How to Record and Mix Great Vocals, released in January, has helped thousands of Studio One owners record world-class vocals. In June, More than Compressors – the Complete Guide to Dynamics in Studio One appeared, and de-mystified the sometimes complex applications of Studio One’s sophisticated dynamics control processors. The book impressed Studio One developer Arnd Kaiser so much he said “This is could easily become the de-facto reference for Studio One users on all things ‘dynamics.’ Very cool—and highly recommended.” We couldn’t agree more! Both eBooks are currently in the PreSonus shop for the low price of $9.99 each, and will expand your knowledge of Studio One exponentially.
Your guitar is most likely mono. But sometimes you want a wide, full, stereo image. I can relate.
One technique is to send the guitar track to an FX channel, insert a delay set for a relatively short delay (like 25 ms), and then pan the original track and FX channel oppositely. But if you sum the signals to mono, then there’s the possibility of cancellation. In fact, I saw a guy in an internet video who said this was a terrible idea, and you should just overdub the part again and pan that oppositely if you want stereo.
Well, overdubbing is an option, assuming you can play tightly enough that the parts don’t sound sloppy. But don’t forget Studio One has that wonderful Channel Mode button on the Main output, so you can test stereo tracks in mono—simply adjust the delay time for minimum cancellation. You won’t be able to avoid cancellation entirely, but tweaking the time may keep it from being objectionable (especially once the delay time gets above 25 ms or so, because that’s more into doubling range). To make any phase issues even less noticeable, lower the delayed sound’s level a little bit to weight the sound more toward the dry guitar.
But I wouldn’t be writing this tip if I didn’t have a better option—so here it is.
Now, here’s where the magic happens. Set the Main output mode to mono, and you’ll hear virtually no difference between that and the “faux stereo” signal, other than the stereo imaging. The reason why is that now, we have a guitar in the center channel—so choosing mono creates a center channel buildup. This raises the main guitar’s level above the delayed sounds, so there’s virtually no chance of audible cancellation, and it balances the level better between the stereo and mono modes.
Now you have a wide guitar that sounds equally loud, and is phase-issue free, in mono or stereo—happy Friday!
So…you want some huge drum sounds? Here you go. This is super well-suited to hip-hop and EDM, but can also give a monster drum sound for rock. The star of this show is the Softube Saturation Knob and FX Chain Splitter.
Drums lend themselves well to a little crunch, but there are limitations. If you apply a bitcrusher or distortion effect, the sound will become indistinct—which may be what you want, but I prefer a monster low end and a more defined high end. This usually requires a couple tracks with a crossover (or a track/bus combo with filtering), but the Splitter module makes it easy to do this in a single FX Chain.
Here’s the overall view of the FX Chain.
The first effect is a limiter, which is optional—but it can add a nice bit of squashing. The signal then proceeds to a Splitter set for a Frequency Split, with a crossover point around 220 Hz. The low-frequency split (to the left) goes to the Saturation Knob. You have some choices here; the Keep Low setting gives a boomier bass (hip-hop fans take note), while the Neutral and Keep High settings give a tighter sound—good for rock and dance, where you’ll often want the kick to make room for the bass part.
Meanwhile, the high frequencies split off to a Pro EQ and Mixverb. The Pro EQ helps compensate for the low-frequency split’s hugeness by boosting the highs with a broad peak. The Mixverb is a cheap ’n’ cheerful reverb that’s happy to provide a bit of room ambiance.
Finally, the Mixtool at the end provides a Trim control so you can match the enabled level to the bypassed one.
The Channel Editor brings out the crucial controls and is pretty self-explanatory. There are controls for the Saturation Knob’s two parameters, Frequency/Q/Gain controls for the high-frequency EQ stage, a Squash control to push the limiter, Room level, and Trim to adjust the final output.
So is it worth the effort to construct this FX Chain? Yes! But you don’t have to…
And you probably want to hear what it sounds like, so check out the audio example. The first half is a straight acoustic drum loop from Studio One’s library, while the second half has been converted into a Bigness of Huge drum loop. They’ve been normalized to the same peak level for a fair comparison.
Plug-ins have changed my life, and probably yours. Yet some hardware effects have no software equivalent—like boutique guitar effects, or tube-based equalizers. And there are even unique digital effects, too, like Roger Linn’s AdrenaLinn.
I wanted to use these with Studio One’s Pipeline XT plug-in and the Studio 192 interface, but never got the combo working properly. There were feedback problems, leakage into other channels, and various issues. After hours of trying different mixer settings, and searching the net, I couldn’t find an answer.
Then it dawned on me: PreSonus support! They had the answer, so hopefully this tip will not only inspire people to take a look at Pipeline XT, but help those who haven’t quite figured out how to use it in the PreSonus mixer ecosystem.
PREPPING THE STUDIO 192
Universal Control allows using Studio 192 (with a computer and enough I/O) as a digital mixer, but that’s not necessarily what we want with Studio One. To optimize the Studio 192 for Pipeline XT:
PREPPING SONG SETUP FOR EXTERNAL HARDWARE
We’ll use the AdrenaLinn as the example. It’s a mono in/stereo out device, but you can choose a mono or stereo output to feed it (I chose stereo because AdrenaLinn isn’t the only hardware device I use with Pipeline XT).
Note that you can name these inputs and outputs you just added. Save this Song Setup by clicking on Make Default if you plan to interface Studio One with this same setup hardware in the future. Otherwise, you’ll need to go through the assignment process again. If the setup is saved as a default, when you want to use a hardware effect, Studio One will know where to find it.
TIME FOR PIPELINE XT
This part’s pretty easy. Insert Pipeline Stereo as if it was a regular plug-in. Pipeline XT compensates automatically for the latency that accumulates from sending audio through the outputs, through an effect, then back into Studio One’s interface inputs. What’s more, it’s easy to assign the inputs and outputs in Pipeline XT, because you named them in Song Setup (Fig. 5). Pipeline XT will now divert the channel output to your hardware, and bring the hardware output back again into your channel.
In my experience, Pipeline XT compensates for latency without having to anything further. However, you can click on the wrench and have Pipeline XT compensate automatically, or do so manually. You can also tune out delays by ear. For example, load a drum loop, and copy it to the track with Pipeline XT. Listen to both tracks together, and adjust the Pipeline Offset parameter until the two tracks sound synched. (Note that if you try automatic compensation, it’s best to bypass the effect. With time-based effects, Pipeline XT won’t know which is the “real” signal for which it should compensate.)
Once Pipeline XT has been configured for a particular piece of hardware, you can store the setting as a preset for later recall—just like any effects preset. For me, 90% of the time I’m using external hardware for guitar effects. They operate similarly to AdrenaLinn, so I can just recall that preset.
There are a few other considerations unique to using external hardware.
Heartcast Media is a dedicated full-service studio in Washington, D.C. that works with clients to create high quality, authentic podcast content that inspires, educates and connects. Molly Ruland and her team specialize in working with entrepreneurs, visionaries, and businesses of all sizes who have an impactful point-of-view.
Woman-owned Heartcast Media is the vision of Molly Ruland who is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations bring their authentic, original content to life through podcasts. A sister-company to One Love Massive, Heartcast Media clients range from go-go bands to conservative political commentators.
They’re also PreSonus users—and have recorded 85 bands and 150 podcasts in the past 11 months alone!
We think Molly’s business idea is genius, and of course we’re glad that they’ve chosen the StudioLive 16 for their time-sensitive workflow. From the Heartcast website:
We have fully embraced technology and have figured out how to eliminate post production with real time video editing and audio mastering. We deliver all files within 48 hours of recording, typically within 3-4.
We’re proud to be a part of their process, so we wanted to hear more about how this whole operation works. Read all about Molly and Heartcast Media….
Tell us about your background. How long have you been in the audio industry?
I have owned and operated a multimedia company for the last 20 years. I was primarily focused on artist bookings and events. Creating an aesthetic has always been my passion.
How has the audio industry changed since your early days?
Everything is so streamlined now, and the gatekeepers have been removed. I love the idea of accessibility and practicality. Information is readily available which has opened doors for people who weren’t always welcome at the table, and I think that’s great.
How did Heartcast Media come about?
After recording 85 bands and 150 podcasts in 11 months, I realized that my passion and vision align perfectly through podcast production. I love amplifying voices, I always have. I saw a need in the market for high-quality turnkey podcast production, so I created the business to solve that problem. We do things differently—we embrace technology, and by doing so we are able to eliminate the need for a lot of post-production. This saves people time and money and our clients love that.
What’s your favorite podcast right now? Are you allowed to have a favorite?
Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory. No question, hands down. Game changer for me.
Tell us about your podcast. Where did the idea for your podcast come from? How does your first podcast compare to your most recent?
I have just launched The Lower Third Podcast because I know so many amazing people whom I garner so much inspiration from, and I wanted to interview and talk to them about mindset and passion. It’s a work in progress. I am looking forward to producing more episodes. However, my passion is producing other people’s podcast and helping them be successful.
There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out?
Having a plan for your podcast is imperative. Every podcaster should examine how and if their podcast is providing value. If there isn’t a clear answer, you don’t have a podcast yet.
What challenges do you face recording a podcast?
I am positive that most people don’t understand how much work goes into creating and producing a podcast. It’s a lot of work. It’s not cheap either, and anyone who tells you can start a podcast for $100 is delusional. If you are going to start a podcast you have to have a lot of resilience and a strong sense of self, because it will be a heavy rock to push uphill until you get momentum. It will not happen overnight.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a podcast?
Have a plan, understand the workload, and always be open to being wrong.
How did you first hear of PreSonus?
I learned about PreSonus through Adam Levin at Chuck Levin’s Music Center in Wheaton, Maryland. It’s legendary.
I have the StudioLive 16 in my studio, and we love it. It’s a little more than we need for podcasts, but we also produce live music events so it’s great to have a board that can do both. It’s a solid piece of equipment with really great features that fit our needs. It’s a beautiful board, what’s not to love?
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
My goal is to produce the best podcasts coming out of the East Coast by elevating and amplifying voices in my community that will make the world a better place, one conversation at a time. Every city should have a Heartcast Media.
This blog post will tell you how to get the perfect amount of bass when mastering audio using BASSROOM.
This is where so many potentially awesome tracks fail. Too much bass and your track will sound bloated and lack clarity. Not enough bass and your track will sound weak.
I have a process that helps me set the perfect amount of bass for my clients every time. Since I implemented this technique I can honestly say that my mastering business has dramatically improved (more than doubled!)
I hope that this technique helps you too, whether it’s growing your studio business or simply nailing the master of a track that will further your career as an artist.
Let’s start with why nailing the low-end is so difficult:
So we’re up against a few hurdles here, but the technique I’ll explain will improve the low- end of your masters, even in the most basic studio set-ups.
Step 1: Load Up Our Mixing and Mastering EQ BASSROOM on The Master Channel
BASSROOM uses complex algorithms that accurately identifies how the human ear perceives low-frequencies relative to the balance of the whole mix. For that reason it should be loaded on your master channel so it can analyse and be applied to your whole mix.
Step 2: Choose A Preset
To get the most value from BASSROOM, start by selecting a preset that best suits the material you’re working on.
Step 3: Create A Target
Rather than choosing a preset, you can create your own target values by clicking the target icon in the bottom left corner and importing reference tracks. If you’re creating targets, we recommend clicking and dragging on the waveform to select the drop or chorus for the analysis, as this is usually the material with the best representation of the bass in the track. BASSROOM will create targets based on all the tracks loaded into the analysis window.
Step 4: Shape Your Low End
Now monitor a bass heavy section of your production (i.e. the drop or chorus), and you’ll see the targets move to the suggested EQ positions based on the tonal balance of your mix compared to the tonal balance of your preset. Use the targets to get a great starting point, then adjust by ear to tweak your low-end to perfection. The algorithm accounts for differences in loudness, so the targets will be accurate and relevant whether you’re mixing or mastering.
Step 5: The Level Match
The EQ adjustments may have changed the overall gain of your audio. If the gain has changed by more than 2dB the speaker icon will turn orange. Hover your mouse over the bypass icon to open the output gain and level match pointer. Match the gain slider to the level match pointer to match the perceived loudness of your audio before it passed through BASSROOM.
HEAR THE DIFFERENCE!!
Not only will your low-end fall into place, but the level matching will give you a well-balanced sound across the whole frequency spectrum. Toggle bypass on and off to hear the difference.
The June 22, 2018 tip covered how to make mastered songs better with tempo changes, but there was some pushback because it wasn’t easy to make these kinds of changes in Studio One. Fortunately, it seems like the developers were listening, because it’s now far easier to change tempo. I’ve been refining various tempo-changing techniques over the past year (and had a chance to gauge reactions to songs using tempo changes compared to those that didn’t), so it seemed like the time is right to re-visit this topic.
WHY TEMPO CHANGES?
In the days before click tracks, music had tempo changes. However, with good musicians, these weren’t random. After analyzing dozens of songs, many (actually, most) of them would speed up slightly during the end of a chorus or verse, or during a solo, and then drop back down again.
For example, many people feel James Brown had one of the tightest rhythm sections ever—which is true, but not because they were a metronome. There were premeditated, conscious tempo changes throughout the song (e.g., speeding up during the run up to the phrase “papa’s got a brand new bag,” in the song of the same name, then dropping back down again—only to speed up to the next climax). Furthermore, the entire song sped up linearly over the course of the song.
Note that you didn’t hear these kinds of changes as something obvious, you felt them. They added to the “tension and release” inherent in any music, which is a key element (along with dynamics) in eliciting an emotional response from listeners.
THE PROBLEM WITH TEMPO CHANGES
It was easy to have natural tempo changes when musicians played together in a room. These days, it’s difficult for solo artists to plan out in advance when changes are going to happen. Also, if you use effects with tempo sync, not all of them follow tempo changes elegantly (and some can’t follow tempo changes at all). Let’s face it—it’s a lot easier to record to a click track, and have a constant tempo. However…
THE STUDIO ONE SOLUTION
Fortunately, Studio One makes it easy to add tempo changes to a finished mix—so you can complete your song, and then add subtle tempo changes where appropriate. This also lets you compare a version without tempo changes, and one with tempo changes. You may not hear a difference, but you’ll feel it.
As mentioned in last year’s tip, for the highest possible fidelity choose Options > Advanced > Audio, and check “Use cache for timestretched audio files.” Next, open a new project, and bring in the mixed file. Important: you need to embed a tempo, otherwise it’s not possible to change the tempo. So, open the Inspector, and enter a tempo under File Tempo. It doesn’t have to match the original song tempo because we’re making relative, not absolute, changes. Also choose Tempo = Timestretch, and Timestretch = Sound – Elastique Pro Formant.
MANIPULATING THE TEMPO TRACK
Working with the tempo track is now as easy as working with automation: click and drag to create ramps, and bend straight lines into curves if desired. You can set high and low tempo limits within the tempo track; the minimum difference between high and low Tempo Track values is 20 BPM, however you can change the tempo track height to increase the resolution. The bottom lines it that it’s possible to create very detailed tempo changes, quickly and easily.
So what does it sound like? Here are two examples. The first is a hard-rock cover version of “Walking on the Moon” (originally recorded by The Police, and written by Sting).
The differences are fairly significant, starting with a low of 135 BPM, going up to 141 BPM, and dropping down as low as 134 BPM.
Here’s another example, a slower song called “My Butterfly.” It covers an even greater relative range, because it goes from a low of 90 to a high of 96 BPM. You may be able to hear the speedup in the solo, not just feel it, now that you know it’s there.
Note that when possible, there’s a constant tempo at the beginning and end. It doesn’t matter so much with songs, but with dance mixes, I can add tempo changes in the track as long as there’s a constant tempo on the intro and outro so DJs don’t go crazy when they’re trying to do beat-matching.
So is it worth making these kinds of changes? All I know is that the songs I do with tempo changes get a better response than songs without tempo changes. Maybe it’s coincidence…but I don’t think so.
With the ideal mix, the balance among instruments is perfect, and you can hear every instrument (or instrument section) clearly and distinctly. However, getting there can take a while, with a lot of trial and error. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick you can use when setting up a mix to accelerate the process: Start your mix with all channel pan sliders set to center (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: All the pan sliders (outlined in white) are set to center for a reason.
With stereo tracks, changing the track interleave to mono isn’t adequate, because it will throw off the channel’s level in the mix. Instead, temporarily add a Dual Pan set for the -6dB Linear Pan Law, and center both the Left and Right panpots (fig. 2). Now your stereo track will appear in the mix as mono.
Figure 2: Use the Dual Pan, set to the -6dB Linear pan law, to convert stereo channels temporarily to mono when setting up for a mix.
Now listen carefully to your mix. Are all the instruments distinct? Monitoring in mono will reveal places where one instrument might mask or interfere with another, like kick and bass, or piano and guitar (depending on the note range).
The solution is to use EQ to carve out each instrument’s rightful place in the frequency spectrum. For example, if you want to prioritize the guitar part, you may need to reduce some of the piano’s midrange, and boost the regions above and below the guitar. For the guitar, boost a bit in the region where you cut the piano. With those tweaks in place, you’ll find it easier to differentiate between the two.
For kick/bass issues, the usual solution is to increase treble on one of them—with kick, this brings out the beater sound and with bass, string “zings” and pick noises. Another option is to add saturation to the bass, while leaving the kick drum alone. If the bass is playing relatively high notes, then perhaps a boost to the kick around 50-70 Hz will help separate the two.
Keep carving away, and adjusting the EQ until all the instruments are clear and distinct. Now when you start doing stereo placement, the sound will be open, with a huge soundstage and a level of clarity you might not obtain otherwise—or which might take a lot of tweaking to achieve.
We’re Not Done with Mono Just Yet…
Okay, now you have a great stereo mix. But it’s also important to make sure your mix collapses well to mono, because you have no control over the playback system. It might play from someone’s smartphone, and sounds mostly mono…or play back over speakers that are close to each other, so there’s not real good stereo separation. Radio is another possibility where the stereo might not be wonderful.
Some processors, especially ones that control stereo imaging with mid-side processing, may have phase or other issues when collapsed to mono. Short, stereo delays can also have problems collapsing to mono, and produce comb-filtering-type effects. So, hop on over to the main bus, and click the Channel Mode button to convert the output to mono (Fig. 3).
Figure 3: The Channel Mode button (circled in yellow) can switch the output between mono and stereo.
Hopefully, everything will sound correct—just collapsed to mono. But if not, start soloing channels and comparing what they sound like with the Channel Mode button in stereo and mono, until you chase down the culprit. Make the appropriate tweaks (which may be as simple as tweaking the delay time in one channel of a stereo delay processor), make sure the mix still sounds good in stereo, and you’re done.
OBEDIA, the leading source of live training and support for pro audio software and hardware, wants to help get new users up and running as fast as possible! Buy an AudioBox interface after August 1, 2019, and while supplies last, you’ll receive 30 days of free OBEDIA phone or remote desktop support for Studio One (a $29.90 value).
Simply register your new AudioBox at my.presonus.com, receive a promo code for OBEDIA with instructions for how to redeem, and join the celebration for OBEDIA’s 15th Anniversary.
Qualifying products include:
You read that right. Get our award-winning notation software, Notion 6 for FREE when you buy a PreSonus bundle! That’s $150 USD for FREE!
If you have purchased and registered a qualifying PreSonus recording bundle between August 1, 2019, and September 30, 2019, you’re eligible to receive a free copy of Notion 6. Notion 6 will be added to your account automatically upon hardware registration.
The following bundles are included in this promo:
Hear what TopTenReviews.com has to say about Notion 6:
Notion 6 is by far the best music notation software for less than $200. It is easy to use once you get used to the interface, and the sampled instruments are the best we heard. We reviewed a few programs that cost less than Notion, but this software can compete with the best composition programs in any price range.