[This just in from Nigel of DMT Productions!]
Hi everyone, my name is Nigel Trego, I am the Technical Director at DMT Productions, a UK-based events production company. DMT specialises in producing live events for theatres, arenas and large festivals—from sound, lighting and projection to filming, photography and FX. DMT has been operating for ten years and has a team of 20-plus specialists including sound engineers, lighting engineers, dancers, performers, AV techs, drone, and Steadicam operators, photographers, and pyrotechnicians. DMT Productions have chosen the PreSonus Studiolive Series III Ecosystem as our touring mix package.
DMT currently has:
DMT Production engineers have worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Blood, Sweat and Tears, James, Texas, The Alarm, Westlife, Grace Jones, and Snow Patrol—to name a few.
We are at present engaged with several projects based in theatres, arenas and large festivals predominantly in the EU. As I write this, members of our team are working on a project filming with US-based Nitro Circus in Wales, helping to promote their World Games event across the UK.
Our current featured artist is Donna Marie, a multi-award-winning artist in her own right and the National Tribute and Music Award official #1 Lady Gaga Tribute and Impersonator for the last seven years. We are currently working for Donna to produce her UK tour of A Star is Born This Way, a tribute to the Oscar-winning film A Star is Born, in act one followed by a second act of full-on Gaga hits. The show features live and pre-recorded video, a live band, dancers, and pyrotechnics, and will be featured in a number of UK theatres—and even some arenas where Lady Gaga herself has performed!
DMT uses the PreSonus StudioLive Ecosystem exclusively. We use the PreSonus Studiolive 32R as a stage box and the StudioLive 16 at front of house. The logical layering and compact size of the StudioLive 16 make it perfect for all venue FOH sizes (some venues have limited FOH space, especially festivals) and it is easily transportable in the crew bus. We chose the PreSonus StudioLive Ecosystem for many reasons; previous experience with the StudioLive AI series and the legacy StudioLive products not only gave us the confidence in reliability and sound quality but also confidence in the ease-of-use. The layout is logical, and the Fat Channel allows for fast and clear access to parameters that are essential to a live performance. Naturally, we evaluated the competition with products such as Allen and Heath SQ-series and of course the Behringer X32 range. When compared via price vs. features/performance/
The feature sets of the Studiolive Series 3 Ecosystem are in abundance and too many to mention in this blog. However, we have some favorites! AVB is a clear winner. Great performance and flexibility allowing us to route any signal to whatever we want without having to buy expensive (licensed) AV networking expansion cards. We were using Focusrite Saffire Pro 40s as audio I/O for our sequenced stems—one of the only I/O devices that can handle 10 individual outputs (we run some of our stems in stereo). Now we can hook up a USB cable from our show control Mac straight to the StudioLive rack or console mixers and have as many USB audio channels for stems as we need; we can then route USB across the AVB network with practically zero latency. Most consoles have complicated menus for digital patching and for configuring matrices. We find the PreSonus very intuitive and easy-to-use at the console level—but even easier via UC Surface on a tablet.
QMix-UC is also a fantastic feature. Our bands play with a click so that their performance is in sync with pre-recorded video and pre-recorded stems; thus monitor mix set-up is critical. Using an in-house desk can take up to an hour to get the perfect IEM mix for all band members, and even then that might need to change during the performance. The ability for the band to adjust their monitor mixes via the PreSonus QMix-UC app is now something that we cannot live without. Event setup time and sound check duration are dramatically reduced allowing us to focus on other areas of the production. Additionally, we save on the cost of a monitor desk and engineer. The project and scene management is second to none. Project, scenes and even the Fat Channel library can be exported/imported to/from a tablet or PC over USB or Wi-Fi.
Our sound engineers love the PreSonus workflow and use the Fat Channel Collection Vol. 1 plug-in suite extensively. We are, however, excited about future PreSonus integration with Waves using the Waves AVB Soundgrid Bridge announced earlier this year.
The ability for us to record 34 channels of 48K multi-track at live events to SD Card (and Mac/PC) is also a fantastic feature. This allows us to take the recording back to the studio and load it straight into Studio One to mix for video production that we then use for further event promotion. We used this feature extensively during a multi-tribute festival this year where our camera operators filmed the entire three-day event. Our sound engineer took the FOH multi-track recordings back to the studio to mix. We were able to create professional video packages that we then provided to the bands that were performing, which they in turn now use as their promotional material for their socials and web.
The majority of the time, our engineers seldom use the console mixer, tablet at FOH is the way forward for them. Other great PreSonus features include the ability to share scenes between the different mixers, no matter the form factor, this is great to have a backup mix ready to go in case of an HW failure. Virtual sound check is a great tool and the ability to use two mixers in tandem is superb. Let me elaborate on that. We have the 32R set as “standalone” at drum riser position with all stage mics and instruments feeding it and the 32R is, in turn, feeding the IEMs, stage wedges and the main PA. Our show control MacBook is hooked up to the 32R via USB and digitally patched running 10 channels of USB audio. All of the 32R channels (including USB) are sent over AVB to the FOH console and the FOH console mixes (Matrix and Aux) sent back to the 32R over AVB. The flexibility of digital patching in conjunction with AVB is incredibly powerful. This allows us to benefit from the USB channels on the 32R at riser position while retaining full mix control at FOH.
One of our productions was to headline a festival this summer on a clifftop in beautiful West Wales, we had an audience of around 5000 at this particular event. We had decided to take our 32R (running on a Relio UPS) and feed the event PA (via their mixer) from the Left and Right channels of the 32R to allow us to soundcheck quickly. The event who supplied PA had a mixing desk they used for the other bands performing that evening of which we only used the two channels (Left/Right). Just before our performance began the heavens opened! Once the rain had stopped we managed to wipe the stage dry, tip the water out of the keyboard player’s keyboard and start the gig! After a spectacular video-based intro, three bars in on the first song, the power went out, no sound, no lights, no video.
The band continued to play, they were on IEMs from the 32R. Fortunately, the stage wedges were also working, they were on a different power feed to the main PA, so we turned them to face the crowd. It turns out that water had worked it’s way into the mains Distro taking out one of the electrical phases. It took the event organisers 13 minutes to fix the issue only to find their networked stage box had blown, so still no sound! We plugged the PreSonus 32R directly into the event’s amps and away we went! The show must go on. The reason for telling this story is because when we plugged the PreSonus directly into the amps, the difference in the sound quality was incredible, so much so that a number of people came over to FOH to comment on how good the sound was and to ask why it wasn’t as good for the other bands that were on during the event (not using our PreSonus). The event organisers were over the moon that the event continued during the power outage and commended DMT for keeping the audience entertained and stopping them from leaving the event.
One of the most attractive things that PreSonus has to offer is that the end-user has a voice. Development of their hardware and software is continuous, user feature requests are taken seriously and the majority of them appear in the next software builds. The support infrastructure is excellent. We have called PreSonus UK on many occasions, the staff are very knowledgeable, friendly, and take a vested interest in helping to resolve even the most complex of problems, efficiently and with haste. On top of that, they are really nice guys that obviously love what they do. Interaction on social media by the PreSonus team is also a major plus point. To be able to reach out to people like Rick Naqvi, Jonny Doyle and Seth Martin on the StudioLive FaceBook Group is a great value-added commodity that is seldom seen with other companies.
For us at DMT Productions, PreSonus is a brand that we trust and we love using the products.
To find out more about DMT Productions, please feel free to visit our websites:-
On October 11, our own Software Specialist Gregor Beyerle attended WAVE AKADEMIE Berlin’s Dissertation Presentation of Audio Engineering and 3-D/Game Design to demonstrate the StudioLive 32SC mixer’s DAW mode in conjunction with Studio One. The StudioLive 32SC is the new centerpiece of WAVE AKADEMIE’s “Soundlab,” where a large variety of both hardware and software instruments are accessible to the students.
Students and lecturers alike were amazed by the hybrid workflow of the StudioLive 32SC, which excels at integrating tons of outboard gear (like drum machines and synths) with software instruments, especially when used with Studio One. The ability to assign any channel to send or receive via analog, USB, or network gives WAVE AKADEMIE the flexibility they need in their Soundlab.
The ability to multitrack record jam sessions onto an SD card was also received with great enthusiasm, as it enables the students to record songs directly into the mixer before getting them into Studio One for post production.
Check out photos and video from the event below, and visit Wave-akademie.de for more information on upcoming events!
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Studio One’s Autofilter has a sidechain, which is a good thing—because you can get some really tight, funky sounds by feeding a drum track’s send into the Autofilter’s sidechain. Then, use the Autofilter’s sidechain to modulate a track’s audio in time with the beat. Funky guitar, anyone?
But (there’s always a “but,” or there wouldn’t be a Friday Tip of the Week!), although this is a cool effect, a real wah pedal doesn’t start instantly in the toe-down position before sliding back to the heel-down position. Your foot moves the pedal forward, then back, and it takes a finite amount of time to do both.
The “decay-only” nature of autofilters in general is certainly useful with drums. After all, drums are a percussive instrument, and a percussive filter sweep is usually what you want. But the other day I was working on a song, and really wanted an attack/decay filter effect that was more like a real wah pedal—where the filter moved up to the peak, before moving back down again. Here’s the result.
On the Autofilter, ctrl+click on the LFO sliders to zero them out, so that the LFO isn’t adding its own signal (although of course, you can do that if you want—the 16 Step option is particularly useful if you do). The screen shot gives a good idea of a typical initial setting.
The dark blue track is the guitar, and the green track, the drum part. I often cut up tracks are that modulating other tracks, and Track 3—a copy of the main drum track—is no exception. This track’s pre-fader send goes to the Autofilter’s sidechain input. The track’s channel fader is down, so that the audio doesn’t go through the mixer. We’re using this track only to provide a signal to the Autofilter’s sidechain.
Track 2 is a reversed version of the drum part. It also has a pre-fader send that goes to the Autofilter sidechain (conveniently, you don’t need to bus signals together to send signals from multiple tracks into a Studio One effect’s sidechain). Like Track 3, the track’s channel fader is down, so that the audio doesn’t go through the mixer
The end result is that the reversed drums provide an attack time that sweeps the filter up, while the forward drums provide a decay that sweeps the filter down. So is the sound more animated than using only the forward drum part? Listen to the audio example, and decide for yourself. The first section uses the forward trigger only, while the second section adds in the attack trigger—the effect is particularly noticeable toward the end.
If you’ve ever played a large venue like a sports arena, you know that reverb is a completely different animal than what the audience hears. You hear your instrument primarily, and in the spaces between your playing, you hear the reverb coming back at you from the reflections. It might seem that reverb pre-delay would produce the same kind of effect, but it doesn’t “bloom” the way reverb does when you’re center stage in a big acoustical space.
This week’s tip is inspired by the center stage sound, but taken further. The heart of the effect is the Expander, but unlike last week’s Expander-based Dynamic Brightener tip, the Expander is in Duck mode, and fed by a sidechain. Here’s the Console setup.
In the audio example, the source is a funk guitar loop from the PreSonus loop collection; but any audio with spaces in between the notes or chords works well, especially drums (if the cymbals aren’t happening a lot), vocals that aren’t overly sustained, percussion, and the like. I deliberately exaggerated the effect to get the point across, so you might want to be a little more tasteful when you apply this to your own music. Or maybe not…
The guitar’s channel has two sends. One goes to the FX Channel, which has a Room Reverb followed by an Expander. The second send goes to the Expander’s sidechain input. Both are set pre-fader so that you can turn down the main guitar sound by bringing down its fader, and that way, you can hear only the processed sound. This makes it easier to edit the following Room Reverb and Expander settings, which are a suggested point of departure. Remember to enable the Expander’s Sidechain button in the header, and click the Duck button.
The reverb time is long—almost six seconds. This is because we want it going constantly in the background, so that after the Expander finishes ducking the reverb sound, there’s plenty of reverb available to fill in the spaces.
To tweak the settings, turn down the main guitar channel so you can monitor only the processed sound. The Expander’s Threshold knob determines how much you want the reverb to go away when the instrument audio is happening. But really, there are no “wrong” settings—start with the parameters above, play around, and listen to what happens.
This is a pretty fertile field for experimentation…as the following audio example illustrates. The first part is the guitar and the reverb effect; the reverb tail shows just how long the reverb time setting is. The second part is the reverb effect in isolation, processed sound only, and without the reverb tail.
This is a whole different type of reverb effect—have fun discovering what it can do for you!
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Jeff Timmons is a singer, songwriter, producer, and founding member of the Grammy-nominated, iconic 90s pop group 98 Degrees! The group has six studio albums, has sold over 10 million records worldwide, and have eight Top 40 singles in the US. Additionally, Jeff has worked on numerous other projects including two solo albums and has continued to establish himself in the music industry as a producer. We connected with Jeff on Twitter and discovered his love for Studio One. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with him and ask a few questions regarding his work and Studio One.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
We started 98 Degrees way back in 1995. We signed to Motown in ‘96, then were upstreamed to Universal shortly after. I’ve been producing and engineering since ‘99.
How has the music industry changed since your early days?
The obvious is the digital streaming component. It’s completely changed the game. There is a lot less artist development, unfortunately. But, your ability to be virally prolific is exponential and amazing.
Do you ever get sick of talking about 98 Degrees?
Not at all. Being a part of something like that has been a complete blessing. We’re very fortunate to have an amazing fanbase and to be still selling out shows 25 years later.
Describe the first time you wrote a song?
I first started writing songs in high school and I didn’t get into production until I built my first rig in the late 90s. I had all of this massive hardware in a road case and would cart it around from city to city, and back and forth from the tour bus. Wow, how times have changed!
Who has been an influence in your life?
From a production standpoint, everyone from Babyface, Max Martin, Anders Bagge, Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Timbaland… it’s a long list!
Have you ever wanted to give up on music?
A million times. Everyone knows it’s a hard business.
What keeps you going?
My love and passion for creating and playing with sounds won’t let me give up on it.
What do you like about Studio One?
The ease of use and GUI is amazing. The drag and drop of synths and VSTs, the new key detection feature, sequencing… these are all incredible features.
When did you first hear about Studio One?
I heard about it when it first came out. I’m always looking to get better, and my friend Dominic Rodriguez, who I really trust and is prolific in the K-pop space suggested I try it; I didn’t waste any time and joined. He was right! Learning a new DAW is like learning a new language.
What features are you most impressed with in Studio One?
The ease of use, and how quickly I can get things laid out. Again, the new key detection is amazing. The fact that I can then change the key to match on all of the tracks in a non-destructive way is just mind-blowing. I recommend it to everyone.
Any user tips or tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One?
I love how you can combine virtual instruments on single tracks. That’s incredible to me.
How easy/difficult was Studio One to learn?
I’m still learning all of the tricks and features because there are so many, but it didn’t take me long to start flying with it.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I get inspired by a lot of things. I’ll hear a new song, a riff or beat or melody of an old one, or a new idea will just pop into my head.
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
I’m working with a number of projects. I did all of the music for a show on Discovery Science called “Droned.” I’m working with a new hip-hop artist, a male vocal group called Overnight, and a young female pop sensation named Nicole Michelle.
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I’m not one of those people who wants to do heavy compression all the time, but I do feel bass is an exception. Mics, speakers, and rooms tend to have response anomalies in the bass range; even if you’re using bass recorded direct, compression can help even out the response for a smoother, rounder sound.
Although stereo compressors are the usual go-to for bass, I often prefer a multiband dynamics processor because it can serve simultaneously as a compressor and EQ. Typically, I’ll apply a lot of compression to the lowest band (crossover below 200 Hz or so), light compression to the low-mid bands (as well as reduce their levels in the overall mix), and medium compression to the high-mid band (from about 1.2 kHz to 6 kHz). I often turn down the level for the band above 5-6 kHz or so (there’s not a lot happening up there with bass anyway), but sometimes I’ll set a ratio below 1.0 so that the highest band turns into an expander. If there’s any hiss in the very highest band, this will help reduce it. Another advantage of using Multiband Dynamics is that you can tweak the high and low band gain parameters so that the bass fits well with the rest of the tracks.
The preset in the following screenshot gives a sound like “Tuned Thunder,” thanks to heavy compression in the lowest band. To choose a loop that’s good for demoing this sound, choose Rock > Bass > Clean, and then select 08 02 P Ransack D riff.audioloop. Insert the Multiband Dynamics processor, and start with the default preset.
As with most dynamic processing presets, the effect is highly dependent on the input level. For this preset, normalize the bass loop. Then change the L band to 125 Hz, with a ratio of 15:1, and a Low Threshold of -30 dB. Mute the LM band.
With the Multiband Dynamics processor bypassed, observe the peak value for the bass track. Now enable Multiband Dynamics, and adjust the Low band’s Gain until the peak value matches the peak value with the Multiband Dynamics bypassed-—you’ll hear a big, fat, round sound that sort of tunnels through a mix.
Now let’s go to the other extreme. A significant treble boost can help a bass hold its own against other tracks, because the ear/brain combination will fill in the lower frequencies. The next screen shot shows settings for extreme articulation so the bass really “pops,” and cuts through a track. Again, start with the default preset but set the Low band frequency to 110 Hz or so.
The only band that’s compressed is the Mid band (320 – 1.2 kHz, with parameter settings shown in the screen shot). A bit of gain for the High Mid band emphasizes pick noise and harmonics—5 dB or so seems about right—and to compensate for the extra highs, add some gain to the low band below 110 Hz. Again, about 4-5 dB seems to work well.
When adjusting the Multiband Dynamics processor, note that you can zero in on the exact effect you want for each band by using the Solo and Mute buttons on individual stages. So next time you want to both compress and equalize bass, consider using Multiband Dynamics instead—and get the best of both worlds.