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Monthly Archives: April 2022

Frequency Splitting in Artist

The Splitter is one of Studio One Professional’s coolest features, because it can split by frequency and do multiband processing. I’m a huge fan of the focused, smooth distortion sound you get by splitting guitars into low, mid, and high-frequency bands, and then distorting each one with its own amp sim. But multiband processing is also cool with delay, chorusing, reverb…you name it. 

That’s the good news. The bad news: the Artist version doesn’t include the Splitter. However, there is a way to split your audio into three frequency bands.  Let’s listen to the sound of single-band distortion, which uses the Ampire default setting (MCM 800).

Artist 1 Band.mp3

Compare this to the multiband setting. The amp sounds are also the Ampire default, with a few minor tone knob edits. 

Artist Split 3 Band.mp3

If you like the second sound better, keep reading.

Console Setup

Create three pre-fader sends for the track you want to process, and assign them to three FX Channels or Buses (fig. 1). With pre-fader sends, you can turn down the main channel’s fader to hear only the processed sound, or turn it up to mix in dry sound for additional parallel processing. Fig. 1 shows the setup used for the 3-band audio example. At the end of this post, there’s a download link for a song file that contains this setup.

Figure 1: Console setup for splitting a track into three frequency bands. The colors follow the light spectrum—red is lowest, blue is highest.

Pro  EQ2 Settings

Figure 2: Pro EQ2 settings for the low band. The LC filter is optional, to remove ultra-low frequencies.

The Pro EQ2 settings start with the default. Only the LC, HC, and Gain parameters need changing. The table shows suggested frequency bands for guitar, but feel free to alter them. The main consideration is that the Low band’s HC frequency should equal the Mid band’s LC frequency, and the Mid band’s HC frequency should equal the High band’s LC frequency. All the slopes are 24 dB/octave.

The slight gain control differences compensate for the phase issues inherent in splitting with non-linear-phase filters. Fig. 3 shows white noise going through the splits, and summed at the output—the frequency response is almost perfectly flat. The slight bass rolloff is due to my preference mentioned above for rolling off the Low Band’s LC filter (20 Hz, with a 48 dB/octave slope). Similarly, the High band’s HC filter rolls off at 20 kHz, with a 48 dB/octave slope. Amp sims don’t need those high frequencies anyway.

Figure 3: Summing the splits produces an almost perfectly flat response.

Time for Tweakage!

Multiband setups are highly customizable. Pan the bands differently to create a stereo image, alter the band levels, tweak the amp settings to optimize them for a specific band, and so on. The only caution is that because of the heavy filtering, there’s less audio going to the amp inputs. So, you may need to turn up the amp gain (or Pro EQ2 gain for one or more bands) to get the sound you want. And of course, this isn’t just about amp sims, because multiband chorusing, delay, reverb, and effects combinations are also very cool.

Download the .song file, and you’ll have all the EQs and splitting set up…so plug in an instrument or load a track, and start playing around.

Download the multiband template in Fig. 1 here.

The Guitarist’s Hum Buster

Hum is like an unwanted house guest—when it shows up, all you really want to do is get rid of it. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with unwanted house guests…but we do have an answer on how to deal with hum.

If you play guitar, you know how much of a problem hum can be. However, it’s not good enough to get rid of only the hum’s 50 or 60 Hz sine wave, because there will often be harmonics of the hum—we need to remove those as well.

Before going any further, let’s listen to an audio example, so you have the incentive keep reading. The first half has some nasty hum, while the second half has obviously read this week’s tip.

Hum then No Hum.mp3

Fig. 1 shows the Pro EQ2 settings, but you don’t need to copy them—just download the 50 and 60 Hz presets from the links at the end of the tip. You’d insert this at the beginning of a chain of effects.

Figure 1: Settings to remove 60 Hz guitar amp hum.

For 60 Hz, in addition to notching out 60 Hz, you want deep notches at 60 Hz’s odd harmonics: 180, 300, 420, and 540 Hz. For 50 Hz, the magic frequencies are 50, 150, 250, 350, and 450 Hz. Note that these notches are narrow enough so that they don’t interfere much with the original guitar sound. For less severe hum, you can try turning off some of the filter stages, because they may not be needed.

That’s all there is to it…so go ahead, download the preset that’s appropriate for your part of the world, and make the hum go away.

Download the 60 Hz Hum Remover.preset and 50 Hz Hum Remover.preset below

Your Virtual Listening Room

Listening to speakers is a different experience than listening to headphones. Instead of your head being one point of an equilateral triangle with speakers, headphones are more like having speakers at your left and right sides, an inch away from your ears, and pointing directly into them—while bunching up the center inside your head.

Several commercial plug-ins are designed to make headphones sound more like listening to speakers in a room. This tip’s implementation isn’t quite as sophisticated, but you’ll find that it makes listening over headphones more fun, less fatiguing, and gives your mix more depth. It takes full advantage of Studio One Pro’s Listen bus.

How It Works

When listening over speakers, left channel audio hits your right ear a couple milliseconds later than your left ear, at a reduced level, and with some high-frequency loss because your head acts as a high-cut filter in the audio’s path. A similar issue happens with right channel audio and your left ear. The Virtual Listening Room effects chain reproduces the crosstalk, delay, and high-frequency cuts in the Listen Bus, which you layer with the Main bus.

Although Studio One has several delay-based effects, they’re effects—we need a basic, boring, “all-it-does-is-stereo-delay” processor. Fortunately, the free Voxengo Sound Delay plug-in (VST2, VST3, and AU) does the job. Similar basic delays, like Eventide’s Precision Delay, also work.

The Effects Chain

Fig. 1 shows the effects chain. For the Mixtool, simply drag it in, and click on the Swap Channels button. The Binaural Pan processor adds a little extra depth. Drag it in, and set the Width to 150. You may want to increase or decrease this later, but it’s a good starting point.

Figure 1: Effects used for the Virtual Listening Room.

Set the stereo delay between 1 to 3 milliseconds. I usually choose 2 ms. Note that the Voxengo Sound Delay has an option to choose Stereo Swap for Routing instead of Stereo. If you choose Stereo Swap, then you don’t need the Mixtool to swap the channels.

Finally, the Pro EQ2 provides a simple, high-frequency rolloff. Enable the HC filter, choose 24 dB/octave slope, and a frequency of 6 to 7 kHz.  Although this produces a more realistic effect, remember that we’re listening in a virtual listening room. I leave the filter bypassed because my virtual head is sonically transparent and passes high frequencies, so that makes the filter irrelevant.

The Listen Bus

I use the PreSonus 1824c interface and Universal Control, and Studio One’s Listen Bus makes it easy to create the Virtual Listening Room. The Listen Bus goes to outputs 3+4, so the 1824c’s mixer faders for channels 3+4 are turned up (along with the Main Bus, which is channels 1+2; see fig. 2). Altering the Listen Bus fader changes the extent of the virtual room effect—between -3 and -9 dB at Studio One’s mixer seems about right. Of course, this technique isn’t limited to using a PreSonus interface. Any other way you can layer the Main Bus output and Listen Bus output works.

Figure 2: The Main outs (1+2) go to linked stereo DAW channels 19 and 20. The Listen Bus left and right channels (3+4) go to linked channels 21 and 22.

Because this involves the Main Bus, Listen Bus, and using headphones, I can’t really give an audio example. But if I could, and you could hear what this effect does, I’m pretty sure you would try it out. So—try it out!

Fix Mixes with Multiband Dynamics

Multiband compressors can seem daunting. However, they’re just several compressors stuffed into one plug-in (or in the case of Studio One, dynamics processors that can do more than just compression). If you know how compressors work, you’re halfway to understanding multiband compression. The other half is EQ, because each compressor processes a single frequency band. In fact, if you set the ratio controls for all to 1:1 so that there’s no compression, then the Multiband Dynamics processor turns into a “focusing” graphic EQ.

This week’s tip has two downloadable files:

  • Original File.wav is included so you can experiment with the techniques in this tip. It’s part of a mixed but unmastered song (the finished version is here) that we’ll process with the Multiband Dynamics plug-in. It’s the same file used for the first audio example.
  • Multiband Mix Fix.preset is the Multiband Dynamics preset we’re using. You can “reverse engineer” the settings, and experiment with making your own edits to hear how they affect the original file.

Multiband Compression and Mastering

Mastering engineers often receive mixed stereo files, so it’s not possible to change the mix. However, multiband compression can almost “get inside” the mix to change it. We’ll cover a practical example of how to use multiband compression with a mixed file.

The first step in mastering is to listen to a file several times, so that you can identify problems that need to be fixed. Here’s the file we’ll be processing.

1st audio example

There are three main issues:

1. The high end lacks the high-frequency “fairy dust” that’s often added to masters. Think of it like adding a pinch of salt to food.

2. The low end is weak. You can hear the bass and kick, but they don’t have enough power. This issue is especially noticeable with the bass slides between 12-16 seconds into the file, and in the downward slide at the end. 

3. The upper midrange needs to be “crisper” when vocals are present, because the overall sound is a little boxy. This also affects the acoustic guitar, especially between 20-25 seconds. Finally, in the instrumental section that starts at 25 seconds, the drum attacks are too prominent. They need to be tamed so that the guitar and bass come more to the forefront.

Let’s Fix the Mix

Please note I’ve altered the Multiband Dynamics user interface artwork to include only the elements relevant to fixing the three problems above. No worries—this isn’t from some weird beta version of Studio One. 

Fixing (1) is easy. The high band extends from 5.50 kHz on up (fig. 1). Although there’s no compression, the Gain control boosts the high frequencies. You could apply the same effect with EQ, but it’s more convenient with the Multiband Dynamics, because sometimes you want to make tweaks that relate to the other bands.

Figure 1: High Band edits.

Fixing (2) takes a little more effort, and involves the Low and Low Mid bands (fig. 2).

Figure 2: Low and Low Mid Band edits.

The Low Band compresses frequencies below 105.5 Hz, and adds 6 dB of gain. The Low Mid band compresses frequencies between 105.5 and 500.5 Hz, and adds 5 dB of gain. This Low Mid range is where engineers often scoop the response slightly, to avoid a “muddy” sound. But this case is the exception that proves the rule, because we need more level in this range, not less.

The Mid Band applies no processing, which brings us to (3). This is the most difficult to adjust; overdo the High Mid range, and the sound becomes harsh. But without enough high mids, the sound lacks clarity. 

Figure 3: High Mid Band edits.

This band covers 1.70 kHz to 5.50 kHz (fig. 3). The compression ratio is higher than the other bands, to tame the percussive drum peaks. Also, the threshold is low, and there’s almost 4 dB of gain. This gives a lift to the upper mids, and tames the drum peaks in the instrumental section.

Final Comments

The second audio example includes all the above changes. It has the same LUFS value as the first audio example, so a level difference doesn’t influence the comparison.

2nd Audio Example

Note that the threshold on all the compressor’s bands is quite low. This is because the original file is around -16 LUFS. If it was higher, the thresholds wouldn’t need to be so low. The Multiband Dynamics brings the output up to around -14 LUFS. If you wanted a hotter sound, you could limit this further. But in any event, at least to my ears, the processed version sounds better than the original.


Download the original audio file below so you can follow along with this tip.

Download the final Multiband Mix Fix preset below. Try bypassing, soloing, and muting bands to hear what they contribute to the overall processing.

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“Universal” Gated Reverb

Last week’s tip covered using the Mixverb to create the 80s gated reverb effects with drums. This week, we’ll present a more universal solution. But also, we’ll do some cool tricks with gated delay (there’s nothing like a dotted eighth-note delay, right?).

Compared to last week’s tip, the main difference this week is that it’s not limited to using individual drum sounds (although that remains the most flexible approach). Because the gate following the reverb has a sidechain, it works with drum loops or a mixed drum bus. Fig. 1 shows the mixer setup for a drum loop.

Figure 1: Mixer setup for gated reverb drums.

The drum (or loop, or bus) track has two sends. One goes to an FX Channel with Open Air reverb followed by Gate. The Pro EQ2 before the reverb is optional—it’s there to keep low frequencies, where the kick lives, out of the reverb. The other send controls the Gate’s sidechain.

For Open Air, I prefer reverb sounds that don’t have a lot of early reflections, with a long, consistent tail. Try different reverbs, because the results vary greatly depending on the reverb itself. My go-to is using a 4.00 or 8.00 second “Balanced” impulse from my Surreal Reverb Impulse Reponses sample pack, tweaked with the Open Air EQ. In the audio example, using this particular impulse imparts a sort of melodic component as well as space. However, most long, smooth reverbs will work.

Gate Settings

First off, a “gotcha”: When you assign a sidechain to the Gate, it assumes you want Duck mode. You don’t! Make sure you turn off Ducking, or you’ll wonder why the gating doesn’t work as expected.

The Gate’s Hold parameter plays an important role. You can set the Threshold to pick up as much of the drum dynamics as you want, and then use Hold to set a specific amount of time that the Gate is open. Release tailors the sound further by setting the way the Gate cuts off, from no time to a bit of a decay. For example, 250 ms adds a bit more of a reverberant character if you want a less drastic gating effect.

Audio examples? Sure! Let’s start with gated reverb on drums.  The first half is dry drums. The second half has gated reverb, and uses the parameters shown in fig. 1.

80s Gated Mixverb Drums.mp3

The final audio example gates a dotted eight-note delay from the Analog Delay. In some ways, I think this is a better application than traditional reverb…but maybe that’s just because I haven’t heard it a zillion times before. This example has only the processed sound, since you already heard the dry sound in the previous audio example.

Gated 80s Drums_Delay.mp3