A previous Friday tip, Mid-Side Processing with Artist, was published in June 2021. Since then, I’ve found a less obvious, but simpler away to accomplish virtually identical results.
To simplify, mid audio is what’s centered in a stereo track. Sides audio is what’s panned off to the sides. This tip extracts a stereo audio track’s mid audio to one console channel, and the sides audio to a second console channel.
Once extracted, you can process each element separately. This can be as simple as changing the balance between the mid and sides, or as complex as adding signal processors (like reverb to the sides, and equalization or delay to the mid). A common technique is increasing the sides level to widen the stereo image.
Obtaining the Mid and Sides
The mid is simply both channels of a stereo track panned to center. So, the mid also includes what’s in the right and left sides, but the sides are at a lower level. This is because anything the left and right channels have in common will be a few dB louder when panned to center.
The sides first reverses one of the stereo channels before mixing them into dual mono. So, whatever the two channels have in common—namely, the mid audio—cancels out. Following the dual mono signal with a second phase reversal restores the signal to stereo, and corrects for the original phase change.
Fig. 1 shows the setup for how to extract the mid and sides audio from a stereo console channel.
How to Extract the Mid Audio
The Mid pre-fader send from the Stereo Audio track feeds the Mid console channel. Set the send level to 0.0. The Mid console channel includes a Dual Pan. Select the Dual Pan’s Mono preset. This is all that’s needed to extract the Mid audio in the Mid console channel.
How to Extract the Sides Audio
This extraction process is a little more complex. The Sides pre-fader send from the Stereo Audio track (also set to 0.0) feeds the Sides console channel. The first Mixtool inverts the right channel. For the Dual Pan plug-in that follows the Mixtool, again choose the Mono preset. (You want both Dual Pans to use the same pan law.) Because the right channel is out of phase, the Dual Pan’s mono output cancels any audio the left and right channels have in common. This produces the sides audio.
To convert the sides audio back to conventional stereo, the second Mixtool inverts the right channel’s phase. Now, the sides are extracted, in stereo, and in phase with each other.
Mixing with Mid and Sides
With this method, you’ll need to mix the mid and sides level individually:
When the Mid and Sides balance is correct, group the two console channels. To do this, select the two tracks and type Ctrl+G. This also gives you the option to name them. Now you can set both levels by moving either fader.
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The May 2021 Friday Tip described how to use Jam Origin’s MIDI Guitar 2 software with Studio One 5 running on Windows. Unlike the Mac, Windows doesn’t support virtual MIDI ports natively. So, the tip described a workaround of running Jam Origin in standalone mode, and using Tobias Erichsen’s loopMIDI virtual MIDI cable to connect it with Studio One.
Although Melodyne Essential can also translate guitar audio to polyphonic MIDI data, it doesn’t work in real time, track pitch bend, or have features like legato response. However, V6’s instrument track enhancements eliminate having to do any kind of workaround with MIDI Guitar 2, and improves the overall performance.
How to Do It
1. Add a mono audio track for your guitar, and assign its input to your guitar’s audio interface input. Set the track’s input Monitor to on.
2. Insert the Jam Origin MIDI Guitar 2 plug-in into the guitar track.
3. Create an instrument track with your instrument of choice. Mai Tai is my go-to for MIDI guitar, but any VST3 or VST2 instrument I’ve used so far works.
4. Assign the instrument track input to MIDIGuitar2-64bit (fig. 1).
5. Start recording. I recommend recording the guitar track and the Instrument track. Processing the recorded guitar track, like using a gate or expander, can create some interesting results when driving the instrument. Also, sometimes lowering the clip level improves the conversion to note data.
6. When it’s time to edit the Instrument track’s note data, make sure to set the Instrument’s MIDI input to None (or, delete the guitar track). Otherwise, the instrument will be triggered from both the note data and the original audio data.
And Speaking of Editing…
You always need to clean up MIDI guitar parts to some extent, but some mass operations can save time. Select all the part’s notes, then remove notes with ultra-low velocities and ultra-short note lengths (fig. 2). Note that you need to do this as two separate passes, otherwise you’ll delete only notes that have both low velocities and short lengths.
Even better, a Macro that deletes ultra-low velocity notes can save a lot of otherwise detailed editing. To create a new Macro that does this:
1. After creating the new Macro, add Musical Functions | Select Notes
2. Double-click on the command, and choose Select and Range. Then, specify Velocity from 1% to 50% (or whatever velocity works best for your playing style and guitar level).
3. Add Musical Functions | Delete Notes
Using a Macro to clean up ultra-short, unintended notes is more fraught, because MIDI Guitar 2 will pick up the transitional notes that happen when you slide from one chord to another. These can be quite short, and I usually want to keep them. So, I select all notes, choose Delete Notes, and start with very short values (like 0.00.10). That deletes some undesired notes. I’ll then repeat with a longer value, like 0.00.20. There’s usually a value that gets rid of notes you don’t want, but keeps the transitional ones.
Of course, you can be less concerned about deleting longer note lengths if you’ll end up quantizing the notes anyway, and just want to delete any notes that are shorter than desired.
MIDI guitar is never perfect, but given that Jam Origin works polyphonically with guitar audio and requires no special hardware, it’s pretty amazing. MIDI guitar opens up other advantages, like using Note FX, and altering the Chord Track to create more adventurous chord progressions. For further advice about optimization, see the original tip referenced at the beginning, and also check out the documentation on the Jam Origin website.
You’re probably familiar with Studio One’s Micro Edit view, where you can expand/collapse an effect in the Insert Device Rack. However, Studio One 6 extends this ability to third-party plug-ins. You can treat the Insert Device Rack as your plug-in GUI, and tweak or write automation for parameters without having to open a plug-in’s interface. The Micro Edit view is ideal for quick tweaks, but also, for effects that interact with each other, like EQ and compression. Instead of having to bounce back and forth between two different plug-in UIs, all the necessary parameters are laid out in front of you.
Fig. 1 shows an example of using a Micro Edit view in the master bus. The processors are Waves’ UM226 stereo-to-5.1 surround upmix plug-in, followed the IK Multimedia’s Stealth Limiter as a post-master fader effect. Although the UM226 is designed to synthesize surround, I also use it as a “secret weapon” to give more of an immersive feel, and sense of space, to stereo mixes. Its UI is relatively large, so this lets me tweak it while doing a mix with other plug-ins open. Micro Edit view lets you choose the parameters you want to include from third-party plug-ins. The ones shown are the ones I edit most often.
You can choose as many or as few parameters as you want, and all of them are automatable. However, also note that the standard automation options don’t have to overlap with these parameters. For example, I use standard automation for switched functions that might only be needed to change once or twice during a song. There’s no need to have them take up space in the Micro Edit view.
Serious Micro Edit Automation
Opening the view in the Insert Device Rack limits the fader length. That’s okay for tweaking parameters, but for automation, it’s better to have a longer fader. Version 6’s Channel Overview takes care of that (fig. 2).
With PreSonus plug-ins, Micro Edit View parameters are pre-assigned to the most-used functions. With third-party effects, you select the Micro Edit view parameters, similarly to how you choose automation parameters.
Right-click on the effect name in the Insert Device rack, and choose Setup Micro Edit Parameters. Click on the parameters you want to add in the right pane, and choose Add. Now the parameters will be in the left pane, and visible as Micro Edit view parameters.
Fig. 3 shows how this can save a huge amount of screen real estate when mixing. The Ampeg SVT suite bass plug-in’s UI takes up a lot of space. So, I assigned all the parameters for the amp being used to Micro View parameters. Now tweaking the parameters simply requires expanding the Micro Edit view, and collapsing it again when done (expanding and collapsing are both one-click operations).
This is the kind of feature that may not seem like much of a big deal—until you start using it. Micro Edit view makes for a less cluttered, more compact, and visually streamlined mixing experience.
Heads-up: Version 1.3 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available! This 637-page book with 230 innovative tips is a free update to owners of previous versions ($19.95 to new buyers). Download the update from your PreSonus or Sweetwater account the same way you downloaded your previous version. For more information, check out the series of Studio One eBooks. Please note: version 1.3 does not cover the new features in version 6, although there will be a free update in the future. If you have questions about the tips, suggestions for future updates, or want news about the next version, please visit the dedicated support forum.