In the 60s, flanging was an electro-mechanical process that involved two turntables or two tape recorders. Since then, flanging has evolved into a digitally driven effect, with a variety of cool bells and whistles. Paradoxically, though, many of today’s digital flangers can’t reproduce the period-correct sound of 60s flanging.
Five years ago, I wrote a blog post about a vintage flanger FX Chain that took advantage of Studio One Pro’s Splitter and Extended FX Chains features. Although this week’s tip takes a little more effort to set up than just loading an FX Chain, and doesn’t have Macro Controls, it gives the same authentic flanging sound for Studio One Artist—check out the audio example.
The 60s flanging sound has three important qualities:
Fig. 1 shows the track setup for the flanging effect.
1. The track you want to flange feeds two FX buses via pre-fader Sends. Turn the track’s channel fader down all the way. The Sends must have the same level (e.g., -6.0 dB).
2. Insert an Analog Delay in each FX Channel. Use the settings in fig. 2 for both of them.
3. Insert a Mixtool after the Analog Delay in the Variable Delay FX Channel. Turn on the Mixtool’s Invert Left and Invert Right buttons.
4. The channel faders settings for the Fixed Delay and Variable Delay channels need to be identical, and track each other. It’s a good idea to Group them.
How It Works
The Fixed Delay channel has a 5 ms delay. This is the “dry” channel. The Variable Delay channel’s Mixtool flips the FX Channel’s phase. The Analog Delay in the Variable Delay FX Channel can be longer or shorter than 5 ms. So, when the audio passes through 5 ms of delay, there’s the cancellation effect of through-zero flanging. By delaying the “dry” path, we’ve effectively allowed the Variable Delay to go into the future…at least as far as the dry audio path is concerned.
Create the flanging effect with the Analog Delay controls in the Variable Delay channel:
No matter how carefully you set up a mic’s pop filter, some pops are bound to get through the filter with vocalists who sing close to the mic. But you don’t need to redo or punch the vocal—let’s explore several ways to fix these problems in the mix.
Pro EQ3 dynamic EQ. Dynamic EQ is a fast, simple way to reduce pops (fig. 1):
1. Enable the low-frequency (LF) stage. Click the D button to reveal the dynamic EQ parameters.
2. Choose a 12 or 24 dB/octave low-frequency shelf.
3. Start with a substantial negative Range (e.g., ‑12 to ‑20).
4. Set Thrs. (threshold) to 0.00.
5. Loop the vocal section with the plosives. Adjust the low-shelf frequency so that the low-frequency attenuation affects only the plosives, not the voice’s usual warmth.
This technique also allows for a cool trick. Increase the Q slightly. When the plosives are being reduced, the increased Q adds a slight boost just above the shelf’s corner frequency. This gives some extra warmth to compensate for the lows being reduced.
Although this technique is simple to set up and works on an entire track, it may not be effective enough with super-nasty pops. The following methods are labor-intensive but can annihilate pretty much any plosive.
Split the Event before and after the pop, then insert Low Cut EQ as an Event FX. Roll off the low frequencies with the Event FX EQ (fig. 2). The only drawback is that if there are clicks when transitioning in or out of the isolated event, you’ll need to add crossfades or fades.
Split just before the pop, then fade in over the beginning (fig. 3). This reduces the level of the pop’s most prominent part—the beginning. For the best results, you need to find just the right split point prior to the pop, and carefully edit the fade shape.
This week, I wanted to give y’all a little gift: 15 “analog cab” IRs that provide alternate User Cabinet sounds for Ampire. Just hit the download link at the bottom, and unzip.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of an analog cab, it’s about using EQ (not the usual digital convolution techniques) to model a miked cab’s response curve. This gives a different sonic character compared to digitally-generated cabs. (For more information, see Create Ampire Cabs with Pro EQ2.) An analogy would be that convolution creates a photograph of a cab, while analog techniques create a painting.
The 15 impulse responses (IRs) in the Ampire Analog Cab IRs folder were made by sending a one-sample impulse through EQ, and rendering the result. This process creates the WAV file you can then load into Ampire’s User Cabinet. The IRs include the following cab configurations: 1×8, 1×10, (4) 1×12, (3) 2×12, 4×10, and (5) 4×12.
How to Use Analog Cabs
In any event, whether you go for individual impulses, layering, or creating stereo impulses, I think you’ll find that “analog” cab IRs extend Ampire’s sonic palette even further. And if you have any questions, or feedback on using analog cabs, feel free to take advantage of the Comments section!
Download the Ampire Analog Cab IRs.zip file below:
Many of these tips have their genesis in asking “What if?” That question led to the Higher-Def Amp Sim Sounds blog post, which people seemed to like. But then I thought “What about taking this idea even further?” Much to my surprise, it could go further. This week’s tip, based on the Ampire High Density pack, is ideal for increasing the definition and articulation of high-gain and metal amp sims.
Fig. 1 shows the FX Chain (the download link is available at the end of this post). The Splitter is in Channel Split mode. If your guitar track is mono so it doesn’t have two channels, change the track mode to stereo and then bounce the Event to itself. This creates a dual mono track, which is optimum for this application.
With traditional multiband processing, each band represents a range of frequencies. Distorting a limited range of frequencies reduces intermodulation distortion. The result is a more defined, articulated sound quality.
Fig. 1 implements a variation on multiband processing. It has four amps, but inserts Ampire’s Ten Band Graphic Equalizer before each amp. The graphic EQ sends two narrow frequency bands into each amp. Choosing frequency bands that are as far apart as possible reduces intermodulation distortion even further than standard multiband processing.
Referring to fig. 2, two bands in each graphic EQ are at +6 dB. The others are all at 0. Note how the various EQs offset the bands to different frequencies.
The Dual Pan plug-ins create a stereo image. With a traditional multiband setup, I tend to pan the low- and high-frequency bands to center, and spread the lower mids and upper mids in stereo. That doesn’t apply here, because there aren’t wide frequency ranges. Use whatever panning gives a stereo image you like.
A waveform is worth a thousand words, so check out the audio example. The first half is guitar going through Ampire’s German Metal amp sim. The second half uses this technique, with the same guitar track and amp sim settings. I think you’ll hear quite a difference.
Can This Be Taken Even Further?
Yes, it can—I also tried using eight splits. Because the Splitter module handles a maximum of five splits, I duplicated (complete) the track with the FX Chain, and fed both tracks with the same guitar part. The 31.2 Hz and 16 kHz bands aren’t particularly relevant, so I ignored those and fed one band from each EQ into an amp. As expected, this asks quite a bit of your CPU. Consider transforming the track to rendered audio (and preserving the realtime state, in case you need edits in the future).
However, I’m not convinced I liked the sound better. That level of definition seemed a little too clean for a metal amp sim. Sure, give it a try—but I feel the setup in this tip is the sweet spot of sound quality and convenience.
Download the FX Chain below!
Over four years ago, the blog post Colorization: It’s Not Just about Eye Candy covered the basics of using color. However, v6.1’s Custom Colors feature goes way beyond Studio One’s original way of handling colors.
The Help Viewer describes Custom Color operations, so we’ll concentrate on the process of customizing colors efficiently for your needs. For example, my main use for colors is to differentiate different track types (e.g., drums, synth, loops, voice, guitar, etc.). Then, changing the color’s brightness or saturation can indicate specific attributes within a track group, like whether a track is a lead part or background part, or whether a part is finished or needs further editing.
Opening the Custom Colors window and seeing all those colors may seem daunting. But as you’ll see, specifying the colors you want is not difficult.
What Are Hex, HSL, and RGB?
Electronic displays have three primary colors—red, green, and blue. Combining these produces other colors. For example, combining red and blue creates purple, while combining green and blue creates cyan. The three fields at the bottom of the expanded Custom Colors window (fig. 1) show the three main ways to define colors (left to right): Hex, HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness), and RGB (Red, Green, Blue). These are simply three different ways to express the same color.
RGB uses three sets of numbers, from 0 to 255, to express the values of Red, Green, and Blue. 255, 0, 0 would mean all red, no green, and no blue.
Hex strings together three sets of two hex digits. The first two digits indicate the amount of red, the second two the amount of green, and the final two the amount of blue.
HSL is arguably the most intuitive way to specific custom colors, so that’s the option selected in fig. 1.
You can think of the spectrum of colors as a circle that starts at red, goes through the various colors, and ends up back at red. So, each color represents a certain number of degrees of rotation on that wheel. The number of degrees corresponds to the Hue (color), represented by the H in HSL. Each main color is 30 degrees apart along the wheel:
S represents the amount of saturation, from 0 to 100%. This defines the color’s vibrancy—with 100% saturation, the color is at its most vibrant. Pulling back on saturation mutes the color more. L is the luminance, which is basically brightness. Like saturation, the value goes from 0 to 100%. As you turn up luminance, the color becomes brighter until it washes out and becomes white. Turn luminance down, and the color becomes darker.
The Payoff of Custom Colors
Here’s why it’s useful to know the theory behind choosing colors. As mentioned at the beginning, I use two color variations for each group of tracks. For example, vocal tracks are green. I wanted bright green for lead vocals, and a more muted green for background vocals. For the bright green color, I created a custom color with HSL values of 120, 100%, and 50%. For the alternate color, I used the same values except for changing Saturation to 50%.
Fig. 2 shows the custom color parameter values used for the 12 main track groups. The right-most column in fig. 1 shows the main track group colors. The next column to the left shows the variation colors, which have 50% saturation. In the future, I’ll be adding more colors to the 12 original colors (for example, brown is the 13th color down from the top in fig. 1’s custom colors). Fortunately, the custom color feature lets you save and load presets.
The brain can parse images and colors more quickly than words, and this activity occurs mostly in the brain’s right hemisphere. This is the more intuitive, emotional hemisphere, as opposed to the left hemisphere that’s responsible for analytical functions like reading words. When you’re in the right hemisphere’s creative zone, you want to stay there—and v6.1’s track icons and custom colors help you do that.
But Wait…There’s More!
Don’t forget that Studio One also has overall appearance preferences at Options > Appearance. This is kind of like a “master volume control” for colors. If you increase contrast, the letters for track names, plugins, etc. really “pop.” For my custom colors, increasing the overall Luminance emphasizes the difference between the main track color and the variation track color.