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Komplete Kontrol Integration in Studio One, Part 2/3: General-Purpose MIDI Control

In Part 1 (A New Hope”) of the NI Kontroller trilogy, we covered how to integrate the DAW functions from Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol keyboards with Studio One. Let’s take this another step further.

In theory, Komplete Kontrol’s MIDI control surface application is only for stand-alone use, and requires using both an external power supply and the keyboard’s 5-pin DIN MIDI connectors for I/O. With a live rig, this makes sense; for use with a DAW, you have the NKS spec communicating over USB. But wouldn’t it be great to be able to use the Komplete keyboard’s control surface with non-NKS instruments, and even effects, in Studio One over USB? Well, you can.

 

GETTING STARTED

For Windows, install MIDI-OX. This utility is key to letting us re-direct the MIDI messages at the Komplete keyboard’s external output to Studio One.

For Macs running Catalina, I currently don’t know of any way to use the MIDI Patchbay utility. This is similar to MIDI-OX, but hasn’t been updated since 2008, and system requirements stop at Mac OS X 10.14. You can try using it with pre-Catalina systems; if Apple’s Gatekeeper blocks the installation, you’ll need to allow it under Security & Privacy. Once you get it installed, it should work similarly to MIDI-OX if you choose Komplete Kontrol S-Series Port 1 for the MIDI input option (and consider that equivalent to Komplete Kontrol -1 in the following description), and choose Komplete Kontrol S-Series Port 2 for the MIDI output option (it should work similarly to Komplete Kontrol EXT-1, below). Mac users, please feel free to comment below about what does and does not work with the Mac.

Back to Windows…

  1. Turn on the Komplete keyboard.
  2. After the keyboard boots, open MIDI-OX. Under MIDI-OX’s Options > MIDI Devices, choose Komplete Kontrol – 1 for MIDI Input and Komplete Kontrol EXT-1 for MIDI output (Fig. 1). Click OK to close the MIDI Devices screen.
  3. Open Studio One, but leave MIDI-OX open while Studio One is open.

Figure 1: How to set up the MIDI-OX utility so that NI keyboards can control non-NKS instruments over USB.

 

  1. Now we need to tell Studio One that MIDI-OX is a new keyboard, even though it isn’t really. Choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, click Add, and choose New Keyboard (Fig. 2).

 

Figure 2: How to add MIDI-OX as a pseudo-keyboard.  

 

  1. For Receive From, choose Komplete Kontrol – 1. Studio One will warn you not to do this, but just ignore the warning. For Send To, choose Komplete Kontrol Ext – 1. You’ll have another warning to ignore—but I promise you, no harm will come to Studio One.
  2. Click OK, then click OK again to get out of the options screen. We’ll cover when/how to use MIDI-OX later.

 

A WORD OF CAUTION

At the moment, the Komplete Kontrol application’s template management is somewhat primitive. Any changes you make are saved when you close the MIDI controller application; there’s no “Save” or “Save as” command, nor can you manage individual templates—they’re all saved in a single .dat file.

However, if saving-by-closing doesn’t work for you, and you can’t seem to save new templates, there may be an esoteric Windows problem. This is particularly likely for those who upgraded to Windows 10 from an earlier version, because the folder holding the templates may be write-protected due to inheriting permissions. Here’s the fix.

  1. Open the C: ProgramData folder. (This is a hidden folder, so if you don’t see it, type Windows key+R, and then type Control Panel in the Open box. In the Control Panel, click on Appearance and Personalization, then choose File Explorer Options. Click on View, and then select Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives.)
  2. In ProgramData, locate the Native Instruments folder, and right-click on it.
  3. Click on the Security tab, then click Edit.
  4. Choose Users, check all the Allow boxes, and click Apply. Also, do this for any other Group or User names that let you click the Allow boxes (Creator Owner may not…no worries). After applying everything, click OK.

Okay, now that’s out of the way. Hey!! Don’t blame me! It’s a Windows thing.

 

CREATING A STUDIO ONE-FRIENDLY TEMPLATE

You access the MIDI control surface when you push the Komplete keyboard’s MIDI button, which also defaults to opening if the Komplete keyboard doesn’t see an NKS instrument. The following procedure describes how to create the kind of template we want for Studio One’s plug-ins.

  1. Open the Komplete Kontrol application (Komplete Kontrol.exe) in stand-alone mode, not as a plug-in. This is the only mode that lets you do MIDI assignments. Then, click on the MIDI 5-pin DIN symbol in the upper right (Fig. 3).
  2. Create a new template by clicking on the + button under templates. Right-click on it to rename it.
  3. The template will default to two pages of controls (16 knobs total), but of course, we want more! Click on the + sign to the right of a page, and you can add up to two more pages.

Figure 3: The important items needed to create and customize a template are circled in white. From right to left: MIDI button that opens the MIDI assignment editor, + sign for adding more pages, and + sign for adding more templates (in this case, it’s adding one for the Fat Channel).

 

  1. Now comes the tedious part. Each knob and button needs to have a unique MIDI continuous controller (CC) number, so that each one can control a unique parameter. Page 1 defaults to CC14-CC21, and page 2 covers CC22-CC29. However, pages 3 and 4 just duplicate the assignments for page 1, and all the buttons default to CC112-CC119. So it’s time to program some additional controls.
  2. Click on one of the virtual knobs, and you’ll see its number assignment in the MIDI field toward the lower middle. Change this number to the desired controller number. The label will still reflect the old number, but that’s okay—we’ll be re-naming the labels anyway for specific synth and effects parameters. Here’s how I assigned the controllers.

Knobs

  • Page 1: 14-21 (the default)
  • Page 2: 22-29 (the default)
  • Page 3: 30-37
  • Page 4: 38-45

 

Switches

  • Page 1: 88-95
  • Page 2: 96-103
  • Page 3: 104-111
  • Page 4: 112-119 (the default)

 

Note that you can choose whether the knobs cover an absolute range, as specified by the Range From and To controls, a Relative Range, or a Relative Offset. Since I don’t like my head to explode any more than necessary, I left this option on Absolute to start, knowing that I could change it later. You can also program keyboard parameters, pedals, the touchstrip, and the keyboard key colors—16 color choices in all. So, different templates can color the keys differently for visual confirmation that you’ve chosen the desired template (of course, I chose the color “mint” for the Mojito template).

So to recap, we’ve set up a general-purpose template, with a separate controller for each knob and switch, that we can use to create a custom control surface for non-NKS instruments and effects… as we’ll find out in part 3 of the NKS trilogy, Rise of the Controller.

Paul Drew + The Studio (One) Rats

The Studio Rats

The Studio Rats are a band hailing from the UK, led by none other than our good friend Mr. Paul Drew; a longtime Studio One user.

About the man and the project: 

Starting off as a session guitar player with a small recording setup at home, Paul quickly got the bug for recording in a more serious way and moved on to having a commercial studio for artists to come in and record. While he was in the process of developing this, he got asked to write some songs for some pop acts. One of the bands were then taken on by a record company, and Paul was asked to be their in-house producer. There he met his business partners and formed DWB Music, Limited. DWB has sold songs all over the world and currently are at about 40 million sales and 100 million streams.

About a year ago, Paul got a bit tired of just working on programmed pop music and wanted to take a break to just work with live musicians. He now gets to do this with his current project The Studio Rats.

The core members are:

  • Paul Drew on guitars/production and mixing
  • James Ivey on drums
  • Dan Hawkins on bass

Having worked with many great singers and co-writers over the years, Paul invited a few of them to perform and co-write the songs. He also wanted to find a way to provide free content for music production, mixing and guitar playing online, so The Studio Rats YouTube Channel was created.

About the PreSonus audio tools that he employs:

Paul has been using Studio One DAW since version 2 for composing, recording and mixing, along with the Faderport controller and a Quantum audio interface that he uses for any sessions away from his home studio in Surrey, UK. Prior to adopting Studio One, he had a Pro Tools HDX System.

Studio One features that Paul enjoys:

  • The ability to change tempo to the audio while still sounding great means that he can be in a writing session and record audio parts without having to worry about the tempo being fixed before a recording session begins—super important when working with live musicians.
  • The AAF Import and Export is also a big time-saver for when working on film and TV projects.
  • Customizable Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • The Arranger track feature, coupled with Scratchpad (independent and alternate timelines) within the primary Song makes for a breezy writing session.

A secret Studio One trick shared by Mr. Drew:
“One of the most underrated effects in the Studio One arsenal is the PreSonus Bitcrusher. Used on live bass, turn the bit crushing value up to 24-bit, then add some overdrive, ease back on the Mix Control, add a bit of EQ and Compression you have a bass guitar sound that will cut through a mix.”

A closing thought from the leader of The Studio Rats:

“PreSonus has been amazing with user feature requests. You don’t get this from the other DAW companies. I wholeheartedly recommend that people give Studio One a trial, you won’t look back.”

[Official Website] | [Podcast]

Komplete Kontrol Integration in Studio One, Part 1/3

Studio One 4.53 introduced integration with Native Instruments’ Komplete series of keyboards, which is a big deal. Although these keyboards are theoretically dedicated to NKS-compatible plug-ins and mixer/transport hands-on control, with Windows systems (Mac fans, there’s more on this later) you can use the keyboard as a general-purpose, hands-on MIDI controller for non-NKS plug-ins, including all bundled PreSonus effects and instruments (as well as plug-ins from other manufacturers). Also, unlike standard NKS, you’ll be able to control effects, regardless of whether or not they’re inserted in an instrument track.

There’s a lot to cover, and since this is more like a tutorial than a tip, it’s split into three parts: DAW control with Studio One, creating custom templates for plug-ins, and how to apply the templates in your workflow.

INTEGRATING THE KEYBOARD

Choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, and click Add. Scroll to the entry for Native Instruments, unfold it, and select either your A/M or S series keyboard for Receive From and Send To. I’m using an S49 (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Komplete is selected as the keyboard, with Split Channel selected for more convenient use with multitimbral instruments, like IK Multimedia’s Syntronik.

INTEGRATING THE CONTROL SURFACE

Now let’s set up the Komplete keyboard as a new control surface. Again, choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, click Add, and scroll down to the entry for Native Instruments. Unfold it, and select Komplete Kontrol DAW – 1 for both Receive From and Send To (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: How to add the Komplete keyboard as a control surface for DAW integration.

CHOOSING THE MODE OF OPERATION

To edit NKS plug-ins, press the PLUG-IN mode button in the keyboard’s cluster of six buttons, toward the upper right. Controls that don’t relate to a synth or effect, such as the Transport, Metronome, Tape Tempo, and the like remain active. When it’s time to mix and you want full integration with Studio One’s mixer, press the MIXER button.

The following describes how the control surface for the current S-series Mk2 keyboards integrates currently with Studio One; click here for information from PreSonus on suitability with other NI keyboards, and updates.

Transport. The Play, Rec, and Stop buttons do what you’d expect, but there’s more to the story than that—there are several nuanced options. The following assumes you’re starting from a stopped transport.

  • Press Play to begin from the Play Start marker. If there’s no Play Start marker, playback starts from the cursor’s current position. If you stop and re-initiate playback, playback re-starts from the cursor’s original position.
  • Return to zero: When the transport is stopped, press Stop again to return to zero.
  • Pushing on the big navigation knob toward the right initiates playback from the Play Start marker. (Note that this involves pushing downward into the knob, not left/right or up/down.) If there’s no Play Start marker, playback begins from the Loop Start, whether the loop is active or not.
  • Push downward on the navigation knob during playback to jump to the Loop Start, which resumes playback automatically from there.
  • Pressing Shift+Play operates the same way as using the navigation knob for playback control.
  • With any scenarios involving the Play Start marker, it doesn’t matter if it’s before or after the Loop Start, or within the loop itself.
  • Press Rec to initiate or punch-in recording. Press again to end or punch out recording. If you don’t record audio or MIDI while recording is active, there’s no blank event—it’s like nothing ever happened.
  • Shift+Rec toggles the count-in between on and off. When you press Shift and count-in is enabled, the Rec button letters light bright red. Otherwise, the rec button letters are dimmed.
  • Loop toggles the loop between on and off. To move the loop (whether enabled or not), hold the Loop button down, and rotate the navigation knob. For example, if the loop extends for four measures, moving the knob 1 click clockwise moves the loop forward to the next four measures. Moving the knob 1 click counter-clockwise moves the loop backward to the previous four measures.
  • Metronome toggles between on and off.

 

Mixer

  • The display for each visible channel shows the channel’s name, fader level, pan, metering (but not overloads), and status of a channel’s Record, Solo, and Mute buttons.
  • Track select buttons. The eight buttons above the display select a track, however, moving the navigation dial left or right moves from one track to the adjacent track (left or right respectively).
  • Hold Mute, and then select a channel with its track select button, to mute/unmute. The keyboard’s corresponding select button glows yellow.
  • Hold Solo, and then select a channel with its track select button, to solo/unsolo. The keyboard’s corresponding select button glows blue.
  • Shift+navigation knob move down (not push inward) selects level for the selected track. This mode remains selected until changed. Both the associated track knob, and the navigation knob, alter the selected track’s level. Holding Shift while moving either knob provides finer resolution. The individual track knobs provide the finest resolution.
  • Shift+navigation knob move up (not push inward) selects pan for the selected track. This mode remains selected until changed. Similarly to level selection, both the track knob and navigation knob alter the selected track’s pan, and holding Shift while moving either knob provides finer resolution. The individual track knobs provide the finest resolution. Note: The Pan control for the Main channel is always shown panned full left. You can ignore this, because the Main channel doesn’t have a pan control anyway. The pan is centered properly.
  • Auto toggles between Read and Touch (write) automation for the selected track. Be aware that you can’t choose automation off with Auto.
  • Left/right arrow buttons select channels in groups of 8. However, if the last bank of eight has fewer than eight channels, the display will fill with the last eight channels. For example, if you expect the last bank to be channels 17-24 but only 22 channels are in use, the keyboard will display channels 15-22. This is by design, because it makes sure there aren’t any blank channels—you can always see eight channels at a time. If you hit the left arrow button, it won’t go back to channel 9, but be offset by the same amount as the previous bank. To “reset” the banks, hit the left arrow button until you’re back at the beginning.

 

Miscellaneous Functions

  • Undo and Redo. For Redo, hold Shift and press Undo.
  • Quantize. This quantizes whatever is selected, at the current quantize value.
  • Tap this, even if not lit, for tap tempo. I love this feature when starting a song.

This takes care of the mixer and transport functions. Next week, we’ll cover how to create custom MIDI control setups using the Komplete Kontrol application, and that will prepare us for Part 3, which describes how to create “faux NKS” control surface capabilities for PreSonus instruments and effects. Yes, it really is possible…

 

 

How to Play Faster—By Playing Slower

In the comments for last week’s tip on varipseed-type formant changes, reader Randy Hayes asked if it was possible to change the tempo similarly so that you could play along with something at a slower tempo, then speed it back up (while still being the correct key). This was a common technique with tape, but because pitch and speed were locked together, there would be formant changes—whether you wanted them or not—when you returned the slowed-down track to pitch.

One of the MIDI’s great features is that you can sloooooooow down the tempo, play along with the slowed-down track, then speed it up to make it seem like you have lightning-fast technique. The good news is that with audio, you can slow down Studio One’s tempo without changing pitch, which sounds great in theory. The bad news is that this isn’t always a painless solution, because Events recorded at a slower tempo will likely need to be time-stretched when you return to the original tempo, and you may also need to call up the Inspector for Events or Tracks to specify how the Events should relate to tempo. Also, if there’s a Tempo Track with tempo changes, then you have to offset all the tempo data, as well as make sure you restore it to the proper tempo when you’re done.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to record along with a song at a slowed-down tempo, and have the correct timing for the recorded part when you restore the song to its original tempo. This complements last week’s formant-changing trick; the technique starts off similarly but ends up quite differently.

  1. Create a premix of your existing tracks with the Export Mixdown function. In the dialog box, check Import to Track and Close after Export (Fig. 1; outlined in white).

Figure 1: Use the Export Mixdown function to create a premix.

  1. After the premix is imported, mute all other tracks except for the Imported premix track.
  2. Select the premixed track, and right-click on it (Fig. 2), or open its Inspector (F4), to access the Speedup parameter. Note that this parameter can also slow down the speed, by entering a value less than 1.00.

Figure 2: Access the Speedup parameter by right-clicking on the premix.

  1. Slow down the premix to the desired tempo with the Speedup parameter. For example, a Speedup reading of 0.80 means the song’s tempo is 80% as fast as it had been previously. Bear in mind that you can’t do a ridiculous amount of slowing down without affecting the audio quality of the track you’re recording, but overall, Studio One is quite forgiving.
  2. Record the new track as you listen to the premix’s slowed-down tempo.
  3. Before restoring the original tempo, the track you recorded has to start at the song’s beginning. If that’s where you started recording, fine. Otherwise, use the Paint tool to draw an Event between the start of the song and the start of your part, select them both, and type Ctrl+B to merge them together (Fig. 3).

Figure 3: The recorded guitar solo, with an added “dummy” Event that starts at the beginning of the song, prior to merging them together.

 

  1. Now, right-click on the overdub you recorded so you can access its Speedup parameter.
  2. Open up your calculator to determine how much you need to speed up the overdub. Divide 1 by the slowdown amount to obtain the correct Speedup amount. For example, if you slowed down to 0.80, then 1/0.80 = 1.25. So, set the recorded track’s Speedup parameter to 1.25 (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: Once the newly recorded track goes to the start of the song, change the Speedup parameter to compensate for the slowdown.

  1. Delete the premix (or mute it if you plan to do more recording at the slower tempo), and unmute the other tracks. The part you recorded should now match the Song’s overall tempo, even if there are tempo changes.

Note that any vibrato will be sped up when you restore the new part to the original tempo. This may be something you want, but if not, just remember to apply a slower vibrato than usual. Also, the timing will be tighter—a note that’s off the beat by a bit will hit closer to the beat when sped up.

Sure, some people might think this is cheating. But back when recording studios started adding EQ or reverb to vocalists, that was considered cheating too. The technique is the skill with which we use our tools, and having “Studio One technique” can be just as important—and valid—as having technique on your chosen instrument.

Just remember, all that matters about music is the emotional impact on the listener. They don’t care what you did to produce that emotional impact!

Varispeed-Type Formant Changes

Back in the days of tape, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and gas station attendants checked your oil, variable-speed tape recorders allowed changing the pitch of all the tracks with a single control. This was useful for many applications. The most common were speeding up masters a bit to make them a little brighter and tighter, doing tape flanging, and perhaps the most popular, changing vocal formants. If you transposed the recorder’s pitch down a little bit, recorded a vocal as you sang along with the lower pitch, and then transposed back up again on playback, the vocal formant would be higher and brighter. Similarly, for a darker, warmer sound, you could transpose up, sing along with that, and transpose back down again. The same principle worked with other instruments, but vocals were the most popular candidates for this technique.

The main limitation (although it could also be an advantage in some situations) is that the tempo and pitch were interdependent—a higher pitch meant a faster speed, and a lower pitch, a slower speed. This was useful for masters, because you could speed up and brighten a track by upping the speed by 2% or so. The Friday tip for June 8, 2018 covered how to emulate true, variable speed tape effects when working on a final stereo mix.

A major advantage of today’s digital audio technology is that pitch and tempo can be independent, and one of Studio One’s attributes is that the audio engine retains its sound quality with reasonable pitch changes (e.g., a few semitones). This makes it very easy to do the old tape trick of changing vocal formants; here’s how.

 

  1. First, create a premix of your existing tracks with the Export Mixdown function. In the dialog box, check Import to Track and Close after Export (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Use the Export Mixdown function to create a premix.

  1. After the premix is imported, mute all other tracks except for the Imported premix track.
  2. Select the premixed track, and right-click on it (Fig. 2), or open its Inspector (F4), to access the Transpose and Tune parameters.

Figure 2: You can access the Transpose and Tune parameters by right-clicking on the premix.

  1. To brighten the vocal formant, use the Tune and/or Transpose function to lower the pitch.
  2. Record the vocal track as you listen to the premix.
  3. After recording the vocal track, right-click on the vocal Event, or open its Inspector, and tune it up by as much as you tuned the premix track down. For example, if you tuned the premix down a semitone, tune the vocal track up a semitone.
  4. Delete the premix (or mute it if you plan to do more formant-shifted tracks), unmute the other tracks, and enjoy your formant-shifted vocal.

 

This is especially useful when doubling parts, because the double can have a slightly different timbre. And with background vocals, shift some formants up, and some formants down, for a bigger, more interesting sound. And of course, if you just can’t quite hit that high note…you’re covered. I promise I won’t tell.

I also like using this with guitar and other instruments. I’ve gotten away with pitching guitar up 7 semitones for a bright sound that splits the difference between a standard guitar sound, and one that’s more like “Nashville” tuning (as described in the Friday Tip for December 1, 2019). At the other end of the tonal spectrum, playing along with the premix tuned up, and pitching back down, is like using a low tuning on a guitar—great for those massive metal guitar sounds.

 

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As we enter 2020, thank you very much for your support of these blog posts, and your comments. Also, thank you for supporting the Studio One book series that I’m writing. When I wrote the first book, I wondered if there would be any demand for it, or whether I was just wasting my time. Well, you’ve answered that question… so now I’m working on book #5 of the series, about how to record great guitar sounds with Studio One. It won’t be done for a while, but it wouldn’t have been done at all without your support (or the great-sounding new amp sims, for that matter).

Finally, let’s all thank Ryan Roullard and Chad Schoonmaker, who wrangle the blog and social media each week to get this blog posted and promoted. It’s not like they don’t already have enough to do at PreSonus, which makes their involvement just that much more appreciated. Thanks guys!

 

 

 

The Force is (Studio) One with Maarten Vorwerk

We had the recent opportunity to talk with Maarten Vorwerk about how he’s been using Studio One for his studio work and he was kind enough to share these insights with us. Read more from Maarten himself here.

During the early 2000s, I had some success in The Netherlands and Europe with Hard and Jumpstyle productions, including a Number 1 and several Top 10 hits. Back then I was awarded for being the best dance act in the Netherlands under the pseudonym Jekyll & Hyde. Later on, I veered more into the commercial side of dance music as a ‘ghost’ producer for other artists for whom I’ve produced lots of tracks.

After releasing official remixes for artists like Will.I.Am, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Major Lazor, Deadmau5 and Shakira among others, I started dedicating some more time towards educating the new generation of producers in 2017 and released a best-selling book full of practical studio tips, with a second book on the way.

Maarten piloting Studio VRWRK

 

So I’ve been currently using Studio One as my main production DAW… and purely for Electronic Dance Music production in my home studio. I don’t do much live recording anymore.

I was a Cubase user for all my production career, but I got fed up with the workflow speed. Then I saw a demonstration of Studio One back in 2014. The ease of use and the speed of the workflow really made me want to try it out and I have used it ever since. The transition was easier than I’d expected!

Every DAW has certain features that make them unique. But for me personally, Studio One has the most to offer. It looks good in the sense that you can have everything on 1 screen: Arrangement, Mixer, Browser, Inspector, and it’s still easy to work. So it gives me speed in an easy view space, which means I can fully focus on being creative!

  • “Drag and Drop” workflow is a clear winner: you want to save a mixed bass line? Just grab and drag it to the side and it saves everything (Inserts, Melody, Instrument).
  • Audio: transposing pitch, time-stretching is right there, withing the Inspector options. Melodyne integration is built-into the engine. Right-click on an Audio clip and send to Sample One XT or Impact XT. All that kind of stuff makes my life a lot easier.
  • Automation: you click on a parameter and you’re already editing automation right away.
  • The Arranger track view is brilliant. Copying and re-arranging sections including all the automation have never been more easy for me.

There’s one particular feature I really love. Sometimes in the begin stages of the track, my project looks like a mess. So finding a specific track in a mixer can prove to be difficult. In Studio One I just double-click on the track and the mixer pops open with that track highlighted and I can make adjustments right away.

Also, the fact that you can analyze a groove from a specific loop. And then apply that same groove to all your other stuff.

Design and Build by Mischa Jacobi

One important feature that is a bit hidden is the use of ‘ghost notes’. Let’s say I made a chord progression that I want to use as a non-editable overlay for reference, while I’m making the melody. I would go in the piano roll, click on the 4 horizontal lines in the left upper corner and then click on the reference track, making sure to click the pencil tool OFF so it can not be edited but only used as a reference. I know this is a feature that is loved by a lot of dance producers. But I didn’t know Studio One had that until recently!

All in all, I think Studio One has done a great job creating a solid DAW. Looking forward to future versions!!!

Instagram: @maartenvorwerk
Facebook: vorwerkmaarten
Official Website

Häzel Talks Studio One

Häzel is a Grammy-nominated producer, sound designer and mixer based in Melbourne, Australia who has been in the music industry for about 15 years and have worked with people such as Gallant, Drake, The Beatchild, Mad Clown, Joanna Borromeo, TFOX and was part of a duo called Zebrahim with my friend Ebrahim (eebsofresh). He has also composed music for commercials and worked on sound designing for filmmaker Mikael Colombu for a little, along with producing content for The Weeknd and Cee-lo Green among others.

Currently armed with Studio One Professional Version 4 in tandem with a Studio 192 interface, a pair of Eris 8 monitors and an ATOM controller, this is the setup Hazel uses on a daily basis for anything that has to do with music and sound.

Words from the man himself:

“I compose, record and arrange with it, I mix with it and use it for sound designing. I have it on my laptop as well as my workstation in my home studio and I take it with me when working in bigger studios… I actually find that it is becoming more and more common to find it in well-established studios. Cant’ wait until it becomes the industry standard!

Some of my fellow musician friends recommended it to me a while ago and like everyone else at first I was a little skeptical in making the change until the day I felt limited by the functionalities of some other DAW’s, in terms of the cluttered workflow they bring and just how power-hungry most of them are.

At some points as my ideas were getting more complex, I was forced to use multiple software applications for the different things I was trying to achieve. I needed something new and decided to try Studio One Pro Version 3. I’ve always trusted PreSonus as a brand because I already had a Firebox which served me well for many years. It took me literally one day to make the decision to do the switch. Studio One had everything I needed in one place, it sounded great (if not better) and was very stable ( which I wasn’t used to!), capable of running on anything I could get my hands on and without the need of a dongle. I remember having to bounce or “freeze” tracks before to save CPU, i can’t think of one time I had to do that ever since, even on my bootcamp 12″ MacBook Air.

With every update I get inspired by some new function I didn’t think I needed and then it finds its way into my workflow. You can basically create something or make anything sound good just with the built-in Add-On’s straight out of the box. I love the sound of the Console Shaper, the genius and simple way to sidechain on the latest update, the waveform slip editing and one of the functions I use the most is the event stretching by holding the ALT modifier key.

Fast editing is really key. For me it really just comes to creativity always, I like to test things, sounds, FX, anything really. I like to keep moving and Studio One allows me to do just that. I don’t feel limited or obstructed by the software I’m using. It just feels natural to me.

Anyone who has ever worked in this industry or has ever used a DAW at some point will find it familiar to start with. And when you have an idea of how a function should work, well there’s a big chance that that’s exactly how it works on Studio One, always the most logical and intuitive way in my opinion. Dragging and dropping anything, anywhere or converting file formats with two clicks. I found myself to be a lot more creative with this workflow, I can continuously be doing things, adding/removing sounds and rarely even pause or stop whatever I’m working on. I haven’t found myself missing a function from what I was using before apart from scrubbing which I only used when working to a video, but I can’t think of anything else really.

The only function I can think of that I wish it had so I didn’t have to use anything else would be a manual sample slicing option directly from the Sample One XT virtual instrument (wink, wink!) But there has been so much improvement compared to when I first started within Version 3 so hopefully, that will be coming at some point.

ONE THING: there is a function that I haven’t heard many people talk about which is the waveform slip editing I mentioned previously. When editing an event if you hold ALT and CTRL keys you can slide the waveform left and right. It is an AMAZING tool to make corrections on the fly or simply just to create swing on your drum tracks on. I use all the time and others probably would too, once they discover this feature!

PreSonus has really been setting a new standard with their Studio One DAW and it surpasses everything else with every update. I think that what people like me appreciate the most as a user, is to feel like the company you’re investing yourself on is listening to your opinion and is always working towards improving its products based on your feedback and experience, and it shows.

Every update in the last year only has fulfilled almost every request I can think of and they did it for free. That’s just exemplary to me. And I know that there’s more good stuff coming. Long live PreSonus and Studio One.”

Instagram : @hazeldizzy

Soundcloud: hazeldizzy

Twitter: @hazeldizzy

Gallant – Miyazaki (Prod.Häzel )

Thank you, Häzel… we wish you continued success in all of your creative audio endeavors, bro.

Track Matching with the Project Page

Okay, this is an unusual one. Please fasten your seat belts, and set your tray tables to the upright and locked positions.

 

Personal bias alert: With pop and rock music, for me it’s all about vocals, drums, and bass. Vocals tell the story, drums handle the rhythm, and bass holds down the low end. For a given collection of songs (formerly known as an “album”), I want all three elements to be relatively consistent from one song to the next—and that’s what this week’s tip is all about. Then the other instruments can weave in and out within the mix.

 

It’s fantastic that you can flip back and forth between the Project page and a Song that’s been added to the Project page, make tweaks to the Song, then migrate the updated Song back to the Project page. But it’s even better when you can make the most important changes earlier in the process, before you start down the final road of mastering.

 

Here’s a way to match bass and vocal levels in a collection of songs. This takes advantage of the Project page, but isn’t part of the mastering process itself. Instead, you’ll deploy this technique when the mix is in good shape—it has all the needed processing, automation, etc.—but you want a reality check before you begin mastering.

 

We’ll cover how to match vocal levels for the songs; bass works similarly, and in some ways, more effectively. Don’t worry, I’m not advocating robo-mixing. A mathematically correct level is not the same thing as an artistically correct level. So, you may still need to change levels later in the process—but this technique lets the voice and bass start from a “level” playing field. If you then need to go back and tweak a mix, you can keep the voice and bass where they are, and work the mix around them.

 

(Note that it’s important to know what the LUFS and LRA metering in the Project page represent. Rather than make this tip longer, for a complete explanation of LUFS and LRA, please check out this article I wrote for inSync magazine.)

 

  1. Create a test folder, and copy all your album’s Songs into it. Because this tip is about a diagnostic technique, you don’t want to overwrite your work-in-progress songs.
  2. Create a new test Project.
  3. Open a copied Song, remove any master bus processing, and Choose Add to Project for the test project. Add all the other songs on the album to the test project. Do not normalize the songs within the test project.
  4. Open the Loudness Information section for each song, and select the Post FX tab. Adjust each song’s individual level fader (not the master fader) so all songs have the same LUFS reading, then save the Project. The absolute LUFS value doesn’t matter; choose a target, like -20 LUFS. (When adjusting levels, 1 dB of level change alters the LUFS reading by 1. For example, if a song registers at -18.4 dB, decrease the level by 1.6 dB to reach -20 LUFS. Check and re-check by clicking on Update Loudness as needed until the LUFS readings are the same.)
  5. Choose a Song to edit (click on the wrench next to the song title). When the Song opens, solo only the vocal track. Then choose Song > Update Mastering File. Note: If a dialog box says the mastering file is already up to date, just change a fader on one of the non-soloed tracks, and try again. After updating, choose View > Projects to return to the test project.
  6. Repeat step 5 for each of the remaining Songs.
  7. Select all the tracks in the Project page, then click on Update Loudness.
  8. Check the Loudness Information for each song, which now consists of only the vocal (Fig. 1). For example, suppose the readings for six songs are (1) -24.7, (2) -23.8, (3) -24.5, (4) -22.7, (5) -23.1, and (6) -24.3. Those are all pretty close; we’ll consider -24.5 an average reading. The vocals on songs (1), (3), and (6) have consistent levels. (2) and (5) are a tad high, but song (4) is quite a bit higher. This doesn’t mean there’s a problem, but when you go back to using the original (not the copied) Songs and Project, try lowering the vocal on that song by 1 or 2 dB, and decide whether it fits in better with the other songs.

Figure 1: The songs in an album have had only their vocal tracks bounced over to the Project page, so they can be analyzed by the Project page’s analytics.

 

The waveforms won’t provide any kind of visual confirmation, because you adjusted the levels to make sure the songs themselves had a consistent LUFS reading. For example, if you had to attenuate one of the songs by quite a bit, visually the vocal might seem louder but remember, it’s being attenuated because it was part of a song that was louder.

 

Also try this technique with bass. Bass will naturally vary from song to song, but again, you may see a lager-than-expected difference, and it may be worth finding out why. In my most recent album, all the bass parts were played with keyboard bass and generated pretty much the same level, so it was easy to use this technique to match the bass levels in all the songs. Drums are a little dicier because they vary more anyway, but if the drum parts are generally similar from song to song, give it a try.

 

…But There’s More to the Story than LUFS

 

LRA is another important reading, because it indicates dynamic range—and this is where it gets really educational. After analyzing vocals on an album, I noticed that some of them had a wider dynamic range than others, which influences how loudness is perceived. So, you need to take both LUFS and LRA readings into account when looking for consistency.

 

For my projects, I collect all the songs I’ve worked on during a year, and release the completed project toward the end of the year. So it’s not too surprising that something mixed in February is going to sound different compared to something mixed in November, and doing something as simple as going back to song and taking a little compression off a vocal (or adding some in) is sometimes all that’s needed for a more consistent sound.

 

But let me emphasize this isn’t about looking for rules, but looking for clues. Your ears will be the final arbiter, because the context for a part within a song matters. If a level sounds right, it is right. It doesn’t matter what numbers say, because numbers can’t make subjective judgments.

 

However, don’t minimize the value of this technique, either. The reason I stumbled on it was because one particular song in my next album never seemed quite “right,” and I couldn’t figure out why. After checking it with this technique, the vocal was low compared to the other songs, so the overall mix was lower as well. Even though I could use dynamics processing to make the song reach the same LUFS reading as the other songs, this affected the dynamics within the song itself. After going back into the song, raising the vocal level, and re-focusing the mix around it, everything fell into place.

 

Friday Studio One Tip: Virtual “Nashville Tuning”

Nashville tuning is a popular sound for rhythm guitar parts, and not just in country music: a few hit songs with Nashville tuning include Wild Horses (Rolling Stones), Dust in the Wind (Kansas), Gimme Danger (Iggy Pop), Phase Dance (Pat Metheny), Hey You (Pink Floyd), Wicked Game (Chris Isaak), and many others. It’s not an alternate tuning in the standard sense, because the strings are still tuned (low to high) E A D G B E. Instead, it adapts a 12-string set of strings, or string sets dedicated to Nashville tuning, to a conventional six-string guitar. The first and second strings are the usual E and B respectively, but the lower four strings are tuned an octave higher than standard tuning.

So what does this have to do with Studio One? Well, the downside to Nashville tuning is that you really need to dedicate a guitar to it; you’ll have to adjust the intonation (maybe the truss rod too), and besides, you don’t want to have to change strings all the time. Granted, after playing with Nashville tuning, you might want to dedicate a guitar to it—but in the meantime, we can create a similar effect with Studio One. Although the sound isn’t technically the same, it produces much of the same result: a bright, present rhythm sound (somewhat like a 12-string, but less dense), that’s mostly layered with a companion guitar part. Here’s how to do it.

 

  1. Copy your rhythm guitar track, and select it.
  2. Type F4 to bring up the Inspector.
  3. Set Transpose to 12 (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Tune your copied guitar part up an octave.

 

 

That’s pretty much all you need to do, but here are some notes on how to apply Nashville tuning.

 

  • Studio One produces amazingly good octave-above sound quality, but it’s not perfect. Another issue is that with physical Nashville tuning, the 1st and 2nd strings aren’t transposed up an octave. This shouldn’t really matter much, because if you can hear the Nashville-tuned guitar prominently, you’re missing the point—it’s to add texture. However, you might want to roll off the highs somewhat, and give a little upper midrange boost, so the sound sits a bit better in a mix (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Optional EQ settings for the Nashville-tuned track.

 

  • Often, Nashville tuning is layered with a standard guitar part. Due to slight detunings between two different guitars, you’ll sometimes hear some “shimmer,” like with a 12-string guitar or by adding a chorus unit. However, because the Nashville-tuned track in Studio One is a copy of the original guitar track, the layering is perfect. If you don’t want perfect layering, raise the Inspector’s Tune control by around 10 or 15 cents to add some detuning. (For some reason, I find tuning slightly sharp sounds better than tuning slightly flat).

 

It’s really that simple, and the bright sound can add a lot to a mix—listen to the audio example, which plays a rhythm guitar part, and then layers the virtual Nashville-tuned guitar part. The copied part is mixed a little than usual to get the point across, but even so, it still sounds pretty cool:

Football, Podcasts and Studio One

Over here stateside, ‘Tis the season for family, over-eating, traveling, watching football, and more eating. You may not be a huge fan of the holidays, but I love them! The holidays have something for everyone, much like a recent podcast I came across on Twitter called The F.A.N. Show.

The F.A.N. Show is a one-man, award-winning sports variety show based in Spokane, WA—and it’s in a league of its own. There’s something for every fan. The show is hosted by Richard Tieman, who is a musician, producer, sports fanatic, and Studio One user. After five years of recording 440 podcast episodes on the same AudioBox iTwo he purchased in 2015, Richard shows no signs of slowing down. We wanted to know more about how his podcast came to be so successful.

 

 

Tell us about your background. How long have you been in the audio industry? 

I was a drummer for a punk rock band since I was 17, and loved music, performing live, and traveling to different cities. I also love a variety of things like football, the outdoors, pop culture, and even pro wrestling. I had a knack for entertaining people, and I’ve always been comfortable on a microphone. I met my wife seven years ago and we’ve been married for five, and she is my single greatest supporter and biggest fan. I’ve been in audio for about 15 years. 10 years ago I got really passionate about it when I started hosting karaoke at a local bar while I was still touring with my band. Then when we broke up five years later, a friend suggested that I should start my own podcast, so I figured… why not?

 

How has the audio industry changed since your early days? 

It’s changed quite a bit. When I was in the band, podcasts weren’t very popular yet. Not many people even knew what they were. Recording and editing equipment and software were super expensive, so you had to really have a passion for audio/video in order to justify going all-in on the idea. I remember making a business proposal for starting my own karaoke and entertainment company in 2015, and the money I needed for karaoke equipment and songs, just to get started, was about $3,000. Now, everyone and their mom has a podcast or YouTube channel and the cost to buy a “starter kit” for those is around $300. Quite the difference.

 

What’s your favorite podcast right now?

Talk is Jericho

As a wrestling fan, he’s one of my favorites. He’s also the frontman for the band Fozzy, and he doesn’t just interview wrestlers. He has a wide variety of different guests and that’s what I love about his show. The mix. I guess his podcast is what inspired me to branch out to talk about more than just football. Yes, I love football, but I love other things as well. Music, comics, the outdoors. Why limit myself?

 

Tell us about your podcast. 

At first, it was just me and my thoughts about football and my 49ers. It’s the sport I know well, and the one I felt the most comfortable talking about. I also hated all the irrelevant news you started to see and hear on mainstream sports media. It was less about stats and highlights and more rumors and gossip. I wouldn’t say I started my podcast out of spite, but the idea of being different was certainly appealing. What was a weekly podcast called The ButtFumble Show is now a live-streamed variety show that airs three times a week and covers a little bit of everything: The F.A.N. Show. “Everyone’s a FAN of something, and we have something for every fan.”

 

Where did the idea for your podcast come from? 

The rooftop of a bar in downtown Spokane where my 10-year high school reunion was happening. My buddy Cameron and I were talking about his Seahawks and my 49ers. and going back and forth about their last season and stuff that needed to happen in the offseason. He was really impressed with not only my knowledge of my team and the league, but that I could carry a conversation and could back up my opinions with facts. So he asked if I had ever thought of becoming a sports analyst, and I laughed and said, no thanks. That’s when he suggested starting my own podcast.

 

How does your first podcast compare to your most recent? 

Oh boy. My first episode was terrible. 20 minutes of me sitting in a chair in the spare room of our house, just rambling on about the upcoming season and what to watch for. I’d never used any PreSonus equipment before, or any podcasting equipment for that matter, so my mic was turned down really low and I didn’t know how to edit the recording. Like I said, terrible. Now, almost 440 episodes later, I have my own intro theme, I have segments, sound effects, I know how to edit and get the best sound quality I want. My best episode is always my next episode.

There are so many podcasts these days. How do you stand out? 

In all honesty, I can’t say that I do “stand out.” I know that I’ve learned a lot in five years of doing my podcast, and even though all the changes and trying new things, I’ve always stuck to what I believe and not trying to conform to certain styles just to get clicks or downloads. My fans are my fans, and as long as they tune in and listen, I’ll keep doing it. But I do know what makes my show “different,” is that even after five years, I’m still doing it. Not everyone who has thought “Hey, I can do that,” has actually done it for very long. Some guys I know that started podcasts never made it past 10 episodes. I’m about to do my 440th. I pride myself on constantly wanting to learn and get better. Try new things. And I’m persistent. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a podcast? 

Be ready for criticism and be open to feedback. Feedback is one of the hardest things because it’s not all good feedback, but you need people supporting you that will be honest with you and tell you what they liked and more importantly, what they didn’t like. That, and to be consistently persistent. Like I said, I know people that never made it more than 10 episodes. There will be a lot of excuses you can make for yourself, but if it’s really something you’re passionate about, you’ll make it a priority. I’ll tell anyone and everyone what programs or equipment I use, and people think I’m crazy for giving away my “secrets to success.” That’s not the secret. I don’t even have a secret. I just made my show a priority and have built a brand as a result.

 

How did you first hear of PreSonus?

Google. Haha. I talked with my wife about the podcast idea and since the band had broken up and I was going back to school for my AA degree in Business Management, she said I needed a hobby and thought the podcast would be good for me. So we searched “Podcasting kits” and the 2nd or 3rd result was the “PreSonus AudioBox iTwo.” About $220, it came with the AudioBox, mic, mic cord, headphones, and Studio One for editing. Connect it to the USB port on your computer and you’re ready to roll. I loved how simple the set up was, and that it didn’t take up a lot of space. It travels easily too, so it’s easy to take with me when I do podcasts on location. 

 

What PreSonus products do you use?

I still use that same AudioBox iTwo (five years later) and I absolutely love it. I actually want to get another one so I can have one for my studio and one specifically for traveling. Or have one as a backup at the very least. You can never be too prepared when it comes to technology. I’ve since upgraded my mics, but still use Studio One and that same box for my show.

 

Why was PreSonus a good option for you? Was it easy to learn?

It was convenient, easy to use, and not a lot of extras. The less you have to worry about when it comes to recording, editing, and producing, the better. Not everyone has a producer or even an assistant, so if you’re a “one-man show” like I am, PreSonus is amazing. There was definitely a learning curve. A lot of it was self-explanatory, but I have a lot of audio friends that were happy to help me. YouTube is also an amazing learning tool, haha.

 

Do you ever take your podcast on the road? 

All the time. I’ll take it to local events like Comic-Con and interview special guests and cosplayers, or I’ll go to the comedy club and interview the comedians in the green room before their show. I’ve even interviewed bands at our local concert house before their shows. But my favorite time of the year is my annual tour. I take the AudioBox and my set up and go to different events across the country like BattleBots, or arena football games and I’ll host tailgate parties and use it for a live stream, or I’ll interview players and coaches after the game. I’ve gotten pretty good at setting up in hotel rooms and at arenas.

 

Recent projects? What’s next for you?

I just finished my third tour, which was awesome, and I was also hired to do media for different events where I would go and interview players, coaches, staff, cast and crew and publish them as podcasts to help promote the events. The show has a great following and I’ve gotten more and more opportunities like these as a result. I recently accepted the position of Director of Communications for the Sioux Falls Storm. An indoor football team that had heard of me and my podcast and wanted me to be apart of their winning team for 2020. I will be doing that as well as continuing what I do with my podcast. I’m hoping 2020 is my biggest year yet and that moving to a new city will hopefully create new opportunities. The new owners of the Storm were very adamant about me continuing to do my podcast and continuing to grow my brand, so that is what I will look to do next year!

 

Where can we listen to your podcast? 

The F.A.N. Show is available on most major podcasting platforms including:

Follow The FAN Show on Instagram! 

Follow the FAN Show on Facebook! 

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