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[Jakubu Griffin is truly one of Las Vegas and NYC’s most versatile drummers. Son of trombonist Dick Griffin (who played with the legendary Rahsaan Roland Kirk), he has been surrounded by music from an early age. Growing up with many musical instruments and influences around him, he was always drawn to percussion and can remember playing the drums as early as age 3 or 4. He started studying classical piano at age 5, and later added the trumpet.
Jakubu has performed and led groups all over the world. While living in Las Vegas in the early 2000s, He was featured in David Cassidy and Sheena Easton’s “At The Copa” at the Rio Resort. After that, he was musical contractor and drummer on a show featuring Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson, and Melissa Manchester called Signed, Sealed, Delivered: a Celebration of Stevie Wonder’s Music at the Venetian Resort.
Griffin has also been a musical director for Kings Productions, as well as Norwegian and Premier cruise lines. Back in the NYC area where he grew up, he has performed and recorded with award winning jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, Ryko/Warner recording artist Matt White, and Broadway stars Tracie Thoms (Rent, Case) and Shoshana Bean (Wicked). Jakubu is currently playing with the legendary Las Vegas singer Clint Holmes. He was also the house drummer for Cirque Du Soleil’s production of Zarkana which premiered at NYC’s world famous Radio City Music Hall in June of 2011, moving on to Madrid, as well as having a historic run at the Kremlin Theater in Moscow in 2012. Jakubu’s powerful, yet very musical drumming reputation has been highly appreciated by many musicians and music lovers both here and abroad.
When not on the road, he’s kept busy at home recording and teaching. But, with the recent stay-at-home measures implemented due to COVID-19, working in his own studio has become his primary focus.
Jakubu has graciously given us a virtual “walk-through” of his home studio environment, where the StudioLive 24R is the centerpiece and his dedicated audio interface to his DAW of choice, Studio One. Let’s check out his setup and how he’s been using our products in action at home.]
Jakubu: My first audio interface was the PreSonus Studio 192 along with the DigiMax DP88. As a drummer, I need to have at least 8 channels dedicated to drums in my space at all times for my own use. With the Studio 192 and DP88 giving me 16 total channels and great preamps, I was able to stack them in a rack and run my 8 drum channels into the DP88 using the Studio 192 rear channels for my keyboards, bass, extra drum channels etc. and even leaving the 2 front channels open for a vocalist or instrument to plug right in. As my studio evolved, I graduated to the StudioLive 24R rack mixer, as well as the NSB 8.8 AVB Networked Stage Box to expand channel inputs in my other rooms. Since I don’t have the space for a console mixer on my workstation, the StudioLive 24R is the perfect solution for me with UC Control as my console. I use the HP60 for 6 stereo headphone mixes. With a router plus the network control via Wi-Fi of the StudioLive 24R, my clients have the option of using the QMix-UC app to control their own headphone mixes. The PreSonus Monitor Station allows me flexibility to switch between my different sets of of studio monitors and speakers, and also gives me 4 more headphone outputs if needed. I’ve used other DAWs, but I’m completely sold on Studio One Professional because it’s just more user/musician friendly. I understood more about using Studio One in 24 hours than I’ve learned on other DAWs after countless months of usage. I’m a musician first, not an engineer.
Jakubudrum Studios is my home as well as my recording space. I have three isolated rooms on one floor. I have eight CCTV cameras installed, and video monitors in every room for visual communication. My main “studio” room is my acoustically-treated drum and keyboard room, as well as my control booth. My living room is my large room and features my Baldwin L grand piano. My smaller acoustically-treated room is great for acoustic bass as well as other instruments, and it also serves as a vocal booth and isolated amp miking room. I’ve done several live recording sessions in the studio with different configurations ranging from solo piano to live strings… and various band sizes, genres, horn combinations, etc. I do a lot of drum and percussion tracking for projects myself, but I’ve also engineered tons of keyboard track layering sessions, instrument tracking sessions, vocal tracking, and my space is perfect for tracking bass and drums together. I record voice-overs as well, and I’m currently producing an audiobook session.
Now that I have the StudioLive 24R, I have the luxury of using 14 dedicated drum channels just for myself. I usually use two different sets of overhead mics simultaneously, another stereo room mic, and a subkick along with my normal kick, snare, hi hat, and tom mic combinations.
I also use seven channels for my keyboards, and a channel for my bass amp to run direct with a pre amp. I use the NSB 8.8 Stage Box in the other rooms to mic the piano, horns, strings, vocals, etc. I use the 12 outputs from the 24R mixer to sum 2 outputs to each of the 6 stereo inputs of the HP60 headphone amp and made them stereo mixes from UC Control. Again, I have a router connected to the 24R mixer and a network setup so people have the option of using QMix-UC to control their own headphone mixes. I have two sets of studio monitors, but I also have small PA for the keyboards, rehearsals, gigs etc. The monitor station is actually one of my favorite pieces of PreSonus gear to be honest. I love the versatility I have with 2 sets of monitors, but I even use the PA as a 3rd reference sometimes. The Monitor Stations onboard talkback routed through the HP60 is perfect for my setup, plus I’m the type of guy that just needs a big volume knob in my life since I don’t have a console.
So, funny story: I actually learned about PreSonus through another drummer, Dre Boyd, who is also an Artist with them. We both met and quickly became good friends working for the Cirque Du Soleil company. I finally had the space and needed an interface to start getting into recording and he highly recommended the Studio 192 and DP88. I’m an impulse buyer, but he told me to wait so he could “hook me up” with his representative at PreSonus. Well I’m impatient and went ahead with the purchase of the interfaces anyway. I was ecstatic, but then a couple weeks later Dre let me know that the PreSonus Artist Relations Manager was none other than my college buddy, Perry Tee… so I should have waited!!! Not only do I love the products, PreSonus reconnected me with an old friend, who happens to be on guitar in this video below that we produced remotely with 4 other buddies using Studio One Professional:
I love the power and versatility that I have with the StudioLive 24R mixer, especially for low-end instruments. Now I have the ability to mic an acoustic bass and get a warm, powerful tone without any need for a DI or outboard preamp. Its considerably better for my drum miking as well. I get better headphone mixes, and I have plenty of room and power to hear my kick drum perfectly which can be a problem in regular interfaces without external pre amps. The ability to control mixes across Wi-Fi is a true bonus allowing my clients the flexibility to control their own mixes with QMix-UC. The HP60 is a great solution for my headphone needs with 6 channels, and stereo mixes plus the Monitor Station is one of my favorite additions to the studio, and has made my work flow much smoother and faster. The onboard talkback is perfect for my space. Studio One is absolutely the best DAW available, in my opinion. I know has everything I could possibly need for my studio. Everything in my setup works seamlessly. I couldn’t be more satisfied with the sounds, and results I get with my gear.
Every piece of gear is perfectly matched and catered to the needs of my workflow and studio ecosystem… thank you, PreSonus!
[Incidentally, from now until Aug 31, 2020, anybody who buys a qualifying StudioLive Rack Mixer will get a PX-1 microphone for free!]
Songs like “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely” were Top 10 hits that remain on playlists to this day, but her varied (and ongoing) career includes solo albums, an acting stint in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” creating music for several films (including “Moscow on the Hudson,” “Teachers,” “The Golden Child, and her “Soul Man” duet with Sly Stone), and working in theater. She still tours—at least when there’s not a pandemic—and amazingly, her voice is better than it was in the 80s. But, it took Studio One’ Project Page to bring a solo album back to life that had been all but written off ten years ago.
The collection of songs on “I Have My Standards” (Fig. 1) was meant to be an album of jazz standards, with orchestration—but the twist was that Martha had written the “standards.” She cut a demo album with longtime musical collaborator Marty Jourard (piano, tenor sax), Allen Hunter (bass), Paul Pulvirente (drums), and Felix Mercer (clarinet). However, the budget to do the orchestration never materialized, and the record was never finished.
When Martha found out I did mastering, she mentioned “the album that never was” and being curious, I asked to listen to it. I was floored. The songs were deep, the vocals flawless, and the instrumentation excellent. I heard the lack of orchestration as an advantage because the sparse, emotional treatments were compelling in themselves.
Except…being a demo, there were technical problems. Among other issues, the acoustic bass overpowered the song on some of the demos, the mic had a boxy quality that was no friend to Martha’s voice, and there were mix and level issues that resulted in a lack of clarity. I asked if she could locate the multitracks so I could remix before mastering, yet no one had any idea where they were. Oh, and the project had to be mastered for vinyl—she wanted to put it out on 180-gram vinyl for her nascent record label, Remarkable Records.
Fortunately, the songs were recorded with the same basic setup. Although I’m usually not a fan of “one size fits all” mastering chains, in this case, there weren’t too many variations among the songs (Fig. 2).
The Splitter separated the frequencies below 178 Hz from the rest of the audio. With vinyl, bass needs to be centered, and the dynamics need to be controlled—hence the Limiter, and the Dual Pan. with both left and right channels set to center.
Another reason for the Splitter was that in some songs, the acoustic bass overpowered the mix. Note the fader at the end of the Dual Pan, set to -9.0 dB to help keep the bass under control. This setting worked for most of the songs but for one of them, I had to pull the level down by -13.8 dB to get the right balance. The frequency splitting was crucial.
For the rest of the audio, EQ was by far the most important process. Fig. 3 shows the setting that was used on most of the songs. Remember that the RIAA curve for vinyl (which boosts treble massively on the vinyl, then cuts it on playback) isn’t a fan of high frequencies, so the highs were often cut on vinyl masters. Although the steep high-cut filter wasn’t needed on all the songs, when necessary this gave a sound that was more consistent with vinyl records.
The substantial dip at 625 removed the muffled quality by making the highs more prominent. The dips at 2.72 and 3.06 kHz were tricky—they were essential in removing a resonance on Martha’s voice that took away from of the openness and intimacy. Almost all the songs needed the dip at 8 kHz, where treble energy from recording the individual tracks “bunched up.” Bass wasn’t an issue, because the split took care of that.
The Binaural pan was set between 124% and 137%, depending on the song. This mainly had the effect of spreading out the reverb more than the instruments, which enveloped the sound in an ambiance it didn’t have otherwise. This also moved the reverb a bit out of the center, so there could be more focus on the voice.
Finally, I’m not much of a believer in “special sauce” processors, but the Scheps Parallel Particles from Waves was ideal (Fig. 4).
After taming the highs to accommodate vinyl mastering, I wanted to restore a perception of high frequencies. Adding a significant amount of the Air parameter, with just a touch of Thick and Bite for a little more midrange presence, did exactly what was needed.
I was aiming for a LUFS of -12. This was a bit of a compromise between vinyl and streaming. A little compression would make it easier for the vinyl cutter to optimize the levels for vinyl, and besides, being a little “hotter” than the typical streaming target of -14 LUFS was fine. For the last stage of dynamics control, I used IK Multimedia’s Stealth Limiter (which is designed for mastering), in the Project Page’s Post slot. It’s a transparent but CPU-intensive plug-in, hence using only one instance as the final limiter. The songs were the levels I wanted, so they needed only very slight tweaks to hit the Stealth Limiter a little harder or softer to reach the -12 LUFS goal.
It was easy to generate timings from the Project Page, so that those cutting the vinyl would know where to put the bands between cuts…and we were on our way. The vinyl hits the world in August (available from themotels.com and specialty record stores). The digital release is available now on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Amazon Disk on Demand, and you can hear it on Pandora, Shazam, iHeart Radio, and YouTube Music. Most of these have ways to preview the songs, and I think it’s well worth following some of the links to check out music that sounds like it’s frozen in time, yet curiously modern.
I checked out some of the customer reviews on Amazon. While they’re all over-the-top about Martha’s voice and songs, as you might expect my favorite is the one that said “The album is mastered in such a way that you would think that Martha Davis is actually in the same room with you.” Mission accomplished (Fig. 5)!
NOW through July 5, save up to 50% on individual UJAM products and most of their bundles. OVER 37 products discounted right in the PreSonus Shop!
ADDITIONALLY, UJAM’s “Full Bundle” is discounted from $799 to $599 for the next TWO days (June 23-25)!
UJAM‘s products go well beyond the simple sample packs you may be used to. Their products include hundreds of complete musical phrases, riffs, and fills, performed in dozens of styles. Current offerings include four Virtual Guitarists in acoustic and electric formats, three different Virtual Drummers, and EDM and hip-hop production kits for Beatmakers and many more! They’re a great way to add some flavor to your existing tracks and also offer limitless inspiration to your existing projects.
Remember those old drum machines, like E-Mu’s Drumulator and Roland’s TR-808? In an amazing twist of fate, those relics from the 80s are back in fashion—but I find it difficult to wrest a lively, modern sound out of them. Usually, the solution involves choosing separate outputs from Impact XT, EQ, a careful choice of room ambiance, short delays, limiting, and maybe some saturation.
However, the CTC-1 can get you most of the way there with a single effect, which has helped my workflow when it’s time to have vintage drum sounds fit in a modern context. (Note that you need the CTC-1 for this; the bundled, free Console Emulator doesn’t have the console emulation or controls that seem to work best with dinosaur drums.)
We need a more sophisticated mix setup than just sending the drums to Impact’s mixed stereo output. After all, a Console Emulator doesn’t do much good if you’re not mixing the drum sounds the way you would in a console. So, each drum goes to its own mono mixer channel, like the way drums were mixed in the days of Tapeosaurus Rex. You then add effects to individual drums and pan them as appropriate. This mixing paradigm is also what allows the CTC-1 to apply its crosstalk mojo.
Figure 1: The individual drums go to their own mono channels in Studio One, and then sum into a drum bus that includes the CTC-1.
However, I recommend not putting insert effects on the drums until after you’ve set up the CTC-1. It has its own way of changing the sound, and you might want to accentuate, or de-emphasize, those changes.
Figure 2: CTC-1 control settings for the audio example.
I much prefer the Tube console emulation for this application. Turning up Drive adds just the right amount of grit for my taste, but the Crosstalk control is the star of the show. Instead of having each drum be a pinpoint in the stereo field, the various mono tracks “glue” together in a way that sounds more like miked physical drums. Generally, I don’t feel the need to add lots of Character. But in this case, the CTC-1 is being pushed somewhat beyond doing only console emulation. Character brings up the highs a bit and adds “snap” to those normally dull, 8- or 12-bit sounds recorded at compromised sample rates (remember, back in those days, memory was expensive).
But of course, the proof is in the listening! In the following example, the first four measures bypass the CTC-1, while the second four measures enable the console emulation effect. In addition to the crisper sound, note how the crosstalk makes the toms, cowbell, and rim feel more integrated with the overall mix instead of sounding isolated…enough said.
And that’s why we’re excited to share the next episode of River City Sessions. This month, we’re sharing an original song titled “Papi Chulo,” by South Louisiana natives Sydney and The SAMS. Read more about the band, the song, and how it was recorded below.
Give us some background on yourself and the band. How long have you guys been making music?
We have been a band surprisingly for less than a year! I think we have a natural friendship and chemistry that makes people think that we’ve been together for years.
“Papi Chulo” Such a great song! Can you tell us when you wrote it? What’s the inspiration?
“Papi Chulo” was actually the first song I ever wrote! I (Sydney) recorded three years ago when I first started making music. When we got together as a band, we started incorporating some of my originals into our sets and this song became an instant hit with our fans.“Papi Chulo” is about liking a guy and wanting to hang out and smoke. It was actually about a guy I liked at the time and all we did was hang out in the car and talk.
Does writing a melody come naturally to you?
It depends. The beat has to be catchy. I have to find the melody and it kinda has to come to me. If I don’t feel it in a few minutes, I usually move on.
Where do your ideas for songs come from?
All my music comes from personal experiences. I feel like songwriting is therapy to me. The fact that it’s relatable to listeners is just extra. It feels good to know my lyric is relatable and people have been in the same positions as me and felt like I’ve felt at some point. That’s the point of music; to touch people in some way whether it be a happy emotion or a sad one.
Can you describe the first time you wrote a song?
I found this cool beat on YouTube and just started writing. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do but never really tried to do. One day I was like, “whatever, I’ll try.” I did a rough record on my phone and sent to NJ (my engineer) and told him “If this sucks, tell me. If not, I wanna book a session.” And it’s been history ever since.
Do you prefer performing your own music or covers? What’s the difference?
I enjoy both because even when we do covers, we always put our own little spin on it or rearrange it so it’s more our own. We also do medleys with our originals to kinda bring the crowd back and make them interact with us. Ultimately it’s about having a good time and making sure the crowd has an amazing, memorable time.
How has the Coronavirus affected your music?
We used to gig so much and it really put all our gigging and traveling at a complete halt. At first it was creatively discouraging but we decided to virtual concerts to continue to perform and connect with our fans in a different way. People really loved them and received it really well. Livestreaming is a way for us to reconnect and stay fresh. It also gave us time to finish our EP which will be released this July!
Now that the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in everything, What do you miss most about performing live?
I miss having fun with the crowds mostly. Dancing and singing with them was the most fun part of it all. As a concertgoer, that was my most memorable time and now as an entertainer, I want every person in the room dancing and having an amazing time! I hope we do that every time.
Do you plan on doing any live streams?
We’ve done two live-stream virtual concerts. We’ll be live streaming our EP release concert and party as well. So y’all join the fun!
You send a drum or percussion track to three buses, each with an EQ covering a different frequency range—e.g., kick, snare, and cymbals. These provide three control signals…and here’s what we do with them.
A guitar track feeds an FX Chain with Ampire, which goes into a Splitter that splits by frequency. There’s a gate in each split, and they’re driven by the control signals. So when the kick hits, the guitar’s low frequencies come through. When snare and upper toms hit, the mids come through and when there are high-frequency sounds like percussion, they trigger the highs. You can think of the effect as similar to a mini-vocoder.
The audio example has some Brazilian rhythms triggering the gates, and you can hear the kind of animation this technique adds to the guitar part. The first four measures have the drums mixed with the processed guitar, while the second four measures are processed guitar only.
Fig. 1: The track layout for multiband gating.
The Drums track has three pre-fader sends, which go to the Lo, Mid, and Hi frequency buses. Each bus has a Pro EQ to emphasize the desired low, mid, and high frequencies. Then, each bus has a send that goes to its associated Gate sidechain in the Guitar track (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2: Splitter and Gate setup for multiband gating.
The guitar goes to Ampire, which splits into three frequencies bands thanks ot the Splitter’s Frequency Split magical powers. Each split goes to a Gate, and the sends from the Lo, Mid, and Hi buses feed their respective gate sidechains.
Inserting a Dual Pan after the Mid and Hi gates can enhance the sound further, by spreading these frequencies a bit to the left or right to give more of a stereo spread. You’ll probably want to keep the low frequencies centered.
You don’t have to get too precise about tuning the EQs in the buses, or setting the Splitter frequencies. I set up the Splitter frequencies by playing guitar through the Splitter, and adjusting the bands so that the guitar’s various frequency ranges seemed balanced. As for the Pro EQs in the buses, I just tuned those to the drum sounds until the guitar rhythm was rockin’ along.
This takes a little effort to set up, but multiband gating can add a unique rhythmic kick to your music. Interestingly, you may also find that you don’t need as much instrumentation when one of them is blurring the line between melody and rhythm.
If you’ve spent a couple of spare evenings at home poking around the web for tips on music and audio production, it’s really very likely that you’ve run into some posts, articles, or comments from Craig Anderton. In fact, you may have had to update your search criteria to sort by “most recent,” because it’s fairly common for Google to show you some Craig Anderton posts from the dawn of the internet age, which—while cool—may not be particularly full of insight on Studio One version 4.
Fact is Craig is our industry’s most acclaimed writers, and he’s spoken about Studio One in-person at more events than I can count, and is of course responsible for the Friday Tips section of this very blog. In short, Craig’s contributions to the success and proliferation of Studio One can’t really be counted.
But his Studio One books? Those can be counted. There are five.
We wanted to take a minute to thank Craig for all of his hard work, broadly-reaching creative output, and continued support of PreSonus and Studio One. Let’s take a closer look at what he’s got over at shop.presonus.com. Chances are one or more of these will prove valuable to you and your process. Note that these are eBooks, not hardcover books, and will be downloaded as PDFs.
Essential reading for anyone who records guitars in Studio One, this definitive book covers invaluable production and engineering techniques.
Consolidates, updates, expands on, and categorizes 130 tips from Craig’s popular “Friday Tip of the Week” blog posts that you probably have been checking out right here. Essential reading. This massive book includes tips on how solve problems, enhance sound quality, improve workflow, achieve greater expressiveness, create signature sounds, and much more.
A comprehensive, practical, and above all inspiring guide on how to use Studio One’s sophisticated toolset to craft the perfect mix.
The ultimate guide to becoming an expert on Studio One’s dynamics processors and dynamics-oriented features.
The ultimate guide to capturing, producing, and mixing superb vocal performances in Studio One.
This tip turns wimpy kicks into superkicks, using a different technique compared to drum replacement (see the Friday Tip for February 9, 2018). Listen to the audio example, and you’ll hear why this is cool.
Audio Example: The second four measures add the SuperKick effect to the loop in the first four measures. The added kick is 40 Hz…so don’t expect to hear anything on laptop speakers!
The basic concept is to add another track with a low-frequency sine wave, tuned to your pitch of choice. This can be a WAV file, but this example uses the highly-underrated, and extremely useful, Tone Generator plug-in set to a floor-shaking 40 Hz sine wave. A Bus “listens” to the loop, and uses EQ to filter out everything except the kick; you don’t hear this audio, but it gates the Tone Generator’s sine wave so that it tracks the kick. Fig. 1 shows the setup.
Figure 1: Setup to tune and enhance the kick in an existing loop.
With the loop fader down so you’re not distracted, play with the Tone Generator frequency, EQ frequency to isolate the kick sound, and Gate settings until there’s reliable kick triggering. How you set the gate provides various options: extend the Release for a “hum drum” effect, or for more expressiveness, automate the release time. Increasing the Hold time alters the character as well.=
And after everything is set up…stand back while the floors shake!