Do you feel kind of left out because of the cool guitar amps that Studio One added in version 4.6? Well, this week’s tip is all about having fun, and bringing power chord mentality to keyboard, courtesy of those State Space amps. Listen to the audio example, and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.
And so you can get started having fun, you don’t even have to learn what’s going on to get that sound you just heard. Download Power Chordz.instrument, drag it into the track column, feed it from your favorite MIDI keyboard, and start playing.
Figure 1: The Multi-Instrument is pretty basic—it just bundles a Chorder Note FX and Mai Tai together.
The preset starts with a Multi-Instrument (Fig. 1) that consists of the Chorder Note FX, and Mai Tai synthesizer. The Chorder plays tonic, fifth above, an octave above, octave+fifth above, and two octaves above when you hit a keyboard key—your basic “it’s not major, and it’s not minor” type of power chord.
The Mai Tai uses a super-simple variation on the Init preset. In Fig. 2, anything that’s not relevant is grayed out. Turn off Osc 2, Noise, LFO 1, and LFO 2. There’s no modulation other than pitch bend, and no FX. Envelope 2 and Envelope 3 aren’t used. I set Pitch Bend to 7 semitones to do whammy bar effects, but adjust to taste. Also, you might want to play around with the Quality parameter. I’m allergic to anything called “normal,” so if you are as well, try the 80s, High, and Supreme settings to see if you like one of those better.
Figure 2: The Mai Tai preset uses simple waveforms, which is what you want when feeding amp sims and other distortion-oriented plug-ins.
Look in the instrument’s mixer channel, and you’ll see four Insert effects: Pro EQ, Ampire, Open Air, and Binaural Pan. You can check out their settings by opening them up, but the Ampire settings (Fig. 3) deserve a bit of explanation.
Figure 3: Ampire is using the Dual Amplifier and 4×12 MFB speaker cabinet, but just about any amp and cab has their merits.
The reason for choosing the Dual Amplifier is because it’s really three amps in one, as selected by the Channel knob on the right—I figured you’d appreciate having three separate sounds without having to do anything other than adjust one knob. Try different cabs and amps, but be forewarned—you can really go down an Endless Rabbit Hole of Tone, because there are a lot of great amp and cab sounds in there. I’ll admit that I ended up playing with various permutations and combinations of amps, effects, and cabs for hours.
You can also get creative with the Mai Tai, specifically, the Character controls. I didn’t assign any controls to a Control Panel, or set up modulation because having a pseudo-”whammy” bar pitch wheel was enough to keep me occupied. But, please feel free to come up with your own variations. And of course…post your best stuff on the PreSonus Exchange!
Create while you isolate! Studio One and Notion give you all the tools you need to record, produce, and compose at home and they’re both on sale for the entire month of April.
From April 1-30, save 30% on Studio One Professional, Studio One Artist, and Studio One Upgrades plus Notion. This offer is available worldwide.
Be safe, be inspired, and keep creating.
Before you read this, go take a shower. You may be quarantined but that’s no excuse to look like an extra on The Walking Dead.
Now is the time to start that podcast you’ve been thinking about for months. No more excuses. You have the time and we’re here to help. In fact, PreSonus provides all the tools you need to make your podcast sound like the pros which is why so many podcasting professionals rely on PreSonus. Here are 5 quick steps to get your podcast rolling!
There’s an old joke about guitarists:
“How many guitars does a guitar player need?”
“Just one more!”
…and sometimes I feel the same way about amp sims, because all of them are different. Ampire XT benefits from PreSonus’s “State Space” technology, and if you have no other amp sims, its collection of amps has pretty much all the essentials.
What’s more, you can load thrid-party cabinet impulse responses (IRs) that re-create the sound of various cabinets, mics, and mic positions. These go into the User Cabinet, whose unique feature compared to typical IR loaders is being able to load individual IRs for the three mics.
But you can take impulses even further by turning off an amp’s cabinet altogether, and following Ampire XT with the Open Air convolution processor. Although most people probably think of Open Air as a way to create a variety of reverb and other space-based effects, it’s also a flexible impulse response loader that plays nice with cabinet impulses.
There are many free cabinet impulses on the web to get you started. Admittedly, the sound quality varies—some are fine, some aren’t, but there’s also a middle ground where tweaking the Open Air controls can give the sound you want. http://cabs.kalthallen.de is a popular source for free impulses (click on the Free tab), but there are many other companies that offer free samples, or sell impulses commercially.
Create an FX Chain with Ampire XT followed by Open Air. The Impulse Responses are only for cabinets, so set up Ampire XT’s amp and effects however you want, but turn off the cabinet section (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: Click the cabinet bypass button (middle left, outlined in white) and the cabinet field will show None (upper right, outlined in white).
Follow Ampire XT with the Open Air, and start with its Default preset. Drag an impulse into the Open Air waveform display window (or click on the impulse name field to open the file selector, and then navigate to the impulse you want). Turn Mix to 100% so that you hear only the cabinet output, and none of the pre-cabinet amp sound (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: Make sure you set the Open Air Mix control to 100%, so that you don’t hear the pre-cabinet amp sound.
Tweaking the Tone
The Kalthallen impulse shown in the screenshot above didn’t need tweaking to sound good, but you’ll find that with a lot of the free impulse responses, you’ll need to tweak the Gain and Frequency controls. Often the main problem is a “thin” sound and Fig. 3 shows some tweaks that help remedy this issue—pull back on the highs, and boost the low end for a bigger, beefier tone.
Figure 3: These EQ settings can help tame free impulse responses that sound too thin.
But the most dramatic tweaks come by enabling Shorten with Stretch and Stretch with Pitch, then varying the Length control. This can produce sounds that are similar to different mikings, or even cab sounds you’ve never heard before. The Predelay, ER/LR-Xover, and ER/LR controls can also affect the sound, although the differences aren’t as dramatic as stretching with the Length control.
Finally, although it’s great to have options, you don’t want to suffer from option overload (“maybe trying just one more impulse will give the sound I want…”). If you download a bunch of impulses, create a folder of favorites in a place where it’s easy to open it up, and drag-and-drop impulses into Open Air. If you find one you really like, save it as an Open Air preset for future use.
You’ll often see this kind of comment in forums: “There must be something wrong with Studio One! I can run only a couple amp sim instances before the program can’t handle any more!” But you’ll also see this comment about other DAWs—because the “problem” isn’t the DAW, it’s the amp sims and current computer technology. Fortunately, Studio One has anticipated these issues, and offers three effective solutions.
Remember, an amp sim is processing a dry guitar track in real time—not playing back processed audio. Amp sim sound quality has improved dramatically over the past few years, but the trade-off is the CPU power needed to do the serious number-crunching required for realistic amp sounds. Studio One’s CPU-saving options are great with virtual instruments, which can sometimes suck even more power than amp sims—but guitar players who are discovering the fun of amp sims need to know about these options, too.
The Old-School Fix
Although some people recommend the general-purpose, old-school fix of increasing latency to reduce stress on your CPU, that makes playing guitar much less fun. Another solution is to buy a much faster computer. Studio One’s solutions work at lower latencies, as well as older, slower computers.
Solution 1: Bounce to New Track
Select one or more Events. Right-click on any of them, and choose Event > Bounce to New Track (Fig. 1). This creates a new audio track that incorporates the sound created by the original track’s processing, but without any inserted plug-ins—the sound is “baked into” the new audio track. Audio tracks require far less CPU power than a track whose effects are being created in real time. Bouncing leaves the original track in place but mutes it, so you can unmute it to return to the original track’s audio and effects if needed.
Figure 1: If you use Bounce to Track (outlined in white) as much as I do, it will show up in the Recent Items section of your right-click context menu.
To conserve the CPU used by the original track’s effect(s), either turn off power to the effect(s), or right-click on the original track in the track column and choose Disable Track. To return the track to its initial status, right-click on the track in the Track column, and choose Enable Track.
Note that when signing off on a project, this is also an excellent way to “future-proof” the project against future operating system (or other) changes that may render a plug-in unusable. If the sound has been preserved as an audio file, you’ll at least be able to open the processed sound.
Solution 2: Transform to Rendered Audio
Right-click on the track in the Track column, or choose Track > Transform, and then choose Transform to Rendered Audio. This renders the effect sound so that it becomes part of the existing audio track. Unlike bouncing, this operation doesn’t create a new track, and it automatically disconnects the effect from the CPU to save power.
When you choose Transform to Rendered Audio, a dialog box appears with two options (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The Transform to Rendered Audio dialog box.
You can always undo if you change your mind, but Preserve Realtime State (which I highly recommend checking) preserves the original, real-time state so you can always return to the original track settings and effects. Preserve Realtime State also persists through saves and copies. To return to the original track, right-click on the track in the Track column, or choose Track > Transform, and then choose Transform to Realtime Audio.
The second dialog box option renders any effects tail, such as a long trail of echoes or delay, that extends past the length of the existing Events. You can choose Auto Tail, where Studio One detects how long the tail lasts and renders according, or specify a fixed tail of a particular length. (A fine point: Studio One fades out the Event over the tail’s duration, but it’s an editable envelope.)
Render Event FX
Event FX, as accessed through an Event’s Inspector, are invaluable. With Ampire XT (and many other amp sims), you can’t automate amp or cabinet changes—only parameters within amps and cabinets. So, if the verse’s guitar part is one Event and the chorus’s guitar part is a different Event, each can have its own amp sim sound.
Figure 3: Here, Ampire XT is an Event FX, and can be rendered to save CPU power. Note that you can also choose different amps and cabinets, see a tuner thumbnail, and turn the Stomps section on or off.
The trade-off is that more amp sims draw more CPU power. Fortunately, Event FX have a Render button (Fig. 3). Immediately upon rendering, the sound becomes part of the audio, the effect itself disconnects from the CPU, and the Render button changes to Restore. Similarly to transforming an audio track, you can revert to the original state at any time by clicking Restore.
Multiple Renders in One Operation
Suppose a track has two Events, each with their own Ampire XT inserted via an Event FX, and there’s a CPU-hungry reverb processing the entire track. If you apply Transform to Rendered Audio to the track, it will Render the Event FX and the Track effect automatically. But if you then need to make changes and transform the Track back to realtime audio, the Track and Event FX will be restored to their initial states.
Bounce to New Track with both Events selected will produce the same results in the bounced track, i.e., all the effects will be rendered. If you want to return from where you started, delete the bounced Track, and unmute the two Events in the original Track (which will still have its effects inserted).
Once you bounce or transform tracks and reclaim all that CPU power, you can continue going cRazY with amp sims—without stressing out your computer, or Studio One.
She’s also talented, brave, stylish, expressive, funny, creative, gifted, innovative, hip, original… OK, we’ll stop now. She’s a singer, songwriter, producer, and DJ from London. Specializing in what she describes as “limitless, soulful, future R&B,” her music is an amalgamation of 90s RnB influences and her love for digital audio experimentation. Emmavie has credits with a number of artists both in the UK and internationally, including collaborations with IAMNOBODI, Budgie, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Dornik, Alfa Mist, Barney Artist and Jay Prince.
We connected with her on Instagram after we noticed her love for Studio One, and she quickly became an office favorite. Read more about Emmavie, her music and career and love for Studio One here.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making beats since I was 11 years old, but I started playing around with sounds a little younger. I remember, I started teaching myself how to play basic melodies and chords on a Casio keyboard my dad bought me from Argos in primary school. I used this to play with the built-in drum sounds too, and when I moved to secondary school, I needed a way of recording this. I started teaching myself how to make beats after school. There were no YouTube tutorials back then, so it was a calamitous process. I think that would explain why my sound is so experimental now.
When I first decided I was confident enough to share my music, MySpace was the number one social media platform for independent artists to be seen… and even then, the only way to professionally release and sell your music was to be distributed through a record label. These days, you can top the charts with a song you’ve made in your bedroom/home studio! The days of needing a label to gain traction are dwindling. In fact, the perception of releasing independently without industry backing but gaining a lot of traction and virality is possibly an even more attractive narrative, nowadays. When I started making music, being signed and moving to a million-dollar studio was at the top of my list of goals. Now, I can make music anywhere. I make beats on the plane and outside in the park. My new focus is the groundwork: studying, practicing, becoming the best at what you do and building your own core following. Without these, a label will rarely sniff in your direction.
Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?
I wrote my first song at eight years old with my younger brother using a karaoke machine. I can’t remember how that went but we used to practice and perform it for our parents, haha! I was a quiet kid, and I discovered writing lyrics was a good guise to get my thoughts out. My dad played so much old-skool R&B and Neo soul where everyone sang about being in love, and I guess a part of me wanted to feel like that too so I started writing about love but at 11, what did I know about it? The earliest song I can remember producing was called “Are you okay?” and it was a song asking my imaginary love interest to tell me what’s up when things aren’t smooth between us. Clearly, I was listening to music beyond my years. It was an intense eight-bar R&B loop with The Neptunes-style drums and ridiculously loud synths. I recorded the vocals on a £10 Logitech microphone from Argos!
Who has been an influence in your life?
The most influence I’ve had in my life has been from my friendships and adverse life experiences. I’ve had the same best friends for 18 years and it shocks me how much we’ve grown with each other. We both spend so much time working out all the issues of the world and working through all of thoughts together, we’re each other’s therapists. After all this intense self-analysis and critical thought, you end up in a place of understanding. And when you know something you can confidently talk, write and convert it into art; and that’s what’s kept me writing hundreds of songs over the years.
Musically, it’s been artists like Missy Elliott, Pharrell, Timbaland, Jon B, and Musiq Soulchild. I became obsessed with electronic music listening to Dorian Concept, Hudson Mohawk and Monte Booker on Soundcloud and because I couldn’t play an instrument, I learned how to manipulate samples like they do in order to get the desired effect.
I’ve wanted to give up on music many times! At times, it’s difficult to stay motivated when you’re working away, making and sharing music and your bills are piling up. It’s difficult not to compare yourself to others because you need examples of success in order to set goals for yourself, but the comparison is the thief of joy. In my career, I’ve had a lot of people make me huge promises and then let me down but later on, I learned that the direction and trajectory of my life and career is no one else’s responsibility but mine. Confidence and self-belief is what keeps me going. When you have confidence, it allows you to act and send out messages of intent to others which causes them to believe and invest in you. The confidence comes from practicing and knowing that now I can make a song without difficulty.
What do you like about PreSonus? What caught your eye?
It just works for my brain. I need to be able to work fast when inspiration hits. I have used every DAW, and so many things about the layout of other programs just didn’t lend itself well to my brain. All of the functions are so easily accessible and placed where it just makes sense. It feels like I can do everything I need to ever do by just right clicking.
When did you first hear about Studio One?
Approximately three years ago, I was introduced to Studio one by a studio engineer who was mixing and mastering a single of mine. I watched him using it and he was adamant I should try it and then a few months after that, whilst I was running a music production demonstration, two producers approached me at the end and told me that they thought I would love it. This piqued my interest.
Any tips or tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One?
One of my tricks is I automate the tempo to do a slight increase or decrease when my beat is about to do a flip. It’s so subtle and might only change by as little as 3bpm but it makes such a difference to the feel. I might make the climb/descent happen in a space of three seconds, so it’s quick… but it’s felt.
An obvious piece of advice but somebody needs to hear this because so many of us experience the devastation of losing all of our music at least once in our careers. DOUBLE BACK UP ALL OF YOUR PROJECT FILES! Make sure not just your .MP3s and .WAVs exist in three places but your entire project file. On your computer, on an external hard drive and online e.g DropBox, Google Drive.
In my experience, Studio One is the easiest DAW to learn. It’s been the easiest to teach on, too.
Where do you go for support?
YouTube tutorials, mostly. And luckily, I have access to producers who’s work I admire that also use Studio One so I go to them for tips.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I go outside. Eventually, the intense pull to create will draw me back inside. I listen to and study old music – Cuban Jazz and 90s R&B are my go-tos right now.
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
I just recently released my debut album, Honeymoon. 13 songs all written, produced and recorded by me in my home studio. It’s had national and international radio play, including being played on the countries top radio station, BBC Radio 1. Next, I will be working with Native Instruments and Nike to present “School of Bop,” a workshop for young artists to learn more about music production and writing and during these demonstrations, I always use Studio One.
Take a second and consider all the things you accomplish in 24 hours…
Now. Think about re-writing, producing, mixing, and mastering a song in that amount of time and putting it out for the public. Sound reasonable? Oh, and be sure to book a photographer to shoot the cover art for the single.
Did we just give you an anxiety attack? Sorry.
That’s the exact challenge that was presented to PULL N WAY, a female pop duo from Central Switzerland. Fortunately, Studio One was there to help tackle the assignment.
LATTESSO is a “cold coffee to go” brand in Switzerland. They connected with PULL N WAY for the launch of their latest vegan products. LATTESSO based the 24-hour challenge on the idea to have PULL N WAY re-write one of their existing songs—which would include tracking new vocals and creating new cover art, including photography. Watch the whole challenge here:
We had the opportunity to chat with PULL N WAY and their producer, Andy Prinz about the challenge.
During the challenge, did you want to give up? What kept you going?
Well to be honest, the hours between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. were the hardest. We just came back to the studio after our photoshoot in Zurich. We almost fell asleep but our passion kept us motivated to continue the challenge! We managed it to finish the song and we sang tons of other songs to stay awake.
All the gear is fantastic and affordable. We use Studio One to track all our vocal recordings, edit/comp the vocal tracks, and create basic ideas in pre-production. For monitoring, we have two Sceptre S8s and a Tremblor, and for the recording a Studio 192 USB interface with two priceless headphone outputs and latency-free monitoring. Studio One is a fantastic piece of software, for both composing and producing—and it’s super fast with all the drag & drop functionality. Plus, we love the graphical interface!
When did you first hear about Studio One?
Andy, one of our producers, is a long-time Studio One user… I think from version 1.6 on! So all our first recordings from four years ago had been done in Studio One, and with further PreSonus gear already, so it’s basically the DAW we’re introduced to from the very beginning.
What features are you most impressed with your gear?
The drag & drop functionality, vocal comping, Melodyne & VocALign integration via ARA, new gain functions and the GUI. We totally fell in love with the ATOM controller, which we’re starting to use as a live tool to trigger samples or vocal/drum loops from our existing songs.
How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn during the 24-hour challenge?
It was super easy to record and edit all vocals in this short time, and we made it all on our own. For the final product, we had help from Andy.
Where did you go for support?
We had a basic introduction by our producer, and just learned by doing in Studio One Artist—and we used some YouTube tutorials as well.
Where did you go for inspiration?
We worked with a really cool film crew, they are as old as we are so we had a great time together which made it easy to think about the new lyrics which represent those happy and positive vibes. So we didn‘t really need to go to a certain place to get inspired.
The gear is affordable and offers a huge variety of functions for semi pro’s and professionals alike! We also like that we don’t have to carry a dongle for Studio One! PreSonus is part of our musical journey for a long time and we’ll continue using it for all current and future recordings. At the moment we’re writing and producing new songs for various collaborations and new Pull N Way songs.. so stay tuned. Equipment: We just found out on Instagram that PreSonus has released some microphones! We’ll definitely try these out!
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
We have released our debut album “Colours” this year but–after several live gigs during Summer–we’ve already started working on new material for our upcoming releases, ranging from Pop to Electronic. We’ll also try to make at least 1-2 cloud trap songs… therefore we’re actually looking for a suitable French rapper. Besides that, we have loads of featuring requests, mainly from the EDM scene/DJs and we’re currently evaluating what’s best for us and what’s the best fit!
It’s easy to assume ATOM is an MPC-type pad controller, and ignore it if that’s not of interest. But ATOM is tightly integrated with Studio One for navigation, editing, and more, and also works with third-party software—which even applies to third-party software (like virtual instruments) running inside Studio One.
The problem: you have a 4-octave keyboard, but you’re using a program like SampleTank or Kontakt that uses lower-octave keys for keyswitching. The solution: Add ATOM as an auxiliary keyboard for triggering keyswitches (Fig. 1).
1. Select the Instrument track and set it to All Inputs, so it receives notes from the main keyboard and from ATOM.
2. Tap Pad 15 to transpose down an octave (Fig. 2). Each tap transposes down another octave. To keep track of how far down you’ve transposed, Pad 15 is orange at the default octave, tan = -1 octave, purple = -2 octaves, and red = -3 octaves.
3. Tap Pad 16 to transpose up an octave. Each tap transposes up another octave.
Considerate Bonus Feature: ATOM remembers the octave settings for different instrument tracks, even if they’re not instruments bundled with Studio One.
Leading or lagging rhythms by only a few milliseconds can make a major difference in the “feel,” the mix, and therefore, the music’s emotional impact (for more about the “feel factor,” please check out this article on my educational site, craiganderton.org). But how can you do that with Studio One, whose highest resolution goes to 64th notes? It’s easy with ATOM—and frankly, this feature alone justifies ATOM to me. The following works with both note and audio data.
1. In Studio One, turn off snap.
2. Select the notes (or audio Events) whose timing you want to shift.
3. On ATOM, press and hold Nudge (Fig. 3).
4. Tap the Left button to move the selected notes or Events ahead (lead) by 1 ms, and the Right button to move the selected notes late (lag) by 1 ms (Fig. 4).
This is huge. Try moving percussion a few milliseconds ahead of the beat to give a more “urgent” feel, or a snare a few milliseconds after the beat for a “bigger” sound.
Stuck notes? No problem—see Fig. 5. (Note: the upper left Setup button needs to be off.)
1. Press and hold the Quick Setup button, and select the track with the stuck notes.
2. Tap Pad 4 to send an All Notes Off command.
This is one of my favorite features for songwriting, because it’s a lot easier to tap a tempo (Fig. 6) than tweak it when you have a song idea.
1. Tap the Song Setup button in the upper left.
2. Tap Pad 2 at the desired song tempo; this sets the tempo in the control bar.
3. To fine-tune the tempo, turn Knob 2.
You can call up instruments and presets quickly with ATOM (Fig. 7).
1. Press Setup, and it glows orange.
2. Toggle the Browser show/hide by tapping Pad 13 (Browser).
3. When the Browser is open, use the Up and Down buttons to go up and down through the list of instruments and presets. Use the Right button to open a preset list, and the Left button to close the list.
4. When you have the preset or instrument you want, press Select. This creates an Instrument track with the currently selected preset, or the instrument itself if no preset is selected.
There are many times—especially when proofing tracks before mixing–that I want to be able to select tracks quickly, and go into exclusive solo mode (i.e., only that track will be soloed—even other tracks that are soloed will be muted). It’s super fast if the Arrange View or Console has the focus (Fig. 8).
1. Tap Setup, and it glows orange.
2. Use the Up button or Left button to step up through tracks, and the Down or Right button to step down through tracks. (That’s kinda cool that either one Up/Down or Left/Right works, because it’s natural to use Up/Down in the Arrange view, and Left/Right on the Console).
3. Tap Pad 3 to mute the selected track.
4. Tap Pad 4 to solo the selected track, or Alt+Pad 4 for exclusive solo.
This is an easy one. Call up an FX Chain. Move the ATOM knob you want to assign to a Macro control. Right click on the Macro control. Assign it to the ATOM knob (Fig. 9).
ATOM is happiest when playing with Studio One, because of the tight integration. But I still use Cakewalk’s Rapture Pro in a lot of tracks; I sampled a ton of Gibson basses, and made what I think are some really cool instruments with them. Unfortunately, in theory you can’t use ATOM’s aftertouch or knobs as a generic control surface when running in Studio One…but hey, we laugh at theory around here! You can, by faking Studio One into not recognizing ATOM as ATOM.
1. Go to Studio One > Options > External Devices, and remove ATOM.
2. Click Add, and choose New Keyboard (I named it Faux ATOM; see Fig. 10). You don’t need to Send To anything. ATOM’s status light at the top will glow green to indicate ATOM isn’t under Studio One’s control.
3. If your instrument has MIDI learn, assign the four controls or aftertouch however you want, and record as you would any automation from a control surface (Fig. 11).
Don’t worry, you haven’t lost ATOM. Go Studio One > Options > External Devices, and remove Faux ATOM. Click on Reconnect; Studio One finds ATOM, and lists it as an external device. Another option is to close and re-open Studio One (ATOM gets added automatically).
The documentation seems to imply that you can do cool event editor things only with the Instrument track, but that’s not quite true—you can do plenty with audio tracks as well.
1. Press the Editor button (in the left side, under Event). It doesn’t matter if Song Setup is on, because if it is, hitting Editor turns it off. The Edit view appears.
2. To hide the Edit view, hold Shift and tap Editor.
While in the Editor (or with audio tracks, the Arrange view):
Hold Shift and tap Undo (Fig. 12) to undo your last mistake…because there are never enough ways to undo!
I sometimes record acoustic rhythm guitars with one mic for two main reasons: no issues with phase cancellations among multiple mics, and faster setup time. Besides, rhythm guitar parts often sit in the background, so some ambiance with electronic delay and reverb can give a somewhat bigger sound. However, on an album project with the late classical guitarist Linda Cohen, the solo guitar needed to be upfront, and the lack of a stereo image due to using a single mic was problematic.
Rather than experiment with multiple mics and deal with phase issues, I decided to go for the most accurate sound possible from one high-quality, condenser mic. This was successful, in the sense that moving from the control room to the studio sounded virtually identical; but the sound lacked realism. Thinking about what you hear when sitting close to a classical guitar provided clues on how to obtain the desired sound.
If you’re facing a guitarist, your right ear picks up on some of the finger squeaks and string noise from the guitarist’s fretting hand. Meanwhile, your left ear picks up some of the body’s “bass boom.” Although not as directional as the high-frequency finger noise, it still shifts the lower part of the frequency spectrum somewhat to the left. Meanwhile, the main guitar sound fills the room, providing the acoustic equivalent of a center channel.
Sending the guitar track into two additional buses solved the imaging problem by giving one bus a drastic treble cut and panning it somewhat left. The other bus had a drastic bass cut and was panned toward the right (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: The main track (toward the left) splits into three pre-fader buses, each with its own EQ.
One send goes to bus 1. The EQ is set to around 400 Hz (but also try lower frequencies), with a 24 dB/octave slope to focus on the guitar body’s “boom.” Another send goes to bus 2, which emphasizes finger noises and high frequencies. Its EQ has a highpass filter response with a 24dB/octave slope and frequency around 1 kHz. Pan bus 1 toward the left and bus 2 toward the right, because if you’re facing a guitarist the body boom will be toward the listener’s left, and the finger and neck noises will be toward the listener’s right.
The send to bus 3 goes to the main guitar sound bus. Offset its highpass and lowpass filters a little more than an octave from the other two buses, e.g., 160 Hz for the highpass and 2.4 kHz for the lowpass (Fig. 2). This isn’t “technically correct,” but I felt it gave the best sound.
Figure 2: The top curve trims the response of the main guitar sound, the middle curve isolates the high frequencies, and the lower curve isolates the low frequencies. EQ controls that aren’t relevant are grayed out.
Monitor the first two buses, and set a good balance of the low and high frequencies. Then bring up the third send’s level, with its pan centered. The result should be a big guitar sound with a stereo image, but we’re not done quite yet.
The balance of the three tracks is crucial to obtaining the most realistic sound, as are the EQ frequencies. Experiment with the EQ settings, and consider reducing the frequency range of the bus with the main guitar sound. If the image is too wide, pan the low and high-frequency buses more to center. It helps to monitor the output in mono as well as stereo for a reality check.
Once you nail the right settings, you may be taken aback to hear the sound of a stereo acoustic guitar with no phase issues. The sound is stronger, more consistent, and the stereo image is rock-solid.