If you’ve spent a couple of spare evenings at home poking around the web for tips on music and audio production, it’s really very likely that you’ve run into some posts, articles, or comments from Craig Anderton. In fact, you may have had to update your search criteria to sort by “most recent,” because it’s fairly common for Google to show you some Craig Anderton posts from the dawn of the internet age, which—while cool—may not be particularly full of insight on Studio One version 4.
Fact is Craig is our industry’s most acclaimed writers, and he’s spoken about Studio One in-person at more events than I can count, and is of course responsible for the Friday Tips section of this very blog. In short, Craig’s contributions to the success and proliferation of Studio One can’t really be counted.
But his Studio One books? Those can be counted. There are five.
We wanted to take a minute to thank Craig for all of his hard work, broadly-reaching creative output, and continued support of PreSonus and Studio One. Let’s take a closer look at what he’s got over at shop.presonus.com. Chances are one or more of these will prove valuable to you and your process. Note that these are eBooks, not hardcover books, and will be downloaded as PDFs.
Essential reading for anyone who records guitars in Studio One, this definitive book covers invaluable production and engineering techniques.
Consolidates, updates, expands on, and categorizes 130 tips from Craig’s popular “Friday Tip of the Week” blog posts that you probably have been checking out right here. Essential reading. This massive book includes tips on how solve problems, enhance sound quality, improve workflow, achieve greater expressiveness, create signature sounds, and much more.
A comprehensive, practical, and above all inspiring guide on how to use Studio One’s sophisticated toolset to craft the perfect mix.
The ultimate guide to becoming an expert on Studio One’s dynamics processors and dynamics-oriented features.
The ultimate guide to capturing, producing, and mixing superb vocal performances in Studio One.
This tip turns wimpy kicks into superkicks, using a different technique compared to drum replacement (see the Friday Tip for February 9, 2018). Listen to the audio example, and you’ll hear why this is cool.
Audio Example: The second four measures add the SuperKick effect to the loop in the first four measures. The added kick is 40 Hz…so don’t expect to hear anything on laptop speakers!
The basic concept is to add another track with a low-frequency sine wave, tuned to your pitch of choice. This can be a WAV file, but this example uses the highly-underrated, and extremely useful, Tone Generator plug-in set to a floor-shaking 40 Hz sine wave. A Bus “listens” to the loop, and uses EQ to filter out everything except the kick; you don’t hear this audio, but it gates the Tone Generator’s sine wave so that it tracks the kick. Fig. 1 shows the setup.
Figure 1: Setup to tune and enhance the kick in an existing loop.
With the loop fader down so you’re not distracted, play with the Tone Generator frequency, EQ frequency to isolate the kick sound, and Gate settings until there’s reliable kick triggering. How you set the gate provides various options: extend the Release for a “hum drum” effect, or for more expressiveness, automate the release time. Increasing the Hold time alters the character as well.=
And after everything is set up…stand back while the floors shake!
I’m not surprised. Or do you ever have one of those days? Of course you do! Wouldn’t it be great to go down to the beach, listen to the waves for a while, and chill to those soothing sounds? The only problem for me is that going to the beach would involve a 7-hour drive.
Hence the De-Stresser FX Chain, which doesn’t sound exactly like the ocean—but emulates its desirable sonic effects. If you’re already stressed out, then you probably don’t want to take the time to assemble this chain, so feel free to go to the download link. Load the FX Chain into a channel, but note that you must enable input monitoring, because the sound source is the plug-in Tone Generator’s white noise option.
Figure 1: Effects used to create the De-Stresser’s virtual ocean.
Fig. 1 shows the FX Chain’s “block diagram.” The Splitter adds variety to the overall sound by feeding dual asynchronous “waves,” as generated by the X-Trems (set for tremolo mode). The X-Trem LFO’s lowest rate is 0.10 Hz; this should be slow enough, but for even slower waves, you can sync to tempo with a long note value, and set a really slow tempo.
Waves also have a little filtering as they break on the beach, which the Autofilters provide. The Pro EQs tailor the low- and high-frequency content to alter the waves’ apparent size and distance.
And of course, there’s the ever-popular Binaural Pan at the end. This helps create a more realistic stereo image when listening on headphones.
Figure 2: The Macro Controls panel.
Regarding the Macro Controls panel (Fig. 2), the two Timbre controls alter the filter type for the two Autofilters. This provides additional variety, so choose whichever filter type combination you prefer. Crest alters the X-Trem depth, so higher values increase the difference between the waves’ peaks and troughs.
The Sci-Fi Ocean control adds resonance to the filtering. This isn’t designed to enhance the realism, but it’s kinda fun. Another subtle sci-fi sound involves setting the two Timbre controls to the Comb response.
As you move further away from real waves, the sound has fewer high frequencies. So, Distance controls the Pro EQ HC (High Cut) filters. Similarly, Wave Size controls the LC filter, because bigger waves have more of a low-frequency component. The Calmer control varies the Autofilter mix; turning it up gives smaller, shallower waves.
When you want to relax, this makes a soothing background. Put on good headphones, and you can lose yourself in the sound. It also makes a relaxing environmental sound when played over speakers at a low level. If your computer has Bluetooth, and you have Bluetooth speakers, try playing this in the background at the end of a long day.
This is just one example of the kind of environmental sounds and effects you can make with Studio One, so let me know if this type of tip interests you. I’ve also done rain, rocket engines, howling gales, the engine room of an interstellar cargo ship, cosmic thuds, various soundscapes, and even backgrounds designed to encourage theta and delta brain waves. I made the last one originally for a friend of mine whose children had a hard time going to sleep, and burned it to CD. When I asked what he thought, he said “no one has ever heard how it ends.” So I guess it worked! Chalk up another unusual Studio One application.
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After last week’s thrilling cliff-hanger about how to preserve your WAV files for future generations, let’s look at how to export all your stereo audio tracks and have them incorporate effects processing, automation, level, and panning. There are several ways to do this; although you can drag files into a Browser folder, and choose Wave File with rendered Insert FX, Studio One’s feature to save stems is much easier and also includes any effects added by effects in Bus and FX Channels. (We’ll also look at how to archive Instrument tracks.)
Saving as stems, where you choose individual Tracks or Channels, makes archiving processed files a breeze. For archiving, I choose Tracks because they’re what I’ll want to bring in for a remix. For example, if you’re using an instrument where multiple outputs feed into a stereo mix, Channels will save the mix, but Tracks will render the individual Instrument sounds into their own tracks.
When you export everything as stems, and bring them back into an empty Song, playback will sound exactly like the Song whose stems you exported. However, note that saving as stems does not necessarily preserve the Song’s organization; for example, tracks inside a folder track are rendered as individual tracks, not as part of a folder. I find this preferable anyway. Also, if you just drag the tracks back into an empty song, they’ll be alphabetized by track name. If this is an issue, number each track in the desired order before exporting.
Select Song > Export Stems. Choose whether you want to export what’s represented by Tracks in the Arrange view, or by Channels in the Console. Again, for archiving, I recommend Tracks (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: The Song > Export Stems option is your friend.
If there’s anything you don’t want to save, uncheck the box next to the track name. Muted tracks are unchecked by default, but if you check them, the tracks are exported properly, and open unmuted.
Note that if an audio track is being sent to effects in a Bus or FX Channel, the exported track will include any added effects. Basically, you’ll save whatever you would hear with Solo enabled. In the Arrange view, each track is soloed as it’s rendered, so you can monitor the archiving progress as it occurs.
In Part 1 on saving raw WAV files, we noted that different approaches required different amounts of storage space. Saving stems requires the most amount of storage space because it saves all tracks from start to end (or whatever area in the timeline you select), even if a track-only has a few seconds of audio in it. However, this also means that the tracks are suitable for importing into programs that don’t recognize Broadcast WAV Files. Start all tracks from the beginning of a song, or at least from the same start point, and they’ll all sync up properly.
Note that the tracks will be affected by your Main fader inserts and processing, including any volume automation that creates a fadeout. I don’t use processors in the Main channel inserts, because I reserve any stereo 2-track processing for the Project page (hey, it’s Studio One—we have the technology!). I’d recommend bypassing any Main channel effects, because if you’re going to use archived files for a remix, you probably don’t want to be locked in to any processing applied to the stereo mix. I also prefer to disable automation Read for volume levels, because the fade may need to last longer with a remix. Keep your options open.
However, the Main fader is useful if you try to save the stems and get an indication that clipping has occurred. Reduce the Main fader by slightly more than the amount of clipping (e.g., if the warning says a file was 1 dB over, lower the Main channel fader by -1.1 dB). Another option would be to isolate the track(s) causing the clipping and reduce their levels; but reducing the Main channel fader maintains the proportional level of the mixed tracks.
Saving an Instrument track as a stem automatically renders it into audio. While that’s very convenient, you have other options.
When you drag an Instrument track’s Event to the Browser, you can save it as a Standard MIDI File (.mid) or as a Musicloop feature (press Shift to select between the two). Think of a Musicloop, a unique Studio One feature, as an Instrument track “channel strip”—when you bring it back into a project, it creates a Channel in the mixer, includes any Insert effects, zeroes the Channel fader, and incorporates the soft synth so you can edit it. Of course, if you’re collaborating with someone who doesn’t have the same soft synth or insert effects, they won’t be available (that’s another reason to stay in the Studio One ecosystem when collaborating if at all possible). But, you’ll still have the note events in a track.
There are three cautions when exporting Instrument track Parts as Musicloops or MIDI files.
The bottom line: Before exporting an Instrument track as a Musicloop or MIDI file, I recommend deleting any muted Parts, selecting all Instrument Parts by typing G to create a single Part, then extending the Part’s start to the Song’s beginning (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The bottom track has prepped the top track to make it stem-export-friendly.
You can make sure that Instrument tracks import into the Song in the desired placement, by using Transform to Audio Track. As mentioned above, it’s best to delete unmuted sections, and type G to make multiple Parts into a single Part. However, you don’t need to extend the track’s beginning.
However, unlike a Musicloop, this is only an audio file. When you bring it into a song, the resulting Channel does not include the soft synth, insert effects, etc.
Finally…it’s a good idea to save any presets used in your various virtual instruments into the same folder as your archived tracks. You never know…right?
And now you know how to archive your Songs. Next week, we’ll get back to Fun Stuff.
Rick is as much of a staple to PreSonus as drag and drop is to Studio One. He loves his team, music, and his job! After spending a quarter-century serving the PreSonus family, he is the expert when it comes to selling PreSonus with passion and enthusiasm. If you’ve met him, you love him (and you’re probably still hypnotized by the Rick Effect.) And if you haven’t met him, here’s your chance to get to know him better.
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
This coming October will be my 25th year at PreSonus. I was employee #5 or #6 I believe.
What was your job title when you started? What is your job title now?
Well, I was the first guy in sales so I guess my title would have been “Rick Naqvi, Sales Guy.” Today my role is Senior Vice President of Global Sales.
What were you doing before working at PreSonus?
In my early 20s, I was playing in two bands (Zaemon and Chris LeBlanc Band), running a recording studio and working in a music store called BeBop Music Shop. I was finishing a Marketing degree at LSU at that time as well.
I knew Jim Odom from the local music scene. He was one of our hometown guitar heroes and although he was a few years older than me, we went to the same high school and even took guitar lessons from the same guy. I did a recording session with him in the early ’90s and he used to come into the music store I worked at. I remember him bringing in the prototype of the very first PreSonus product, the DCP-8, about a year before PreSonus started. When Jim approached me about being a part of a startup company, it was a no-brainer for me.
Let’s talk about the Rick Naqvi Effect. People LOVE you and recognize you as the face of PreSonus. How did this come to be? How has it helped you?
Haha!! LOL. Well, I guess since this year will be my 25th year of working at PreSonus, I’m definitely one of the blessed people that found something to do with their lives that has spanned pretty much my entire adulthood. I’ve always been passionate about music and technology and I love people. So PreSonus has been the perfect place for me. I’m in awe of the fact that people use our products to share and experience music together with each other. That’s the part of this job that never gets old. I love being part of a team whose mission is to help people make music.
The Firepod was the first recording interface with eight microphone preamps in 1U. So you could basically mic an entire drumkit at once. Or record a small rhythm section. It was also one of the first interfaces that allowed for multiple units to be used at the same time. So if you needed 16 simultaneous inputs, you could chain two of them together, and so on.
Any fun stories about the FirePod?
Here’s a true story. The original design for the FirePod had eight inputs but only two mic preamps. Jim Odom was beta testing one of the early prototypes and took it home to record his son’s band. When he realized it was going to be a hassle to hook up additional outboard preamps, he came to work the next day and changed the design of the Firepod to include the other six preamps. We literally had to reshoot images for a tradeshow launch that was happening a few months later. However, putting eight preamps on the Firepod solved a huge need, not only for Jim but for tons of customers. It was one of our most successful products without a doubt.
What has been one of the biggest challenges of working at PreSonus? Major roadblocks?
Working for a technology company has its ups and downs. There have been good years and not so good ones too. Sometimes you create a product that really resonates with people and other times there are challenges that keep a product from its full potential. There’s nothing more important to us than delighting our customers. And when we can’t do that, it is a major bummer for us. Thankfully, our mistakes give us the experience to get better and that’s what we strive to do every day.
In 1995, how did you define success?
One of my first job tasks was to contact dealers and try to tell them about our product. I had a copy of Music Trades that had a list of the Top 100 US Dealers. So I literally picked up the phone and started cold calling people! It was so hard to tell people about a brand new product from a brand new company that they had never heard of. It was amazing just to get someone on the phone who would give me the time of day. Amazingly a bunch of people that got called by a 25-year-old Rick Naqvi are still in the business and are some of our most trusted dealers and life-long friends.
Tell us a cool NAMM story. Or any other PreSonus story.
One time at a NAMM Show I had to give a DigiMax demo to Steven Seagal. Turns out he’s a musician and had a studio at the time. It might have been one of the strangest demos of my life. He was super serious and never cracked a smile. When I told him you could only do 96k using AES outputs, not ADAT, I thought he might judo chop me or something.
When you think about the last 25 years, how does it make you feel seeing how far PreSonus has come?
It really doesn’t seem like I’ve worked for one company. It seems like I’ve worked for about 5 different companies. I’ve been through three building moves and I’ve seen tons of people come and go. I’ve seen kids of our employees grow up and start families of their own. It’s truly humbling to have been a part of this great journey.
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Heartcast Media is a dedicated full-service studio in Washington, D.C. that works with clients to create high quality, authentic podcast content that inspires, educates and connects. Molly Ruland and her team specialize in working with entrepreneurs, visionaries, and businesses of all sizes who have an impactful point-of-view.
Woman-owned Heartcast Media is the vision of Molly Ruland who is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations bring their authentic, original content to life through podcasts. A sister-company to One Love Massive, Heartcast Media clients range from go-go bands to conservative political commentators.
They’re also PreSonus users—and have recorded 85 bands and 150 podcasts in the past 11 months alone!
We think Molly’s business idea is genius, and of course we’re glad that they’ve chosen the StudioLive 16 for their time-sensitive workflow. From the Heartcast website:
We have fully embraced technology and have figured out how to eliminate post production with real time video editing and audio mastering. We deliver all files within 48 hours of recording, typically within 3-4.
We’re proud to be a part of their process, so we wanted to hear more about how this whole operation works. Read all about Molly and Heartcast Media….
Tell us about your background. How long have you been in the audio industry?
I have owned and operated a multimedia company for the last 20 years. I was primarily focused on artist bookings and events. Creating an aesthetic has always been my passion.
How has the audio industry changed since your early days?
Everything is so streamlined now, and the gatekeepers have been removed. I love the idea of accessibility and practicality. Information is readily available which has opened doors for people who weren’t always welcome at the table, and I think that’s great.
How did Heartcast Media come about?
After recording 85 bands and 150 podcasts in 11 months, I realized that my passion and vision align perfectly through podcast production. I love amplifying voices, I always have. I saw a need in the market for high-quality turnkey podcast production, so I created the business to solve that problem. We do things differently—we embrace technology, and by doing so we are able to eliminate the need for a lot of post-production. This saves people time and money and our clients love that.
What’s your favorite podcast right now? Are you allowed to have a favorite?
Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory. No question, hands down. Game changer for me.
Tell us about your podcast. Where did the idea for your podcast come from? How does your first podcast compare to your most recent?
I have just launched The Lower Third Podcast because I know so many amazing people whom I garner so much inspiration from, and I wanted to interview and talk to them about mindset and passion. It’s a work in progress. I am looking forward to producing more episodes. However, my passion is producing other people’s podcast and helping them be successful.
There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out?
Having a plan for your podcast is imperative. Every podcaster should examine how and if their podcast is providing value. If there isn’t a clear answer, you don’t have a podcast yet.
What challenges do you face recording a podcast?
I am positive that most people don’t understand how much work goes into creating and producing a podcast. It’s a lot of work. It’s not cheap either, and anyone who tells you can start a podcast for $100 is delusional. If you are going to start a podcast you have to have a lot of resilience and a strong sense of self, because it will be a heavy rock to push uphill until you get momentum. It will not happen overnight.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a podcast?
Have a plan, understand the workload, and always be open to being wrong.
How did you first hear of PreSonus?
I learned about PreSonus through Adam Levin at Chuck Levin’s Music Center in Wheaton, Maryland. It’s legendary.
I have the StudioLive 16 in my studio, and we love it. It’s a little more than we need for podcasts, but we also produce live music events so it’s great to have a board that can do both. It’s a solid piece of equipment with really great features that fit our needs. It’s a beautiful board, what’s not to love?
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
My goal is to produce the best podcasts coming out of the East Coast by elevating and amplifying voices in my community that will make the world a better place, one conversation at a time. Every city should have a Heartcast Media.
With the ideal mix, the balance among instruments is perfect, and you can hear every instrument (or instrument section) clearly and distinctly. However, getting there can take a while, with a lot of trial and error. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick you can use when setting up a mix to accelerate the process: Start your mix with all channel pan sliders set to center (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: All the pan sliders (outlined in white) are set to center for a reason.
With stereo tracks, changing the track interleave to mono isn’t adequate, because it will throw off the channel’s level in the mix. Instead, temporarily add a Dual Pan set for the -6dB Linear Pan Law, and center both the Left and Right panpots (fig. 2). Now your stereo track will appear in the mix as mono.
Figure 2: Use the Dual Pan, set to the -6dB Linear pan law, to convert stereo channels temporarily to mono when setting up for a mix.
Now listen carefully to your mix. Are all the instruments distinct? Monitoring in mono will reveal places where one instrument might mask or interfere with another, like kick and bass, or piano and guitar (depending on the note range).
The solution is to use EQ to carve out each instrument’s rightful place in the frequency spectrum. For example, if you want to prioritize the guitar part, you may need to reduce some of the piano’s midrange, and boost the regions above and below the guitar. For the guitar, boost a bit in the region where you cut the piano. With those tweaks in place, you’ll find it easier to differentiate between the two.
For kick/bass issues, the usual solution is to increase treble on one of them—with kick, this brings out the beater sound and with bass, string “zings” and pick noises. Another option is to add saturation to the bass, while leaving the kick drum alone. If the bass is playing relatively high notes, then perhaps a boost to the kick around 50-70 Hz will help separate the two.
Keep carving away, and adjusting the EQ until all the instruments are clear and distinct. Now when you start doing stereo placement, the sound will be open, with a huge soundstage and a level of clarity you might not obtain otherwise—or which might take a lot of tweaking to achieve.
We’re Not Done with Mono Just Yet…
Okay, now you have a great stereo mix. But it’s also important to make sure your mix collapses well to mono, because you have no control over the playback system. It might play from someone’s smartphone, and sounds mostly mono…or play back over speakers that are close to each other, so there’s not real good stereo separation. Radio is another possibility where the stereo might not be wonderful.
Some processors, especially ones that control stereo imaging with mid-side processing, may have phase or other issues when collapsed to mono. Short, stereo delays can also have problems collapsing to mono, and produce comb-filtering-type effects. So, hop on over to the main bus, and click the Channel Mode button to convert the output to mono (Fig. 3).
Figure 3: The Channel Mode button (circled in yellow) can switch the output between mono and stereo.
Hopefully, everything will sound correct—just collapsed to mono. But if not, start soloing channels and comparing what they sound like with the Channel Mode button in stereo and mono, until you chase down the culprit. Make the appropriate tweaks (which may be as simple as tweaking the delay time in one channel of a stereo delay processor), make sure the mix still sounds good in stereo, and you’re done.