PreSonus Blog

Notion iOS 2.5.2 Release Notes

Notion iOS 2.5.2 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

 


All Fixes and Enhancements

  • Issue entering notes with MIDI and MIDI Bluetooth instruments resolved
  • Stability and performance improvements
  • Context menus now display, after switching directly from Handwriting mode to the Handwriting zoom area and back
  • On re-opening the app, the context menus now show in full the first time they are opened
  • The ‘Continue’ button in the Export menu is now refreshed if the file type or export location is changed
  • Lyrics can now be entered as expected on iOS13.4 and later when an external keyboard is connected
  • Toolbar position fixed when in landscape on iPhone
  • Background colour of Insert Barlines dialog fixed
  • Language fixes for intervals in German
  • Note that Soundcloud export is currently unavailable, as the API used is no longer supported by Soundcloud
  • Minimum requirements: Apple iOS9 or higher (please note, Notion 2.5.x will be the final version to support iOS9 and iOS10)

PreSonus Fam Friday: Steve O’Brien

It’s another edition of PreSonus Fam Friday. This one comes to us from across the pond! Meet Steve O’Brien. Steve had 19 years of experience in MI retail with a particular focus on guitar related products and service and 17 years of experience in various event production roles including guitar technician, sound engineer, stage management and production management. He joined the PreSonus family over in the Ireland office as a Sales Executive. Get to know more about Steve here!

How long have you worked for PreSonus?

6 Months

What’s your official job title?

Sales Executive EMEA

What’s your favourite thing about your job? Why did you choose to work here?

I’ve been involved in the MI business for over 20 years.  I was looking for a change from Retail and PreSonus had an opening.  It seemed like a logical progression and I really wanted to stay in the industry.  My favourite thing about PreSonus so far is the family atmosphere across the whole company.  I was made to feel at home immediately like I’d known people I’d just met for years.

What was the first 8-track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?

Too young (ahem) for 8-Track, the first cassette was Bad by Michael Jackson, CD was The Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits and Download was Royal Blood’s first Album.  

Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?

Songs for the Deaf by QOTSA will never let you down.  Still blows me away after all these years.

What’s your go-to Karaoke song?

I wouldn’t inflict my singing voice on anyone, not even myself in the shower.

Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?

I’ve worked as a Backline Tech for about 15 years.  I’m not a great musician and discovered I was better at the production side of things years ago.  Currently off the road what with starting the new job and the coronavirus situation.  Next up, hopefully, is a week on the road with Paul Brady later this year.

What instruments do you play?

I own some guitars

Tell us about a successful event you worked with PreSonus products. InfoComm, NAMM, Install somewhere:

This Paul Brady Tour will be using PreSonus StudioLive console and rack mixers as stage boxes.  All over AVB network.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in action. 

Got any tips for working with Studio One?

Watch Gregor’s videos, I was completely new to it and found them great.

Is cereal soup? Why or why not?

Yes, Cereal counts as breakfast, lunch and dinner, always will.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?

RF interference, I spent a lot of my retail days explaining this to guitarists, would have been much easier if it was visible, like cartoon stink lines or something.

What is something that everyone looks stupid doing?

Playing Electronic drums with headphones on, all the moves and faces with none of the noise.

What’s the strangest talent you have?

No matter where I am, I can always find the light switch in a dark room.

Follow Steve on Instagram as @dash_rickwood!

Safety First: Into the Archives, Part 1

I admit it. This is a truly boring topic.

You’re forgiven if you scoot down to something more interesting in this blog, but here’s the deal. I always archive finished projects, because remixing older projects can sometimes give them a second life—for example, I’ve stripped vocals from some songs, and remixed the instrument tracks for video backgrounds. Some have been remixed for other purposes. Some really ancient songs have been remixed because I know more than I did when I mixed them originally.

You can archive to hard drives, SSDs, the cloud…your choice. I prefer Blu-Ray optical media, because it’s more robust than conventional DVDs, has a rated minimum shelf life that will outlive me (at which point my kid can use the discs as coasters), and can be stored in a bank’s safe deposit box.

Superficially, archiving may seem to be the same process as collaboration, because you’re exporting tracks. However, collaboration often occurs during the recording process, and may involve exporting stems—a single track that contains a submix of drums, background vocals, or whatever. Archiving occurs after a song is complete, finished, and mixed. This matters for dealing with details like Event FX and instruments with multiple outputs. By the time I’m doing a final mix, Event FX (and Melodyne pitch correction, which is treated like an Event FX) have been rendered into a file, because I want those edits to be permanent. When collaborating, you might want to not render these edits, in case your collaborator has different ideas of how a track should sound.

With multiple-output instruments, while recording I’m fine with having all the outputs appear over a single channel—but for the final mix, I want each output to be on its own channel for individual processing. Similarly, I want tracks in a Folder track to be exposed and archived individually, not submixed.

So, it’s important to consider why you want to archive, and what you will need in the future. My biggest problem when trying to open really old songs is that some plug-ins may no longer be functional, due to OS incompatibilities, not being installed, being replaced with an update that doesn’t load automatically in place of an older version, different preset formats, etc. Another problem may be some glitch or issue in the audio itself, at which point I need a raw, unprocessed file for fixing the issue before re-applying the processing.

Because I can’t predict exactly what I’ll need years into the future, I have three different archives.

  • Save the Studio One Song using Save To a New Folder. This saves only what’s actually used in the Song, not the extraneous files accumulated during the recording process, which will likely trim quite a bit of storage space compared to the original recording. This will be all that many people need, and hopefully, when you open the Song in the future everything will load and sound exactly as it did when it was finished. That means you won’t need to delve into the next two archive options.
  • Save each track as a rendered audio WAV file with all the processing added by Studio One (effects, levels, and automation). I put these into a folder called Processed Tracks. Bringing them back into a Song sounds just like the original. They’re useful if in the future, the Song used third-party plug-ins that are no longer compatible or installed—you’ll still have the original track’s sound available.
  • Save each track as a raw WAV file. These go into a folder named Raw Tracks. When remixing, you need raw tracks if different processing, fixes, or automation is required. You can also mix and match these with the rendered files—for example, maybe all the rendered virtual instruments are great, but you want different vocal processing.

Exporting Raw Wave Files

In this week’s tip, we’ll look at exporting raw WAV files. We’ll cover exporting files with processing (effects and automation), and exporting virtual instruments as audio, in next week’s tip.

Studio One’s audio files use the Broadcast Wave Format. This format time-stamps a file with its location on the timeline. When using any of the options we’ll describe, raw (unprocessed) audio files are saved with the following characteristics:

  • No fader position or panning (files are pre-fader)
  • No processing or automation
  • Raw files incorporate Event envelopes (i.e., Event gain and fades) as well as any unrendered Event FX, including Melodyne
  • Muted Events are saved as silence

Important: When you drag Broadcast WAV Files back into an empty Song, they won’t be aligned to their time stamp. You need to select them all, and choose Edit > Move to Origin.

The easiest way to save files is by dragging them into a Browser folder. When the files hover over the Browser folder (Fig. 1), select one of three options—Wave File, Wave File with rendered Insert FX, or Audioloop—by cycling through the three options with the QWERTY keyboard’s Shift key. We’ll be archiving raw WAV files, so choose Wave File for the options we’re covering.

 

Figure 1: The three file options available when dragging to a folder in the Browser are Wave File, Wave File with rendered Insert FX, or Audioloop.

As an example, Fig. 2 shows the basic Song we’ll be archiving. Note that there are multiple Events, and they’re non-contiguous—they’ve been split, muted, etc.

Figure 2: This shows the Events in the Song being archived, for comparison with how they look when saving, or reloading into an empty Song.

Option 1: Fast to prepare, takes up the least storage space, but is a hassle to re-load into an empty Song.

Select all the audio Events in your Song, and then drag them into the Browser’s Raw Tracks folder you created (or whatever you named it). The files take up minimal storage space, because nothing is saved that isn’t data in a Song. However, I don’t recommend this option, because when you drag the stored Events back into a Song, each Event ends up on its own track (Fig. 3). So if a Song has 60 different Events, you’ll have 60 tracks. It takes time to consolidate all the original track Events into their original tracks, and then delete the empty tracks that result from moving so many Events into individual tracks.

Figure 3: These files have all been moved to their origin, so they line up properly on the timeline. However, exporting all audio Events as WAV files makes it time-consuming to reconstruct a Song, especially if the tracks were named ambiguously.

Option 2: Takes more time to prepare, takes up more storage space, but is much easier to load into an empty Song.

  1. Select the Events in one audio track, and type Ctrl+B to join them together into a single Event in the track. If this causes clipping, you’ll need to reduce the Event gain by the amount that the level is over 0. Repeat this for the other audio tracks.
  2. Joining each track creates Events that start at the first Event’s start, and end at the last Event’s end. This uses more memory than Option 1 because if two Events are separated by an empty space of several measures, converting them into a single Event now includes the formerly empty space as track data (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: Before archiving, the Events in individual tracks have now been joined into a single track Event by selecting the track’s Events, and typing Ctrl+B.

  1. Select all the files, and drag them to your “Raw Tracks” folder with the Wave File option selected.

After dragging the files back into an empty Song, select all the files, and then after choosing Edit > Move to Origin, all the files will line up according to their time stamps, and look like they did in Fig. 4. Compare this to Fig. 3, where the individual, non-bounced Events were exported.

Option 3: Universal, fast to prepare, but takes up the most storage space.

When collaborating with someone whose program can’t read Broadcast WAV Files, all imported audio files need to start at the beginning of the Song so that after importing, they’re synched on the timeline. For collaborations it’s more likely you’ll export Stems, as we’ll cover in Part 2, but sometimes the following file type is handy to have around.

  1. Make sure that at least one audio Event starts at the beginning of the song. If there isn’t one, use the Pencil tool to draw in a blank Event (of any length) that starts at the beginning of any track.

Figure 5: All tracks now consist of a single Event, which starts at the Song’s beginning.

  1. Select all the Events in all audio tracks, and type Ctrl+B. This bounces all the Events within a track into a single track, extends each track’s beginning to the beginning of the first audio Event, and extends each track’s end to the end of the longest track (Fig. 5). Because the first Event is at the Song’s beginning, all tracks start at the Song’s beginning.
  2. Select all the Events, and drag them into the Browser’s Raw Tracks folder (again, using the Wave File option).

When you bring them back into an empty Song, they look like Fig. 5. Extending all audio tracks to the beginning and end is why they take up more memory than the previous options. Note that you will probably need to include the tempo when exchanging files with someone using a different program.

To give a rough idea of the memory differences among the three options, here are the results based on a typical song.

Option 1: 302 MB

Option 2: 407 MB

Option 3: 656 MB

You’re not asleep yet? Cool!! In Part 2, we’ll take this further, and conclude the archiving process.

Add Studio One to your workflow today and save 30%! 

How to Obtain the Perfect Fadeout

For most song fadeouts, I prefer an S-shaped fade.

It’s also great with audio-for-video productions because I usually use an S-fade for the video, so matching that with an equivalent audio fade works well. Although the Project Page allows only logarithmic or exponential fades for the clips that represent mixed songs, there’s nonetheless an easy way to add S-shaped fades to the Project Page’s songs.

This technique involves adding an S-fade during the final stages of mixing in the Song Page, and then updating the mastering file so that the Project Page version incorporates the fade.

  1. Add an Automation track.
  2. Assign it to the Main Volume (Fig. 1). If there’s already automation for the Main volume, no problem; you can still add the S-fade, as described next.

 

Figure 1: Create an automation track, and assign it to the Console’s Main Volume parameter.

  1. Add nodes on the automation envelope where you want the fade to start and where you want it to end, as well as a node exactly in the middle of those two nodes (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Adds nodes at the fade’s intended start, middle, and end.

  1. Drag the end node all the way to the minimum level, which is the end of the fadeout.
  2. Drag the middle node to halfway between the start and end node levels.
  3. Drag the line between the start and middle nodes upward, to create a logarithmic fade.
  4. Drag the line between the middle and end nodes downward, to create an exponential fade down to the fadeout’s minimum level (Fig. 3).

 

Figure 3: How to drag the nodes, and adjust their curves, for an S-shape fade. 

And there you have it—an S-shaped fadeout. What’s more, unlike programs with a fixed S-shape fade, you can alter the shape for the first and second curves. For example, maybe you want a fairly quick fade out at first but then extend the final fade.

After creating the fade, now all you need to do is update your mastering file, and the song in the Project Page will incorporate your perfect, S-shaped fade.

Before signing off this week, I wanted to mention there’s a new Studio One eBook out—How to Record and Mix Great Guitar Sounds in Studio One. It’s 274 pages and covers everything from how strings and pickups affect tone to getting the most out of the latest Ampire version (and a whole lot more). You can preview the table of contents here.

River City Session: Molly Taylor and Denton Hatcher Perform “Bartending”

Last November our friends Molly and Denton got hitched! A few days before their wedding, they stopped by River City Studios to record another River City Session. They recorded an original song titled “Bartending” written by Molly Taylor. Thank you, Molly and Denton for taking the time out of your busy week to join us and share your song.  Read more about Molly and Denton’s track below and learn how audio engineer Wesley DeVore, recorded the song.

Follow Molly on Instagram!

 

Follow Denton on Instagram

Give us some background on yourself. How long have you guys been making music?

We have been writing and performing our own music separately for over 15 years now.  We started performing together about 2 years ago and we got hitched last November!

“Bartending!” Such a great jam! Can you tell us when you wrote it? What’s the inspiration? 

Molly wrote the song because she worked as a bartender for 10 years! If you ever stopped by a bar in Baton Rouge, chances are Molly’s served you!

Does writing a melody come naturally to you? 

Writing music is something that comes naturally to Denton and I. We are both individual songwriters with different ways of writing a song. It’s interesting and fun to connect and work with a partner to create a song that you both feel great about.

Do you prefer performing your own music or covers? What’s the difference? 

We definitely love performing our own music but we love doing a good cover of a great oldie as well!

How has the Coronavirus affected your craft? 

Due to restrictions in place because of Covid-19, we’ve had to cancel over 30 shows for us so far so it has affected us big time. We are ready to hit the road and start performing again!

 

Watch their River City Session here:

 

Wanna know more about how their session was recorded? Hear from the audio engineer, Wesley who captured all the magic here:

Gear used:

Music is Medicine: JST DAVID Tells All

PreSonus is honored to support all efforts by first responders and health care workers across the globe during this odd, hard time.

We recently had the opportunity to help out locally with an event called “Music Is Medicine” hosted by the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. It was a small gesture, but our hope is that it leaves a lasting impact. Our friend JST DAVID was our connection to the event, and he did an incredible job producing, videoing, organizing, AND performing for the live-streamed event. This seems like a daunting task, but… as is the case in all things, hard work plus creative energy made for something awesome. He used a StudioLive AR12c to record each performance. We wanted to take some time and hear from David about how the experience was for him and how the StudioLive ARc performed. Read more from JST DAVID below.

JST DAVID says:

The “Music Is Medicine” event was an online benefit concert to raise funds for front-line health care workers, done in joint with the Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. I was initially asked to participate as an artist, and ended up producing the entire initiative. It was a thrill to be a part of such an incredible cause during these unprecedented times, and to play a small role in sharing God’s love with folks who are risking their lives to save others.

I honestly didn’t realize the number of limitations COVID-19 would pose in pulling together a production like this! The turnaround from start to finish was less than two weeks for a 90-minute, pre-recorded broadcast, along with a web platform that could display the broadcast stream and securely collect donations for the cause. Even though that’s incredibly ambitious, I’ve actually been responsible for executing projects with even tighter timeframes. Still, that was all pre-COVID, you know? Social distancing requirements forced us to either film and record these performances outside, or within venues that required a high level of health precautions for myself, my second shooter, and the talent. It was exhausting, to say the least. You can’t show up with a huge crew to these shoots, so I stepped in as the director, producer, audio engineer, and primary cameraman for all the performances.

 

On two of the shoots, we had to literally juice the AR12c from extension cords that were powered from our vehicle. Oh, and then I also had to figure out a way to record my own performance as well. I laugh thinking about it all, mainly because it all ended up being a success (we raised nearly $4000 for the hospital during the online event), and also laughing a bit at myself for thinking it would all be easier to pull off than it was.

And real talk, there’s absolutely NO WAY that we pull these off without that AR12c mixer provided by PreSonus. Lifesaver. After dialing in the levels and just the right amount of effects, I was able to record all of the performances straight from the mixer into my SD card. I didn’t even have to edit the audio once I was done! The time it saved me, and the utility of it being lightweight, portable, while still having so much to offer with effects and such, made the event happen. I basically had to stay up for 2 days straight to get this thing to the finish line and didn’t make it on-site with the final file to broadcast until an hour before. No way this thing gets completed if the AR12c doesn’t do such an incredible job of speeding up my workflow.

As a lot of artists and creatives are finding out, live streaming is tough. Sure, anyone can flip open their phone camera and “start streaming.” But in order to bring your fans or followers something of quality, it takes a combination of having the right gear and a really well-coordinated plan. Thankfully I had enough sense to pre-record the entire “Music Is Medicine” event, and it was also what Baton Rouge General Foundation and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge wanted to do. Once the final video file was rendered, we streamed the entire performance via OBS to Facebook LIVE, and it all went off smoothly. But yea, for those who are desiring to up the quality of their live streams or do a combination of pre-recorded and live within the same broadcast, it’s not that simple.

Having a great mic and interface would be my basic prerequisites (I personally own the PX-1 and Studio 26c combo from PreSonus), and there are several other great video and audio switchers and controllers that could really get you in a great space to be creative and make your broadcasts really engaging. OBS is a free, open-sourced software that’s incredibly stable and useful for powering your live streams, and I’d just encourage anyone looking to take their broadcasts to the next level to do as much research as possible on what’s out there. That’s what I had to do and it paid off.

 

Connect with JST DAVID

 

WATCH the livestream here! 

 

Stay connected with JST DAVID here! 

Ben Honeycutt Talks Career, Life in the RV and Studio One

Singer, songwriter, husband, father and RV driver Ben Honeycutt recently added Studio One Professional to his workflow, and let’s just say he’s having some fun! We partnered with him for his social series “Lyrical Content in the Comments,” and it was awesome.

We thought it would be cool to hear how one of the newest Studio One users is doing with the DAW and more about Ben’s career. Read all about it here.

Get to know Ben on his Instagram!

Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
Well, I was born in the south (Tennessee), was raised in the south (Alabama), and lived in the south (Georgia) until recently. Thought I was gonna grow up and pitch for the Atlanta Braves, but that didn’t quite work out. I come from a pretty musical family, so I’ve always been around music in some way and had an interest in it, as well. Started playing guitar and singing when I was 13ish, and I was in a band for about 10 years after that. Currently, I live and travel full-time in an RV with my wife, Ashley, and our 3 kiddos, Trinity (9), Rhodes (7), and Canaan (2)! 

How’s that RV life treating you?
It’s been an experience, to say the least! We started traveling at the start of 2020, and I think we were just starting to get the hang of it when we had to press pause for a minute due to the current pandemic. It was obviously a big decision for our family to sell everything and hit the road, but we were all ready for a change from the “norm,” while being more intentional about the time we have together and how we spend it. It’s had its challenges like anything else, but we’re really enjoying it so far!

How has the music industry changed since your early days? 

Oh man. I remember when the be-all and end-all was to get a record deal if you wanted to make a career out of music. And that was definitely a goal of ours in the early days. It almost happened, but in hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t. Today, with the advance of technology and the rise of social media, you can basically distribute your own music everywhere with a click of a button. Of course, that’s over-simplified a bit, but you get the idea. No better time than now to be a self-employed creative/artist! 

Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?

Was anybody’s first song good? Haha! Mine definitely wasn’t. The first “real” song I remember writing was called, “Little Seed.” The melody wasn’t great, and I just took the lyrics almost verbatim from a story in the Bible. It even had the word epilepsy in it. Sooooo, we never recorded that one…

Who has been a musical influence in your life? 

As I mentioned earlier, I grew up around music. Both my mom and dad have influenced me in my own musical journey. My dad played the fiddle and the banjo, and my mom had a beautiful singing voice. Unfortunately, they have both passed away now, but I’d like to say there’s still a little bit of them in my music and who I am today. As far as established artists as influences, it’s a pretty long list. But a few would be Ryan Tedder, U2, Ed Sheeran, and Jason Mraz.  

Have you ever wanted to give up on music? What keeps you going?

I can’t recall a time where I flat out wanted to give up, but I’ve definitely hit some “walls” and seasons where I didn’t find as much joy in it. Like I said earlier, I grew up playing and singing in church, and as a Christian, I believe music is a gift from God. So when I hit those walls sometimes, I just have to take a step back and remember the reason I started.   

When was the first time you heard of PreSonus?

I grew up and even honed my talent in the church world. So I remember being introduced to the live audio side of PreSonus products first, primarily the mixers/consoles. I probably know just enough about live mixing to be dangerous, so I left that to the more experienced. But even back then, I remember PreSonus being one of our go-to brands.  

BUY STUDIO ONE NOW!

So you’re new to Studio One. When did you first hear about it?
Yeah, pretty much brand new! Again, I knew PreSonus more for the live audio equipment, but I wasn’t as in tune with the recording and production side of things. I think I just stumbled across some Studio One videos on YouTube as I was searching home studio tips and tutorials. Found a guy named Joe Gilder, who had some really good content on stuff I needed to learn and get better at. And it just so happened he used Studio One as his DAW of choice.  

What DAW were you using?
I was actually just using Garageband. Which was pretty great, especially for the price of “free.” It helped me learn the basics of tracking and editing audio. But it was a bit limited in features, so eventually, I knew I needed to upgrade to something more professional to be able to achieve a better quality audio recording. 

What features are you most impressed with the DAW?
So far, I really like the Auto Punch feature, as well as the Loop Record feature. Neither of which I could do in Garageband. Since I’m recording myself most of the time, it’s made tracking multiple takes and comping vocals much more time and energy-efficient. 

How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn?
Well, I’m still learning, and I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of all it can do. But for me, it was really easy to get started. The layout and aesthetic is pleasing to the eye, and it’s also pretty intuitive. I’m also taking advantage of the custom keyboard shortcuts. I do a lot of video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, so it’s been nice to be able to match up some of those that I’m already used to with the similar functions used in audio editing, too.

Any other thoughts on Studio One or PreSonus gear?
Nothin’ but good stuff so far! I also use the dual-channel Studio 26c interface, and it’s performed like a champ. Customer service and resources online are top-notch, as well. I appreciate what you guys do!

Can you give us a rundown of your live stream set up?
That’s another thing that I (as many others during this time) have been trying to level up a bit, my setup has been a little different for the past few I’ve done. But in a nutshell, here’s my setup:

Rode NT1-A microphone > Bose ToneMatch Mixer (compression, eq, and reverb)  > Studio 26c audio interface + iPhone 7+ >  OBS (streaming software)
I also just recently added a Shure SM7B and a Canon M50 that I hope to be able to integrate soon to up the quality even more. 

What’s next for you?
We’re looking forward to getting back out on the road and making some memories in the RV for sure! And musically, I can’t wait to play live gigs again. I’m also close to launching a custom song-writing service, which will include jingles for businesses/brands, as well as personal songs for people who want their own story in a well-written and produced song. Perfect for weddings and anniversaries!

WATCH Ben’s latest viral video here:

 

What’s the best advice you would give to yourself 10 years ago?

Tough one. But maybe something along the lines of, “Don’t obsess so much about what other people think about you or what you do.” That’s still something I struggle with today. I just want everybody to like me! But I’m learning that if you live for the applause of other people, you’ll also die from their criticism.   

Seriously, he’s so cool.

 

Studio One is on sale for a few more weeks! Join the family today.

 

Learn more about Ben here! 

Four VCA Channel Applications

A VCA Channel has a fader, but it doesn’t pass audio. Instead, the fader acts like a gain control for other channels, or groups of channels. In some ways, you can think of a VCA Channel as “remote control” for other channels. If you assign a VCA to control a channel, you can adjust the channel gain, without having to move the associated channel’s fader. The VCA Channel fader does it for you.

Inserting a VCA channel works the same way as inserting any other kind of channel or bus. (However, there’s a convenient shortcut for grouping, as described later.) To place a channel’s gain under VCA control, choose the VCA Channel from the drop-down menu just below a channel’s fader…and let’s get started with the applications.

APPLICATION #1: EASY AUTOMATION TRIM

Sometimes when mixing, you’ll create detailed level automation where all the moves and changes are perfect. But as the mix develops, you may find you want to increase or decrease the overall level. There are several ways to do this, like inserting a Mixtool and adjusting the level independently of the automation, or using the automation’s Trim control. However, a VCA control is sometimes easier, and besides, it can control several channels at once if desired, without having to feed them to a bus. The VCA fader can even offset automation for multiple tracks that are located within a Folder Track (Fig. 1)

  • Figure 1: Note how the label below each fader says VCA 1. This means each channel’s gain is being controlled by the VCA 1 fader on the right. If all these tracks have their own automation, VCA 1 can bring the overall level up or down, without altering the automation shape, and without needing to send all their outputs to the same bus.

 

If the automation changes are exactly as desired, but the overall level needs to increase or decrease, offset the gain by adjusting the VCA Channel’s fader. This can be simpler and faster than trying to raise or lower an entire automation curve using the automation Trim control. Furthermore, after making the appropriate adjustments, you can hide the VCA Channel to reduce mixer clutter, and show it only if future adjustments are necessary.

APPLICATION #2: NESTED GROUPING

One of the most common grouping applications involves drums—when you group a drum kit’s individual drums, once you get the right balance, you can bring their collective levels up or down without upsetting the balance. Studio One offers multiple ways to group channels. The traditional option is to feed all the outputs you want to group to a bus, and vary the level with the bus fader. For quick changes, a more modern option is to select the channels you want to group, so that moving one fader moves all the faders.

But VCAs take this further, because VCA groups can be nested. This means groups can be subsets of other groups.

A classic example of why this is useful involves orchestral scoring. The first violins could be assigned to VCA group 1st Violins, the second violins to VCA group 2nd Violins, violas to VCA group Violas, and cellos and double basses to VCA group Cellos+Basses.

You could assign the 1st Violins and 2nd Violins VCA groups to a Violins Group, and then assign the Violins group, Violas group, and Cellos+Basses group to a Strings group. Now you can vary the level of the first violins, the second violins, both violin sections (with the Violins Group), the violas, the cellos and double basses, and/or the entire string section (Fig. 2). This kind of nested grouping is also useful with choirs, percussion ensembles, drum machines with multiple outputs, background singers, multitracked drum libraries, and more.

 

Figure 2: The 1st Violins and 2nd Violins have their own group, which are in turn controlled by the Violins group. Furthermore, the Violins, Violas, and Cellos+Basses groups are all controlled by the Strings group.

Although it may seem traditional grouping with buses would offer the same functionality, note that all the channel outputs would need to go through the same audio bus. Because VCA faders don’t pass audio, any audio output assignments for the channels controlled by the VCA remain independent. You’re “busing” gain, not audio outputs—that’s significant.

If you create a group, then all the faders within that group remain independent. Although with Studio One you can temporarily exclude a fader from a group to adjust it, that’s not necessary with VCA grouping—you can move a fader independently that’s controlled by a VCA, and it will still be linked to the other members of a VCA group when you move the VCA fader.

Bottom line: The easiest way to work with large numbers of groups is with VCA faders.

APPLICATION #3: GROUPS AND SEND EFFECTS

A classic reason for using a VCA fader involves send effects. Suppose several channels (e.g., individual drums) go to a submix bus fader, and the channels also have post-fader Send controls going to an effect, such as reverb. With a conventional submix bus, as you pull down the bus fader, the faders for the individual tracks haven’t changed—so the post-fader send from those tracks is still sending a signal to the reverb bus. Even with the bus fader down all the way, you’ll still hear the reverb.

A VCA Channel solves this because it controls the gain of the individual channels. Less gain means less signal going into the channel’s Send control, regardless of the channel fader’s position. So with the VCA fader all the way down, there’s no signal going to the reverb (Fig. 3)

 

 

  • Figure 3: The VCA Channel controls the amount of post-fader Send going to a reverb, because the VCA fader affects the gain regardless of fader position. If the drum channels went to a conventional bus, reducing the bus volume would have no effect on the post-fader Sends.

APPLICATION #4: BUS VS. VCA

There’s a fine point of using VCAs to control channel faders. Suppose individual drums feed a bus with a compressor or saturation effect. As you change the channel gain, the input to the compression or saturation changes, which alters the effect. If this is a problem, then you’re better off sending the channels to a standard bus. But this can also be an advantage, because pushing the levels could create a more intense sound by increasing the amount of compression or saturation. The VCA fader would determine the group’s “character,” while the bus control acts like a master volume control for the overall group level.

And because a VCA fader can control bus levels, some drums could go to an audio bus with a compressor, and some drums to a bus without compression. Then you could use the VCA fader to control the levels of both buses. This allows for tricks like raising the level of the drums and compressing the high-hats, cymbals, and toms more, while leaving the kick and snare uncompressed…or increasing saturation on the kick and snare, while leaving other drum sounds untouched.

Granted, VCA Channels may not be essential to all workflows. But if you know what they can do, a VCA Channel may be able to solve a problem that would otherwise require a complex workaround with any other option.

 

#PreSonusFamFriday: Company Wide Quarantine Edition!

It’s inspiring to see what our customers have created during these strange days of quarantine and isolation. As soon as you open your social media accounts, one thing is certain: Creativity has thrived over the last few months. We wanted to take a minute and share some of the after-hours projects and live streams PreSonus employees have been a part of during this time. Enjoy!

 

Product Specialist and Home Studio Guru Joe Gilder recently wrote this song simply titled “April.”

 

Several PreSonus team members collaborated on this performance. Hear all about it from EVP of Product Management, John Bastianelli.

“My PreSonus family is so awesome, please check out the first of the “PreSonus Isolation Jams” – Gregor Beyerle, who lives in Germany and is our Software Product Specialist started this track and sent it to me. I was immediately excited about what he created which inspired me to add some synth effects and saxophones. I then passed it to Rick Naqvi, our SVP of sales who added those awesome guitars. Next, the track was sent to Ben Livingston who works in our inside sales department who added his funky drums. Finally, we punted the track over to Richard Gaspard, who’s in charge of our worship market, he added his “rockin'” bass guitar… and sent the files back. I then doubled this really cool riff Richard played with horns and Rick and I mixed the music and sent the final mix to Gregor who created this awesome video. Oh, this was all done remotely, in our home studios on all PreSonus recording gear. I have to say I’m really proud to work for this company especially with all the talented people! Nothing can keep us from creating music, not even this virus! I hope you all enjoy our jam!”

 

Richard Gaspard is PreSonus’ House of Worship Market Manager. He’s been at PreSonus since November 2017, and been a PreSonus user since 2002.

“My wife and I formed the duo Highs and Lows, a musical experiment of arranging iconic songs as just bass (upright and electric) and vocals (mostly her on lead and the two of us on backgrounds). The point is to create very sparse arrangements, but also songs that feature the six-string bass as a solo instrument, covering any instrumental solos as part of the recorded performance. All mics used are either PreSonus PM-2 or PX-1, and everything is recorded through either a PreSonus Studio 26 or AudioBox 22VSL. All audio is edited and mixed in Studio One 4 Professional and video shot on iPhone 11 and edited in Adobe Premier using a shot template I created in Adobe Photoshop.”

Watch their performance here and subscribe to their YouTube channel:

 

Perry Tee (aka the.real.agent.p) is PreSonus’ Artist Relations Manager and has worked for PreSonus going on eight years.

“Some guys meet their buddies on the weekend to play golf or poker. We make music while practicing Social Distancing… remotely from our separate homes using Studio One.”

Eric Levy (keyboards): Night Ranger, Garaj Mahal
Jakubu Griffin (drums): Cirque Du Soleil Zarkana, Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, Pearcy Sledge, David Cassidy, Pharez Whitted
Jon Cornell (bass): SNL Band, Jackie Greene, Grand Canyon
Alex Painter (voice): Life On Mars Tribute To David Bowie, Solo Artist

 

Ryan Miller is our Global Service Manager and has been with PreSonus for four years.

“After a long six weeks of not being able to play music together as a band, After 8 decided we wanted to put together a live stream for our fans. We utilized four cameras through a switcher into OBS software for the Facebook live stream. The audio was managed with a PreSonus 32R for our in-ears, and then AVB connected to a StudioLive 16 for the Livestream audio. This was monitored and mixed on a pair of R80s by one of our own QA specialists, Seth Martin. The engagement of our fans was incredible, with over 10,000 views! Being able to bring a top-notch production was essential, and PreSonus products provided exactly what we needed.”

 

 

Ben Mullins, in US Sales has worked for PreSonus for 14 years! On the weekends you might find Ben as DJ MOON at events.

“I’ve been playing vinyl DJ sets live on social media through the AudioBox iTwo interface.  The iTwo makes it easy, as I just come straight out of my DJ mixer’s main output into inputs 1 and 2 on the iTwo. I can even use the iTwo directly into my iPhone and bypass it using a computer.  The sound quality is great. I often get compliments on just how clean my stream sounds online.”

How to Use a Game Controller as a MIDI Device In Studio One!

Most of us who work here at PreSonus are musicians 🎤🎹🎸🎺🎷🎻🥁or audio engineers 🎧.

And some of us are also gamers 🎮in addition to that.

For those of you who can relate, check out this interesting and fun video that PreSonus Artist/Endorser Nik Jeremić just created and shared with us recently. He’s using an Xbox One game controller to trigger samples in Studio One:

[Nik’s Official Website]