline you select), even if a track-only has a few seconds of audio in it. However, this also means that the tracks are suitable for importing into programs that don’t recognize Broadcast WAV Files. Start all tracks from the beginning of a song, or at least from the same start point, and they’ll all sync up properly.
Note that the tracks will be affected by your Main fader inserts and processing, including any volume automation that creates a fadeout. I don’t use processors in the Main channel inserts, because I reserve any stereo 2-track processing for the Project page (hey, it’s Studio One—we have the technology!). I’d recommend bypassing any Main channel effects, because if you’re going to use archived files for a remix, you probably don’t want to be locked in to any processing applied to the stereo mix. I also prefer to disable automation Read for volume levels, because the fade may need to last longer with a remix. Keep your options open.
However, the Main fader is useful if you try to save the stems and get an indication that clipping has occurred. Reduce the Main fader by slightly more than the amount of clipping (e.g., if the warning says a file was 1 dB over, lower the Main channel fader by -1.1 dB). Another option would be to isolate the track(s) causing the clipping and reduce their levels; but reducing the Main channel fader maintains the proportional level of the mixed tracks.
Saving an Instrument track as a stem automatically renders it into audio. While that’s very convenient, you have other options.
When you drag an Instrument track’s Event to the Browser, you can save it as a Standard MIDI File (.mid) or as a Musicloop feature (press Shift to select between the two). Think of a Musicloop, a unique Studio One feature, as an Instrument track “channel strip”—when you bring it back into a project, it creates a Channel in the mixer, includes any Insert effects, zeroes the Channel fader, and incorporates the soft synth so you can edit it. Of course, if you’re collaborating with someone who doesn’t have the same soft synth or insert effects, they won’t be available (that’s another reason to stay in the Studio One ecosystem when collaborating if at all possible). But, you’ll still have the note events in a track.
There are three cautions when exporting Instrument track Parts as Musicloops or MIDI files.
The bottom line: Before exporting an Instrument track as a Musicloop or MIDI file, I recommend deleting any muted Parts, selecting all Instrument Parts by typing G to create a single Part, then extending the Part’s start to the Song’s beginning (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The bottom track has prepped the top track to make it stem-export-friendly.
You can make sure that Instrument tracks import into the Song in the desired placement, by using Transform to Audio Track. As mentioned above, it’s best to delete unmuted sections, and type G to make multiple Parts into a single Part. However, you don’t need to extend the track’s beginning.
However, unlike a Musicloop, this is only an audio file. When you bring it into a song, the resulting Channel does not include the soft synth, insert effects, etc.
Finally…it’s a good idea to save any presets used in your various virtual instruments into the same folder as your archived tracks. You never know…right?
And now you know how to archive your Songs. Next week, we’ll get back to Fun Stuff.
Last month, we had the opportunity to sponsor an event called “Band Together NOLA” for a virtual, live-streamed festival with more than 20 acts!
PJ Morton, Tank and the Bangas, Jon Cleary and more New Orleans’ musical heavy hitters played an online benefit festival to raise relief funds for the city’s musicians who have been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, over $40,000 has been raised!
The Band Together virtual festival also featured Ivan Neville, Kermit Ruffins, Galactic’s Stanton Moore, Nigel Hall, Cupid, Dawn Richard, Water Seed, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Sean Ardoin, Flow Tribe, Glen David Andrews, Hasizzle, Shane Theriot, Elizabeth Lyons, Fermin Ceballo, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Kelly Love Jones, LeTrainiump, and Caren Green.
Our friend, Steve Himelfarb, was the engineer for six of the acts using a StudioLive 32 and Studio One Professional. We took some time to talk about his experience with the live stream and his career.
Our interview with Steve follows.
Tell us about Band Together NOLA. How did it come to be? What was your role?
New Orleans is known for its tourism, food, and of course live music. The pandemic has put much of that to a halt which has left musicians our of work. The Band Together Online Benefit Concert took place on April 25 and helped New Orleans musicians whose livelihoods have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a part of multiple non-profits, and serving the community has always been something that I strive to do no matter where I live or what job I have. I was approached with the opportunity to participate with Lou Hill and Kermit Ruffins, it was a no-brainer. I was in!
Sounds like a huge undertaking. Did you know what you were getting into before you got started?
Yes and no. I had taken a break from the audio industry to focus on several other projects. Three years ago, my childhood friend, Tori Amos, had a show in New Orleans. From the stage, she says, “I’d like to thank the person responsible for me being here… Thank you Steve!” From that moment on, I knew I wanted to get back into recording and producing music and saying “Yes” to whatever opportunities came my way. Getting back into audio after a 20-year hiatus was like learning a whole new language that sounded familiar. Everything was the same but what changed was the technology. So, yes, it did seem like a huge undertaking but I was up and willing for the challenge.
We used a PreSonus StudioLive 32, multiple PX-1 mics and Studio One Professional, of course.
After watching the live stream, it looks like you recorded in multiple locations. How challenging was it recording in multiple locations?
We recorded six bands, all on the fly. Each band did a few songs, then we had a soundcheck for the next band all while doing our best to keep social distance guidelines. It was super hectic and everything was happening so fast. The onboard EQ and limiters on the 32 were AMAZING! We had no problem at all. This was very important and there was no room for a hiccup because everything was moving so fast. Once one band left, we had to wash down the stage and all the cables and mics to get ready for the next band to arrive. With the StudioLive 32, it was really a best-case scenario. Set up was easy, no distortion at all, the mixes sounded great.
What’s something you learned about live streaming?
With these harsh conditions and because everything is happening so fast, you have to be able to trust the gear you’re using. Be prepared, make sure the equipment is working, and use PreSonus.
Notion iOS 2.5.2 Maintenance Release
An update is now available to the recent 2.5 release for Notion iOS, the best-selling notation app on iOS. This is a free update for Notion iOS owners that can be obtained by visiting Notion in the App Store on your device, or checking your available updates in the App Store.
All the changes are below – if you missed all the major news for v2.5 itself, check it out here.
And while you’re here, please join us at our new official Facebook user group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PreSonusNotionUsers
It’s another edition of PreSonus Fam Friday. This one comes to us from across the pond! Meet Steve O’Brien. Steve had 19 years of experience in MI retail with a particular focus on guitar related products and service and 17 years of experience in various event production roles including guitar technician, sound engineer, stage management and production management. He joined the PreSonus family over in the Ireland office as a Sales Executive. Get to know more about Steve here!
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
What’s your official job title?
Sales Executive EMEA
What’s your favourite thing about your job? Why did you choose to work here?
I’ve been involved in the MI business for over 20 years. I was looking for a change from Retail and PreSonus had an opening. It seemed like a logical progression and I really wanted to stay in the industry. My favourite thing about PreSonus so far is the family atmosphere across the whole company. I was made to feel at home immediately like I’d known people I’d just met for years.
What was the first 8-track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?
Too young (ahem) for 8-Track, the first cassette was Bad by Michael Jackson, CD was The Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits and Download was Royal Blood’s first Album.
Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Songs for the Deaf by QOTSA will never let you down. Still blows me away after all these years.
What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
I wouldn’t inflict my singing voice on anyone, not even myself in the shower.
Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?
I’ve worked as a Backline Tech for about 15 years. I’m not a great musician and discovered I was better at the production side of things years ago. Currently off the road what with starting the new job and the coronavirus situation. Next up, hopefully, is a week on the road with Paul Brady later this year.
What instruments do you play?
I own some guitars
Tell us about a successful event you worked with PreSonus products. InfoComm, NAMM, Install somewhere:
This Paul Brady Tour will be using PreSonus StudioLive console and rack mixers as stage boxes. All over AVB network. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in action.
Got any tips for working with Studio One?
Is cereal soup? Why or why not?
Yes, Cereal counts as breakfast, lunch and dinner, always will.
What’s invisible but you wish people could see?
RF interference, I spent a lot of my retail days explaining this to guitarists, would have been much easier if it was visible, like cartoon stink lines or something.
What is something that everyone looks stupid doing?
Playing Electronic drums with headphones on, all the moves and faces with none of the noise.
What’s the strangest talent you have?
No matter where I am, I can always find the light switch in a dark room.
You’re forgiven if you scoot down to something more interesting in this blog, but here’s the deal. I always archive finished projects, because remixing older projects can sometimes give them a second life—for example, I’ve stripped vocals from some songs, and remixed the instrument tracks for video backgrounds. Some have been remixed for other purposes. Some really ancient songs have been remixed because I know more than I did when I mixed them originally.
You can archive to hard drives, SSDs, the cloud…your choice. I prefer Blu-Ray optical media, because it’s more robust than conventional DVDs, has a rated minimum shelf life that will outlive me (at which point my kid can use the discs as coasters), and can be stored in a bank’s safe deposit box.
Superficially, archiving may seem to be the same process as collaboration, because you’re exporting tracks. However, collaboration often occurs during the recording process, and may involve exporting stems—a single track that contains a submix of drums, background vocals, or whatever. Archiving occurs after a song is complete, finished, and mixed. This matters for dealing with details like Event FX and instruments with multiple outputs. By the time I’m doing a final mix, Event FX (and Melodyne pitch correction, which is treated like an Event FX) have been rendered into a file, because I want those edits to be permanent. When collaborating, you might want to not render these edits, in case your collaborator has different ideas of how a track should sound.
With multiple-output instruments, while recording I’m fine with having all the outputs appear over a single channel—but for the final mix, I want each output to be on its own channel for individual processing. Similarly, I want tracks in a Folder track to be exposed and archived individually, not submixed.
So, it’s important to consider why you want to archive, and what you will need in the future. My biggest problem when trying to open really old songs is that some plug-ins may no longer be functional, due to OS incompatibilities, not being installed, being replaced with an update that doesn’t load automatically in place of an older version, different preset formats, etc. Another problem may be some glitch or issue in the audio itself, at which point I need a raw, unprocessed file for fixing the issue before re-applying the processing.
Because I can’t predict exactly what I’ll need years into the future, I have three different archives.
In this week’s tip, we’ll look at exporting raw WAV files. We’ll cover exporting files with processing (effects and automation), and exporting virtual instruments as audio, in next week’s tip.
Studio One’s audio files use the Broadcast Wave Format. This format time-stamps a file with its location on the timeline. When using any of the options we’ll describe, raw (unprocessed) audio files are saved with the following characteristics:
Important: When you drag Broadcast WAV Files back into an empty Song, they won’t be aligned to their time stamp. You need to select them all, and choose Edit > Move to Origin.
The easiest way to save files is by dragging them into a Browser folder. When the files hover over the Browser folder (Fig. 1), select one of three options—Wave File, Wave File with rendered Insert FX, or Audioloop—by cycling through the three options with the QWERTY keyboard’s Shift key. We’ll be archiving raw WAV files, so choose Wave File for the options we’re covering.
Figure 1: The three file options available when dragging to a folder in the Browser are Wave File, Wave File with rendered Insert FX, or Audioloop.
As an example, Fig. 2 shows the basic Song we’ll be archiving. Note that there are multiple Events, and they’re non-contiguous—they’ve been split, muted, etc.
Figure 2: This shows the Events in the Song being archived, for comparison with how they look when saving, or reloading into an empty Song.
Select all the audio Events in your Song, and then drag them into the Browser’s Raw Tracks folder you created (or whatever you named it). The files take up minimal storage space, because nothing is saved that isn’t data in a Song. However, I don’t recommend this option, because when you drag the stored Events back into a Song, each Event ends up on its own track (Fig. 3). So if a Song has 60 different Events, you’ll have 60 tracks. It takes time to consolidate all the original track Events into their original tracks, and then delete the empty tracks that result from moving so many Events into individual tracks.
Figure 3: These files have all been moved to their origin, so they line up properly on the timeline. However, exporting all audio Events as WAV files makes it time-consuming to reconstruct a Song, especially if the tracks were named ambiguously.
Figure 4: Before archiving, the Events in individual tracks have now been joined into a single track Event by selecting the track’s Events, and typing Ctrl+B.
After dragging the files back into an empty Song, select all the files, and then after choosing Edit > Move to Origin, all the files will line up according to their time stamps, and look like they did in Fig. 4. Compare this to Fig. 3, where the individual, non-bounced Events were exported.
When collaborating with someone whose program can’t read Broadcast WAV Files, all imported audio files need to start at the beginning of the Song so that after importing, they’re synched on the timeline. For collaborations it’s more likely you’ll export Stems, as we’ll cover in Part 2, but sometimes the following file type is handy to have around.
Figure 5: All tracks now consist of a single Event, which starts at the Song’s beginning.
When you bring them back into an empty Song, they look like Fig. 5. Extending all audio tracks to the beginning and end is why they take up more memory than the previous options. Note that you will probably need to include the tempo when exchanging files with someone using a different program.
To give a rough idea of the memory differences among the three options, here are the results based on a typical song.
Option 1: 302 MB
Option 2: 407 MB
Option 3: 656 MB
You’re not asleep yet? Cool!! In Part 2, we’ll take this further, and conclude the archiving process.
It’s also great with audio-for-video productions because I usually use an S-fade for the video, so matching that with an equivalent audio fade works well. Although the Project Page allows only logarithmic or exponential fades for the clips that represent mixed songs, there’s nonetheless an easy way to add S-shaped fades to the Project Page’s songs.
This technique involves adding an S-fade during the final stages of mixing in the Song Page, and then updating the mastering file so that the Project Page version incorporates the fade.
Figure 1: Create an automation track, and assign it to the Console’s Main Volume parameter.
Figure 2: Adds nodes at the fade’s intended start, middle, and end.
Figure 3: How to drag the nodes, and adjust their curves, for an S-shape fade.
And there you have it—an S-shaped fadeout. What’s more, unlike programs with a fixed S-shape fade, you can alter the shape for the first and second curves. For example, maybe you want a fairly quick fade out at first but then extend the final fade.
After creating the fade, now all you need to do is update your mastering file, and the song in the Project Page will incorporate your perfect, S-shaped fade.
Before signing off this week, I wanted to mention there’s a new Studio One eBook out—How to Record and Mix Great Guitar Sounds in Studio One. It’s 274 pages and covers everything from how strings and pickups affect tone to getting the most out of the latest Ampire version (and a whole lot more). You can preview the table of contents here.
Last November our friends Molly and Denton got hitched! A few days before their wedding, they stopped by River City Studios to record another River City Session. They recorded an original song titled “Bartending” written by Molly Taylor. Thank you, Molly and Denton for taking the time out of your busy week to join us and share your song. Read more about Molly and Denton’s track below and learn how audio engineer Wesley DeVore, recorded the song.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you guys been making music?
We have been writing and performing our own music separately for over 15 years now. We started performing together about 2 years ago and we got hitched last November!
“Bartending!” Such a great jam! Can you tell us when you wrote it? What’s the inspiration?
Molly wrote the song because she worked as a bartender for 10 years! If you ever stopped by a bar in Baton Rouge, chances are Molly’s served you!
Does writing a melody come naturally to you?
Writing music is something that comes naturally to Denton and I. We are both individual songwriters with different ways of writing a song. It’s interesting and fun to connect and work with a partner to create a song that you both feel great about.
Do you prefer performing your own music or covers? What’s the difference?
We definitely love performing our own music but we love doing a good cover of a great oldie as well!
How has the Coronavirus affected your craft?
Due to restrictions in place because of Covid-19, we’ve had to cancel over 30 shows for us so far so it has affected us big time. We are ready to hit the road and start performing again!
Wanna know more about how their session was recorded? Hear from the audio engineer, Wesley who captured all the magic here:
We recently had the opportunity to help out locally with an event called “Music Is Medicine” hosted by the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. It was a small gesture, but our hope is that it leaves a lasting impact. Our friend JST DAVID was our connection to the event, and he did an incredible job producing, videoing, organizing, AND performing for the live-streamed event. This seems like a daunting task, but… as is the case in all things, hard work plus creative energy made for something awesome. He used a StudioLive AR12c to record each performance. We wanted to take some time and hear from David about how the experience was for him and how the StudioLive ARc performed. Read more from JST DAVID below.
JST DAVID says:
The “Music Is Medicine” event was an online benefit concert to raise funds for front-line health care workers, done in joint with the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. I was initially asked to participate as an artist, and ended up producing the entire initiative. It was a thrill to be a part of such an incredible cause during these unprecedented times, and to play a small role in sharing God’s love with folks who are risking their lives to save others.
I honestly didn’t realize the number of limitations COVID-19 would pose in pulling together a production like this! The turnaround from start to finish was less than two weeks for a 90-minute, pre-recorded broadcast, along with a web platform that could display the broadcast stream and securely collect donations for the cause. Even though that’s incredibly ambitious, I’ve actually been responsible for executing projects with even tighter timeframes. Still, that was all pre-COVID, you know? Social distancing requirements forced us to either film and record these performances outside, or within venues that required a high level of health precautions for myself, my second shooter, and the talent. It was exhausting, to say the least. You can’t show up with a huge crew to these shoots, so I stepped in as the director, producer, audio engineer, and primary cameraman for all the performances.
On two of the shoots, we had to literally juice the AR12c from extension cords that were powered from our vehicle. Oh, and then I also had to figure out a way to record my own performance as well. I laugh thinking about it all, mainly because it all ended up being a success (we raised nearly $4000 for the hospital during the online event), and also laughing a bit at myself for thinking it would all be easier to pull off than it was.
And real talk, there’s absolutely NO WAY that we pull these off without that AR12c mixer provided by PreSonus. Lifesaver. After dialing in the levels and just the right amount of effects, I was able to record all of the performances straight from the mixer into my SD card. I didn’t even have to edit the audio once I was done! The time it saved me, and the utility of it being lightweight, portable, while still having so much to offer with effects and such, made the event happen. I basically had to stay up for 2 days straight to get this thing to the finish line and didn’t make it on-site with the final file to broadcast until an hour before. No way this thing gets completed if the AR12c doesn’t do such an incredible job of speeding up my workflow.
As a lot of artists and creatives are finding out, live streaming is tough. Sure, anyone can flip open their phone camera and “start streaming.” But in order to bring your fans or followers something of quality, it takes a combination of having the right gear and a really well-coordinated plan. Thankfully I had enough sense to pre-record the entire “Music Is Medicine” event, and it was also what Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge wanted to do. Once the final video file was rendered, we streamed the entire performance via OBS to Facebook LIVE, and it all went off smoothly. But yea, for those who are desiring to up the quality of their live streams or do a combination of pre-recorded and live within the same broadcast, it’s not that simple.
Having a great mic and interface would be my basic prerequisites (I personally own the PX-1 and Studio 26c combo from PreSonus), and there are several other great video and audio switchers and controllers that could really get you in a great space to be creative and make your broadcasts really engaging. OBS is a free, open-sourced software that’s incredibly stable and useful for powering your live streams, and I’d just encourage anyone looking to take their broadcasts to the next level to do as much research as possible on what’s out there. That’s what I had to do and it paid off.
Singer, songwriter, husband, father and RV driver Ben Honeycutt recently added Studio One Professional to his workflow, and let’s just say he’s having some fun! We partnered with him for his social series “Lyrical Content in the Comments,” and it was awesome.
We thought it would be cool to hear how one of the newest Studio One users is doing with the DAW and more about Ben’s career. Read all about it here.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
Well, I was born in the south (Tennessee), was raised in the south (Alabama), and lived in the south (Georgia) until recently. Thought I was gonna grow up and pitch for the Atlanta Braves, but that didn’t quite work out. I come from a pretty musical family, so I’ve always been around music in some way and had an interest in it, as well. Started playing guitar and singing when I was 13ish, and I was in a band for about 10 years after that. Currently, I live and travel full-time in an RV with my wife, Ashley, and our 3 kiddos, Trinity (9), Rhodes (7), and Canaan (2)!
How’s that RV life treating you?
It’s been an experience, to say the least! We started traveling at the start of 2020, and I think we were just starting to get the hang of it when we had to press pause for a minute due to the current pandemic. It was obviously a big decision for our family to sell everything and hit the road, but we were all ready for a change from the “norm,” while being more intentional about the time we have together and how we spend it. It’s had its challenges like anything else, but we’re really enjoying it so far!
How has the music industry changed since your early days?
Oh man. I remember when the be-all and end-all was to get a record deal if you wanted to make a career out of music. And that was definitely a goal of ours in the early days. It almost happened, but in hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t. Today, with the advance of technology and the rise of social media, you can basically distribute your own music everywhere with a click of a button. Of course, that’s over-simplified a bit, but you get the idea. No better time than now to be a self-employed creative/artist!
Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?
Was anybody’s first song good? Haha! Mine definitely wasn’t. The first “real” song I remember writing was called, “Little Seed.” The melody wasn’t great, and I just took the lyrics almost verbatim from a story in the Bible. It even had the word epilepsy in it. Sooooo, we never recorded that one…
Who has been a musical influence in your life?
As I mentioned earlier, I grew up around music. Both my mom and dad have influenced me in my own musical journey. My dad played the fiddle and the banjo, and my mom had a beautiful singing voice. Unfortunately, they have both passed away now, but I’d like to say there’s still a little bit of them in my music and who I am today. As far as established artists as influences, it’s a pretty long list. But a few would be Ryan Tedder, U2, Ed Sheeran, and Jason Mraz.
Have you ever wanted to give up on music? What keeps you going?
I can’t recall a time where I flat out wanted to give up, but I’ve definitely hit some “walls” and seasons where I didn’t find as much joy in it. Like I said earlier, I grew up playing and singing in church, and as a Christian, I believe music is a gift from God. So when I hit those walls sometimes, I just have to take a step back and remember the reason I started.
When was the first time you heard of PreSonus?
I grew up and even honed my talent in the church world. So I remember being introduced to the live audio side of PreSonus products first, primarily the mixers/consoles. I probably know just enough about live mixing to be dangerous, so I left that to the more experienced. But even back then, I remember PreSonus being one of our go-to brands.
So you’re new to Studio One. When did you first hear about it?
Yeah, pretty much brand new! Again, I knew PreSonus more for the live audio equipment, but I wasn’t as in tune with the recording and production side of things. I think I just stumbled across some Studio One videos on YouTube as I was searching home studio tips and tutorials. Found a guy named Joe Gilder, who had some really good content on stuff I needed to learn and get better at. And it just so happened he used Studio One as his DAW of choice.
What DAW were you using?
I was actually just using Garageband. Which was pretty great, especially for the price of “free.” It helped me learn the basics of tracking and editing audio. But it was a bit limited in features, so eventually, I knew I needed to upgrade to something more professional to be able to achieve a better quality audio recording.
What features are you most impressed with the DAW?
So far, I really like the Auto Punch feature, as well as the Loop Record feature. Neither of which I could do in Garageband. Since I’m recording myself most of the time, it’s made tracking multiple takes and comping vocals much more time and energy-efficient.
How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn?
Well, I’m still learning, and I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of all it can do. But for me, it was really easy to get started. The layout and aesthetic is pleasing to the eye, and it’s also pretty intuitive. I’m also taking advantage of the custom keyboard shortcuts. I do a lot of video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, so it’s been nice to be able to match up some of those that I’m already used to with the similar functions used in audio editing, too.
Any other thoughts on Studio One or PreSonus gear?
Nothin’ but good stuff so far! I also use the dual-channel Studio 26c interface, and it’s performed like a champ. Customer service and resources online are top-notch, as well. I appreciate what you guys do!
Can you give us a rundown of your live stream set up?
That’s another thing that I (as many others during this time) have been trying to level up a bit, my setup has been a little different for the past few I’ve done. But in a nutshell, here’s my setup:
Rode NT1-A microphone > Bose ToneMatch Mixer (compression, eq, and reverb) > Studio 26c audio interface + iPhone 7+ > OBS (streaming software)
I also just recently added a Shure SM7B and a Canon M50 that I hope to be able to integrate soon to up the quality even more.
What’s next for you?
We’re looking forward to getting back out on the road and making some memories in the RV for sure! And musically, I can’t wait to play live gigs again. I’m also close to launching a custom song-writing service, which will include jingles for businesses/brands, as well as personal songs for people who want their own story in a well-written and produced song. Perfect for weddings and anniversaries!
WATCH Ben’s latest viral video here:
What’s the best advice you would give to yourself 10 years ago?
Tough one. But maybe something along the lines of, “Don’t obsess so much about what other people think about you or what you do.” That’s still something I struggle with today. I just want everybody to like me! But I’m learning that if you live for the applause of other people, you’ll also die from their criticism.