Do you feel kind of left out because of the cool guitar amps that Studio One added in version 4.6? Well, this week’s tip is all about having fun, and bringing power chord mentality to keyboard, courtesy of those State Space amps. Listen to the audio example, and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.
And so you can get started having fun, you don’t even have to learn what’s going on to get that sound you just heard. Download Power Chordz.instrument, drag it into the track column, feed it from your favorite MIDI keyboard, and start playing.
Figure 1: The Multi-Instrument is pretty basic—it just bundles a Chorder Note FX and Mai Tai together.
The preset starts with a Multi-Instrument (Fig. 1) that consists of the Chorder Note FX, and Mai Tai synthesizer. The Chorder plays tonic, fifth above, an octave above, octave+fifth above, and two octaves above when you hit a keyboard key—your basic “it’s not major, and it’s not minor” type of power chord.
The Mai Tai uses a super-simple variation on the Init preset. In Fig. 2, anything that’s not relevant is grayed out. Turn off Osc 2, Noise, LFO 1, and LFO 2. There’s no modulation other than pitch bend, and no FX. Envelope 2 and Envelope 3 aren’t used. I set Pitch Bend to 7 semitones to do whammy bar effects, but adjust to taste. Also, you might want to play around with the Quality parameter. I’m allergic to anything called “normal,” so if you are as well, try the 80s, High, and Supreme settings to see if you like one of those better.
Figure 2: The Mai Tai preset uses simple waveforms, which is what you want when feeding amp sims and other distortion-oriented plug-ins.
Look in the instrument’s mixer channel, and you’ll see four Insert effects: Pro EQ, Ampire, Open Air, and Binaural Pan. You can check out their settings by opening them up, but the Ampire settings (Fig. 3) deserve a bit of explanation.
Figure 3: Ampire is using the Dual Amplifier and 4×12 MFB speaker cabinet, but just about any amp and cab has their merits.
The reason for choosing the Dual Amplifier is because it’s really three amps in one, as selected by the Channel knob on the right—I figured you’d appreciate having three separate sounds without having to do anything other than adjust one knob. Try different cabs and amps, but be forewarned—you can really go down an Endless Rabbit Hole of Tone, because there are a lot of great amp and cab sounds in there. I’ll admit that I ended up playing with various permutations and combinations of amps, effects, and cabs for hours.
You can also get creative with the Mai Tai, specifically, the Character controls. I didn’t assign any controls to a Control Panel, or set up modulation because having a pseudo-”whammy” bar pitch wheel was enough to keep me occupied. But, please feel free to come up with your own variations. And of course…post your best stuff on the PreSonus Exchange!
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Many people don’t realize there are two types of expansion. Downward expansion is a popular choice for minimizing low-level noise like hiss and hum. It’s the opposite of a compressor: compression progressively reduces the output level above a certain threshold, while a downward expander progressively reduces the output level below a certain threshold. For example, with 2:1 compression, a 2 dB input level increase above the threshold yields a 1 dB increase at the output. With 1:2 expansion, a 1 dB input level decrease below the threshold yields 2 dB of attenuation at the output.
Upward expansion doesn’t alter the signal’s linearity below the threshold—if the input changes by 2 dB, the output changes by 2 dB. But above the threshold, levels increase. For example, with 1:2 expansion, a 1 dB increase above the threshold becomes 2 dB of increase at the output. Fig. 1 shows the difference between downward and upward expansion.
That’s Nice…So What?
Upward expansion is a useful tool for drums, hand percussion, and other percussive instruments. One function is transient shaping, to emphasize attacks. Suppose you have a drum loop with too much room sound. Traditional expansion can make the room sound decay faster, but using upward expansion brings the peaks above the room sound, while leaving the characteristic room sound alone.
Another use is with percussion parts, like hand percussion, that are playing along with drums. A lot of times you don’t want the percussion hits to be too uniform in level, but instead, the most important hits should be a little louder compared to the rest of the part. Again, that’s where upward expansion shines. Dip the threshold just a tiny bit below the peaks—the peaks will stand out, and sound more dynamic.
Let’s listen to an audio example. The first two measures use no upward expansion with a drum track. The next two measures add a subtle amount of upward expansion. You’ll hear that the peaks from the kick and snare are still prominent, but the room sound and cymbals are a bit lower by comparison. The final two measures use the settings shown in Fig. 2. The kick and snare peaks are still there, but the rest of the part is more subdued, and the overall sound is “tighter,” with more dynamics.
The only difference among the two-measure sections is the Range control setting. For the first two measures, it’s 0.00 dB; nothing can be above the threshold, because there is no threshold. In the second two measures, the Range is -2.00, so anything above that threshold goes through 1:4 expansion. In the final two measures, the range is -4.00 (I rarely take it lower, as long as the Event hits close to 0 on peaks).
Here’s the coolest part: Automating the Range parameter lets you alter a drum part’s dynamics and feel, without having to change the part itself. This is particular wonderful for compressed drum loops, because you can lower the range to keep the peaks, while making the rest of the loop less prominent. When you want a big sound, slam the Range back up to 0.00.
But Wait! There’s More!
The Multiband Dynamics processor can do frequency-selective upward expansion. You can isolate just the high frequencies where a drum stick hits, and emphasize only that frequency. Another use is making acoustic guitars sound more percussive, as in this audio example.
The first two measures are the original acoustic guitar track, and the next two use Multiband Dynamics to accent the strums (Fig. 3).
The Multiband Dynamics are in a separate, parallel track (you could build this into an FX Chain, but I think showing this in two channels illustrates the process better). Because the Multiband Dynamics is listening to only the high frequencies, which are quite weak and not sufficient to go over the expander threshold, the Input control is adding +10 dB of gain. Alternately, you could insert a Mixtool before the Multiband Dynamics.
This effect is best when used subtly, but next time you want to reach for a transient shaper, try this instead. It’s a flexible way to emphasize percussive hits and strums.
Hello… this is Sascha Konietzko a.k.a Käpt’n K, a native of Germany, founder of KMFDM in 1984 (when I was living in Paris, France), a producer and remixer for the past 35+ years.
Besides KMFDM, I’ve done work to more or lesser degrees of involvement with a number of projects on the side: MDFMK, EXCESSIVE FORCE, KGC, SCHWEIN, PIG, and SKOLD, to name a few. As a remixer, I was fortunate enough to contribute to bands such as Metallica, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, The Young Gods, Front 242, Die Krupps and many more.
Under the moniker KMFDM, I have released 21 studio albums, as well as dozens of singles, EPs and live albums.
I’ve been using the PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console mixer for live shows (monitor setup) for a number of years now, as well as Studio One Professional and the trusty ol’ Studio Channel. Studio One Professional has been used in my personal studio, mainly to record vocals.
So here’s the story: I’ve been using Pro Tools since 1991; previously I’ve worked with the earlier version of it, which was Sound Designer II. Over the years Pro Tools evolved into a platform with many great features, but also many (not to be underestimated) negative aspects—such as severe latency, under some circumstances.
When I discovered Studio One, which was actually highly recommended to me by KMFDM’s drummer Andy Selway, I found out that I could easily use the workflow I’ve come to develop over the years with the click of a button, PLUS… and this is the absolutely greatest feature of Studio One Professional in my mind: without any latency AT ALL. It allows me to interchange seamlessly between my recording and my mixing environments!
Seriously, it’s been a lifesaver after so many situations where a recording session just went downhill really quick due to latency issues in Pro Tools, with frustrated performers and a super-frustrated Yours Truly!
Notion iOS 2.5.1 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
More than one wise grandmother has said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this new time of social distancing and sheltering in place, why not squeeze in (see what we did there) a little professional development into your busy schedule of Netflix, walk the dog, make a snack, Hulu, think about exercising, make another snack.
Learning about AVB doesn’t have to involve stacks of IT manuals. PreSonus has put together all the resources you need to discover what this exciting audio networking technology can do for you.
Here are Ray “The Beard” Tantzen and Mike “The Brainiac” Cole to tell you a little more about a little thing called AVB:
Ready to learn more? Awesome!
Before taking a deep dive down the AVB rabbit hole, take a quick refresher on what audio networking is and some of the fundamentals. As its name implies, audio networking allows you to transport large amounts of data over a single cable. This means that audio can be moved quickly over long distances without signal degradation or the expense of conventional analog cabling.
From distributed audio to network foundations and addressing, this article will get you started:
AVB (Audio Video Bridging) is an extension to the Ethernet standard designed to guarantee that audio samples will reach their destinations on time. AVB allows you to create a single network for audio, video, and other data like control information, using an AVB-compatible switch. It’s also the networking technology that all PreSonus StudioLive Ecosystem products use.
AVB networking offers several features that make it ideal for audio applications, find out more here:
P2P? Star? Daisy-chain? Whether you’re connecting a mixer straight to a stagebox using AVB or configuring a large system for broadcast, figuring out the best way to create your network is critical to ease of use and system performance. Check out this article to learn which configuration or combination of configurations will work best for you:
Okay, not that kind of hop, but it’s still pretty hip (Dad joke Level 16: unlocked). A hop on an AVB network is counted by the connections between AVB switches in a series. Luckily, you can make up to six hops before your network stability is effected, but it is something to consider when configuring your network. Find out why here:
Like all digital audio systems, all the audio traffic on an AVB network is synchronized using a global clock so that audio can be played and recorded while remaining in time from multiple sources. Obviously, the more audio traffic on a network, the more critical this becomes. For users familiar with traditional digital audio devices (ADAT, S/PDIF, etc.) the idea of a global clocking device will not seem unfamiliar. PreSonus AVB devices have two clocks: one wordclock and one PTP clock. Get out your pocket protector, we’re about to get geeky:
OMG. Stop. Go for a walk or something, you’re about to read a technical article on Ethernet cables!
You asked for it…
AVB networks rely on a set of standards for cabling to ensure that network performance is both reliable and consistent. These standards include specifications for the cable construction itself, as well as specifications for the termination of cabling and physical connections to devices. Deviations from these specifications can result in reduced performance and even data loss, so it’s important to use the right cable for the job, and to use good quality cable that meets the necessary specifications. Find out why here:
I think the Autofilter is a great effect—which you probably already figured out if you saw my blog posts The Best Flanger Plug-In?, Attack that Autofilter, and Studio One’s Secret Equalizer. But the one effect that has always eluded me was the Autofilter effect itself, when used with guitar or bass. It never seemed to cover quite the right range—like it wouldn’t go high enough if I hit the strings hard, but if I compensated for that by turning up the filter cutoff then it wouldn’t go low enough. Furthermore, the responsiveness varied dramatically depending whether I was playing high up on the neck, or hitting low notes on the E and A strings. So basically, I’ve never really used the Autofilter for its intended purpose—until now, because I’ve finally figured out the recipe. Hey, better late than never!
This technique involves dedicating two tracks to the same guitar audio—the Autofilter processes one of the tracks, while the other track provides a pre-fader send to the Autofilter’s sidechain (Fig. 1). By processing the send, we can make the Autofilter respond pretty much any way we want.
Figure 1: Both tracks are being fed from the guitar audio. The track on the right processes the audio to control the sidechain of an Autofilter, which is inserted in the track on the left.
The Autofilter (Fig. 2) has a lower filter cutoff than what I would normally use, were it not for this technique; the envelope amount slider is up all the way (the LFO is at zero, so it doesn’t influence the envelope effect).
Figure 2: Initial Autofilter settings, when controlled by a processed sidechain signal.
As to what’s conditioning the send to make the Autofilter happy, it’s the underappreciated Channel Strip plug-in (Fig. 3). The strip is both compressing and expanding because, well, that’s what ended up sounding right. But the key here is also the EQ. The higher-output low strings are attenuated, so that the filter response for the lower strings is consistent with the upper strings—thanks to the massive high-frequency boost. Meanwhile, the Gain is slammed all the up, so that it drives the Autofilter to a suitably high frequency with strong input signals.
Figure 3: The Channel Strip is ideal for conditioning the signal controlling the Autofilter sidechain.
Here’s another tip: The technique of duplicating a track, and processing it to provide a custom sidechain signal, has a lot more uses than just this. Try using the X Trem as a step sequencer and control the sidechain in a compressor…or the Autofilter’s sidechain, for that matter.
Remember, if you want to come up with something novel, ask “what if?”—not so much “how to?” I guarantee you won’t find a single, click-bait YouTube video called “SECRET AUTOFILTER PRO TRICK YOU MUST KNOW!” I’d never claim this is a tip the pros use; the only reason I came up with it is because I was frustrated that I couldn’t get the Autofilter to do what I wanted, and thought “What if I process the signal going to sidechain?” I can’t help but wonder how many other “what ifs” are waiting to be discovered…well, see you next week!