PreSonus Blog

Mic Your Synth—Virtually

You can mic piano, drums, guitar, voice, and other acoustic sources…but you can’t mic a synth, unless you put it through a PA or guitar amp, and then mic that.

Or can you?

Studio One’s Ampire has mic modeling for its various cabs. However, a cab has its own frequency response, which doesn’t sound at all like miking an instrument—it sounds like miking a guitar amp. Sometimes, you want that sound with instruments other than guitar or bass. But usually, you don’t.

Ampire also has a User Cab for loading your own cab impulse responses.  So, you could load a room’s impulse response instead, and set up Ampire’s mics. However, then you’re not miking an instrument, you’re miking the instrument in a room. What if you just want the sound of a miked instrument?

Here’s the solution, and I think you’ll be as surprised as I was after pulling up an FX bus fader with the sound of the virtual mics. Check out the audio example: the first half is a plain Mai Tai sound, the second half has the virtual miking. There are no effects, only Ampire’s mics. Of course, this is only one of many possibilities.

How It Works

The trick is to bypass the amp, and load a flat-response impulse into Ampire’s User Cab. Then, the audio doesn’t go through an amp or cab sound before hitting the mics. Simple, right?

The downloadable zip file (link at end) includes three flat-response IRs, each of which has its uses:

  • Stereo (dual mono)
  • Stereo with reversed left channel phase
  • Stereo with reversed right channel phase

Ampire Prep

I prefer to set up Ampire in an FX bus, to enable blending the miked sound with the direct sound. However, using the miked sound by itself is viable. See which you prefer. Fig. 1 shows the Ampire settings used for the audio example.

Figure 1: Typical Ampire settings, as used in the audio example.

To create the setup:

1. Insert Ampire in an FX bus.

2. Assign a Send to the FX bus from the instrument track you want to “mic.”

3. With Ampire, choose Amp: None and Cabinet: User Cabinet

4. Download and unzip the three impulse responses.

5. Click on the Mic Edit Controls button (the blue button in fig. 1), then click on the + sign next to Mic A. Navigate to your IR of choice, and load it. Or, simply drag the impulse into the Mic’s slot.

6. Similarly, load an IR into Mic B and Mic C. Note: There must be an IR loaded in Mic A, or no sound will pass through Ampire, even if IRs are loaded in Mic B and Mic C. I recommend loading an IR in each one.

7. Go down the fun rabbit hole of mic choices, levels, mic delays, and phase changes.

Extra Tips

  • Using an IR with reversed phase for one of the mics can unbalance the stereo image. Compensate by adjusting the Panpot in the Send that goes to the FX Channel.
  • In the FX Channel, spreading the stereo image with the panpot’s Binaural function is cool (pre-Studio One 6 owners can use the Binaural Pan plug-in). For the audio example, I turned up the Binaural Pan so the effect would be more dramatic if heard over laptop speakers.
  • The audio example mixes the miked sound up quite a bit to get the point across, but subtle settings can add an interesting dimension to synthesized sounds.  
  • Preceding Ampire with an Analog Delay set for a very short delay (a few milliseconds) and no feedback can enhance the effect further.
  • This isn’t just about synths—try this technique with other non-acoustic sounds, like analog drums.

Reminder!

If you bought a previous version of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks, you can now download the free version 1.4 update (with 250  tips and 126 free presets) from the PreSonus shop.

Notion Mobile 3.1 Now Available


Notion Mobile v3 took mobile music creation to the next level with support for iOS, Android, Windows and macOS. Now v3.1 adds over 100 enhancements and fixes, leading with its innovative new lasso selection that intelligently swaps between handwriting and selection mode before selecting all objects within the drawn area.

Notion Mobile is free, and all add-ons are included in a PreSonus Sphere membership or available through the Feature Bundle in-app purchase. Download from your preferred App Store now

Top 5 New Features

1. Lasso select

One of the most requested features for Notion is now here – the ability to freely draw around objects thereby selecting them. Once the handwriting recognition is engaged (available via the Feature Bundle in-app purchase) a user can select a number of different types of object in one go – from notes and articulations to dynamics and slurs. Notion will also intelligently switch between handwriting notes and creating a lasso selection – this means a user can remain in a single mode.

2. Chord improvements

It is now even easier to create leadsheets with improvements to chord entry for 3.1. 

Add multiple chords to empty measuresNow there’s no need to attach chords to hidden rests/notes to add more than one chord per empty measure. Notion will now attach chords to the nearest rhythmic position over an empty measure.

 

More chord extensions availableAdditional common chord types are now available to combine in the chord picker

 

Chord placement improvementChords will now automatically go beneath repeat brackets

 

More chord diagramsFurther diagrams have been added for common chords for guitar and ukulele

 

3. Demo Files

A long requested feature for Notion on mobile devices – ten new demo scores help new users see and hear what’s possible with Notion Mobile. Choose from Tchaikovsky to modern rock – download Notion’s soundsets first to listen. Go to: Create new score>Demo Scores.  

  • Acoustic Guitar – The Root
  • Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No.4 Allegro
  • Chopin – Raindrop Prelude
  • Dad Rock
  • Jazz Trio Meet me after 5
  • MF Blues
  • Mozart – Clarinet Concerto Adagio
  • Saint-Saëns – Septuor, Gavotte et Final
  • Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker Overture
  • Tchaikovsky – Romeo And Juliet

4. Note entry playback improvements

Playback of selected staffNotion is now able to play just the selected staves – make a selection of one or more instrument staves and hit play. The selection will automatically be solo-ed.

 

Get feedback on your orchestration fast – just select a chord for example across the instruments you’ve scored it for, and hit play. No need to dive into the mixer to manually solo/mute.

Automatically add new measures to end during step-time or real-time record
Notion will now add extra measures to the end of your score if you continue adding notes in either real-time or step-time record. In real-time, the metronome will continue and once you have stopped, Notion will analyse your performance and add the bars. In step-time, bars will be added as you go.
Note entry preview dynamics set at mfWhen entering notes, Notion sounds a preview of the pitch to be entered – this is now set at a consistent dynamic making it easier to hear and compare when entering notes for different instruments

5. Part handling improvements

From improvements to multi-measure rests to quickly toggling between score and part views, Notion 3.1 has a number of features to ease the preparation of parts for your players.

Toggle between score/partIf you want to quickly check the part layout of an instrument, select the instrument in the full score, then just hit F5 with an attached keyboard. Press F5 again to return to the full score. If you don’t have a keyboard attached, then go to Score Setup and tap the part/full score toggle button
Show / hide instrument key signatureA long standing request for Notion! Now you can hide key signatures for selected instruments – nowadays most commonly required for French horns, but also in older scores for trumpets too. Horns generally do not have a key signature, rather, their parts show accidentals for each note.

 

Part title improvements Now part titles are populated automatically from the full score, if they are initially set. You can still have different titles between score and part if you wish – it’s just they are now set by default.

 

Part names (in the top left hand corner of a part) also now show the instrument key by default, e.g. “Clarinet in A” making it easier for players to see the key of their part at a glance

All Changes in Notion Mobile 3.1

GroupFeatures / Fixes
NotationTime signatures can now be hidden
The stem of a grace note now shows when added to a note inside a tuplet
Text placement of e.g. Title is now centring when moved back to Top Center
Barlines no longer extend outside of system when printing with hidden resting staves
Lyrics with short words are now better aligned to the note
Multiple lyric hyphens under notes can now be entered
Tuplet number now shows on correct side when stems are forced down
Tuplet brackets show as expected when tuplet starts with a rest
Slurs in guitar tablature now display correctly between two notes
Stems show as expected on cross-staff glissandi
Cross-staff notation improvements
Cross-staff tuplet number now shows under beam rather than between staves
Tails on cross-staff notes now show as expected
O / + symbols now available for harp, French Horn
EditingLasso select
Delete final measure now works as expected when part of a selection
All text size numbers are now showing (e.g. when increasing size to 27.50)
Text boxes display where expected when editing
[macOS] Line breaks in text boxes can now be made with Shift+Enter
Adjusting font size now works as expected when decreasing down to 28
[iOS] Font now does not change when adjusting size
‘Remove Tuplet’ tool added to Context Menu
Tremolos now toggle “on/off” when tapping the icon or using the shortcut
Diamond symbol now not occasionally showing when pasting
Paste does not now overwrite time signatures before the first copied time signature is inserted
Pasting a full cut/copied measure no longer pastes into the measure following the target measure
When dragging articulations, note accidental previews no longer appear
Copy and paste measures with ties coming into them now paste as expected
Fixed double tap between systems could open the selection on the wrong system
Note EntryEntering notes at the end of a score automatically adds new measures in both step time and real time
Tuplets now working as expected in step time entry
Advancing in Step time no longer removes open ties from chords
[Android] Preview note no longer displaced when entering tab on the first beat of the bar
Fixed applying augmentation dots to selected note when pressing the augmentation dot button in the palette (as opposed to using the keyboard shortcut)
Handwriting recognition now works as expected following a clef change
ChordsAdd multiple chords to empty measures
More chord extensions available to combine
More chord diagrams available for guitar and ukulele
Chord diagrams now sorted by fret position
Chord placement improvements, including placement under repeat brackets
dim7 chords show as expected
Measures space as expected with chord symbols over the top
Two digit fret numbers no longer overlap with tab in chord diagrams
PartsToggle between score and selected part with keyboard shortcut (F5)
Score / Part icon toggle redesigned in Score Setup menu
Hide key signature option in instrument setup (e.g. for French Horns)
Part titles now inherited from full score by default
Part name on top left of page includes key by default (e.g. Clarinet in A)
Anacrusis / double barline now not breaking a multi-measure rest
Rehearsal / metronome marks no longer create individual bar rests during a multi-measure rest
PlaybackPlayback selected staves only
Display no longer auto-locks during playback
Preview note entry dynamics are now mf
Playback of microtones now sound as expected
Metronome count-in for compound time signatures now clicks as expected
Sounds load as expected for template files
Playback improved for imported MIDI trills
[Android] Playback improved on entry level devices
Clarinet now plays back (sounding) Db3 for Clarinet in A (remove and re-download the ‘Wind’ sound bundle to fix).
UINew button added to toggle between normal and extended width palettes
Handwriting (‘pencil’ icon) now visible in both normal and extended palettes
[Android] Placement of popup faders improved
[Android] Sub-menus now open as expected when in split screen mode
[iOS] Can now swipe up on the iPhone screen when in Instrument Picker
Can now select sub-tools from palette when on small screen
Sheet-style dialogs like score setup now resize correctly on iOS when changing the screen orientation
Removed the second text style edit option from the context menu
Fixed sub-tool not being activated when tapping on it while being in the select tool
[Android] When editing text in score settings, the text is now centred
[Android] Open dialogs now adjust as expect if screen orientation is changed
[Android] Issue fixed where application can sometimes freeze when closing dialogs/popups
Metronome Tool dialog is no longer cut off by on-screen keyboard
When using the small sized UI, the note duration palette is now proportioned and positioned correctly
[iOS] Swiping and selecting over fly-out menus now works as expected
Tuplet flyout now shows in two rows on smaller screens
Distance between flyout menus and palette now consistent
[Android] Instrument picker is no longer cut off at bottom
[Android] Manage Features dialog now closes as expected, if still open when the app is closed
[Android] Menus do now not close if a dropdown menu item is selected
[Android] Text now does not exceed edit box height when entering lyrics
FilesNew demo scores tab with 10 scores included
Template files can now be double tapped to directly open
[iOS/macOS] Save document to alternative location if permission denied
[iOS/macOS] Browser opens if access to file is denied
[iOS] ‘Clear history’ no longer brings up double entries for save locations in some circumstances
‘Untitled’ for new document titles is now localised in selected language
Document location path cleaned up
[Android] Export to PDF via Share function now working as expected
General[iOS] ‘Restore Purchases’ now lists what was purchased in Notion iOS v2
[iOS] Restore Purchases now shows popup if there is an error retrieving the receipt
[iOS] If region is set to USA, then measurement units do not change
[FireOS] In-app purchasing fixed on Amazon Fire devices
Guitar fingerings now included when exporting as MusicXML
Notion now opens malformed compressed MusicXML files (e.g. a .musicxml file that has been changed to .mxl by just changing the file extension)
Note heads now print at actual size when printing or exporting as pdf if Screen View is shown
Translation improvements
Performance and stability improvements
Documentation updated

 

Quick, Perfect S-Shaped Fades

First, some news: the free update to version 1.4 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is finally available in the PreSonus Shop. If you purchased a previous version from PreSonus, simply download the eBook again, using the same credentials—you’ll automatically receive the latest version. Now for the tip…

What’s Cool About S-Shaped Fades, Anyway?

An S-shaped fade starts by fading slowly, accelerates to halfway through the fade, then slows down to do the final part of the fade. This provides a natural, smooth kind of fade that I prefer for most song fadeouts. Also, video tracks commonly use S-shaped fades. So, an S-shaped fade for the audio can match an S-shaped fade applied to the video.  

Before version 5.5, the Project Page didn’t have automation or a gain envelope, so I wrote a tip on how to incorporate an S-shaped fade in a Song’s master level automation. Once the song had the fade, you could update the Mastering file to include the fade. But now that the Project Page can do automation and gain envelopes, you can apply that tip directly to Events in the Project Page as well as in the Song page.

However, compared to the technique this post covers, the previous method has one advantage and one disadvantage. The advantage is that it’s easy to customize the S-fade shape. The disadvantage is that it’s more time-consuming to get a perfect S-shape. So, here’s how to add a perfect S-shaped fade—quickly—with the Paint tool and its Parabolic option:

1. Add a Gain Envelope (right-click on an Event and check Gain Envelope). You can also apply this kind of fade to master level automation.

2. Choose the Parabola shape for the Pencil tool (fig. 1).

Figure 1:  The Parabola drawing tool allows creating S-shaped automation and gain envelope curves.

3. Click where you want the fade to begin. Drag right, and then down to where the fade’s midpoint should be (fig. 2).

Figure 2: You don’t need a steady hand—the Parabola tool will draw the shape perfectly.

4. Finally, click where you want the fade to end. Drag left, and then up to the fade’s midpoint (fig. 3).

Figure 3: Again, use the Parabola tool, then draw the second part of the fade.

And now, you have your perfect S-shaped fadeout. Delete any nodes (if present) to the right of where the fade ends—and your work is done.

Acoustic Guitar Simulator

Last week’s guitar-oriented tip seemed to go over well, so I figured y’all might like a follow-up. This takes advantage of Version 6’s Track Presets and the dynamic EQ aspect of the Pro EQ3.

Let’s Manage Expectations…

First, it won’t make your electric guitar sound like a vintage Martin D-28—sorry. The goal is to use an electric guitar to give the same kind of vibe an acoustic guitar would provide in a mix. Or, if you gig with Studio One, you would no longer need to bring an acoustic guitar just for one or two songs. Leave it at home—this does what you need.

Second, the settings are rather critical. In general, single-coil pickups (in the middle position) give the best results. The downloadable Track Preset was designed for a Telecaster. For other guitars, pickups, different input levels, playing styles, and anything with humbuckers, you’ll likely need to edit the Pro EQ3 settings.

Here’s an audio example of the acoustic guitar simulator preset in action. You’ll hear the sound being processed by the acoustic guitar simulator, and then the original guitar sound for reference.

How It Works

Aside from creating a more acoustic guitar-like EQ curve, the dynamic EQ provides two important tone-shaping functions (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Pro EQ3 settings for acoustic guitar simulation.

The HF band increases brightness as you play harder, which acoustic guitars do naturally. The LF band simulates how playing harder “excites” an acoustic guitar’s body, which produces more level at the frequency where the body resonates. I chose 155 Hz, but that’s not a given. It just sounded right to me.

Fig. 2 shows the complete Track Preset, which adds a couple of fairly subtle effects (Chorus and Reverb). This enhances the “acoustic-guitar-within-an-acoustic-space” feel.

Figure 2: Track Preset for the Acoustic Guitar Simulator.

Finally, note that this sound can layer well with a physical acoustic guitar. The combined sound often has more animation than if you just added another track of the same acoustic guitar.

Click link below to download the Acoustic Guitar Simulator.trackpreset!

Higher-Def Amp Sim Sounds

My sonic holy grail is “clean distortion,” which is why I like 3- or 4-band multiband presets. Splitting the audio into bands decreases the potential for nasty intermodulation distortion. This tip’s technique implements a simpler, 2-band option. Yet it increases definition considerably, and reduces the “wooly,” or “splattering” quality that most amp sims have. Of course, this works with Ampire, but you’ll find it benefits other amp sims too. The audio example speaks for itself.

The setup uses two amp sims, with a Pedalboard inserted in front of each one. Each Pedalboard has only one effect—the High Density pack’s Blue EQ graphic equalizer. (You can use the stock graphic equalizer instead, but the results aren’t as good as using the Blue EQ.) Fig. 1 implements this technique with a Splitter and FX Chain in Studio One Pro, while fig. 2 shows the track layout for Studio One Artist.

Figure 1: FX Chain setup for Studio One Pro.
Figure 2: Track layout for Studio One Artist.

What makes this technique so effective is that the EQs send alternate bands into the two amps (fig. 3). Usually, the interference among all the frequencies feeding an amp sim creates non-harmonic, intermodulation distortion. Leaving gaps in the frequencies sent to each amp reduces their interference with each other. Mixing the two amp outputs together restores the full frequency response.

Figure 3: The bands are set oppositely on the two EQs.

Because there’s less overall signal going into the amps, the Mixtool in fig. 1 provides a +6 dB boost to compensate. In fig. 2, setting the Send controls to +6 dB provides the desired boost.

Another cool feature is panning the two amps left and right. With the Splitter in fig. 1, simply use Channel split instead of the Normal split. In fig. 2, note that the two FX Channels are panned hard left and right. This gives a cool stereo image that a single amp can’t deliver.

But, hearing is believing—and I think you’ll be blown away by the audio example. The first part uses this technique with the default VC30 amp sound and the 2 x 12 VC 30 cab. The second part uses identical amp and cab settings, but without the Graphic EQ preceding the amp. Note that it sounds a lot dirtier. The third part uses this tip’s technique, but with the two amps spread in stereo. The sonic benefits are even more apparent when actually playing live, or in context with a mix, but this example should get the point across.

Yes, it really is that easy to transform your amp sims into higher-def versions. Have fun!

How to “Focus” Effects

There’s nothing new about using an FX Channel to add an effect in parallel to a main track. But we can make effects even more effective by “tuning” them, to provide more focus.

This process works by inserting a Pro EQ3 before an FX Channel effect or effects (fig. 1). Then, use the EQ’s Low Cut and High Cut filters to tune a specific frequency range that feeds the effect. For example, I’ve mentioned restricting high and low frequencies prior to feeding amp sims, but we can use this focusing technique with any processor.

Figure 1: Track layout. Note that the Pro EQ3 inserts before the effect.

There are several reasons for placing the Pro EQ3 before the effect. With saturation effects, this reduces the possibility of intermodulation distortion. With other effects, reducing the level of unneeded frequencies opens up more headroom in the effect itself. Finally, with effects that respond to dynamics (autofilter, compressor, etc.), you won’t have frequencies you don’t want pushing the frequencies you do want over the processor’s threshold.

Here are some specific examples to help get your creative juices flowing.

Distortion or Saturation with Drums

The audio example plays four measures of drums going into the RedlightDist, with no focus. The next four measures focus on the high frequencies. This gives an aggressive “snap” to the snare. The next four measures focus on the low frequencies, to push the kick forward.

Fig. 2 shows the tunings for the high- and low-frequency focus.  

Figure 2: The high-frequency focus settings are on top, with the low-frequency focus settings on the bottom.

Reverb with Guitar

The audio example plays four measures of midrange-frequency focus feeding reverb, then four measures using a high-frequency focus. Focusing is helpful with longer reverb times, because there are fewer frequencies to interfere with the main sound.

Fig. 3 shows the tunings for the midrange- and high-frequency focus filters. 

Figure 3: Midrange focus on top, high-frequency focus on the bottom. These curves use sharper slopes than the drum distortion curves.

Delay with Synth Solo

For our last example, the first five measures are synth with no focus. The next five measures focus on the lower frequencies. The difference is subtle, but it “tucks away” the reverb behind the solo line. The final five measures focus on the high frequencies, for a more distant echo vibe.

Fig. 4 shows the tunings for the midrange- and high-frequency focus filters. 

Figure 4: Midrange focus on top, high-frequency focus on the bottom. The settings are similar to reverb with guitar, but the audible result sounds quite different.

These are just a few possibilities—another favorite of mine is sending focused frequencies to a chorus, so that the chorus effect doesn’t overwhelm an instrument. Expanders also lend themselves to this approach, as does saturation with bass and electric pianos.

Perhaps most importantly, focusing the effects can give a less cluttered mix. Even tracks with heavy processing can stand out, and sound well-defined.

Better Autofilter Control

The March 2020 blog post, Taming the Wild Autofilter, never appeared in any of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips & Tricks eBook updates. This is because the tip worked in Studio One 4, but not in Studio One 5. However, Studio One 6 has brought the Autofilter back to its former glory (and then some). Even better, we can now take advantage of FX Bus sends and dynamic EQ. So, this tip is a complete redo of the original blog post. (Compared to a similar tip in eBook version 1.4, this version replaces the Channel Strip with the Pro EQ3 for additional flexibility.)

The reason for coming up with this technique was that although I’d used the Autofilter for various applications, I couldn’t get it to work quite right for its intended application with guitar or bass. Covering the right filter cutoff range was a problem—for example, 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 the cutoff wouldn’t go low enough with softer picking. Furthermore, the responsiveness varied dramatically, depending on whether I was playing high on the neck, or hitting low notes on the low E and A strings. This tip solves these issues.

The guitar track’s audio uses pre-fader sends to go to two FX Buses (fig. 1). The Autofilter Out FX Bus produces the audio output. The Autofilter Trig FX bus processes the audio going to the Autofilter’s sidechain. By processing the Guitar track’s send to the sidechain, we can make the Autofilter respond however we want. Furthermore, if needed, you can feed a low-level signal from the Guitar track’s pre-fader send into the Autofilter, to avoid distortion with high-resonance settings. This is possible because the Autofilter Trig bus—which you don’t need to hear, and can be any level you want—controls the Autofilter’s action.

Perhaps best of all, this also means the Autofilter no longer depends on having an input signal with varying dynamics. You can insert an amp sim, overdrive, compressor, or anything else that restricts dynamic range in front of the Autofilter. The Autofilter will still respond to the original Guitar track’s dynamics, as processed by the dynamic EQ.

Figure 1: The guitar audio (left) is feeding both FX buses. The Autofilter Trig track (middle) processes the audio that controls the sidechain in the Autofilter (right), which produces the final output.

The Pro EQ3 (fig. 2) conditions the send to make the Autofilter happy. The dynamic EQ attenuates lower frequencies that exceed the Threshold, but amplifies higher frequencies that exceed the Threshold.  So, the Autofilter’s response to the higher-output, lower strings can be consistent with the upper strings.

Figure 2: Typical Pro EQ3 settings used in the application.

The Autofilter (fig. 3) sets the LFO Cutoff Modulation to 0, because I wanted only the envelope to affect the filter. The settings for the Autofilter and Pro EQ3 interact with each other, as well as with the guitar and pickups. In this case, I used a Telecaster with a single-coil treble pickup. For humbucking pickups, you may need to attenuate the low frequencies more.

Figure 3: Typical Autofilter settings.

Like Autofilters in general, it takes some experimenting to dial in the ideal settings for your playing style, strings, pickups, musical genre, and so on. However, the big advantage of this approach is that once you find the ideal settings, the response will be less critical, more consistent, and more forgiving of big dynamic changes in your playing.

And here’s a final tip: Processing the signal going to the Autofilter’s sidechain has much potential. Try using Analog Delay, X-Trem, and other effects. Also, although the original Guitar track and Autofilter Trig faders are shown at 0, no law says they have to be. Feel free to mix in some of the original guitar sound, and/or the equalized Autofilter Trig bus audio.

Lead Guitar Editing Hack

High-gain distortion is great for lead guitar sustain and tone, but it also brings up that “splat” of pick noise at the note’s beginning. Sometimes, you want the gritty, dirty feel it adds. But it can be a distraction when your goal is a gentler, more lyrical tone that still retains the sound of heavy distortion.

This technique gives the best of both worlds for single-note leads, and is particularly effective with full mixes where the lead guitar has a lot of echo. Normally the echo will repeat the pick noise, so reducing it reduces clutter, and gives more clarity to the mix.

1. Open the lead part in the Edit window.

2. Choose Action, and under the Audio Bend tab, select Detect Transients.

3. Zoom in to verify there’s a Bend Marker at the beginning of each note’s first peak (fig. 1). If you need to add a Bend Marker, click at the note’s beginning using the Bend tool. To move a Bend Marker for more precise placement, hold Alt/Opt while clicking on the marker with the Bend tool, and drag.

Figure 1: The Bend Marker (colored orange for clarity) is properly placed at the beginning of the note’s initial peak. Note that the low-level “dirt” just before the Bend marker should not be considered part of the initial transient.

4. Choose Action, and under the Audio Bend tab, select Split at Bend Markers. Now, each note is its own Event (fig. 2).

Figure 2: The lead part has been split into an event for each note.

5. Make sure all the notes are selected (fig. 3). The next steps show any needed edits being made to one Event. However, because all the notes are selected, any edit affects all notes equally. To show the edits in more detail, the following steps zoom in on two notes.

Figure 3: All the notes are selected—it’s time to start editing.

6.  Trim the note ends to remove some of the pre-note “dirt” (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Click the end of one note in the upper part of the Event, and drag slightly to the left.

7. Add a fade-in and fade-out (fig. 5). This doesn’t have to be exact, because you’ll optimize the times in step 9.

Figure 5: Add fades at the beginning and end of each note. Remember, all the notes should be selected while making these edits.

8. There’s a gap between notes, so time-stretch the end of the note to cover the gap. Alt/Opt+click on the end of a note, and drag to the right until the note end is up against the beginning of the next note (fig. 6).

Figure 6: If you’ve ever ridden the railroads in the UK, you’ve been warned to “mind the gap.” This is also true when doing lead guitar edit hacks.

9. That may seem like a lot of work, but once you’ve defined the bend markers, having to edit only one note to edit all the notes speeds the process.

Start playback with all the notes still selected, listen, and vary the fade times. Also experiment with the curve shape. A concave curve can work well with attacks. I often try for the minimum amount of attack and decay that gives the desired result, but not always—when taken to extremes, being able to shape notes enables options that sound almost like a synthesizer.

The audio example shows how this tweak affects a single-note lead. The first part is as recorded, the second part uses this tip.

Useful Features I Totally Missed

First, an announcement: version 1.4 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is a free update to owners of previous versions. It’s currently available from Sweetwater, and will soon be in the PreSonus shop. Revised to bring it up to date with Studio One 6, this is the most comprehensive update yet, and has over 250 tips. It’s also available to new buyers for $19.95.

Okay, on to the blog post, and let me start by admitting…I’m a little slow sometimes. So now that I’ve admitted it, you don’t need to add comments like “Seriously? You just figured this stuff out? Dude, what’s wrong with you?” But maybe you didn’t know about at least some of these features either, so I hope you find this useful.

Insert the Tuner in Your Master Bus

Figure 1: The tuner is easy to use, and the Strobe mode is wonderful.

Solo the channel you want to tune, and when the tuner (fig. 1) is in the master bus, it’s always available. If there are effects that mess up the tuning (chorus, delay, etc.), turn off the associated Insert rack before tuning.

Colorize Plug-In Headers to Match Channel Colors

Colorizing plug-ins helps when you have several of the same type of processor open. The header color matches the track color. So, if your vocal track is blue and your bass track green, you’ll know the plug-in with the blue header affects the vocal track. To colorize, select the Mix view, and click on the Wrench. Under Visibility, click on Colorize Plug-In Header.

Offset an Automation Envelope Easily

Suppose your automation moves are perfect, but the track’s level needs to be offset up or down. You can’t just move the fader, because it’s following the automation. So, you change the automation envelope. Then you realize you need to make another change in the track, so you go back to the track, zoom in, and adjust the envelope again. Or you insert a VCA channel to change the track gain, while keeping the envelope the same. But it’s simplest just to tweak the output level of a processor in the track (like the Pro EQ3’s Gain control). If there isn’t one, insert a Mixtool. Now you can tweak the level offset quickly and easily. [Cue Homer Simpson saying “Doh!”]

Cut Long Notes at Part End

The world of Studio One > Options > Advanced [Windows] or Studio One > Preferences [Mac] is well worth exploring. Working with MIDI drove me crazy until I understood what this check box did (fig. 2).

Figure 2: This checkbox probably added years to my life.

Under the MIDI tab, Cut Long Notes at Part End defaults to being unchecked. This means if you cut a part in the middle of a long note, the section of the note past the cut will continue to play—even though you won’t see it in the part past the cut. This led me to a lot of “where’s that MIDI note coming from?” Checking this option adds a Note Off at the cut, so the note stops playing at the end of the part. But if you want to get it back, no problem. Slip-edit the end of the part back out, and the note will still be there.

Show Channel Notes

Under Song Information, you can enter Track Notes for the tracks—I use that feature all the time. But you can also open up a space at the bottom of a channel to see Channel Notes, and one day I realized that Channel Note and Track Note are the same thing. Eureka! I didn’t have to open the Song Info or Inspector to see the Track notes. You’ll find the check box to show the Channel Notes, aka Track Notes, under Channel Components in the Mixer view’s wrench options (fig. 3).

Figure 3: Show Channel Notes is another Mixer view wrench option that makes it easier to know what’s happening with mixer channels.

Horizontal Scrolling in Edit View

You can scroll horizontally in Edit view by holding Shift and rotating the mouse wheel. I often zoom way in with the Edit view to find little glitches, and this shortcut makes the process easier.          

Tab Through Parameters in the Pro EQ3

Click on one of the parameter value labels. Tab to go to the next parameter, or Shift+tab to return to the previous one. This includes the Threshold and Range parameters in the new Dynamics control section. After reaching the last parameter in an EQ stage, hit tab several times to move to the next stage.

Move the Send Rack Vertically in a Channel

There are three ways to move the Send rack vertically in a channel:

  • Click on the Splitter bar above the Sends, and drag up and down to move all the Sends together, regardless of where they are vertically.
  • Shift-Click on the Splitter bar, and you can move just that Send rack up or down.
  • Ctrl/Cmd click on the Splitter bar, and they all jump to the same vertical position.

EZ FX Channel

Drag an effect into the space below a Channel’s Send, and it automatically creates an FX Channel with that effect. Has this always been there and I didn’t know it? Was it added recently? Did I just forget about it? I don’t know, but it’s particularly relevant now that Version 6 FX Buses have Sends.

Insert the Free VU Meter in Your Master Bus

As described in detail in a previous blog post, you can download a free VU meter plug-in (or at least you can until someone at PreSonus realizes it’s really cool, and decides to charge for it). Try it, and you’ll see why I like it—the average reading gives a different perspective on your audio. Also, the clip indicator blinks instead of staying on, so it’s easy to see where peaks are causing problems. You can even check correlation, and set a scale for reference levels. Go ahead, insert it—you can thank me later.

So, what other really great features that “everyone knows about” am I missing? Your comments are welcome!

How to Use Virtual Synths as Signal Processors

Some virtual instruments can accept external audio inputs. This lets you process audio through the synthesizer’s various modules like filters, VCAs, effects, and so on. Essentially, the synthesizer becomes an effects processor. To accommodate this, Version 6 introduced a sidechain audio input for virtual instruments.

Not all instruments have this capability. I’ve tested the audio sidechain input successfully with Cherry Audio’s CA2600, Miniverse, PS-30, Rackmode Vocoder, and Voltage Modular. Arturia’s Vocoder V also works. I’d really appreciate any notes in the Comments section about other instruments that work with this feature.

Is My Virtual Instrument Compatible?

Insert the synth, and click on the sidechain symbol in its header. If you see a box with Send and Output options (fig. 1), you can feed audio into the synthesizer. Check the box for either a Send from a track (pre- or post-fader), or the track output. 

Figure 1: Dialog box for enabling Studio One’s audio sidechain.

You’ll probably need to enable the virtual instrument’s external audio input. Fig. 2 shows how to do this with Cherry Audio’s Miniverse, which emulates how the Minimoog accepted external inputs:

  • Set the Input’s Mixer switch to on.
  • Turn up the Input volume.
  • The Miniverse can feed the external input from its own output to obtain feedback, or from the Sidechain. For this application, choose Sidechain.
Figure 2: Preparing the Miniverse for use with Studio One.

Studio One Setup

Fig. 3 shows the track layout for Studio One. Ignore the Gate for now, we’ll cover that shortly.

Figure 3: Studio One track layout to send audio to a virtual instrument.

I chose a post-fader Send from the audio track, not the track output, to drive the synth. This is because I wanted to be able to mix parallel tracks—the audio providing the input, and the audio processed by the synthesizer.

Using the Gate

You won’t hear anything from the synth unless you trigger the VCA to let the external audio signal through. You can play a keyboard to trigger the synth for specific sections of the audio track, but the Gate can provide automatic triggering (fig. 4).

Figure 4: Gate setup to provide automatic synth triggering from the Trigger section (red outline).

With Triggering enabled, the Gate produces a MIDI note trigger every time it opens. So, Insert the Gate in the audio track, and set the Instrument track’s MIDI input to Gate. Now, the audio will trigger the synth. Adjust the Gate Threshold for the most reliable triggering. This is particularly useful with instruments that have attacks, like drums, guitar, piano, etc.