Here’s the origin story: I had a 177 BPM drum loop that played the perfect part for a song. Audio Example 1 is the sound of the original 177 BPM file.
However, the song I wanted to use it in had a tempo of 120 BPM. That’s a lot to ask of a stretch algorithm! Audio Example 2 used the Timestretch Drums algorithm to slow the tempo to 120 BPM. It’s remarkable it sounds as good as it does, but there’s occasional flamming that’s particularly noticeable in the fill at the end.
Audio Example 3 used the Tape Stretch algorithm to stretch the original part to 120 BPM. Although this solved the flamming problem, the pitch shift was too drastic to fit with the song.
I’m not sure what possessed me to edit Audio Example 2 with Melodyne (this technique works with all versions), but after switching to the Percussive algorithm and re-detecting the part, I was shocked to hear that the flamming was gone. The part even sounded tighter, and had more punch. Check out Audio Example 4, and compare it to Audio Example 2 (particularly the fill at the end).
I thought this might have been a fluke, but I tried the same technique with other fast-to-slow time stretches, and they worked just as well. This technique’s only limitation is that it doesn’t do as convincing a job with cymbal-heavy parts. But for the purposes of the song, the kick and snare were by far the most important elements. So, I just overdubbed a hi-hat part. Here’s the step-by-step procedure for implementing this technique:
1. In Song Setup, check Stretch audio files to tempo. Click Apply if needed, then OK.
2. Bring the file whose tempo needs to be slower into Studio One. If the file includes tempo information, it will stretch to fit the current tempo. The file’s Inspector Tempo field will show Timestretch, and the Timestretch field will show Drums. If the file doesn’t include tempo information, right-click on the file, and enter the tempo in the File Tempo field. If you don’t know the tempo, alt+click+drag on the right edge to extend the tempo to fit the correct number of measures.
3. With Timestretch and Drums still active in the Inspector, select the event and type ctrl+M (or right-click on the event, and choose Edit with Melodyne).
4. Select the Percussive algorithm, and choose Redetect. The result will look like fig. 1.
5. To make this change permanent, select the Event and type ctrl+B.
If anyone has any theories as to why this works, or other comments, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Version 1.3 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is available as a free update to owners of previous versions ($19.95 to new buyers). Download this book with 230 tips from your PreSonus or Sweetwater account, the same way you downloaded your previous version. Please note: version 1.3 does not cover the new features in version 6, although when version 1.4 is done, it will be a free update for owners of any previous edition. If you have questions about the tips, suggestions for future updates, or want news about the next version, please visit the dedicated support forum.
What’s better than one vocoder? Two vocoders, of course 😊. This tip is more about a technique than an application, although we’ll cover an application to illustrate the technique. But the main goal is to inspire you to try stereo vocoding and come up with your own applications, so there are additional tips at the end.
Long-time blog readers may have noticed my fascination with fusing melodic and percussive components. The easiest way to do this is to have a drum track (or reverb, pink noise, hand percussion, whatever) follow the Chord Track via Harmonic Editing. Although this tip takes that concept further, it’s about more than just percussion. Inserting a Splitter in an FX Chain, and following it with two vocoders, opens sonic options you can’t obtain any other way.
The FX Chain and Track Layout
Fig. 1 shows the stereo vocoder FX Chain. This technique will also work with Artist. However, it requires three tracks:
This application uses stereo drums, so the Splitter mode is Channel Split. The Dual Pan modules at the vocoder outputs provide stereo imaging. I typically pan one vocoder full left and the other full right, but sometimes I’ll weight them more to center, or to one side of the stereo field.
Fig. 2 shows the track layout. Each Mai Tai instrument track has a Send. These feed the sidechains for the two vocoders to provide the carrier audio. Although the Mai Tai faders are at minimum, mixing in some instrument sound provides yet another character.
This brief audio example adds a melodic component to drums. The two Mai Tai MIDI tracks are offset by an octave.
Fig. 3 shows the vocoder patch matrices. These particular settings are of no real consequence, they just emphasize that using different patch matrix settings for the left and right channel vocoders can have a major impact on the sound.
As to other applications:
I narrate an average of a video a week, so I’m always looking for better workflow options—and version 6 came through with the Lyrics Track. This tip is about one workflow, but the concept is flexible enough that you may find something that works better for you.
The Recording Process
Recording narration is different from laying down a guitar part. First, I record a reference narration track that breaks the narration down into smaller pieces. Typically, they’re around 20 seconds. Then, the narration for each section becomes a separate phrase in the Lyric Track.
Because I never get narration right the first time (hey, at least I admit it!), I loop-record the narration five or six times. This is where the Lyrics Display is invaluable. Normally, Studio One is on the main monitor, and the second, smaller monitor is dedicated to working with plug-ins and such. But for narration, the Lyrics Display goes on the main monitor. I’m only recording, not editing or arranging, so placing Studio One on the smaller monitor isn’t an issue (figs. 1 and 2). The Lyrics Display’s maximum font size (60.00) allows seeing the text while being at least a couple meters away from the computer. By using a ribbon mic and pointing the mic’s null response at the computer, there’s virtually zero background noise.
Before V6, I opened a text file with narration in the main monitor. However, this required scrolling for longer narrations. Paging up and down with a wireless keyboard worked, but was distracting (and I had to edit out the noise it made). With V6, while recording, the Lyrics Display jumps automatically to the next section of text, and highlights it in blue. This is way more convenient.
The standard comping tools are less useful because narration isn’t cut to a beat. Due to the slight variations, I unpack the layers to Tracks, and use the Listen Tool to decide which version has the best narration for any given section. The preferred sections are cut, and moved to a composite track. Keyboard shortcuts are essential here to choose among select, cut, and listen.
Some Events may have issues where the narration is good, but there’s a potential deal-breaker problem (e.g., a prominent mouth click). The Inspector comes into play here. V6’s Customize option pares the interface down to what’s needed needed to work with narration. Sometimes an Event processing plug-in will solve the problem, but if not, I add a marker to indicate where more editing is needed. That may mean substituting a section from a different take, or coming back to it later and recording replacement narration.
After selecting individual Events and bouncing them to single file, next is overall processing. The Pro EQ’s linear-phase low-cut filter reduces some of the ribbon mic’s boomy qualities, and a bit of high-end boost adds intelligibility. iZotope RX takes care of mouth de-clicking. Then, the Limiter and Gain Envelope even out any unwanted level variations, while V6’s new De-Esser reduces any overbearing sibilance. This group of processors cleans up the narration well.
Once the narration is exactly as desired, then it’s time to render, lay it on the timeline with the visuals…and send the invoice 😊
I use vocoders all the time, but rarely for voice. One of my favorite techniques is using drums to “drumcode” synth pads or guitar power chords, and give instruments a drum part’s percussive qualities. This tip takes that concept to the next level.
For conventional applications, Version 6’s Vocoder inserts in the track that provides the vocoder’s modulation source (e.g., voice). Then, the audio you want to vocode comes into the Vocoder’s sidechain from a different track.
This tip’s goal is to use Impact XT’s individual drum outputs as separate modulation sources. For example, you could modulate the Vocoder with just the kick, or just the snare…or the snare and hi-hat…or all three, and vary the amounts in real time. The first audio example has only the “drumcoded” carrier, while the second audio example mixes in some of the original carrier sound. Both options are useful. (The carrier is Mai Tai, with the free CA Hard Sync.preset download from the 5 Mai Tai Tips & Tricks blog post.)
Mega-modulated drumcoded carrier.
Mega-modulated drumcoded carrier, with original carrier sound mixed in.
How It Works
Referring to fig. 1, the key to this technique is inserting the Vocoder in a Modulator Bus, not a Track. Then, send Impact’s individual outputs to the Modulator Bus. Because each output has its own fader, you can “mix” how much modulation you want each drum to contribute to the Vocoder.
Regarding the Carrier, to hear only the drumcoded sound, use a pre-fader send and turn down the carrier’s channel fader. Or, use a post-fader send, and mix in the desired amount of the original carrier with the channel fader.
Finally, for big-time, fader slammin’ fun, hook up a Faderport to control the Impact XT outputs. Now you can “play” the drumcoding in real time, and add some DJ-type thinking for a cool, live-performance vibe.
Version 1.3 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available as a free update to owners of previous versions ($19.95 to new buyers). Download this 637-page book with 230 innovative tips 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.