Justin’s Black Fox Society is available in two editions: Abstract, the “lite” edition, and Vault, the heavy-hitter. Justin literally traveled to obscure corners of the Earth—22 countries, in fact—to record ambient soundscapes from some of the world’s spookiest places, bringing them home to mix, edit, and process over the course of several years.
Black Fox Society: Vault is an intense labor of love that clocks in at a massive 14.9 gigabytes. While we’ve cut the price in half for a very limited time, note that we do not sell external hard drives.
Do yourself a favor and read all about Justin’s travels to create Black Fox Society in this blog post.
All are up for grabs at 30% off including:
This offer is valid NOW through August 31 and is available worldwide!
Notion iOS 2.5.3 Maintenance Release
An update is now available to the recent 2.5 release for Notion iOS, the best-selling notation app on iOS. This is a free update for Notion iOS owners that can be obtained by visiting Notion in the App Store on your device, or checking your available updates in the App Store.
All the changes are below—if you missed all the major news for v2.5 itself, check it out here.
And while you’re here, please join us at our new official Facebook user group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PreSonusNotionUsers
Studio One V5 adds Event Gain Envelopes for audio, which joins Event Level Envelopes and Track Automation Envelopes. So, how do you choose the right tool for the right job? Let’s use a paint brush analogy: Event Level Envelopes (ELE) are like broad brushes, Track Automation Envelopes (TAE) are medium brushes, and Event Gain Envelopes (EGE) are the fine-pointed brushes you use for detail work.
EVENT GAIN ENVELOPE BASICS
Next, let’s turn our attention to which envelope type is best suited to particular use cases.
EVENT LEVEL ENVELOPE
Some people think the EGE replaces the ELE, but I think the ELE remains the fastest way to trim an Event’s level—click and drag. This is particularly useful to change the response of subsequent level-sensitive processors, like compressors, amp sims, limiters, envelope followers, and so on. For details on this technique, check out the Friday Tip Yet Another Use for Event Envelopes. ELEs are also the quickest way to add a fade in or fade out to a group of multiple Events. For example, if you’ve split a series of vocal Events just before an inhale, it’s easy to reduce the inhale on all Events simultaneously.
EVENT GAIN ENVELOPE
I’ve often mentioned that rather than use heavy compression on vocals, I instead adjust levels manually to even out variations, before applying a light amount of compression. This is covered in the Friday tip Better Vocals with Phrase-by-Phrase Normalization. While this technique is still fast and effective with ELEs, EGEs allow for much more detailed editing.
In Fig. 1, the first waveform in the upper image would be difficult to level with an ELE. Splitting would likely cause some discontinuities, resulting in potential pops. Fixing this would then require crossfading across the split.
The EGE makes levelling much easier. Furthermore, selecting the Region containing the envelope allows using the Trim function to bring up the audio’s overall level. (And before proceeding, it’s time for a moment of levity: Microsoft Word automatically writes Alt Text to caption images based on pattern recognition. It determined that Fig. 1 was “a picture containing water, outdoor, dog, lake.”)
The EGE is also great for reducing levels of p-pops, manually editing “ess” sounds, reducing pick noise at the beginning of a guitar attack, minimizing the severity of inhales, and more. It can bring up the decay of a guitar note to provide a more consistent signal to a compression, create extremely precise fadeouts, and more. The bottom line is when you need detailed level control, EGE is the droid you’re looking for.
TRACK AUTOMATION ENVELOPE
Prior to the addition of EGE, this was the preferred way to do what the EGE can do. However, there are three main drawbacks compared to the EGE.
The latter showcases a major advantage of having multiple envelopes: the EGE and ELE can do detailed changes on specific Events, while the TAE does overall level changes for the track. For example, imagine if you had to use the EGE in Fig. 1 to create an overall level fade. It’s doable, but would take a lot more work than just using a TAE to fade out over the duration of the clip.
All these envelopes can exist concurrently. However, you may need to change the editing environment. For example, suppose you’ve added an EGE to an Event, and now you want to add an ELE. You can’t do that while the Envelope Gain is showing, because Studio One assumes that any editing you want to do is to the Envelope Gain. So, uncheck the Envelope Gain box, and now you can use the ELE to change the level or fade. The waveform will reflect these changes, as well as any you added with the EGE.
Sometimes it’s a toss-up as to which approach is best. To even out level variations in vocals, if it’s mostly a question of changing the level of phrases, it’s often easiest to split at the beginning and end of the phrase and alter the level with the ELE. But if you need to go granular with changing overbearing consonants, breath noises, mouth clicks, and the like, then the EGE is the way to go.
[UJAM is a prolific developer of virtual instruments located in Bremen, Germany. Jannik Hainke and Christoph Lange were kind enough to talk to us a little bit about life behind the scenes at UJAM, and what it is about Studio One that makes it such an excellent host DAW for their world-class instruments.]
PreSonus: Introduce yourselves! Who are you and where is your team located? How long has UJAM been around?
J&C: Hi there! We’re a music software company based in the beautiful city of Bremen in the north of Germany! Our company was founded in 2010 by musicians and technology nerds, and we’re proud to say that two of our co-founders include Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer. For many years we were a consulting company developing cool technologies for ourselves and others, but in 2016, we decided to branch out and start making our own virtual instruments and plug-ins. It’s been great—we’ve discovered that we love making instruments and plug-ins for musicians.
P: What makes UJAM products different from the WIDE array of virtual instruments available from other developers? What sets UJAM apart?
J&C: Our products sound amazing, and we pride ourselves on our quality German engineering 🙂 but I think what really sets us apart is our fanatical obsession with ease-of-use. I think from day one, our goal has always been to build instruments that are simple enough for total beginners in a bedroom studio but great-sounding enough that serious professionals will use them on their big-budget productions.
We don’t want our products to feel super tech-y or require years of production experience to use properly. That’s why we design the interfaces for maximum clarity and set up our “frustration-free” controls so you always get musically interesting results no matter how you set the knobs and other controls. Basically, you can be up and running in a few seconds with very little knowledge but there is enough depth there that you can keep using our instruments years later when you’ve become a professional! That’s what we strive for, anyway.
P: How do you choose what niche to fill in a product family? For example, Virtual Bassist or Virtual Guitarist each have up to five stylistic varieties. How do you choose what styles to pursue and develop an instrument for?
J&C: There’s no simple answer for this one. In general, we look at what our customers are saying, what is happening in the marketplace, and what kind of genres we are excited to cover ourselves. I can say that we definitely avoid chasing trends since trends come and go quickly and end up sounding dated. Instead, we do our best to find styles and genres that musicians will continue to find useful and interesting for many years.
Once we decide on a certain genre or style, we hire session musicians to record the sounds and patterns we need for a virtual instrument. If we’re developing a plug-in effect, we research and create the effects and effect chains in-house. Thanks to our glorious Gorilla Engine software development kit, we’re able to create products very quickly!
P: The new Finisher series seems to be a different and exciting direction for UJAM. What (or who) inspired it?
J&C: Finisher is actually a spin-off feature from our highly successful Virtual Guitarist CARBON. For CARBON, we realized we needed something special to get those beautifully distorted sounds happening quickly so we invented Finisher. As soon as CARBON was released, customers started asking us to give them just the Finisher part as its own separate plug-in! We released Finisher MICRO as a small, free product in December 2019 and it was a huge success, so we followed in 2020 with Finisher NEO (an expanded version of MICRO) and VOODOO.
For those that aren’t familiar, our Finisher products are really cool—this plug-in is like having the mother of all pedalboards to process your sounds. Each Finisher product (currently Micro, NEO and VOODOO) has its own sonic signature and has up to 50 separate effects inside itself. Those effects are connected and routed to each other in dozens of different ways that you can load instantly. The cool thing is that our sound design team puts in countless hours to find those cool combinations, and countless more hours to figure out how to control all the available parameters with a super-simple interface. This lets you get totally awesome effects on your guitars, synths, drums and other sounds without spending an eternity setting up and dialing in 50 separate effects one by one. We do this crazy, difficult stuff so musicians can have fun. As someone here once said “It’s supposed to feel like flow, not work!”
P: Is there anything in particular about Studio One that you feel makes it a strong host for UJAM instruments?
J&C: Well let me start by saying that we have quite a few fans of Studio One here, so that certainly doesn’t hurt!
The recent addition of Chord Track and Key Switch Editing in Studio One 5 has made it a fantastic choice for our Virtual Bassist plug-ins! We’re delighted to be the first company to support these features right from the start. With the Key Switch integration, our Virtual Bassists (ROYAL 2, ROWDY 2, MELLOW 2 and the new DANDY) report their key switches display articulations with their names automatically. Chord Track detects and displays the chords that have been played, so newly recorded passages will follow the established chord progression. Our bassists automatically change the MIDI notes for you when Chord Track enabled, so things stay not only in time but also in tune. It’s really nicely integrated!
P: In software development, it’s common to see customers using products in fascinating ways that were not intended during development. What are some of the uses you’ve seen of UJAM products that have surprised you?
J&C: You’re right—sometimes we’re surprised and delighted when we see our products being used in new or unexpected ways. Getting this feedback is incredibly valuable for us. It helps us learn what works well for customers and what doesn’t, and helps us figure out what to do with our product updates.
Once in a while we get feedback that really gets us right in the heart. Here’s a message from a customer in New Zealand. The whole ujam team loved this so much, we put it on our office wall:
“I’m a lifelong guitar player until the last few years as rheumatism has worked its devilish ways into my hands. My productivity with recording the songs I write fell off the proverbial cliff. Then, along comes Virtual Guitarist, I can “play” in ways I never could have in my best years as a player. Styles & genre’s I’d never attempted. Needless to say because of your products – I have all three: IRON, AMBER, and SPARKLE—my creativity scaled that cliff & put up a guardrail around the edge. Thank YOU for doing these VI’s. Please, keep them coming!”
Any time you want to do detailed edits in context with a mix, Dim Solo is your friend. When you solo a track with a Dim Solo function enabled, the non-soloed tracks aren’t muted but instead play back at a lower (dimmed) level. I find this essential for many workflows, particularly comping. When you use the Listen Tool to audition various comps, normally you don’t hear them along with the rest of the mix. So one of the comps might sound wonderful, but when you play it back in context, find the timing was off. Dim Solo provides an immediate reality check.
I wanted this function so much in Studio One that my second “Friday Tip” blog post was about how to kludge a Dim Solo function by adding a Sub bus. But kludges are no longer needed, because V5’s new Listen Bus provides an efficient, flexible Dim Solo solution.
This technique works best with interfaces that have a mixer applet (like Universal Control) with virtual outs. I’ve tested this with the 1824c and Studio 192; just make sure you don’t bypass the Universal Control mixer. Start by right-clicking in a channel, enabling the Listen Bus, and checking Solo through Listen Bus (Fig. 1).
Now go to the Audio I/O setup and choose the Listen Bus output (Fig. 2). Although the line outs can feed physical outs, with the Universal Control mixer they can also feed virtual outs. The Main bus can feed the usual 1+2 outs, while the Listen Bus feeds the 3+4 outs.
Figure 2: Audio I/O Setup for the 1824c or Studio 192.
As another example, Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin USB also creates virtual outs. Fig. 3 shows the Audio I/O setup.
Figure 3: In Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin USB, the Listen Bus goes to a set of virtual outputs.
With the Listen Bus assigned to a virtual output, you can hear both the Main and Listen buses within your usual monitoring system. If virtual outputs aren’t available, then the Listen Bus needs to go to a hardware output, which requires a way to monitor the Listen Bus audio. For example, the Listen Bus could go to a Monitor Station input.
Now it’s time for the Dim part. Insert a Mixtool in your Main Bus, and lower the Gain to whatever creates an ideal balance for listening to the soloed track compared to the rest of the mix (Fig. 4).
Figure 4: The Mixtool controls the Main bus level.
I usually choose about -12 dB of attenuation. To Dim the mix, enable the Mixtool. Bypass it to return the mix to its normal level. (Sometimes I even insert two Mixtools, one set to -6 dB and the other to -12 dB.)
So now we have the option of a continuously variable amount of dimming, down to -24 dB. But, Studio One V5 has a couple other tricks up its sleeve.
The Listen bus has a pre-/post-fader option. The soloed track will still appear in the dimmed mix if its fader is up, but this probably won’t matter because the Listen Bus level will be louder. However if you do need to excise the soloed sound from the dimmed mix, pull down the fader on the channel you’re soloing, and set the Listen Bus pre/post fader switch to pre-fader.
Another small but useful feature is that if there’s a fadeout on the Main bus, the Listen bus isn’t affected by the fade, so it’s easy to hear your edits even as a song fades out. Also, if you want to hear the track feeding the Listen Bus in isolation, no problem—just mute the Main bus.
Dim Solo improves workflow considerably when comping and editing, and thanks to the Listen Bus, it’s now easy to do.
Yes, Studio One 5’s Pro EQ2 has a more “pro” look…but there are also some major improvements under the hood, so let’s investigate.
This is arguably the most significant change, and appears as an eighth filter stage just below the left of the frequency response display (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: The phase-linear Low-Cut filter section offers three cutoff frequencies and two different slopes.
There’s much mythology around linear-phase EQ, so here are the basics. Traditional EQ introduces phase shifts when you boost or cut. With multiple EQ stages, these phase differences can produce subtle cancellations or reinforcements at particular frequencies. This may or may not create a sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious effect called “smearing.” However, it’s important to note that these phase shifts also give particular EQs their “character” and therefore, can be desirable.
Linear-phase EQ technology delays the signal where appropriate so that all bands are in phase with each other. This tends to give a more “transparent” sound. You might wonder why there’s only one linear-phase stage, with a low-cut response, but there’s a good reason for this. Many engineers like to remove unneeded low frequencies for utilitarian purposes (e.g., remove p-pops or handling noise from vocals), or for artistic reasons, like reducing lows on an amp sim cab to emulate more of an open-back cab sound. Standard EQ introduces phase changes above the cutoff frequency; with linear-phase EQ, there are no phase issues. This can be particularly important with doubled audio sources, where you don’t want phase differences between them due to slightly different EQ settings.
The Pro EQ2 is very efficient, but note that enabling linear-phase EQ requires far more CPU power, and adds considerable latency—it’s not something you’ll want to add to every track. Fortunately, in many cases, it’s a setting that you apply and don’t think about anymore. This makes it a good candidate for “Transform to Rendered Audio” so you can reclaim that CPU power, and then use conventional EQ going forward.
By the way, an argument against linear-phase EQ is that it can create pre-ringing, which adds a low-level, “swooshing” artifact before audio transients. Fortunately, it’s a non-issue here, because pre-ringing is audible only at low frequencies, with high gain and Q settings. (Note that traditional EQ can add post-ringing, although you usually won’t hear it because the audio masks it.)
I’ve wanted this feature for a long time. Some EQ changes are extremely subtle, particularly when mastering. With range set to 24 dB, it’s difficult to drag nodes around precisely. What’s more, when making fine gain changes, with the 24 dB view it’s easy to move slightly to the right or left, and end up editing frequency instead. Holding Shift provides fine-tuning, but for fast EQ adjustments, the 6 dB view is welcome (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: It’s much easier to see subtle EQ changes by setting the level range to 6 dB.
Granted, you adjust EQ with your ears, not your eyes—but learning how to correlate sound to frequency is important. I knew one guitar player who when he said something like “that track really needs to come down about 2.5 dB at 1.25 kHz,” he was 100% spot-on. When mixing, he could zero in on EQ settings really fast.
And there’s another implication. Those learning how to use EQ often overcompensate, so at seminars, I advise applying what I call “the rule of half”: if you think a sound needs 6 dB of boost, try 3 dB of boost instead and get acclimated to it before adding more boost. If you choose the 6 dB view, you’ll be forced to use smaller boost and cuts in order to adjust or see them graphically—and you might find those smaller changes are all you need.
12th Octave Frequency Response Display
The Third-Octave Display is good eye candy, and gives a rough idea of how EQ affects the sound. The new 12th-Octave resolution option gives far better definition. In Fig. 3, note how many of the peaks and dips visible in the 12th-Octave display are averaged out, and lost, in the Third-Octave version.
In addition to the more “marquee” improvements, several other additions make working with Pro EQ2 a better experience than the original Pro EQ.
Keyboard Display. Now you can correlate frequency to note pitches; note that these line up with the bars in the 12th-octave display.
Band Controls. In Studio One 4, there was a little, almost invisible arrow between the controls and the frequency response display. Clicking on this hid the controls. The Band Controls button does the same thing, and you won’t overlook it.
Curves Button. Similarly, Studio One 4’s All/Current buttons that control how curves are displayed have been consolidated into a single Curves button.
Sidechaining. We already covered Pro EQ sidechaining in the blog post The Sidechained Spectrum. However, when choosing the FFT curve, now there’s a sidechain spectrum peak hold button for the sidechain input. Clicking on the “snowflake” button freezes peaks (hence the name) until you click the button again.
Better Metering. Studio One 4’s Pro EQ had only output metering, whereas Pro EQ2 has metering for both input and output. This is a highly useful addition. If the output is too hot, you can always turn down the output level, but you won’t know if the reason why it’s hot is because you’ve boosted some frequencies too much, or the input level is hitting the EQ too hard. Now you’ll know. As with Studio One 4, the metering shows both peak and average levels.
And that’s a wrap for Pro EQ2. I guess you could say the newer version is ahead of the curve…the EQ curve, that is 😊
Tape Resampler, a new Studio One 5 feature, replicates an “old school” time-stretch technique that varied pitch and tempo simultaneously and proportionately. Today’s DSP can change pitch and tempo independently, which is cool. But the price you pay is artifacts, because when changing tempo or pitch, you need to either delete or add data.
With resampling, the data stays the same—so there are no artifacts, and the sound is natural. Although extreme speedups give the “Chipmunks” sound and extreme slowdowns evoke Darth Vader on tranquilizers, subtler speed changes were used all the time with tape. It was common to speed up a master tape by a few per cent to give the tempo a slightly faster, “peppier” sound, as well as some added brightness. (If you’ve ever tried to play along with a song that was several cents sharp, it was probably sped up a bit.)
The manual mentions using Tape Resampler to fit loops to tempo (assuming accurate pitch isn’t crucial), but there’s another application that at least to me, is worth the update price by itself. With tape, it was common to slow the tape down or speed it up, play along with the part, and then return the speed to normal. This produced a timbral and formant shift, and was popular for background vocals. For example, if a song was in the key of A, you’d slow down to the key of G, sing along with it in G, then return the tape to normal. The vocal would have a brighter formant change that often worked well. This could also help you hit notes that were just out of your range. (We covered similar techniques in the blog post Varispeed-Type Formant Changes, but because they used DSP, at least some artifacts were unavoidable.)
The Handy Transposition Chart
|Semitones||Pitch Up||Pitch Down|
Figure 1: The overdub is being raised two semitones.
Note that the transpose numbers relate to the 12th root of 2. This irrational number (its numerical value has been taken out to over twenty billion decimal digits, but it still doesn’t repeat!) sets the ratio between semitones of the even-numbered scale. Fortunately, three significant digits covers our needs.
The response to Studio One 5 and the launch of PreSonus Sphere has been OVERWHELMING, to say the very least… We are blown away and extremely grateful for our customers’ enthusiasm! We are working non-stop to respond to specific issues any customers may run into. We wanted to take a minute and answer a few questions about the grace period we’re offering to our customers.
PreSonus is providing a super-sized 90 day grace period for Studio One version 5. This means if you registered a copy of Studio One 4 on or after April 1, 2020, you are within the grace period. Here are all the specifics:
Note: If you registered a copy of Studio One 4 Artist that was bundled with a third-party product during the grace period, we are sorry but you are not eligible for an upgrade.
During this grace period, if you have multiple copies of Studio One Professional or Studio One Artist in your account, all copies are stamped as upgraded automatically. However, only you only get one copy of Studio One 5 or PreSonus Sphere per account, not per product. This is only a rule for those registrations that occurred during the grace period.
After clicking the Redeem button above you will see a screen similar to the one pictured below. Depending on how you acquired your product or your product type you may not have both buttons:
PreSonus Sphere is a global community of creative enthusiasts and respected professionals brought together by and for the love of music-making. A PreSonus Sphere membership grants you access to an extensive library of creative software tools, as well as Cloud collaboration tools and storage, chat with Studio One and Notion experts from around the globe, and access to exclusive promotions, training, and events. And we’ll be adding more and more stuff each month, all for a low monthly or annual membership.
PreSonus Sphere membership benefits include licenses for the complete collection of PreSonus’ award-winning software solutions for recording, mixing, scoring, and producing, including Studio One Professional and Notion, plus over 100 libraries of samples, effects, and loops, including the complete Spark Collection sample and loop libraries and Tom Brechtlein Drums. Members also get every plug-in and Studio One Add-on that PreSonus makes, including Ampire, Channel Strip Collection, CTC-1 Pro Console Shaper, Fat Channel XT, Presence XT Editor, and much more.
But PreSonus Sphere is far more than a huge toolbox; it is first and foremost a creative community. Modern musicians work with talented people from all over the world, and PreSonus Sphere makes it easy to share projects with other members using a PreSonus Sphere workspace. A live chat lets members communicate in real time with their global production teams to make sure everyone’s on the same page and striving toward the same goal.
Sphere membership includes 30 GB of cloud storage for backups, stems, collaboration, and more. When you need more space, PreSonus Sphere lets you upgrade to 100 GB of cloud storage space for $3.99/mo. PreSonus Exchange has always been a great way for Studio One users to share presets, loops, and more; PreSonus Sphere users now have access to a new exclusive portal loaded with custom-designed tools and curated content by featured PreSonus artists.
PreSonus Sphere members will be invited to exclusive events and training sessions where they’ll meet like-minded PreSonus Sphere users and expand their collaboration networks. Need a quick production tip or workflow trick? In addition to the growing Exchange community and active user groups, PreSonus has gathered Studio One power users from around the globe to answer questions in members-only chats.
Each month PreSonus Sphere members can expect something new, whether it’s exclusive content or a special surprise gift to thank them for being members—and there are no additional upgrade costs or hidden fees. PreSonus has also teamed up with partners to give PreSonus Sphere members exclusive offers throughout the year.
Visit Sphere.PreSonus.com to get started for $14.95 U.S. per month, or $164.95 per year.