Universal Control 3.4 has arrived, adding WDM support and Interface Mode to StudioLive Series III mixers! (This update also adds support for Revelator and AVB-D16; Click here for the full release notes)
Interface Mode is designed to allow the inputs and outputs of your StudioLive mixer to be used like a traditional USB interface, instead of as a mixer with a USB interface that draws from the mixer’s channels and buses. In this configuration, the StudioLive’s USB Returns bypass the mix engine, and instead run directly to the physical, analog outputs on the mixer.
While this streamlined configuration does not work with a mixer that is in Stage Box or Monitor Mixer Mode, you will still be able to utilize your PreSonus AVB Ecosystem products with Interface Mode. You can still create personal monitor mixes via EarMix16M and connect different rooms with NSB Stage Boxes.
Note that Interface Mode will only affect the USB routing and the analog output sources. It won’t make any changes to the operation of your AVB routing.
Before using Interface Mode or Enhanced WDM Support on your StudioLive Series III, you’ll need to update two things:
To turn on Interface Mode for your mixer from the touch screen of the console mixers
Your FlexMixes will still be there if and when you choose to turn off Interface Mode, or turn an individual mix back on which I’ll go through a little later.
To turn on Interface Mode from UC Surface
That’s it! You’re now in interface mode. To turn Interface Mode off and go back to the default mixer setup just repeat these same steps.
For a deeper dive on Interface Mode and WDM support, download the new Interface Mode Addendum now!
One of the complaints about electronic music instruments and controllers is that they lack the expressiveness of acoustic instruments. Although future instruments will take advantage of MIDI 2.0’s enhanced expressiveness, two options are available right now: polyphonic pressure, and MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression). Studio One 5 can record/edit both, and ATOM SQ generates polyphonic pressure…so let’s dig deeper.
First, there’s some confusion because people call the same function by different names. Channel Aftertouch = Channel Pressure = Mono Aftertouch = Mono Pressure. Polyphonic Aftertouch = Polyphonic Pressure = Poly AT = Poly Aftertouch = Poly Pressure. Okay! Now we’ve cleared that up.
Aftertouch generates a control signal when you press down on a keyboard key after it’s down, or continue pressing on a percussion pad after striking it. Aftertouch is a variable message, like a mod wheel or footpedal—not a switch. A typical application would be changing filter cutoff, adding modulation, or doing guitar-like pitch bends by pressing on a key.
There are two aftertouch flavors. Mono pressure has been around since the days of the Yamaha DX7, and sends the highest controller value of all keys that are currently being pressed. Polyphonic pressure sends individual pressure messages for each key. For example, when holding down a chord for a brass section, by assigning poly pressure to filter cutoff, you can make just one note brighter by pressing down on its associated key. The other chord notes remain unaffected unless they’re also pressed.
Controllers with polyphonic aftertouch used to be fairly expensive and rare, but that’s changing—as evidenced by ATOM SQ.
As expected, you need a synth that responds to poly pressure. Many hardware synths respond to it, even if they don’t generate it. As to soft synths, although I haven’t tested all of the following, they reportedly support poly pressure: several Korg Collection synths, Kontakt, Reaktor, all Arturia instruments, all U-He instruments, XILS-Lab synths, TAL-Sampler, AAS synths, Albino 3, impOSCar2, Mach5, and Omnisphere. If you know of others, feel free to mention them in the comments section below. (Currently, Studio One’s bundled instruments don’t respond to polyphonic aftertouch.)
Figure 1: ATOM SQ being set up to generate Poly Pressure messages.
With ATOM SQ, press the Setup button. Hit the lower-left “pressure” button below the display, then spin the dial to choose Poly (Fig. 1). Note that if ATOM SQ outputs poly pressure, most instruments that respond only to channel (mono) aftertouch will ignore these messages.
Record poly pressure in Studio One 5 as you would any MIDI controller. To edit pressure messages, use the Edit window’s Note Controller tab. Select Pressure for the Type, and then the Pitch of the note you want to edit. Or, click on a note to select its corresponding note Pitch automatically. You can then edit that note’s poly pressure controller as you would any other controller (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The selected Note’s data is white; unselected notes of the same pitch are blue. The gray lines in the background show the poly pressure controller messages for notes with other pitches.
It may seem that editing data for individual notes would be tedious, and it can be. However, because poly pressure allows for more expressive real-time playing, you might not feel the need to do as much editing anyway—you won’t need to use editing to add expressiveness that you couldn’t add while playing.
A fine point is that it’s currently not possible to copy Note Controller data from one note, then paste it to a note of a different pitch (probably because the whole point of poly AT is for different notes to have different controller data). However, if you copy the note itself to a different pitch, the Note Controller data will go along with it.
Although ATOM SQ can adopt a layout that resembles a keyboard, it would be a mistake to see it as a stripped-down version of a standard keyboard. Controllers with polyphonic pressure tend to think outside the usual keyboard box, by incorporating pads or other transducers that are designed for predictable pressure sensitivity. Poly pressure has been around for a while, but a new generation of MIDI controllers (like ATOM SQ) are making the technology—and the resulting expressiveness—far more accessible for those who want to wring more soul out of their synths.
The How to Make Spotify Happy blog post picked up a lot of interest, so let’s take the concept a bit further. Even if you’re not dealing with a streaming service, having consistent listening levels in your music makes sense—especially with a collection of songs. But what happens if a song is compressed for artistic reasons, yet you still want to aim for a standard listening level (streaming or otherwise)?
The beauty of the LUFS specification is that it avoids penalizing those who want to take advantage of dynamic range in their music (jazz, classical, etc.). But not everyone creates music that requires maximum dynamic range. I add about 4 to 6 dB of gain reduction when mastering my music, and aim for -13.0 LUFS, because I like what a little compression does to glue the tracks together. However, I do want the music to be streaming-friendly—and the whole point of this post is that Limiter2 makes it easy to hit both LUFS and True Peak settings recommended by various streaming services.
Fig. 1 shows the screen shot for an exported, pre-mastered song. It has a -18.0 LUFS reading. My goal is -13.0 LUFS, with a true peak value below 0.0.
To get closer to -13.0 LUFS, let’s start with a Limiter2 Threshold of -5.00, because applying -5.00 dB of gain reduction to -18.00 LUFS should put us somewhere around -13 dB LUFS. To control True Peak, we’ll use Mode A, Fast Attack (Fig. 2).
We’ve come close to -13.0, but the true peak is well above 0.0. Bringing down the Ceiling by -2 dB puts that 1.6 dB True Peak reading under 0.0 (Fig. 3).
We’ve brought down the peaks, but because the output is lower, the perceived level is lower too (-13.5 LUFS). Dropping the threshold by ‑0.7 dB brought the LUFS to -13.0, while maintaining a TP value under 0.0 (Fig. 4).
We can also make streaming services (like Spotify) happy, with -14.0 LUFS and -1.0 TP values (Fig. 5).
But suppose you really like to compress stuff, not because you want to win the loudness wars per se, but just because you like that sound. Fair enough—let’s give listeners music with -9.0 LUFS, and not worry about True Peak (Fig. 6).
But What About the Loudness Wars?
I’m glad you asked. If your music doesn’t meet a streaming service’s specs, they’ll turn it down to an equal perceived level. But what does that sound like?
In the audio example, the first part is of an unmastered song at -9.0 LUFS. It’s fairly loud, and could win at least a skirmish in the loudness wars. The second part is the same unmastered song at -14.0 LUFS, which sounds much quieter.
The third part turns down the -9.0 LUFS section to -14.0 LUFS. Although it has the same overall perceived level as the second part, it sounds compressed, so it has a different character. Bottom line: If you like the sound of compression, a streaming service will not change that sound; it will simply turn down the volume to match material that’s not as compressed. So feel free to use a rational amount of compression—the sound you want will still be there, just at a lower level.
And if you want a higher level…well, that’s why the volume control was invented… right?
In celebration of our 25th anniversary, PreSonus announced the new River City Sessions performance series earlier this year. The online series features regional artists in the Greater Baton Rouge area performing in PreSonus’ world-class, Walters-Storyk Design Group-designed River City Studio at PreSonus HQ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. COVID-19 restrictions forced us to close the studio to individuals who are not PreSonus employees, so we decided to take these sessions outside! Our latest session (#11 for those keeping track…) features local rocker Luis Manuel and his band The Hitchhiker performing “Glad it’s Not Her, Glad it’s Not You.” Get to know Luis and watch the session below.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music for the better part of the last 12-13 years. I learned how to play guitar by ear listening to bands like GNR, Thin Lizzy, The Darkness, ELO. Eventually, I started doing my own acoustic shows, did a few tours around the US with several bands, and then morphed into the Hitchhiker.
How has the music industry changed since your early days?
I’m sad to say it’s changed a lot! It seems like nobody cares about music as much as they care about how to run clout and pander with it. Maybe I’m just old? Could be, but The Hitchhiker boys can still rip after working 40 hours a week and slamming Jäger bombs.
Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?
The first time was probably back in 2008 with my friend Josie. He really got me pumped about doing my own music. The guy is a musical wizard. The song was likely about my second breakup. Pre and post-production is the most fun part for me. I usually take charge, but the dudes always come up with awesome ideas that we always end up using. I usually write the music and the melody first, always based on mood. Then I bring parts of the rhythm section to Mark. He turns it into a juggernaut. Afterward, we collectively go from there, adding layers of cool. Big rocker guys. Great players. Great friends. Love them to death.
Who has been an influence in your life?
I have 3-4 spiritual leaders besides my dad. Oh, and Thin LIZZY.
Have you ever wanted to give up on music? What keeps you going?
Yes. Sometimes it’s writer’s block, sometimes it loses the “fun factor” when your band members have a lot of other important things go around. It can be demoralizing, but we’re big boys now! Gotta pay the bills! What keeps me going is that I can’t stop picking up that damn strat I just bought!
What do you like about PreSonus? What caught your eye?
All PreSonus products are very user-friendly, affordable, up to date and durable. Can’t beat that. The staff is phenomenal, all-around great people. They’ve always considered me even though I can’t sing very well and I’m forever grateful to them for that.
How has COVID-19 impacted your music?
It’s taken money out of my pocket because of lockdowns. I miss live shows, performing, and just enjoying the show! I think everyone can agree about that!
What are your plans for 2021?
Write and certainly release more music with the band. Work my tail off all across the board, be a better man, and love America even more.
2020 has been a year like none other that most of us can remember in our lifetimes. But, we managed to see another Halloween weekend come and go… and true to my own annual tradition, I busted out the Oingo Boingo playlist to honor the songwriting/compositional mastery of Mr. Danny Elfman, along with one of my all-time favorite drummers, Mr. Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez and his quirky approach to propelling all those amazing songs they created in the 80’s.
So, I had the honor of spending time this past NAMM 2020 in Anaheim at our PreSonus Booth with Mr. Bill Jackson, who I discovered was Oingo Boingo’s recording engineer on one of the songs to a hit movie I used to watch ad infinitum back in my youth, Weird Science and all subsequent album releases as well as my go-to end of year holiday film (to this day), Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. We spoke at length about how he’s been using our Faderport line of control surfaces to craft his mixing with total human organic interactivity.
Here then, is what he had to say and much more!
During college, I played guitar in bands and also recorded them, as well as other local artists, with a Teac A3340-S. I had no EQ on my Tascam mixer, but I had a Tapco spring reverb.
My career started at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. I started as the runner, but I was always going in early and staying late. Sunset has 3 rooms, and I would go to each room, before the session started and look at every mic, then follow the path through the console and all the outboard gear. These were great engineers, working on projects like Van Halen, Doobie Brothers, Toto, etc. Eventually, I was able to hang out during some of the sessions and the clients got to know me. That led to me getting thrown into a lot of sessions, including some for a solid month of engineering for Prince, Sheila E., and The Time.
I randomly was selected to be the assistant engineer on “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo. When they came back the next week, to record the Dead Man’s Party album, the engineer could not commit to it, so he told Danny Elfman to use me. I recorded every album after that, including the final Live Farewell album.
Danny had also started scoring music for films, and I recorded music for about 12 films with Danny, including recording all of the singing voices for Nightmare Before Christmas.
Around the same time that I started working with Oingo Boingo, I had been recording demos with this producer, Howard Benson. That eventually led to recording and mixing about six major-label albums with Howard, including Bang Tango’s Psycho Café. Howard continues to make records that achieve gold, platinum, and #1 status.
I have probably worked on about 200 albums, in some capacity.
Now, I mix a lot of prime-time network television and a lot of documentaries and have created a space at my house for mixing all of that, as well as recording and mixing albums and singles for independent artists.
So, my PreSonus journey actually started with a music editor, Micha, that I was working with. I noticed that he (and other music editors), would bring in a little box, that sat beside their computer. It had one fader, cool transport control buttons, lots of function buttons and a big blue knob. I asked him about it, and he showed me what it could do. (Music editors, as part of their job, have to present Quicktime mixes to the producers, using the music score from the composer, the way it should sound in the finished mix. This helps the producers decide if they want to keep the music, or make changes to it).
NAMM was just a few weeks away, and by chance, I walked in to the entrance where PreSonus was set up. I was immediately drawn over to what turned out to be an 8-fader version of the single-channel FaderPort that the editors were using. I played around with it and asked a few questions, and when I got home, I ordered one of the first ones available.
What drew me to the FaderPort 8 was the small footprint and low profile. I like having it right in front of my timeline monitor, and it doesn’t block my view, as some new controllers can, and its depth is shallow enough that my monitor can stay completely behind it, but still be close to me. I also loved the price. I don’t think there is anything out there that compares with the FaderPort 8 and FaderPort 16, for the price.
What I like the most about the FaderPort series has to start with the amazing transport controls. Whomever designed this transport is a genius. I am all about minimal movement and conservation of energy. My setup has four monitors, and I divide my movements fairly evenly between my right and left hands.
The tactile feel of the buttons, and the precise layout, which matches where my fingers naturally fall, is awesome. Especially if I am recording overdubs and constantly using the transport controls… I don’t have to move the position of my hand or even look at the controls. It is very ergonomic and natural.
Other features that make my life easier, are the big blue knob that allows me to quickly spin to the next bank of tracks, or move 1 channel at a time. I am always spinning that knob to get the channels that I want to be on the surface. In addition to a Solo Clear button, there is also a Mute Clear button, which will clear the solos and mutes showing on the surface in Pro Tools.
I like that the Audio and Virtual Instrument buttons can be used to switch between the Mix and Edit windows in Pro Tools.
Very convenient are the Latch, Trim, Touch, Write, Off and Read buttons, to change the automation setting of highlighted tracks.
Something that definitely should be mentioned, is that I can choose between Studio One, MCU, HUI, and MIDI Mode, when I set it up to use with my DAW.
I also love that I can adjust the fader sensitivity. I have always had issues with moving faders knowing that I am touching them. The Faderport gives me 7 levels of sensitivity to choose from. Level 6 works perfectly for my fingers.
I can also easily adjust the contrast and brightness of the display to work with my viewing angle.
It comes in handy for recording music, especially how the large Select buttons can become the Arm buttons, in bright red. My average tracking session is about 12-14 tracks of drums and the other live musicians (usually playing along as guide tracks for the drummer). Boingo always recorded that way, with everyone playing live, even if we were only going to keep the drums. I still record like that. It helps the band realize that the tempo and drum parts are right.
The Faderport 16 especially shines when it comes to mixing for Television. Here’s the workflow/process:
For each episode, my mix tech, Christina, at Sony, sends me the Pro Tools session, which is made from a combination of my template and my FX editor, Mike’s session, and the audio files folder that goes with it. They both have my template, so this is an easy collaboration. Mike has cut in all of the FX and BG tracks, from scratch, but also includes some pre-mixed 5.1 sounds, that I have made from previous episodes, that I sometimes blend into similar scenes in the new episodes. It ends up being a combination of my pre-mix and his new tracks, for these particular scenes. Mike also includes the Foley, which is performed by Robin and Sarah, the Foley walkers that I love at Sony. I asked for them to be on Madam Secretary, and they also created the Foley for other shows I worked on, such as The Goldbergs, and now The Resident.
What is great about the Faderport 16, is that I can easily grab the eight or so background tracks for a scene, and get a quick balance, then I press the Sends button, and (in this case, select Send C) and grab those same faders to add the ambiance reverb to the BGs that I have selected for that scene.
I then press the Pan button, which turns those same faders into left and right panners, that I use to pan the more specific tracks of the BGs, such as typing, paper shuffling, cars, and sirens. If I am just panning a single track, I may grab the blue pan knob to do a traditional knob pan. Any surround panning is accomplished with a touch screen I have, which mimics the surround panner in Pro Tools. I also use the Sends button to send FX to the subchannel, and any of the other 3 reverbs that I use. Even though I am using HUI control, I am able to do all of this. I also have the input meter turned on, as well as the ability to see the fader dB levels in the scribble strip. I also use the VCA button to show and hide my EQ plug-in. The Shift-Track buttons allow me to display the SMPTE (or BPM) onto the strip.
When I started mixing episodic television at my place, I need to be able to work efficiently and fast. I had used other small format controllers, but wanted something different in price and also features.
Having 16 faders available on the surface. I really mean this, when I am mixing backgrounds, it is nice to have the faders spaced relatively close together. I can work faster, grabbing 8-10 faders, and then switching to Sends mode and grabbing the same faders to add ambiance. This works very efficiently for me.
Seeing the track input levels on the FaderPort, as well as the level of the fader, really help during a mix, as well as the other features that I mentioned.
I would love to have a single button for saving. I am saving my session all the time, and it would be great if I could just double-tap on the big blue knob to save my work.
All in all, I love how you guys took a console for everyone and made it work so well with HUI in Pro Tools.
An added bonus of mixing at Jacksonland (my home studio) with the FaderPort 16, is that I already had a personal mix workflow in place when COVID-19 appeared, and have been able to continue working on The Resident, every week while all of us are sequestering ourselves from each other, since I was already mixing in this manner.
It’s not surprising a lot of Studio One users also have Ableton Live, because they’re quite different. I’ve always felt Studio One is a pro recording studio (with a helluva backline) disguised as software, while Ableton is a live performance instrument disguised as software.
Fortunately, if you like working simultaneously with Live’s loops and scenes and Studio One’s rich feature set, Studio One can host Live as a ReWire client. Even better, ATOM SQ can provide full native integration with Ableton Live when it’s ReWired as a client—once you know how to set up the MIDI ins and outs for both programs.
Now ATOM SQ will act as an integrated controller with Ableton Live while it’s ReWired into Studio One. Cool, eh?
To return control to Studio One, reverse the process—in Live, set Control Surface to None, and toggle the MIDI Ports that relate to ATOM SQ from On to Off. In Studio One’s Options > External Devices, For ATOM SQ, reconnect ATOM SQ to Receive From and Send To.
Note that with ATOM SQ controlling Studio One, the Transport function still controls both Live and Studio One. Also, if Live has the focus, any QWERTY keyboard assignments for triggering Clips and Scenes remain valid. So even while using ATOM SQ in the native mode for Studio One, you can still trigger different Clip and Scenes in Live. If you switch the focus back to Studio One, then any QWERTY keyboard shortcuts will trigger their assigned Studio One shortcuts.
Note: When switching back and forth between Live and Studio One, and enabling/disabling Studio One and Ableton Live modes for ATOM SQ, to return to Live you may need to “refresh” Live’s Preferences settings. Choose None for the Control Surface and then re-select ATOM SQ. Next, turn the various MIDI Port options off and on again.
Vocoders are processors that use the audio from vocals (called the modulation source, or modulator) to modulate another sound, like a synthesizer pad (called the carrier). However, no law says you have to use vocals as a modulator, and I often use drums to modulate pads, power chords, and more. While Studio One’s toolset doesn’t have enough resolution for super-intelligible vocoding with voice, it’s perfect for drumcoding, which actually benefits from the lower resolution.
This tip is for advanced users and requires a fairly complex setup. Rather than go into too much detail about how it works, simply download the Drumcoder.song file, linked below, which has a complete drumcoding setup. Load Drumcoder.song into Studio One 5, press play, and you’ll hear what drumcoding is all about. (Note that the file format isn’t compatible with previous Studio One versions. However, based on the description in this tip, you should be able to “roll your own” drumcoding setup in previous Studio One versions.)
Let’s check out an audio demo. The first half has the drumcoded sound only, while the second half mixes in the drum (modulator) sound.
But wait—there’s more! Although the drumcoder isn’t designed to be the greatest vocoder in the world (and it isn’t), you can still get some decent results. Here, the voice is saying “Even do some kinds of vocal effects with the PreSonus drumcoder—have fun!’
Next, we’ll explore how it works…or if you’re impatient, just reverse-engineer the song.
Vocoding splits the modulator (like voice or drums) into multiple frequency bands. In a traditional vocoder, each band produces a control voltage that corresponds to the audio’s level in each band. Similarly, the carrier splits into the same frequency bands. A VCA follows each carrier band, and the VCAs are fed by the modulator’s control voltages. So, if there’s midrange energy in the modulator, it opens the VCA for the carrier’s midrange audio. If there’s bass energy in the modulator, it opens the VCA for the carrier’s bass audio. With a vocoder, as different energy occurs in different bands that cover a vocal’s frequency range, the carrier mimics that same distribution of energy in its own bands. This is what generates talking instrument effects.
Vocoders typically need at least eight frequency bands to make voices sound intelligible. Studio One’s Splitter can divide incoming audio into five bands, which is enough resolution for drumcoding. Fig. 1 (which takes some graphic liberties with Studio One’s UI), shows the signal flow.
Figure 1: Drumcoder signal flow.
The Drums track provides the modulator signal, and the Mai Tai synthesizer provides the carrier. The Drums track has five pre-fader sends to distribute the drum sound to five buses. As shown in Fig. 2, each of the five buses has a Splitter (but no other effects) set to Frequency Split mode, with splits at 200, 400, 800, and 1600 Hz. The < 200 Hz bus mutes all Splits except for 1, the 200-400 bus mutes all Splits except for 2, the 400-800 bus mutes all splits except for 3, the 800 – 1.6 kHz mutes all splits except for 4, and the > 1.6 kHz bus mutes all splits except for 5. Now each bus output covers one of the five bands.
Figure 2: Splitter settings for the five buses.
The Mai Tai carrier has a splitter set to the same frequencies. Each split goes to an Expander, which basically acts like a VCA; see Fig. 3. We don’t need to break out the Splitter outputs, because you can access the sidechain for the Expanders located within the Splitter. (A Mixtool follows each Expander, but it’s there solely to provide a volume control for each of the carrier’s bands in the control panel.)
Figure 3: Effects used for the Mai Tai synthesizer carrier track.
As to the bus outputs, the < 200 Hz bus has a send that goes to the sidechain of the Expander in the carrier’s < 200 Hz split. The 200-400 Hz bus has a send to the sidechain of the Expander in the carrier’s 200-400 Hz split. The 400-800 Hz bus has a send to the sidechain of the Expander in the carrier’s 400-800 Hz split…you get the idea. Basically, each bus provides a “control voltage” for the corresponding “VCA” (Expander) that controls the level of the carrier’s five bands.
Fig. 4 shows the Control panel.
Figure 4: Drumcoder macro controls.
Threshold, Ratio, and Range cover the full range of Expander controls. They affect how tightly the Expander follows the modulator, which controls the effect’s percussive nature. Just play around with them until you get the sound you want. The Expander Envelope settings aren’t particularly crucial, but I find 0.10 ms Attack and 128.0 ms Release work well. Of course, you also need to enable the sidechain for each Expander, and make sure it’s listening to the bus that corresponds to the correct band.
The five knobs toward the right control the level of the individual bands by altering the Gain of the Mixtool that follows each band’s Expander. The five associated buttons enable or bypass the Expander for a particular band, which can give some really cool effects. For example, turn off the Expander on the Mid band, and with the Song’s Mai Tai preset, it almost sounds like a choir is singing along with the drumcoded drums.
Although the Drumcoder isn’t really designed for vocal effects, it still can be fun. The key is to bring up the > 1.6 kHz Bus slider, as this mixes in some of the voice’s “s” sounds, which give intelligibility. Experiment with the Expander controls to find what works well. If you really want to dig into vocal applications, edit the Splitter frequencies to optimize them for the vocal range instead of drums…or leave a comment asking me to pursue this further.
Due to the complexity, if I think I’m going to use the Drumcoder, I’ll just treat this song like a template and build the rest of the song from there. But once you understand the principle of operation, you can always add the effect in to an existing song as needed. I have to say this is one of my favorite Friday tips ever… I hope you enjoy playing with the Drumcoder!
Although Studio One 5 doesn’t have a tape emulator plug-in per se, it can emulate some of the most important characteristics that people associate with “the tape sound.” Truly emulating tape can go down a serious rabbit hole because tape is a complicated signal processor; no two vintage tape recorders sounded the same because they required alignment (influenced by the engineer’s preferences), used different tape formulations, and were in various states of maintenance. However, emulating three important characteristics provides what most people want from tape emulation.
Check out the audio example to hear what this FX Chain can do. The first part is unprocessed, while the second part uses the default FX Chain control settings with a little underbiasing and head bump. The difference is subtle, but it adds that extra “something.”
This FX Chain starts with a Splitter, which creates three signal paths: one for saturation, one for hiss, and one for hum (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: FX Chain block diagram.
After auditioning all available Studio One 5 saturation options, I liked the TriComp best for this application. The Pro EQ stage preceding the TriComp provides the head bump EQ and has a control to emulate the effect of underbiasing tape (more highs, which pushes more high-frequency level into the TriComp and therefore increases distortion in that range) or overbiasing (less highs, less distortion).
At first, I wasn’t going to include tape hiss and hum, but if someone needs to use this FX Chain for sound design (i.e., an actor starts a tape in a theatrical production), then including hiss and hum sounds more authentic. An additional knob chooses 50 or 60 Hz hum, which represents the power standards in different countries. (Note that the closest you can get to these frequencies is 50.4 and 59.1 Hz, but that’s good enough). However, I draw the line at including wow and flutter! Good riddance to both of them.
Because creating three splits reduces each split’s level, the TriComp Gain control provides makeup gain.
Turning Bump on adds a boost at the specified frequency, but also adds a 48 dB low-cut filter around 23 Hz to emulate the loss of very low frequencies due to the head bump. As a result, depending on the program material, adding the bump may increase or decrease the total apparent bass response. For additional flexibility, if you turn Bump Amount down all the way, the Bump On/Off switch enables or disables only the 48 dB/octave low-cut filter.
Fig. 2 shows some typical spectra from using the FX Chain.
Figure 2: The top curve shows the head bump enabled, with underbiasing. The lower curve shows minimal added bump, but with the ultra-low cut filter enabled, and overbiasing.
The controls default to rational settings (Fig. 3), which are used in the audio example. But as usual with my FX chains, the settings can go beyond the realm of good taste if needed.
Figure 3: Control panel for the Tape Emulator.
For example, I rarely go over 2-3% saturation, but I know some of you are itching to kick it up to 10%. Ditto tape hiss, in case you want to emulate recording on an ancient Radio Shack cassette recorder—with Radio Shack tape. Just remember that the Bias control is clockwise to overbias (less highs), and counter-clockwise to underbias (more highs).
There’s a lot of mythology around tape emulations, and you can find some very good plug-ins that nail the sound of tape. But try this FX Chain—it may give you exactly what you want. Best of all, I promise you’ll never have to clean or demagnetize its tape heads.
We’ve all heard the saying, “To know him is to love him.” This sentiment could not be more true for PreSonus’ very own Johnny McAndrew. From trade shows to demos and Vic Viper video shoots to cooking Louisiana’s best Jambalaya, there’s no doubt Johnny has made a lasting impact on PreSonus’ culture of family, humor, fun, creativity, and hard work. He’s been around for almost 17 years of PreSonus’ 25 years as a company and has some of the best stories from the last quarter-century. Get to know our Territory Manager for the US and Canada below.
How long have you worked at PreSonus?
I was hired as the 19th employee in February of 2004, so 16 and a half years.
When was the first time you heard about PreSonus?
It would’ve been around the year 2000. I was learning to run sound at the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge, LA and we were using a few of the outboard compressor/ limiters known as the ACP88. I soon found out that this fancy blue piece of gear with the cool lights was designed and built above an old antique store—right up the street from Galaxy Music, the music store I was working at downtown. I remember being fascinated that there was a pro audio company just a few blocks over, designing useful products for musicians and audio engineers all over the world. A few years later, some friends of mine that worked here reached out to let me know that they were hiring and wanted someone that “could do a bunch of different things.”
Is there are particular moment or memory that happened at NAMM that stands out for you?
There are so many, and most of my favorite memories have to do with my friends and partners I get to see, but I’ll go with day 1 of my first Winter NAMM in 2010. I remember being on a plane from Louisiana headed to California and I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to go to what seemed like a mythical show that I had only seen in guitar magazines growing up. I got off the plane, dropped my bags off at the hotel and headed straight to the show. While waiting in line to get my badge I notice I’m right behind the coolest bass player of all time, Sir Bootsy Collins. I make a beeline to the booth and soon as I get on the trade show floor, the very first person I see is Dave Mustaine from Megadeth followed by Kerry King from Slayer and Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. I walk straight up to my assigned area to demo what would have been the original StudioLive series and Studio One version 1, and the first person I talk to about the console is Johnny Hiland, who happens to be one my favorite guitar players and he was just as gracious as can be. I know I’m going a little heavy on the name dropping, but it was it a lot to absorb in the first 15 minutes of being at the Anaheim Convention Center; it’s always surreal because you never know who you’re going to end up seeing or showing gear to at that show. Except for Sinbad. You will always, without fail, see Sinbad every single year at Winter NAMM. He’s as nice and funny as you’d think but what you might not know is that he is a total tech/gearhead.
Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of? If so, why?
That’s a difficult question because I will often blow right past a milestone, or a noteworthy achievement that I should probably take the time to acknowledge or enjoy, but I’m always thinking of the next month, the next quarter, or the next year. I can’t really point to a particular contribution or achievement but just seeing what we’ve done as a whole over the past 25 years, while constantly refining our process is something to be proud of. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved for 16 of those years and it’s been an awesome journey to see where we’ve been and where we’re headed.
What PreSonus product are you most proud of?
It depends on when you ask me and whether I’m recording or running live sound. Currently, I’m pretty stoked on PreSonus Sphere because of the collaboration aspect that will continue to improve over time. I love the idea of bringing people together through creativity. If I’m going with a vintage memory that really made an early impression on me, I‘m really proud of the ADL 600 because that was the first product I had a hand in as I was doing QA at the time. To see the product from its inception, which started as a schematic on a napkin, to working late nights with Robert Creel and the engineers so that we could get it out the door, to see it get accepted by the market and used on some really serious records was such cool thing to be part of.
What inspires you to keep showing up to work at PreSonus?
So many things. I could go on and on about the people I get to work with, the process, the technology, and the products, but I on my most challenging day, I always think about friends that have called or texted after the first time they set up their interface with Studio One and how excited they were to start creating. The idea that there’s some kid out in the world, that could be the next Stevie Wonder and they’re using our gear to create something is as motivating as it is humbling. It’s truly a privilege to serve the creative community and to hopefully help create an exquisite user experience.
What is or was the biggest challenge you faced during your time here?
When you work for a technology company in a highly competitive field, you’re basically signing up for an endless barrage of obstacles while someone says it can’t be done or we’ve always done it this way so why should we change it? Combine those daily challenges with a healthy dose of the year 2020 and you’ve got one massive rock to push up the hill. That being said, I really don’t think about the perceived obstacle in front of us but rather how we can all move forward together.
What do you think other people should know about PreSonus that they don’t?
Our COO, Jim Boitnott, created the spices that are sold on our web store. Our senior product manager, Ray Tantzen, should probably have his own cooking show where he talks proper methods of using a smoker. Colby Huval in the sales department makes better Cajun Sausage and Tasso than 99.99% of people in Louisiana, which puts him in the running for the best worldwide. Our Shipping Admin, Shawn Lee, is one of the most talented musicians and songwriters I’ve ever heard. Chad Schoonmaker in marketing is one of the best abstract artists I’ve ever seen. Product Specialist, Gregor Beyerle and Software Engineer Michael Cole are two of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.
I think we have the most talented group of cooks, musicians, creatives, and engineers that truly care per capita of any other company on the planet. You can learn something inspiring and unique from all the folks at our offices in Louisiana, Ireland and Germany.
How has working at PreSonus changed you? (for the better)
Just doing something that I love and feeling like I have a sense of purpose when I walk into work every day gives me focus. Acknowledging how lucky I am to get to do something that I care about forces me to be present and enjoy the moment as opposed to looking too far ahead.
Considering all your time and effort you’ve spent at PreSonus, what’s something you’re excited to see PreSonus accomplish in the next 5 years?
I hope we continue to push the envelope of what is possible when designing products for creative people while giving the user a great experience. Let’s make it better and more fun!
Studio One 5.1 has arrived! This update is free to PreSonus Sphere members, or anyone else who owns Studio One 5—Artist or Professional editions. Fire up Studio One and click “Check for Updates” to get it!
This update addresses many user requests, particularly in the realms of composition and notation, but if you’re less old-school and more no-school, don’t fret! We’ve got plenty of updates for you including Retrospective Record, External Instrument support for the Show Page, and a ton of workflow streamlining. All are detailed below.
Version 5.1 adds score printing to Studio One Professional. Scores and individual parts can now be printed directly from Studio One! Printing is supported for any number of tracks, from single instruments to full orchestral arrangements. Several other composition enhancements along with Score Printing are featured in this video:
Never miss another great song idea again! Retrospective Recording captures everything you play on your keyboard or controller—even without hitting record! It works invisibly in the background on a track-by-track basis.
Managing large projects with a huge track and channel count is now faster and easier than ever with the addition of powerful search and filter options.
Clip Gain Envelops can now be bypassed from the Event context menu and the Event Inspector, making it quick and easy to compare the result of your Gain Envelopes without losing any of your adjustments.
The Score View will reflect any Key Signature changes added to Studio One’s new Signature Track. These will also transfer to Notion when sending a score between applications.
View minutes:seconds with bars and beats at the same time! A must for film composers.
Global Tracks can now be displayed inside Editors and used as guides when editing audio or Note Events in Piano View and Drum View.
External MIDI instruments are now supported using Virtual Instrument Players. Patches can include program change and bank change messages so you can control an entire MIDI rig from your Show!
Drag and drop stompbox settings between Ampire and Pedalboard, so go ahead and steal that Big Fuzz tone from your guitarist… we won’t tell!
Note Events in the Pattern Editor are now colorized to match the pad colors in Impact, ATOM and ATOM SQ, so you always know which sound is being triggered and which pad is controlling it. And there’s a new library of inspirational drum patterns and variations patterns in Musicloops format for easy, drag-and-drop saving and export.
Studio One 5.1 is a significant update and is free to owners of Studio One 5 Artist and Professional. Click here for the full change log, and click “Check for Updates” in Studio One’s start page to get all these new features now!