First, some news: If you own The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks, the free update to version 1.2 is available from the PreSonus shop. Just go to your account and re-download the book. Also, my 2021 album project was recorded entirely in Studio One, and the playlist is posted on YouTube. You’ll probably find the song “I Hope” of particular interest, because the keyboard part was created automatically (yes, it really was) using the tip about the “Fill Notes” function, and the guitar and keyboard parts use the Shimmer Reverb tip. Okay, on to this week’s tip…
We all know how important vocals are, and the Fat Channel is an excellent channel strip for creating vocal presets. So, let’s go step-by-step on how to create your own Fat Channel preset. We’ll cover the reasons for choosing the parameters in fig. 1, and the order in which you want to edit them. More importantly, we’ll describe how to customize parameters for your mic type and voice.
The HPF can reduce pops, as well as excessive bass from singing too close to the mic. Choose a frequency that tightens up the low end, but doesn’t thin the sound. With a ribbon mic, you might want a higher frequency.
To keep low-level noise out of a vocal, try setting the Expander threshold to -55 dB. This should be high enough to get rid of residual hiss and room noise, but low enough to retain vocal nuances.
EQ settings are like a combination lock—get them right, and your vocal opens up. As to signal chain placement, equalizer before compressor is more forgiving of substantial EQ boosts that create “character.” Let’s run through the order for adjusting the edits.
HS (High Shelf). This gives the vocal “air.” Freq will be in the 8 to 10 kHz range, but Gain depends on your mic. Some mics have a high-frequency lift, so you don’t need much gain. A ribbon mic might sound dull, and need more gain. Turn up the Gain to where you get sibilance problems, and then back off until the sibilance issues go away.
HMF. The frequency range from 2 to 5 kHz is all about intelligibility. A broad boost helps the vocal stand out in a mix. Turn up the Gain until you hear more definition and greater intelligibility, then back off just a bit. The ear is most sensitive in this range, so too much boost can sound harsh.
LMF. A broad cut in the lower mids between 200 and 500 Hz can reduce “muddiness.” This isn’t always necessary, but reducing the lower mid response leaves more room for other instruments. Besides, with the HMF and High Shelf boosts, the vocal should come through just fine. An easy way to adjust LMF is to temporarily increase the Gain in this range, and sweep the frequency for the most “boxy” sound. That’s where you want to cut.
LF. With the HPF active and LMF cutting, a slight boost here re-introduces a little more warmth into the vocal. With a ribbon mic, or if the vocal was recorded with a significant bass proximity effect from singing too close, you might want to cut here instead.
The Tube Comp is a favorite for vocals, and it’s blissfully easy to adjust: Set Peak Reduction for the desired amount of compression, then use Gain to make up for any decrease in level caused by compression. I usually aim for 6 to 8 dB compression on peaks, but a lot of engineers like to slam the compression harder, especially for rock vocals.
Setting this to -3.0 provides insurance against stray peaks going higher than desired.
The downloadable preset has the parameters shown in fig. 1. Although it can serve as a point of departure, I strongly encourage you to tweak the parameters to perfection for your own voice and microphone. You’ll find the effort is worth it!
Download the Fat Channel preset here: