Many people don’t realize there are two types of expansion. Downward expansion is a popular choice for minimizing low-level noise like hiss and hum. It’s the opposite of a compressor: compression progressively reduces the output level above a certain threshold, while a downward expander progressively reduces the output level below a certain threshold. For example, with 2:1 compression, a 2 dB input level increase above the threshold yields a 1 dB increase at the output. With 1:2 expansion, a 1 dB input level decrease below the threshold yields 2 dB of attenuation at the output.
Upward expansion doesn’t alter the signal’s linearity below the threshold—if the input changes by 2 dB, the output changes by 2 dB. But above the threshold, levels increase. For example, with 1:2 expansion, a 1 dB increase above the threshold becomes 2 dB of increase at the output. Fig. 1 shows the difference between downward and upward expansion.
That’s Nice…So What?
Upward expansion is a useful tool for drums, hand percussion, and other percussive instruments. One function is transient shaping, to emphasize attacks. Suppose you have a drum loop with too much room sound. Traditional expansion can make the room sound decay faster, but using upward expansion brings the peaks above the room sound, while leaving the characteristic room sound alone.
Another use is with percussion parts, like hand percussion, that are playing along with drums. A lot of times you don’t want the percussion hits to be too uniform in level, but instead, the most important hits should be a little louder compared to the rest of the part. Again, that’s where upward expansion shines. Dip the threshold just a tiny bit below the peaks—the peaks will stand out, and sound more dynamic.
Let’s listen to an audio example. The first two measures use no upward expansion with a drum track. The next two measures add a subtle amount of upward expansion. You’ll hear that the peaks from the kick and snare are still prominent, but the room sound and cymbals are a bit lower by comparison. The final two measures use the settings shown in Fig. 2. The kick and snare peaks are still there, but the rest of the part is more subdued, and the overall sound is “tighter,” with more dynamics.
The only difference among the two-measure sections is the Range control setting. For the first two measures, it’s 0.00 dB; nothing can be above the threshold, because there is no threshold. In the second two measures, the Range is -2.00, so anything above that threshold goes through 1:4 expansion. In the final two measures, the range is -4.00 (I rarely take it lower, as long as the Event hits close to 0 on peaks).
Here’s the coolest part: Automating the Range parameter lets you alter a drum part’s dynamics and feel, without having to change the part itself. This is particular wonderful for compressed drum loops, because you can lower the range to keep the peaks, while making the rest of the loop less prominent. When you want a big sound, slam the Range back up to 0.00.
But Wait! There’s More!
The Multiband Dynamics processor can do frequency-selective upward expansion. You can isolate just the high frequencies where a drum stick hits, and emphasize only that frequency. Another use is making acoustic guitars sound more percussive, as in this audio example.
The first two measures are the original acoustic guitar track, and the next two use Multiband Dynamics to accent the strums (Fig. 3).
The Multiband Dynamics are in a separate, parallel track (you could build this into an FX Chain, but I think showing this in two channels illustrates the process better). Because the Multiband Dynamics is listening to only the high frequencies, which are quite weak and not sufficient to go over the expander threshold, the Input control is adding +10 dB of gain. Alternately, you could insert a Mixtool before the Multiband Dynamics.
This effect is best when used subtly, but next time you want to reach for a transient shaper, try this instead. It’s a flexible way to emphasize percussive hits and strums.
Hello… this is Sascha Konietzko a.k.a Käpt’n K, a native of Germany, founder of KMFDM in 1984 (when I was living in Paris, France), a producer and remixer for the past 35+ years.
Besides KMFDM, I’ve done work to more or lesser degrees of involvement with a number of projects on the side: MDFMK, EXCESSIVE FORCE, KGC, SCHWEIN, PIG, and SKOLD, to name a few. As a remixer, I was fortunate enough to contribute to bands such as Metallica, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, The Young Gods, Front 242, Die Krupps and many more.
Under the moniker KMFDM, I have released 21 studio albums, as well as dozens of singles, EPs and live albums.
I’ve been using the PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console mixer for live shows (monitor setup) for a number of years now, as well as Studio One Professional and the trusty ol’ Studio Channel. Studio One Professional has been used in my personal studio, mainly to record vocals.
So here’s the story: I’ve been using Pro Tools since 1991; previously I’ve worked with the earlier version of it, which was Sound Designer II. Over the years Pro Tools evolved into a platform with many great features, but also many (not to be underestimated) negative aspects—such as severe latency, under some circumstances.
When I discovered Studio One, which was actually highly recommended to me by KMFDM’s drummer Andy Selway, I found out that I could easily use the workflow I’ve come to develop over the years with the click of a button, PLUS… and this is the absolutely greatest feature of Studio One Professional in my mind: without any latency AT ALL. It allows me to interchange seamlessly between my recording and my mixing environments!
Seriously, it’s been a lifesaver after so many situations where a recording session just went downhill really quick due to latency issues in Pro Tools, with frustrated performers and a super-frustrated Yours Truly!
Notion iOS 2.5.1 Maintenance Release
An update is now available to the recent 2.5 release for Notion iOS, the best-selling notation app on iOS. This is a free update for Notion iOS owners that can be obtained by visiting Notion in the App Store on your device, or checking your available updates in the App Store.
All the changes are below – if you missed all the major news for v2.5 itself, check it out here
And while you’re here, please join us at our new official Facebook user group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PreSonusNotionUsers
More than one wise grandmother has said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this new time of social distancing and sheltering in place, why not squeeze in (see what we did there) a little professional development into your busy schedule of Netflix, walk the dog, make a snack, Hulu, think about exercising, make another snack.
Learning about AVB doesn’t have to involve stacks of IT manuals. PreSonus has put together all the resources you need to discover what this exciting audio networking technology can do for you.
Here are Ray “The Beard” Tantzen and Mike “The Brainiac” Cole to tell you a little more about a little thing called AVB:
Ready to learn more? Awesome!
Before taking a deep dive down the AVB rabbit hole, take a quick refresher on what audio networking is and some of the fundamentals. As its name implies, audio networking allows you to transport large amounts of data over a single cable. This means that audio can be moved quickly over long distances without signal degradation or the expense of conventional analog cabling.
From distributed audio to network foundations and addressing, this article will get you started:
AVB (Audio Video Bridging) is an extension to the Ethernet standard designed to guarantee that audio samples will reach their destinations on time. AVB allows you to create a single network for audio, video, and other data like control information, using an AVB-compatible switch. It’s also the networking technology that all PreSonus StudioLive Ecosystem products use.
AVB networking offers several features that make it ideal for audio applications, find out more here:
P2P? Star? Daisy-chain? Whether you’re connecting a mixer straight to a stagebox using AVB or configuring a large system for broadcast, figuring out the best way to create your network is critical to ease of use and system performance. Check out this article to learn which configuration or combination of configurations will work best for you:
Okay, not that kind of hop, but it’s still pretty hip (Dad joke Level 16: unlocked). A hop on an AVB network is counted by the connections between AVB switches in a series. Luckily, you can make up to six hops before your network stability is effected, but it is something to consider when configuring your network. Find out why here:
Like all digital audio systems, all the audio traffic on an AVB network is synchronized using a global clock so that audio can be played and recorded while remaining in time from multiple sources. Obviously, the more audio traffic on a network, the more critical this becomes. For users familiar with traditional digital audio devices (ADAT, S/PDIF, etc.) the idea of a global clocking device will not seem unfamiliar. PreSonus AVB devices have two clocks: one wordclock and one PTP clock. Get out your pocket protector, we’re about to get geeky:
OMG. Stop. Go for a walk or something, you’re about to read a technical article on Ethernet cables!
You asked for it…
AVB networks rely on a set of standards for cabling to ensure that network performance is both reliable and consistent. These standards include specifications for the cable construction itself, as well as specifications for the termination of cabling and physical connections to devices. Deviations from these specifications can result in reduced performance and even data loss, so it’s important to use the right cable for the job, and to use good quality cable that meets the necessary specifications. Find out why here:
I think the Autofilter is a great effect—which you probably already figured out if you saw my blog posts The Best Flanger Plug-In?, Attack that Autofilter, and Studio One’s Secret Equalizer. But the one effect that has always eluded me was the Autofilter effect itself, when used with guitar or bass. It never seemed to cover quite the right range—like it wouldn’t go high enough if I hit the strings hard, but if I compensated for that by turning up the filter cutoff then it wouldn’t go low enough. Furthermore, the responsiveness varied dramatically depending whether I was playing high up on the neck, or hitting low notes on the E and A strings. So basically, I’ve never really used the Autofilter for its intended purpose—until now, because I’ve finally figured out the recipe. Hey, better late than never!
This technique involves dedicating two tracks to the same guitar audio—the Autofilter processes one of the tracks, while the other track provides a pre-fader send to the Autofilter’s sidechain (Fig. 1). By processing the send, we can make the Autofilter respond pretty much any way we want.
Figure 1: Both tracks are being fed from the guitar audio. The track on the right processes the audio to control the sidechain of an Autofilter, which is inserted in the track on the left.
The Autofilter (Fig. 2) has a lower filter cutoff than what I would normally use, were it not for this technique; the envelope amount slider is up all the way (the LFO is at zero, so it doesn’t influence the envelope effect).
Figure 2: Initial Autofilter settings, when controlled by a processed sidechain signal.
As to what’s conditioning the send to make the Autofilter happy, it’s the underappreciated Channel Strip plug-in (Fig. 3). The strip is both compressing and expanding because, well, that’s what ended up sounding right. But the key here is also the EQ. The higher-output low strings are attenuated, so that the filter response for the lower strings is consistent with the upper strings—thanks to the massive high-frequency boost. Meanwhile, the Gain is slammed all the up, so that it drives the Autofilter to a suitably high frequency with strong input signals.
Figure 3: The Channel Strip is ideal for conditioning the signal controlling the Autofilter sidechain.
Here’s another tip: The technique of duplicating a track, and processing it to provide a custom sidechain signal, has a lot more uses than just this. Try using the X Trem as a step sequencer and control the sidechain in a compressor…or the Autofilter’s sidechain, for that matter.
Remember, if you want to come up with something novel, ask “what if?”—not so much “how to?” I guarantee you won’t find a single, click-bait YouTube video called “SECRET AUTOFILTER PRO TRICK YOU MUST KNOW!” I’d never claim this is a tip the pros use; the only reason I came up with it is because I was frustrated that I couldn’t get the Autofilter to do what I wanted, and thought “What if I process the signal going to sidechain?” I can’t help but wonder how many other “what ifs” are waiting to be discovered…well, see you next week!
SURPRISE! For a short time, the following ATOM-enhanced loops are 50% off. This offer ends March 22!
You can save 50% on any of the following:
And while saving a few bucks on loops is always nice, let’s take a look at some ATOM developments for a minute. Now that the product has been out for a while, users have been discovering the instrument’s full potential. Combine the tips below with some of the loops above and add some new beats AND new techniques to your production workflow.
Want to become a finger-drumming master? If you bought your ATOM after October 20, 2019, you get free lessons from Melodics! Go to your MyPreSonus account to redeem them!
This Craig Anderton blog features a lot of tricks you can do with ATOM that have nothing to do with drums. Yeah, you read that right. Good ol’ Craig, always thinking outside the box.
Here’s our very own ATOM with Ableton Live playlist:
And our Studio One ATOM playlist:
Nineteen year-old Anna Clark works as a Grammy-nominated vinyl mastering engineer at Welcome to 1979 Industries. Nine years ago, she founded 501(c)(3) organization Guitars 4 Gifts, which has given over 1,000 youths access to their first musical instrument.
As a lifelong singer/songwriter/musician, Anna has performed live on Lightning 100 (Nashville’s premier independent radio station), she holds a Certificate in Music Business from the Berklee College of Music and is currently on track to graduate from Belmont University in 2022.
When not working on one of her passion projects, Anna loves to spend time with her dogs or attend concerts with her friends and family.
Let’s find out more about how she’s been navigating through and actualizing all of these different creative sonic environments!
What hardware and software tools help you with your audio work at home these days?
I currently use a StudioLive 16 mixer, a Central Station Plus, HP4 headphone amp, a pair of Sceptre S6 monitors, and Studio One DAW software.
Originally, a friend introduced me to your monitors and I basically fell in love with using them. Because I work in many different areas of audio engineering, I needed products that I could use for any area that I was working in, so that I wouldn’t have to have different setups.
I use my StudioLive mixer pretty much every day. It is great because I save different scenes so that if I am recording a guitar/vocal demo, I have some EQ and compression settings saved, and I can bring them up super easily. I love that I can A/B EQ settings using the A/B button, and I also love the vintage EQ and tube compressor. I also have scenes saved for full band sessions, piano/vocal sessions, and more. The StudioLive mixer makes it super convenient for me to walk up and start working. I will also say that I carry it with me everywhere to run sound for live shows and recordings, and have even used it for a live broadcast of a show. It has never let me down and has always been very easy to set up! Because I am able to save settings from my recording sessions, it makes it even easier to set up for a live show.
Basically, I have various synths, mics, instruments, etc. that I leave set up so that I can record an idea at any time and they go directly into the mixer. From there, I use the Central Station which outputs to my Sceptre monitors along with other monitors and a PreSonus HP4.
We’re curious about your work as a vinyl mastering engineer… can you tell us about that sound-world?
The first thing I do when I’m mastering a project for vinyl is look at all of the files and create a session for them. I then check the length of both of the sides. For each speed and size of disk, there are certain limits for how long the side can be. Next, I typically adjust the overall level of the project. Usually, the project is too loud, even if it hasn’t been mastered before. The louder the project is, the wider the grooves are. If the grooves are too wide and take up too much space, the project won’t be able to fit on the lacquer (the type of disk I cut on to make a vinyl master). I then mono the low end and use an EQ to filter out any frequencies that may give me problems. Sometimes if the vocal has too much sibilance it can cause issues, especially if there are also a lot of hi-hats/cymbals. I then run the project down to make sure it will fit and also to make sure there won’t be any trouble areas. If everything looks good, I’ll cut the project after that! Before I cut a lacquer, though, I have to use a microscope to look at a couple test cuts and make sure the stylus is working properly and that there is enough space in between the grooves.
Moving back to your home studio working environment; tell us more about how you’ve been using Studio One and what led you to our DAW?
For producing, tracking, mixing, and mastering. I will also occasionally use it for live recordings with my StudioLive 16 mixer. It has been a very helpful tool!
One of the main factors that lead me to it was when I was producing, being able to bounce between ideas easily and combine ideas from different files. I tend to either work with an “engineer” mindset or a “creative” mindset. Because of how easy Studio One is to use, I am able to start tracking a song while I am writing it, and I am able to keep my “creative” mindset. It helped me when I would be writing and producing at the same time, because it allowed me to be able to keep my creative hat on while still being able to engineer a track.
It is very quick and easy to use, which is helpful when recording live shows. It makes the show go a lot smoother when you’re not having to worry about having to spend a lot of time setting up a session, etc. I also love how well all of the PreSonus gear works together; it is extremely nice to have products that all communicate together so that I’m not wasting time trying to fix something. If I have an idea, I can walk right into my studio and know that I’ll be able to get everything down fast.
This was especially helpful when I was just getting started as an engineer, because everything was very straightforward when I was setting it up.
All of the PreSonus products work in many different settings. For example, I originally purchased my StudioLive board for live events, but I use it in a studio setting as well and love it there, too!
Finally, let’s talk about you as a creative musical artist!
My main influences for my own music are artists like Maggie Rogers, Florence and the Machine, and St. Vincent. I have a love for analog synths and was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple for this project. I used a Roland Juno 6 and a MOOG Sub Phatty for most of the songs, and then had a drummer/guitarist/bassist add parts to each of the songs as well. I love using basic tools like EQ and reverb to make new sounds that I haven’t heard before. Typically, I will use the Pro EQ plugin that comes with Studio One to take out certain frequencies. The majority of EQ’ing I do is subtractive, because I like to make sure that every instrument has its own space in my songs. A lot of my time is spent experimenting with lots of different effects to try to get the sounds that I can hear in my head. I love the depth that an analog synth and live instruments can bring to a session, but I also love being able to edit a project easily. Even though I’ll record a lot of different instruments, I like to be able to edit each of the parts so that you can feel the song “build up” from each of the verses to the chorus. Studio One makes it really easy for me to audition different parts and figure out what I like. I am also known for creating a bunch of different versions of the same song, and Studio One is able to make my workflow seamlessly. I use the Scratchpad function because I typically write a song while I am also recording it, so I am able to try out different ideas without having to commit. That is one of the things that Studio One does best, is it works for Engineers, but also Songwriters, Artists and Producers of creative content these days online.
I feel very lucky that I found your products because it has really helped me grow my studio and career. Thank you, PreSonus!
Before you read this, go take a shower. You may be quarantined but that’s no excuse to look like an extra on The Walking Dead.
Now is the time to start that podcast you’ve been thinking about for months. No more excuses. You have the time and we’re here to help. In fact, PreSonus provides all the tools you need to make your podcast sound like the pros which is why so many podcasting professionals rely on PreSonus. Here are 5 quick steps to get your podcast rolling!
SANGUINE are an Alternative Rock Metal band from Exeter in the UK, led by singer Tarin Kerrey and guitarist Nick Magee.
The band released their first Album, Black Sheep, in 2016, co-written by Jesper Stromblad from Grammy Award-winning band In Flames. It gained incredible reviews, and Sanguine went on to tour the UK and Europe with many notable acts including Fear Factory, Megadeth, Skindred, MushroomHead, Hellyeah, Cancer Bats, OPM, Zebrahead, and many more.
Following the tour cycle, SANGUINE returned to the UK to record the follow-up album. They tried various producers, but found the energy wasn’t really connecting and wanted it to feel right. At the same time, they had been playing around with the free version of PreSonus Studio One—Studio One Prime. They found it incredibly intuitive, and as their skills improved they began making higher and higher quality demos. They started showing the recordings to the labels, sponsors, and their inner circle… and the feedback was extremely positive.
When it came to the final decision of who to record with, SANGUINE mixed up the recordings with versions of the same songs from professional producers done in other studios, and asked people to choose their favorite based just on sound. The majority of them picked the band’s version recorded in Studio One.
This inspired the band to fully embrace the program and learn as much as they could in a very short time.
The result is Cold Blood, which like its predecessor has received stunning reviews from both mainstream and underground press/blogs/fanzines.
In a modern climate where music makes very little revenue compared to the cost of making it, getting the cost of an album down is crucial. The average cost of a rock album is about £10-£20K. Cold Blood cost under £500 to make in total because of Studio One. SANGUINE only used the plug-ins that came with Studio One—as there was plenty to work with!
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Studio One is its user-friendly interface. Nobody in the band was particularly computer-minded. None of us had any previous experience engineering at all. That alone is a testament to how logical the layout is. The only regret SANGUINE have is not going down this path earlier, because the benefits have been so instant and rewarding.
PreSonus: What PreSonus products have you used and which do you currently use?
SANGUINE: We actually have a really simple and achievable setup. We use Studio One Professional, Tannoy monitors, and a range of mics. We have brought additional plug-ins like Izotope and VSTs, but to be honest 90% of what we ended up using for the album came free with the software. It’s a seriously comprehensive range of sounds to get started with. You could spend weeks alone exploring just them!
We are looking at buying more expansion packs for the next round of recordings. We compensate for our lack of outboard studio gear by using VST plug-ins and extremely high-quality instruments and mics. Nick uses a Manson MBC-1 with Pro Sustainiac Sustainer and Ross uses a Fender Precision bass with Nordstrand Audio custom pickups. Changing to Mansons and Nordstrand gear changed our game quite a bit both live and for the studio. We have learned that having high-quality source sounds, good quality microphones/pre-amps, and a decent soundcard is absolutely key to the end product sounding good.
PreSonus: What led you to Studio One? Was it the company’s reputation, audio quality, ease of use, specific features, price, other factors?
SANGUINE: To be honest it kind of found us! Producer Daniel Flores introduced us to the program during the recording of the Black Sheep album. We had never heard of this DAW before, but Daniel is a true pro, so the fact that he was using it alone was a big validation. You could tell he was excited by the functionality of the program and throughout the recording, he would often show us some of the cool things you could do with it. This sparked our interest.
Studio One has a really intuitive layout unlike other DAWs, things are where you would want or expect them to be rather than hidden away in obscure menus. Studio One is easy to use; we rarely have to look up where to find functions and that is a big advantage to the writing process.
We knew that Studio One was being widely used by studio producers but we were uncertain about its capacity to record a live band… we were wrong, it’s just as good as Pro Tools and we would now recommend it as the only option for musicians.
PreSonus: What Studio One features have proven particularly useful and why?
SANGUINE: There is so much included with Studio One, features include everything that their competitors are offering and MORE!
We started the Cold Blood album recording process by recording a live demo of the songs in our band room. We then used Studio One to help us make a decision on which ones to record for the album.
We set up our album project at 96kzHz and recorded the drum stems in a professional studio with an acoustically treated room, and brought the tracks back to our studio to edit, quantize and process. This was nerve-racking for us, as we had never quantized drums before, but again PreSonus delivered by making the drum quantizing and triggering process a breeze. We then laid all the other instruments in our studio using Studio One; it was easy to try something and undo it if it didn’t sound right. We used a mixture of real sounds and plugins to achieve the final result.
For SANGUINE we have found the VSTs, sound packs, synths, and loops included with Studio One Professional inspired us to create and record our new sound. We downloaded a few plug-ins and VSTs but mostly used the free Add-Ons provided by Studio One. SANGUINE always felt like it needed an extra sound in some songs, not enough to warrant a full-time extra member—more just the odd effect, ping, or some other sound to pick up the ear and keep it interesting. Lots of bands do this in our genre like Linkin Park, Slipknot, Skindred, Bring Me The Horizon, etc. The Studio One sounds were exactly what we were looking for, there is a huge range of sounds, but also the ability to forge, combine and bend the audio to pretty much anything you can think up. We now run our extra production sounds live.
PreSonus: How does Studio One compare to other DAWs you have used?
SANGUINE: We played around with Cubase in the early days but it just felt like climbing a mountain. It’s not very motivating as an artist if you can’t get into a good writing flow. We personally didn’t find it intuitive at all. We tried Logic but didn’t find it very logical! After seeing colleagues spend thousands on Pro Tools, we saw a cycle of money going out but never coming back in! In an industry where it is hard to make money, it seemed to us that Pro Tools was only for people with more money than sense!
For an untrained eye, most DAWs look complex and difficult to use. None of the band are qualified sound engineers, so usability was the first priority. Studio One offered an interface that was easy to use and a high-quality sound.
Originally we just intended to record demo’s on Studio One – but after a while, we started to prefer our versions of the songs to the other Producers we were using. We found that you could use Studio One to experiment quickly with new ideas. It’s changed how we write – writing used to take place in the room but now we often have Studio One running so we can try different beats quickly or see how a section sounds if you add strings. Everything has improved as a result.
In simple terms, Studio One has made it easy for an everyday person with no previous engineering experience or ability, to create professional studio quality recordings without having to spend thousands hiring a traditional studio. That alone blows our minds. We used to spend around £1000 per song. So an album could chalk up £10K pretty easily. The modern music industry just doesn’t provide the economy of scale to make sense of those numbers. Hundreds of thousands of Spotify plays will earn you about £50 for example – so you would have to have millions of streams to earn that back.
By learning Studio One we have essentially eliminated that cost and empowered ourselves to have the freedom to write and release anything we want, whenever we want. As artists, we can’t think of what could be better than having 100% autonomy over our output. Most artists play for the love of music, but due to the towering expense involved with being in a touring band, at some point they have to turn it into a business to continue doing what they love. We have seen so many amazing bands who have exhausted themselves and essentially burnt out trying to make sense of the money side of the business. The bottom line is that eliminating cost makes it easier to return a profit and survive.
PreSonus: Which Studio One feature or concept isn’t talked about enough in your opinion?
SANGUINE: A BIG feature for us was the ease of adding ISRC codes. We had friends who were releasing records at the same time as us who were struggling to get theirs embedded for a sensible price—can’t say that we didn’t feel a bit smug knowing we could do ours within the session—it took us about an hour to sort out. Again, we learned and executed a new task in an hour using only free internet tutorials. That is one of the many examples of how Studio One makes our life easier and cheaper. It’s another process that we previously would have paid someone to do.
Also, I think the depth you can go inside a sound is slightly overlooked—when you start really playing with the parameters of an effect, layering them up/combining you can approximate virtually any sound within reason. Initially, we assumed that we would need to keep topping up the extension packs more frequently – however the deeper we explored the program the more we found. I would advise anyone using this program to spend at least two weeks just exploring the sounds and how you can manipulate them. At first, we grouped sounds that we liked and made notes of their location— after a while though we started using sounds that we never thought we would ever need—for example, sounds that sound irrelevant on their own but amazing within the context of a mix.
We heard that Studio One is very popular with EDM Producers—it’s easy to see why because of the quality of recording produced, sound packs and ease of use. However, we are a rock band, so 90% of the sound we record is played on drum/bass/guitar/vocals. We think if more rock/metal bands knew how radically Studio One could impact their output, many more would jump on board. Our advice would be don’t wait to be told, spend time on it, try it for yourself… and most importantly trust your ears!
PreSonus: Any useful tips/tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One that would be of interest to our user base?
SANGUINE: This is probably the most relevant question to us out of all of them. Historically every time we tried to record ourselves the programs just seemed too complicated. We would spend hours on a recording in Cubase and obtain a very average result. We put this down to none of us being a qualified sound engineer, but when we moved over to PreSonus suddenly our recording quality went up! We realized it wasn’t our talent it was the usability of the program that was holding us back.
After you master a DAW system you realize that 50% of the songwriting is achieved via the recording and production process. You may have noticed over the last few years that producers are often credited before artists on songs. It’s like the guys that used to be kept in the backroom are now thinking ‘Hang on a minute—who’s the talent here?!’ Mark Ronson is a good example. We don’t blame them—after all the song is only 50% of the process—the production and recording are what makes it viable.
We see a future where the only artists who can survive are the ones who create and record their own music from scratch. SANGUINE have taken this DIY ethic to the extremes and for our latest album, Cold Blood, we literally created every visual and sound ourselves. It meant many nights of reading, trial and error, and a few headaches… but we are now in a position where we can create everything for almost zero cost. The bottom line for any recording is spending hours grooming through the takes until you have the right sound and delivery. When you are being charged in a studio you are “on the clock” and you don’t always achieve the best take or treatment of sound. By taking control of our own recording environment we can spend hours recording and playing around with the music until we have the exact sound we are looking for… I don’t think we could have afforded to pay an engineer or producer for that!
People can overlook how psychological the recording process is – we realised how much our insecurity over our ability to pull this off was impacting us as artists/writers. We had to really learn to trust our ears and what WE thought sounded good.
We blind tested this by recording the same song three ways:
After a blind test listen of these three options we asked our fans and managers to chose which they preferred, surprisingly option 3 was the winner, so we decided to record the album ourselves with no help! Not because the other producers were bad at what they did, more that they simply couldn’t compete with the AMOUNT OF TIME we had to spend on it. Time is free after all, so it is one of an artist’s biggest assets. This confirmed our self-belief that we could do it and we found that energy very motivating—the more positive feedback we got, the more hours we put into it and the better the result. One of the frustrating things is that as you get better you find yourself looking back at songs and pulling them apart/finding fault. Having a studio at your fingertips means you can re-visit those issues and iron them out.
I haven’t met an artist yet who has left a studio being 100% blown away and happy with what they have created with another producer. In fact, it’s more often the opposite. Sure you can go back to a studio and make corrections but it isn’t very practical or spontaneous and you will always be working to someone else’s timetable. Why pay thousands for something you don’t even like that much? Studio One puts our entire catalog at our fingertips. It also means if we need to make alterations like removing vocals for a soundtrack, we can just fire up the computer and do it ourselves. Even a simple task like that would set you back £200 if you were to get a studio to do it for you.
We were joking recently that Studio One is our fifth band member—we feel so in tune with the system it almost feels sentient at times! We might start offering it coffee when we pull a late one…
Finally—something which we didn’t expect was that other bands started asking us to record them and mix their music after hearing ours. This provides an additional revenue stream that we didn’t account for. More money is never a bad thing and it’s a huge compliment to us that after two years we are being asked to do these things. If you had told us this five years ago we definitely would have laughed at you.
PreSonus: Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?
SANGUINE: Even if you have never been good with computers or tried a DAW system before we would urge you to at least play around with the Demo (full-featured Professional version, 30-day license). The gear we listed above is all we used for our record and the entire set up can be brought for a few thousand pounds. This relatively small investment for infinite recordings seems like a no brainer to us. We managed to learn how to record/mix/master and release a record in 2 years from scratch. If Studio One wasn’t as easy to navigate then how would that be possible? The proof is in the pudding.
It’s pretty rare for us to get this excited about a DAW but it has fundamentally changed everything from our recording all the way down to how we write and the business models that we use. We now have 1/10th of the previous outgoings and this has allowed us to scale the band much faster than previously. What was once by far the biggest expense a band has now reduced to practically zero. The more we use it the more we will improve which is also exciting.
Finally… artists need to understand that the music industry has fundamentally changed forever. The days of making millions from music are long gone and eventually, only those who can sustain will be able to survive. We predict a future where only producer/writer/performers will realistically be able to survive. It’s no longer enough to just be a musician. Recording is the bread and butter of any band so if you do one thing this year: try Studio One.
For us, it changed everything!
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Studio One Expert shared some thoughts recently about the add-on.
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