Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of chorusing. In general, I think it’s best relegated to wherever snares with gated reverbs, orchestral hits, DX7 bass presets, Fairlight pan pipes, and other 80s artifacts go to reminisce about the good old days.
But sometimes it’s great to be wrong, and multiband chorusing has changed my mind. This FX Chain (which works in Studio One Version 4 as well as Version 5) takes advantage of the Splitter, three Chorus plug-ins, Binaural panning, and a bit of limiting to produce a chorus effect that covers the range from subtle and shimmering, to rich and creamy.
There’s a downloadable .multipreset file, so feel free to download it, click on this window’s close button, bring the FX Chain into Studio One, and start playing. (Just remember to set the channel mode for guitar tracks to stereo, even with a mono guitar track.) However, it’s best to read the following on what the controls do, so you can take full advantage of the Multiband Chorus’s talents.
The Splitter creates three splits based on frequency, which in this case, are optimized for guitar with humbucking pickups. These frequencies work fine with other instruments, but tweak as needed. The first band covers up to 700 Hz, the second from 700 Hz to 1.36 kHz, and the third band, from 1.36 kHz on up (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. FX Chain block diagram and Macro Controls panel for the Multiband Chorus.
Each split goes to a Chorus. The mixed output from the three splits goes to a Binaural Pan to enhance the stereo imaging, and a Limiter to make the signal “pop” a little more.
Regarding the control panel, the Delay, Depth, LFO Width, and 1/2 Voices controls affect all three Choruses. Each Chorus also has its own on/off switch (C1, C2, and C3), Chorus/Double button (turning on the button enables the Double mode), and LFO Speed control. You’ll also find on/off buttons for the Binaural Pan and Limiter, as well as a Width control for the Binaural Pan. Fig. 2 shows the initial Chorus settings when you call up the FX Chain.
Figure 2. Initial FX Chain Chorus settings.
Because chorusing occurs in different frequency bands, the sound is more even and has a lusher sound than conventional chorusing. Furthermore, setting asynchronous LFO Speeds for the three bands can give a more randomized effect (at least until there’s an option for smoothed, randomized waveform shapes in Studio One).
A major multiband advantage comes into play when you set one of the bands to Doubler mode instead of Chorus. You may need to readjust the Delay and Width controls, but using Doubler mode in the mid- or high-frequency band, and chorusing for the other bands, gives a unique sound you won’t find anywhere else. Give it a try, and you’ll hear why it’s worth resurrecting the chorus effect—but with a multiband twist.
Ampire is a guitar rig simulator that leverages State Space Modeling for uncannily realistic re-creations of classic (expensive and heavy) guitar amplifiers, cabinets, and pedals. State Space Modeling is the surgical measuring and digital re-creation of analog hardware on a per-component level. Each capacitor, every resistor, all the diodes, and every circuitry element of the complete hardware schematics have their behavior measured, modeled, and re-created… including even component-specific non-linearities.
All Fat Channel Plug-ins are state-modeled to accurately produce the sound and response of the original hardware processors. The following plug-ins are included in this bundle:
This EQ offers the world’s most popular EQ curve. Using gently sweeping treble and bass EQ shelves, it allows you to make subtle, yet effective, changes over wide swaths of the frequency spectrum.
Comp 160 Compressor
With simple controls, yet capable of extreme compression traits, the Comp 160 provides VCA character with a personality all its own. Try it on drums—you’ll be glad you did!
Everest C100A Compressor
Based on a classic design focused on gentle, natural-sounding gain reduction, the Everest C100A helps control dynamics while still letting the signal breathe.
The smooth character of this compressor allows you to create transparent or extreme color changes to your audio, making it a workhorse for just about any application.
Vintage 3-band EQ
With its distinct filter shaping, sheen, and bite, this three-band active EQ includes both high and low shelving filters, providing enhanced tone-shaping possibilities.
The Tube CB Compressor
In general, the response time of optical compressors tends to soften the attack and release, which can smooth out uneven volume fluctuations. Emulating an all-tube, optical design, the Tube CB compressor delivers musicality, preserving the clarity of the signal even at the most extreme settings.
The Tube EQ
The Tube EQ is based on a passive, all-tube design for ultra-smooth and musical equalization, making it ideal for any midrange source material.
This model of an iconic compressor/limiter of the 1950s imparts an unmistakable silky warmth on just about any signal.
Capturing the unique sound of a twin VCA gain-reduction amplifier design, the Brit Comp is ideal for taming piano dynamics or adding punch to drums and percussion.
The 1960s-vintage EQ provides consistent, repeatable equalization using three overlapping bands, divided into seven fixed frequency points, each with five steps of boost or cut. Its selectable peaking or shelving filters for the high and low band, along with an independently insertable bandpass filter, provide an easy path to creating acoustically superior equalization.
Solar 69 EQ
The sound of classic British EQ is absolutely legendary and has enhanced many a great recording. Emulating this classic British design, the Solar 69 EQ adds definition to kick drums, shapes electric guitars, and adds shimmer to acoustic guitars and vocals without sacrificing body.
I’ve always loved having one track impart its characteristics to a different track (“cross-modulation”), particularly for EDM. A good example is using a vocoder for “drumcoding,” where drums—not a microphone—provide the vocoder’s modulation source. Previous Friday Tips along these lines include The Ultra-Tight Rhythm Section, Smoother/Gentler Sidechain Gating, Pumping Drums – With No Sidechain, and most recently, Rockin’ Rhythms with Multiband Gating.
Sending audio from one track over a sidechain to control dynamic EQ in another track is great for cross-modulation effects—and now this is easy to do in Studio One 5 because sidechaining has been added to the Multiband Dynamics processor. One of my favorite effects is using the kick drum to boost the upper midrange on a rhythm guitar part or keyboard pad so that the guitar or pad emphasizes the rhythm…and that’s just one possibility.
This isn’t about “textbook” dynamic EQ in the sense of being able to use any type of filter (e.g., highly resonant bandpass) as the EQ, but as pointed out in the Friday Tip Studio One’s Secret Equalizer, the Multiband Dynamics combines both EQ and dynamics. We’ll use that to our advantage—and in a way, a relatively broad filter response is better for this kind of application. (The typical dynamic EQ application involves fixing a problem, and for that, you often need precise filtering.)
Insert the Multiband Dynamics in the Target track, like guitar, pad, organ, etc. Then, insert a Send (pre-fader is probably best) in the Source track (e.g., kick or snare drum). Assign the Send to the Multiband Dynamics sidechain (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: This technique requires a source track to trigger the Multiband Dynamics’ sidechain and a target track that’s processed by the Multiband Dynamics.
This is where the fun begins. The sidechain feeds all Multiband Dynamics bands simultaneously, so the most basic implementation would be bypassing all the bands except for one, which you then set to either cut or boost a particular frequency range. The amount of boost or cut depends on the level that the source track sends to the sidechain.
For example, with compression, you can create pumping effects (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The Multiband Dynamics attenuates the selected frequency range whenever it receives a signal from the source track.
In this example, a kick drum is modulating a pad. Every kick drum hit attenuates the HM (High-Mid) range; the amount of attenuation fades over the 1000 ms Release time. A shorter Release parameter creates a more percussive effect. Choose the frequency range you want to modulate by adjusting the crossover frequencies. Even better, note that you can automate the Multiband Dynamics’ crossover frequencies, so the frequency range can sweep over time—this is a novel effect that adds considerable animation.
Another option is to raise the target band’s Gain so that any modulation lowers the band’s level. In other words, the default state for that band is boosted, and modulation reduces the boost.
You can also boost a band’s level in response to dynamics, by setting the Multiband Dynamics parameters for upward expansion (Fig. 3). Note how the graphic in the upper left shows an expansion curve instead of one for compression.
Figure 3: Upward expansion boosts the target audio in the selected frequency range.
The control settings here are fairly crucial. Ratio must be set for upward expansion, so the second number in the ratio control needs to be greater than one—the bigger the number, the steeper the expansion. For the maximum expansion effect, set High Threshold to 12.00. The Low Threshold parameter determines where expansion begins, and Gain increases the overall level to compensate for the lower level below the point where expansion kicks in. Adjust Attack and Release to shape the boost’s dynamics. Because upward expansion boosts the output signal level, you may need to reduce the Global gain somewhat.
The best way to understand all the possibilities is to create a basic setup like the one in Fig. 1 with a kick drum as the source and a very simple, sustained pad (e.g., a chord with sawtooth waves) as the target. This will make it easy to hear the results of playing around with the Multiband Dynamics’ controls. And of course, it is a multiband processor, and the sidechain feeds all the bands, so you could have one band attenuating while another is boosting. If you get into automating parameters, the sky’s the limit.
Dynamic EQ can also be useful to process signal processing. For example, suppose there’s a main reverb inserted in a bus, to which you send drums, guitar, voice, etc. To avoid muddiness, insert a Multiband Dynamics after the reverb, use kick as the sidechain source, and attenuate the low frequencies whenever the kick hits.
Cross-modulation with dynamic EQ can be serious fun…give it a try.
Tremolo (not to be confused with vibrato, which is what Fender amps call tremolo), was big in the 50s and 60s, especially in surf music—so it has a pretty stereotyped sound. But why be normal? Studio One’s X-Trem goes beyond what antique tremolos did, so this week’s Friday Tip delves into the cool rhythmic effects that X-Trem can create.
The biggest improvement in today’s tremolos is the sync-to-tempo function. One of my favorite techniques for EDM-type music is to insert two tremolos in series (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: These effects provide the sound in Audio Example 1. Note the automation track, which is varying the first X-Trem’s Depth parameter.
The first X-Trem runs at a fast rate, like 1/16th notes. Square wave modulation works well for this if you want a “chopped” sound, but I usually prefer sine waves, because they give a smoother, more pulsing effect. The second X-Trem runs at a slower rate. For example, if it syncs to half-notes, X-Trem lets through a string of pulses for a half-note, then attenuates the pulses for the next half-note. Using a sine wave for the second tremolo gives a rhythmic, pulsing sound that’s effective on big synth chords—check out the audio example.
X-Trem’s waveforms are the usual suspects: Triangle, Sine, Upward Sawtooth, and Square. But what if you want a downward sawtooth, a more exponential wave (Fig. 2), or an entirely off-the-wall waveform?
Figure 2: Let’s have a big cheer for X-Trem’s 16 Steps option.
This is where the 16 Steps option becomes the star (Fig. 2) because you can draw pretty much any waveform you want. It’s a particularly effective technique with longer notes because you can hear the changes distinctly.
But for me, the coolest part is X-Trem’s “Etch-a-Sketch” mode, because you can automate each step individually, choose X-Trem’s Automation Write, and go crazy. Just unfold X-Trem’s automation options, choose all the steps, add them to the track’s automation, and draw away (Fig. 3).
Figure 3: Drawing automated step changes in real-time takes X-Trem beyond “why be normal” into something that may be illegal in some states.
Of course, if you just draw kind of randomly, then really, all you’re doing is level automation. Where this option really comes into its own is when you have a basic waveform for one section, change a few steps in a different section and let that repeat, draw a different waveform for another section and let that repeat, and so on. Another application is trying out different waveforms as a song plays, and capturing the results as automation. If you particularly like a pattern, cut and paste the automation to use it repetitively.
And just think, we haven’t even gotten into X-Trem’s panning mode—similarly to its overachieving tremolo functions, the panning can do a lot more than just audio ping-pong effects. Hmmm…seems like another Friday Tip might be in order.
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!
UPDATED 5/1/20 – we’ve extended this sale through the month of May!
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. UNTIL THE END OF MAY!
From April 1- May 31, 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.