Nathan certainly didn’t forget to bring his ATOM SQ along for this amazing songwriting excursion into the Colorado Rockies!
PreSonus, Wherever sound takes you.
Tell us a bit more about “LA/NY”
“LA/NY” is a new song off my latest album, Outlier. It is a bit of a different direction for me, because I wanted to put forth a killer pop tune that also shined a light on my love of a fuzzy guitar solo.
Outlier is an album built on exquisite tension: like an endless push-and-pull between desire and resistance, determination and self-sabotage, the instinctive need to belong and the urge to strike out on your own. My songs were produced by Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age and Mini Mansions) and it’s an album full of guitar-drenched sounds that’s wildly unpredictable and immediately magnetic.
What amp/pedals did you use for “LA/NY”?
It was all done within Studio One, using the PreSonus Ampire plug-in. Specifically, I used the Wild Drive, Demolition Drive, Equalizer and Delay pedals running into the Blackface Twin model amp paired with a 2×12 American Cabinet.
(NOTE: if you’re a PreSonus Sphere Member, you can download her exact Ampire Preset here)
How did you first discover PreSonus?
I first discovered PreSonus while working at a music shop in Austin, TX. They sold audio recording equipment from all different brands, but I noticed that PreSonus had the most intuitive software (Studio One Artist) included, as well as the best price point.
What was your first PreSonus product?
It was the Studio 1810c audio interface, but I have since upgraded to a Studio 1824c. I’ve got the FaderPort to the right of my computer keyboard. I also now have their Revelator io24 that you see me using in the video above, of course!
How long have you used Studio One?
About three years now.
What are your Top three favorite features about Studio One?
My favorite aspect of Studio One is how easy it is to use. The drag & drop aspect helps me work really quickly and efficiently. I also really love using Impact for drum sounds, Presence for sample-based instrument sounds, the Mai Tai polyphonic synthesizer, and Ampire for pedal FX and amp modeling.
With masterpieces such as “Alive,” “Falling Deeper,” and “Vertigo,” people from all over the world began to feel a deep connection with Kisnou’s music, counting for more than 7 million total streams on Spotify alone in 2020. Featured on BBC, New Balance, TV commercials and countless Spotify playlists, his music is often defined as otherworldly: perfect for anyone who wants to experience a real sonic journey.
From ambient to electronic, from orchestral to indie, Kisnou is a never-ending adventure that explores worlds of atmospheric sounds and storytelling. Featuring bittersweet poetry, untold stories, cold atmospheres, field recordings, and broken song structures, each song is a deep cinematic experience you will not forget.
Kisnou began making music using FL Studio back in 2015, eventually working for years within the Ableton Live software environment before recently discovering Studio One and PreSonus Sphere’s creative workflow environment.
In his words:
So… at the beginning, I really had no knowledge, never played an instrument. I just jumped and went for it. I felt like I had some stories to tell.
I’m a self-taught producer. It’s pretty easy to learn so many things online. I also used to listen to a lot of music, every day—while drawing or doing homework, while coming home from school. It was a part of me and of my life, every day. Many people are surprised when I say that I’m self-taught, especially those who are musicians or producers as well. It makes me feel happy, but I have always been down to Earth and very respectful. For example, in 2020 an American writer sent me one of his books, as a thank you gift because he loved my music. The book is called Wounded Tiger, and the author is such a wonderful person. It is a book about World War II and the true stories of multiple people that lived through that moment of history. I can’t say much about it but the author is trying to find the right chance to make a movie out of it… and I might be a part of the soundtrack team. Fingers crossed!
I graduated in 2019 and got my Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music, but since 2017 I have been making music for a good fan base online that has grown quite fast. I hit my first million streams on a song, and from there it started to get even better! I had an income, collaboration opportunities, and a licensing partnership with Marmoset Music that got me some really good placements! One of my songs was featured in a New Balance commercial and a Tomorrowland video. Now music is my full time job. I currently have around 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
The first artist who actually truly inspired me to make music was Koda. He is a talented guy from Los Angeles who wrote some beautiful songs. His songs were just pure magic for me, they resonated like nothing else. I felt like the lyrics were talking to me. My favorite song from him is “Angel.” I loved the video as well, so much that I contacted the video artist a couple of years ago and we created the music video for my song “In The Origin, We Breathe.”
Other inspirations include: The Cinematic Orchestra, Bersarin Quartett, Sorrow (a great electronic/garage music producer), Pensees, and Owsey. I come from the Ableton world, so I am also very much into electronic music, future garage, and ambient. I am in love with atmospheres, long reverbs, evolving sounds, textures and so on.
Lately I have been listening to the YouTube channel Cryo Chamber. Some songs are a bit too dark sometimes, but you can find such incredible atmospheres. I find it very inspiring.
You know, I live in the countryside, so I am always spending time in nature. I feel like I am lucky to be living here, but at the same time you might feel isolated or lonely quite often. It depends on the mood I guess.
I used Ableton for 3-4 years, made great songs thanks to that DAW, but somehow… I wasn’t really feeling comfortable there. I was slowly getting sick of it, even if the creative tools, the stock plugins and workflow were amazing.
By chance I found out about Studio One and then I started to see what you could do with it and it slowly got my interest, until I finally decided to make the switch.
Currently, I just try to make Studio One adapt to my workflow and that was quite easy. The possibility to internally customize shortcuts and create macros is just wonderful in my opinion. I have many macros mapped around my keyboard, and have others on the buttons of my mouse. I have mapped CTRL + ALT as a hold command on one of the two main side buttons, then on the other one I have a Macro that activates the bend marker view, automatically swaps to the Bend Tool so that I can do my edits and then press it again to deactivate the bend view.
On the four lower side buttons I have mapped the editor, channel, inspector and browser for quick tasks. Though If I hold control and press those buttons, or ALT, I have other sets of commands to help me out.
One more functionality that I love is the Transform to Audio Track command, which prints a MIDI file into audio, but it’s better compared to what I’ve seen in other DAWs I’ve used in the past (FL Studio, Ableton, or Pro Tools) because I can print the MIDI to audio and preserve the instrument—so that If I ever want to revert back to the plug-in, I can do that at any given moment. I can choose to render the insert FX or not, which is also great.
In other DAWs, I either had to make a copy of the plug-in, print one to audio and leave the other there, just disabled. Sometimes I printed a MIDI file into audio feeling that it was perfect, then days later, I felt like I wanted to edit the plugin… and I couldn’t do it anymore because I had not copied the plug-in instance before printing.
Lastly, I’m pleased to be a featured artist on PreSonus Sphere!
The presets I created revolve around the use of white noise, layering and distortion: aspects that I have been exploring in the last months to create a sort of vintage but modern, textured sound. Warm, lush pads and pluck sounds, distorted reverbs and atmospheres were my North Star when creating these presets.
There’s 20 presets in all in this pack: FX chains, pad sounds for Presence, some Macros, Mai Tai patches, and a custom reverb of mine… enjoy!
One of my favorite Studio One Professional features is the Splitter, and quite a few of my FX Chains use it. If you own Studio One Artist, which doesn’t have a Splitter, you may look longingly at these FX Chains and think “If only I could do that…”
Well, you can implement most splitter functions in Studio One Artist, by using buses. All the following split options are based on having a track that provides the audio to be split, along with pre-fader sends to additional buses. Note that the track’s fader should be turned all the way down.
The Splitter’s Normal mode sends the input to two parallel paths, which is ideal for parallel processing. For Artist, we’ll duplicate this mode with two buses, called Split 1 and Split 2 (fig. 1).
Figure 1: How to create a Normal split in Artist.
The sends to the buses are pre-fader, and panned to center. One send goes to Split 1, and the other to Split 2. Now you can insert different effects in Splits 1 and 2 to do parallel processing.
The Channel Split mode also splits the input into two parallel paths. One path is for the left channel, while the other path is for the right channel.
Figure 2: How to create a Channel Split in Artist.
The setup is the same as for the Normal Split (fig. 2), except that each bus has a Dual Pan inserted. The Dual Pan for the left channel has the Input Balance set to <L>, while the Dual Pan for the right channel has the Input Balance set to < R>. I recommend the -6dB Linear Pan law so that if you pan either of the buses, the level remains constant as you pan from left to right.
This is tough to duplicate, because the Splitter can split incoming audio into five frequency bands. If other DAWs don’t do it, we can’t expect Artist to do it. But, we can do a three-way, tri-amped split into low, mid, and high frequencies (fig. 3).
Figure 3: Tri-Amp Frequency Split.
This split is like the Normal Split, except that there are three buses and pre-fader sends instead of two, and each bus has a Pro EQ2 inserted. Each EQ covers its own part of the frequency spectrum—low, mid, and high (fig. 4). Using 6 dB/octave slopes doesn’t provide as much separation between frequency ranges as steeper slopes, but the gentler slopes are necessary to make sure the frequency response is flat when you mix the three channels together.
Figure 4: (Top to bottom) low, mid, and high curves.
The only filter sections we need to use are High Cut and Low Cut—you can ignore everything else. Fig. 5 shows the settings. All bands have 6 dB/octave slopes.
Enable the Low band’s Pro EQ2 HC (High Cut) filter, and choose 200 Hz for frequency. Enable the Mid band’s Pro EQ2 LC (Low Cut) filter, and set it to 200 Hz; also enable the HC filter, and set it to 4.00 kHz. Finally, enable the High band’s Pro EQ2 LC filter, and set it to 4.00 kHz. These frequencies are a good starting point, but you may want to modify the split frequencies for different types of audio sources. Just make sure that the low band HC frequency is the same as the mid band’s LC frequency, and the Mid band’s HC frequency is the same as Hi band’s LC frequency.
Figure 5: Filter control settings.
Granted, setting up these splits takes more effort than dragging a Splitter plug-in into a channel, but the result is the same: cool parallel processing options.
Hassan has produced records for some major artists in the Middle East, and was also one of the judges on the Arab Idol show (the equivalent to American Idol in the Middle East) for four seasons, which aired on MBC. Hassan started releasing his own records featuring other artists in the region, starting with this track, back in the days when he was predominantly still working in Logic and Ableton Live:
Here’s a more in-depth account of his history and evolution with DAWs and how he’s settled upon Studio One and PreSonus Sphere, in his own words:
I started producing a long time ago, using Logic when it was owned by E-magic (the good old days!) I loved Logic, but I felt limited until I got introduced to Ableton Live. I spent a bit of time on my own experimenting with it, but it was too daunting to use for ongoing projects until I took a quick crash course in London on Ableton Live, and then I switched when I felt comfortable using it. I didn’t switch 100 percent, though, because there were many things that were better done in Logic… but Ableton was a game changer, producing music in a completely different mindset… minimalism yet experimental!
The idea of racks, drum kits, and so on was endless, and it felt like a modular system that I could change according to my needs… BUT Ableton was also limiting in many ways: it was very unstable, and lacked many features—as if they were stubborn to actually fix or introduce features. So I started looking somewhere else after years of using Ableton and experimenting with the folks at Bitwig. (I even have a 1.0 badge, I think I had the beta before they released the first version!)
Bitwig were actually adding all the things to Ableton Live that the community wanted but, again they took their own route… which isn’t what I needed until finally I got introduced to Studio One.
I first tried Studio One 3 and was intrigued, but I couldn’t rely on it 100 percent until version 4 was out, which introduced Impact XT and Sample One XT. That changed everything for me, having its ease-of-use in my production environment—yet I also get the all-in-one kind of vibe, which I have never found in any DAW available and trust me… I have looked in every corner!!!
Studio One was the first DAW that lets me produce my whole record from writing ideas to final mixes in one place. That never happened before: it was always either Logic and Pro Tools or Ableton and Logic etc. Now it’s ONLY Studio One, and after all these years that’s really something special to note, in my opinion!
The workflow in Studio One is unbeatable: the Macros are pure magic, the ability to have Key Commands to assign uncommon commands makes Studio One very powerful. Production is a breeze, yet I have all these powerful tools: I can integrate Melodyne and ReVoice Pro via ARA, and I can use Layers while recording and Patterns for beatmaking.
Studio One is the most stable DAW I have ever used, it handles anything I throw at it. I have a big appetite when its comes to production, from producing pop records to scoring music to picture/video… and Studio One 5 is keeping up at my speed! Last but not least, the folks at PreSonus are amazing at consistently striving to achieve the best DAW out there; they are very active online, enthusiastic and most importantly… they listen to the community.
And that to me is priceless.
And one other thing—my newest projects have started to incorporatethe new Show Page in Studio One Version 5 for performing live perfectly in sync with my session tracks! Exciting!
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Forest Whitehead hails originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, and has been based out of Nashville, TN since the fall of October of 2009.
Starting out as just a guitar player, he quickly began learning production and songwriting which led to signing his first publishing deal in 2011.
Since then, Forest has produced five #1 songs and has written four #1 songs most recognized for country superstar Kelsea Ballerini. He has a 2021 Grammy nomination for his work with Mickey Guyton for a song called “Black Like Me.”
After achieving success with his career in mainstream country radio, Whitehead has started an online presence called Music City Playbook that educates songwriters, artists, and producers on everything from songwriting, production, and publishing deals in the Nashville music industry.
With weekly production tutorials posted on his YouTube Channel, Forest’s goal is to become the go-to place online for quick success for songwriters wanting to produce their own music from home.
Hometown homemakin’ homewreckers Your Mom formed in 2016 via the local Baton Rouge Adult Music Club. And while they are quite likely to show up with a fistful of guitars and a batch of homemade cookies in return for being booked at your venue, you’d best show some appreciation—because they’re equally as likely to steal your husband if you don’t.
Your Mom performs an arrestingly brash casserole of high-strung punk ‘n’ roll stomp that sits squarely at the intersection of The Kinks, The Sonics, and the scrapbooking aisle of Hobby Lobby. Make no mistake: Your Mom are appreciative, supportive sweethearts to the core—during the day. But when the sun goes down and the stage lights go up, Your Mom are rock’n’roll werewolves in pearl necklaces, howling requiems of tupperware warranties and matriarchal authorities. And you better listen up, buster.
We booked Your Mom to record a River City Session here at PreSonus HQ on a Sunday morning, because it turned out that not one of them had a commitment to show up at a church. They arrived with guitars and donuts, this time—and nailed two songs, live, in four takes. And then they started excitedly talking about margaritas, loaded out, gave us all hugs and thank-you’s, and rode off into the early afternoon—leaving us with only their killer tracks, four signed artist release forms, and tinnitus. Rock delivered, mission accomplished.
Check out their performance of “Dessert” below. And then call your mom.
Your Mom is:
I am from Guangzhou, China, a metropolitan city close to Hong Kong where many imports and exports occur. As a child, I didn’t have the luxury of accessing music at the touch of my fingertips, like I do now. I remember going to secret spots on the weekends to pick out records among piles and piles of CDs with broken cases, which were smuggled in from overseas and were damaged by the customs. My mom had a Sony stereo set with a CD player and two cassette slots… it was pretty fancy in the ’90s. I was obsessed with recording my favorite songs to the cassette tapes. And then my mom bought a Walkman with recording ability through its built-in mic—I figured out how to play music in the background with my mom’s stereo and record bedtime stories I wrote. I paid for all of those CDs, but none of the profits went to the creators.
My family wanted me to follow in their footsteps and become a visual artist or a designer, but I was already obsessed with music. I always wanted to play the piano. So at the age of 16, I decided to pursue music secretly. I found two incredible music teachers on the Internet and started taking lessons, unbeknownst to my family. I learned how to read, play, and study music with strict and intense classical training. It was really difficult at the time because I didn’t know if anything would come from it, and I had to make money on the side to pay for the lessons. Looking back, I’m glad I took that risk. It was totally worth it. A year later, I was accepted to the Communication University of China, the best music and technology program in China, to study music. My music career began.
The next part of my journey called for a relocation to the states, so I moved to Los Angeles after college. I started at Paramount Recording Studios and climbed the career ladder there. The learning never stops in Los Angeles; every day I pick up something new and practice until it becomes a habit. I am so inspired by the music culture in L.A., everyone I meet is just so talented, driven and inspiring. You don’t have to learn how to read music to be able to create music. How it sounds and how it connects with people is the most important part of the business.
The PreSonus audio products that I’ve been using are the StudioLive 16.0.2 digital mixer and their award-winning Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software Studio One Professional, which I mostly use for producing.
Its ease of use, flexibility and Macros are among the top features that led me to choose working creatively in this environment. Other DAWs usually require third-party software to program Macros, whereas with Studio One it is integrated natively as part of the DAW workflow itself.
Another particularly useful feature about Studio One that I find useful is the ARA integration (with Melodyne pitch correction) to the Studio One software engine. It saves so much time and I can edit vocal audio clips in real time at any stage of the process.
I love the quick-nudge capability inside of an audio clip. It’s a fast workflow and I don’t have to clean up the edit point or cross-fades every time I make an edit.
In short, Studio One flows really well, it’s quick and intuitive. No downtime for creativity. Truly amazing!
Luke: I’m a producer / composer and mixing engineer best known for my remixes for Kylie Minogue (a Grammy-nominated Billboard #1), The Killers, Robbie Williams, Bob Marley and Amy Winehouse–to name but a few–I just produced Twenty Five Ten, an album in homage to my late mother.
It has sounds for here and now, rooted in decades of influences and experiences.
Featuring successful collaborations with Kevin Godley (10 CC, Godley & Creme), model Roxy Horner, Nick Tart (Diamond Head), Rachael & James Akin (EMF), Lucy Pullin (The Isle of Man, Robbie Williams), Melanie Taylor, Flora, Phat Hat.
My 18-track album was recorded in various places such as Brisbane (Australia), Tel Aviv, Mallorca, Brussels, Los Angeles, Dublin, Katowice (Poland), and Baton Rouge (USA).
Besides my emotional motivation to get this project done, I really wanted this record to connect genres, eras, and mix generations. Somehow connect the dots between timelines in a unified story, with its joyful and bonkers moments, with its own directions and contradictions, or more simply put: my story.
I have a rock-solid PreSonus eco-system based around a Quantum 2, FaderPort 16, and ATOM, nothing superfluous—they all have a purpose. The FaderPort 16 is giving me the gestures I’m used to when balancing tracks on a console; the vibe is based on even relationships between instruments.
It’s a different experience, and the decisions I’m making helped me to assign a more prominent role to sounds buried in a mix, with fingers on all faders I’m sorta painting a sonic picture based on my impression. With a mouse it’s also achievable, but it’s more cerebral; it’s laser focused, and less expressive.
The ATOM is perfect when I want to jam with drums or synth shots. It’s perfect for fortunate accidents! I come up with ideas I wouldn’t get from a keyboard. In some of my remixes I like to slice vocals that I then drop into impact to create what we call “vox lox” to build new lines, for example that was a centerpiece of my Kim Wilde Kids In America remix. The new chorus idea was all done with Impact XT and the ATOM.
Quantum 2 is just brilliant, it’s been my companion in so many tasks, it’s never let me down. As musical director for a Native American show I’m in charge of, I used this thing on stage in large venues with thousands of people, the sound was amazing and so stable. I also mixed a full season series for a TV network; a short film for Disney; sound mix for HBO; my album and remixes—it’s been so reliable and with a constant, pristine sound. It fits perfectly in my backpack, so I’m super mobile.
I usually work from home, and when necessary I just take my laptop to a commercial studio, plug my Quantum 2 to their system, launch Studio One, and I’m set. I can do the adjustments I feel are needed and go back home.
My album was also mastered that way, I’ve had a reliable listening environment there, and all songs loaded into the project page. The big plus was when I felt that I was doing too much tweak, I could just open the song, fix whatever was needed with one click and go back.
Lately besides my remixes, I’ve been asked to mix a couple of original songs from the ’80s/’90s on which I’ve been given the multi-tracks, such as Fine Young Cannibals, Shakespear’s Sister, or Bananarama to name but a few.
I could really set up Studio One to be ready at all time and nicely organized like a vintage console, and now with Version 5 Professional, I can switch between an SSL or Neve sound in just 2 clicks. That’s fantastic.
What led you to choose Studio One?
Studio One is just another part of me, it never gets in the way. It’s a companion standing in front of me that is always ready for war.
The interface is very clean and soothing in a way, it always feels like some quietness before the storm. It also sounds great, fully-featured and with the Project page, you can virtually do anything within ONE app.
These days as a musician you have to wear so many hats that the last thing you want is distractions and learning curves on different apps. With Studio One I can produce, compose, mix, and master with features located in familiar places.
What Studio One features have proven particularly useful and why?
The drag & drop concept, be it for sounds, presets, instruments, or FX. This thing is a home run. When I feel that I’m not going to be in a productive mood, I spend a lot of time organizing all of the above for future sessions.
How does Studio One compare to other DAWs you have used?
They can be the adult in the room in a world where feature lists to sell new major updates are prioritized over the quality of their achievement.
With backward compatibility, if something is poorly implemented from the start, then you’re stuck with it until the end of days. We all love new features, of course, but it shouldn’t come at that price.
So when I see something not yet available in Studio One, I just tell myself: “If you can’t make music with what Studio One has to offer today, maybe you should just quit.” The kid in me is not a fan of that sentence, but it’s a nice motto to move on.
Which Studio One feature or concept doesn’t get enough spotlight (or isn’t talked about enough) in your opinion?
Without a doubt I’d say macros, they can be really powerful, I remember doing one for a friend of mine, he was new to Studio One, he was looking after a way to slice and map samples easily.
So I came up with one that analyzed the loop, detected transients, sliced at transients and sent them to Sample One XT, it was so good that I’ve added it to a shortcut and ended up using it myself. I’m thinking of sharing it with the community.
Any useful tips/tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One that would be of interest to our user base?
During the lockdown with friends we’ve had some virtual sessions, we were sending ideas back and forth and it appeared that none of them used MusicLoops, they were saving their ideas or overdubs as songs.
I told them that I have a folder called ideas, so every time I try a new synth or jamming with a virtual instrument, I just drag & drop it to that folder, and it then becomes an asset for my future project. Everything is saved in a single file with an audio version, MIDI, presets, and FX used all in one go.
From time to time, I like to browse that folder to see if there’s anything inspiring or useful.
That’s basically the story of the opening track on my album, I’ve had this nasty groove made with Impact XT floating around for some time, and one day it was the right idea for the mood I was in.
Never lose your ideas, phrases and so on, don’t expect to remember anything two years or two months from now with random or cryptic names… Just drag and drop in a place, where you’ll find your sparkles of ideas at all times!
Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?
I always found the name intriguing, now that I see how powerful it’s become over the years, and on its way to become the ultimate DAW, I take it that it was not just a name… it was a plan.
The PreSonus family was heartbroken to hear about the passing of our dear friend, collaborator, and long-time partnering artist, Justin Lassen. During his career, Justin worked with such artists as Madonna, Garbage, The Killers, Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz, Robert Miles, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Evanescence, Apocalyptica, and more. A talented presenter and spokesperson for the democratization of audio production, Justin also worked with many high-profile technology firms, including Intel, Sony, and Konami.
It’s the word that immediately comes to mind when thinking of Justin. His love of it. The sounds around us. The noise of the world that becomes music to those willing to listen. Justin had a unique gift for hearing and capturing that music.
As a composer and sound designer, Justin was passionate about discovering unique sounds for his creations. After the release of his landmark sample library of horror sounds, White Rabbit Asylum, which has been used in such films as Underworld: Awakening and I, Frankenstein, Justin went on the adventure of several lifetimes, traveling to more than 22 countries over the course of ten years to create his masterful ambient industrial sound library, Black Fox Society. Using binaural and ambisonic microphones and field recording equipment, he ventured into caves, castles, jungles, shrines, cathedrals, bone-filled secret passages, waded down rivers, trekked over mountains, and even dove underwater on his relentless quest to collect his sounds.
PreSonus was honored to include his piece, Vulpes Obsidian Sanctum, as a flagship demo in Studio One 5. It provides a glimpse into the way Justin heard the world. Justin was a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and remix artist who worked in film, sound design, and gaming—but most of all he was a friend and inspiring human being who will be deeply missed by all those who knew him.
Listen to Vulpes Obsidian Sanctum.