Hello… this is Sascha Konietzko a.k.a Käpt’n K, a native of Germany, founder of KMFDM in 1984 (when I was living in Paris, France), a producer and remixer for the past 35+ years.
Besides KMFDM, I’ve done work to more or lesser degrees of involvement with a number of projects on the side: MDFMK, EXCESSIVE FORCE, KGC, SCHWEIN, PIG, and SKOLD, to name a few. As a remixer, I was fortunate enough to contribute to bands such as Metallica, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, The Young Gods, Front 242, Die Krupps and many more.
Under the moniker KMFDM, I have released 21 studio albums, as well as dozens of singles, EPs and live albums.
I’ve been using the PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console mixer for live shows (monitor setup) for a number of years now, as well as Studio One Professional and the trusty ol’ Studio Channel. Studio One Professional has been used in my personal studio, mainly to record vocals.
So here’s the story: I’ve been using Pro Tools since 1991; previously I’ve worked with the earlier version of it, which was Sound Designer II. Over the years Pro Tools evolved into a platform with many great features, but also many (not to be underestimated) negative aspects—such as severe latency, under some circumstances.
When I discovered Studio One, which was actually highly recommended to me by KMFDM’s drummer Andy Selway, I found out that I could easily use the workflow I’ve come to develop over the years with the click of a button, PLUS… and this is the absolutely greatest feature of Studio One Professional in my mind: without any latency AT ALL. It allows me to interchange seamlessly between my recording and my mixing environments!
Seriously, it’s been a lifesaver after so many situations where a recording session just went downhill really quick due to latency issues in Pro Tools, with frustrated performers and a super-frustrated Yours Truly!
Nineteen year-old Anna Clark works as a Grammy-nominated vinyl mastering engineer at Welcome to 1979 Industries. Nine years ago, she founded 501(c)(3) organization Guitars 4 Gifts, which has given over 1,000 youths access to their first musical instrument.
As a lifelong singer/songwriter/musician, Anna has performed live on Lightning 100 (Nashville’s premier independent radio station), she holds a Certificate in Music Business from the Berklee College of Music and is currently on track to graduate from Belmont University in 2022.
When not working on one of her passion projects, Anna loves to spend time with her dogs or attend concerts with her friends and family.
Let’s find out more about how she’s been navigating through and actualizing all of these different creative sonic environments!
What hardware and software tools help you with your audio work at home these days?
I currently use a StudioLive 16 mixer, a Central Station Plus, HP4 headphone amp, a pair of Sceptre S6 monitors, and Studio One DAW software.
Originally, a friend introduced me to your monitors and I basically fell in love with using them. Because I work in many different areas of audio engineering, I needed products that I could use for any area that I was working in, so that I wouldn’t have to have different setups.
I use my StudioLive mixer pretty much every day. It is great because I save different scenes so that if I am recording a guitar/vocal demo, I have some EQ and compression settings saved, and I can bring them up super easily. I love that I can A/B EQ settings using the A/B button, and I also love the vintage EQ and tube compressor. I also have scenes saved for full band sessions, piano/vocal sessions, and more. The StudioLive mixer makes it super convenient for me to walk up and start working. I will also say that I carry it with me everywhere to run sound for live shows and recordings, and have even used it for a live broadcast of a show. It has never let me down and has always been very easy to set up! Because I am able to save settings from my recording sessions, it makes it even easier to set up for a live show.
Basically, I have various synths, mics, instruments, etc. that I leave set up so that I can record an idea at any time and they go directly into the mixer. From there, I use the Central Station which outputs to my Sceptre monitors along with other monitors and a PreSonus HP4.
We’re curious about your work as a vinyl mastering engineer… can you tell us about that sound-world?
The first thing I do when I’m mastering a project for vinyl is look at all of the files and create a session for them. I then check the length of both of the sides. For each speed and size of disk, there are certain limits for how long the side can be. Next, I typically adjust the overall level of the project. Usually, the project is too loud, even if it hasn’t been mastered before. The louder the project is, the wider the grooves are. If the grooves are too wide and take up too much space, the project won’t be able to fit on the lacquer (the type of disk I cut on to make a vinyl master). I then mono the low end and use an EQ to filter out any frequencies that may give me problems. Sometimes if the vocal has too much sibilance it can cause issues, especially if there are also a lot of hi-hats/cymbals. I then run the project down to make sure it will fit and also to make sure there won’t be any trouble areas. If everything looks good, I’ll cut the project after that! Before I cut a lacquer, though, I have to use a microscope to look at a couple test cuts and make sure the stylus is working properly and that there is enough space in between the grooves.
Moving back to your home studio working environment; tell us more about how you’ve been using Studio One and what led you to our DAW?
For producing, tracking, mixing, and mastering. I will also occasionally use it for live recordings with my StudioLive 16 mixer. It has been a very helpful tool!
One of the main factors that lead me to it was when I was producing, being able to bounce between ideas easily and combine ideas from different files. I tend to either work with an “engineer” mindset or a “creative” mindset. Because of how easy Studio One is to use, I am able to start tracking a song while I am writing it, and I am able to keep my “creative” mindset. It helped me when I would be writing and producing at the same time, because it allowed me to be able to keep my creative hat on while still being able to engineer a track.
It is very quick and easy to use, which is helpful when recording live shows. It makes the show go a lot smoother when you’re not having to worry about having to spend a lot of time setting up a session, etc. I also love how well all of the PreSonus gear works together; it is extremely nice to have products that all communicate together so that I’m not wasting time trying to fix something. If I have an idea, I can walk right into my studio and know that I’ll be able to get everything down fast.
This was especially helpful when I was just getting started as an engineer, because everything was very straightforward when I was setting it up.
All of the PreSonus products work in many different settings. For example, I originally purchased my StudioLive board for live events, but I use it in a studio setting as well and love it there, too!
Finally, let’s talk about you as a creative musical artist!
My main influences for my own music are artists like Maggie Rogers, Florence and the Machine, and St. Vincent. I have a love for analog synths and was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple for this project. I used a Roland Juno 6 and a MOOG Sub Phatty for most of the songs, and then had a drummer/guitarist/bassist add parts to each of the songs as well. I love using basic tools like EQ and reverb to make new sounds that I haven’t heard before. Typically, I will use the Pro EQ plugin that comes with Studio One to take out certain frequencies. The majority of EQ’ing I do is subtractive, because I like to make sure that every instrument has its own space in my songs. A lot of my time is spent experimenting with lots of different effects to try to get the sounds that I can hear in my head. I love the depth that an analog synth and live instruments can bring to a session, but I also love being able to edit a project easily. Even though I’ll record a lot of different instruments, I like to be able to edit each of the parts so that you can feel the song “build up” from each of the verses to the chorus. Studio One makes it really easy for me to audition different parts and figure out what I like. I am also known for creating a bunch of different versions of the same song, and Studio One is able to make my workflow seamlessly. I use the Scratchpad function because I typically write a song while I am also recording it, so I am able to try out different ideas without having to commit. That is one of the things that Studio One does best, is it works for Engineers, but also Songwriters, Artists and Producers of creative content these days online.
I feel very lucky that I found your products because it has really helped me grow my studio and career. Thank you, PreSonus!
SANGUINE are an Alternative Rock Metal band from Exeter in the UK, led by singer Tarin Kerrey and guitarist Nick Magee.
The band released their first Album, Black Sheep, in 2016, co-written by Jesper Stromblad from Grammy Award-winning band In Flames. It gained incredible reviews, and Sanguine went on to tour the UK and Europe with many notable acts including Fear Factory, Megadeth, Skindred, MushroomHead, Hellyeah, Cancer Bats, OPM, Zebrahead, and many more.
Following the tour cycle, SANGUINE returned to the UK to record the follow-up album. They tried various producers, but found the energy wasn’t really connecting and wanted it to feel right. At the same time, they had been playing around with the free version of PreSonus Studio One—Studio One Prime. They found it incredibly intuitive, and as their skills improved they began making higher and higher quality demos. They started showing the recordings to the labels, sponsors, and their inner circle… and the feedback was extremely positive.
When it came to the final decision of who to record with, SANGUINE mixed up the recordings with versions of the same songs from professional producers done in other studios, and asked people to choose their favorite based just on sound. The majority of them picked the band’s version recorded in Studio One.
This inspired the band to fully embrace the program and learn as much as they could in a very short time.
The result is Cold Blood, which like its predecessor has received stunning reviews from both mainstream and underground press/blogs/fanzines.
In a modern climate where music makes very little revenue compared to the cost of making it, getting the cost of an album down is crucial. The average cost of a rock album is about £10-£20K. Cold Blood cost under £500 to make in total because of Studio One. SANGUINE only used the plug-ins that came with Studio One—as there was plenty to work with!
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Studio One is its user-friendly interface. Nobody in the band was particularly computer-minded. None of us had any previous experience engineering at all. That alone is a testament to how logical the layout is. The only regret SANGUINE have is not going down this path earlier, because the benefits have been so instant and rewarding.
PreSonus: What PreSonus products have you used and which do you currently use?
SANGUINE: We actually have a really simple and achievable setup. We use Studio One Professional, Tannoy monitors, and a range of mics. We have brought additional plug-ins like Izotope and VSTs, but to be honest 90% of what we ended up using for the album came free with the software. It’s a seriously comprehensive range of sounds to get started with. You could spend weeks alone exploring just them!
We are looking at buying more expansion packs for the next round of recordings. We compensate for our lack of outboard studio gear by using VST plug-ins and extremely high-quality instruments and mics. Nick uses a Manson MBC-1 with Pro Sustainiac Sustainer and Ross uses a Fender Precision bass with Nordstrand Audio custom pickups. Changing to Mansons and Nordstrand gear changed our game quite a bit both live and for the studio. We have learned that having high-quality source sounds, good quality microphones/pre-amps, and a decent soundcard is absolutely key to the end product sounding good.
PreSonus: What led you to Studio One? Was it the company’s reputation, audio quality, ease of use, specific features, price, other factors?
SANGUINE: To be honest it kind of found us! Producer Daniel Flores introduced us to the program during the recording of the Black Sheep album. We had never heard of this DAW before, but Daniel is a true pro, so the fact that he was using it alone was a big validation. You could tell he was excited by the functionality of the program and throughout the recording, he would often show us some of the cool things you could do with it. This sparked our interest.
Studio One has a really intuitive layout unlike other DAWs, things are where you would want or expect them to be rather than hidden away in obscure menus. Studio One is easy to use; we rarely have to look up where to find functions and that is a big advantage to the writing process.
We knew that Studio One was being widely used by studio producers but we were uncertain about its capacity to record a live band… we were wrong, it’s just as good as Pro Tools and we would now recommend it as the only option for musicians.
PreSonus: What Studio One features have proven particularly useful and why?
SANGUINE: There is so much included with Studio One, features include everything that their competitors are offering and MORE!
We started the Cold Blood album recording process by recording a live demo of the songs in our band room. We then used Studio One to help us make a decision on which ones to record for the album.
We set up our album project at 96kzHz and recorded the drum stems in a professional studio with an acoustically treated room, and brought the tracks back to our studio to edit, quantize and process. This was nerve-racking for us, as we had never quantized drums before, but again PreSonus delivered by making the drum quantizing and triggering process a breeze. We then laid all the other instruments in our studio using Studio One; it was easy to try something and undo it if it didn’t sound right. We used a mixture of real sounds and plugins to achieve the final result.
For SANGUINE we have found the VSTs, sound packs, synths, and loops included with Studio One Professional inspired us to create and record our new sound. We downloaded a few plug-ins and VSTs but mostly used the free Add-Ons provided by Studio One. SANGUINE always felt like it needed an extra sound in some songs, not enough to warrant a full-time extra member—more just the odd effect, ping, or some other sound to pick up the ear and keep it interesting. Lots of bands do this in our genre like Linkin Park, Slipknot, Skindred, Bring Me The Horizon, etc. The Studio One sounds were exactly what we were looking for, there is a huge range of sounds, but also the ability to forge, combine and bend the audio to pretty much anything you can think up. We now run our extra production sounds live.
PreSonus: How does Studio One compare to other DAWs you have used?
SANGUINE: We played around with Cubase in the early days but it just felt like climbing a mountain. It’s not very motivating as an artist if you can’t get into a good writing flow. We personally didn’t find it intuitive at all. We tried Logic but didn’t find it very logical! After seeing colleagues spend thousands on Pro Tools, we saw a cycle of money going out but never coming back in! In an industry where it is hard to make money, it seemed to us that Pro Tools was only for people with more money than sense!
For an untrained eye, most DAWs look complex and difficult to use. None of the band are qualified sound engineers, so usability was the first priority. Studio One offered an interface that was easy to use and a high-quality sound.
Originally we just intended to record demo’s on Studio One – but after a while, we started to prefer our versions of the songs to the other Producers we were using. We found that you could use Studio One to experiment quickly with new ideas. It’s changed how we write – writing used to take place in the room but now we often have Studio One running so we can try different beats quickly or see how a section sounds if you add strings. Everything has improved as a result.
In simple terms, Studio One has made it easy for an everyday person with no previous engineering experience or ability, to create professional studio quality recordings without having to spend thousands hiring a traditional studio. That alone blows our minds. We used to spend around £1000 per song. So an album could chalk up £10K pretty easily. The modern music industry just doesn’t provide the economy of scale to make sense of those numbers. Hundreds of thousands of Spotify plays will earn you about £50 for example – so you would have to have millions of streams to earn that back.
By learning Studio One we have essentially eliminated that cost and empowered ourselves to have the freedom to write and release anything we want, whenever we want. As artists, we can’t think of what could be better than having 100% autonomy over our output. Most artists play for the love of music, but due to the towering expense involved with being in a touring band, at some point they have to turn it into a business to continue doing what they love. We have seen so many amazing bands who have exhausted themselves and essentially burnt out trying to make sense of the money side of the business. The bottom line is that eliminating cost makes it easier to return a profit and survive.
PreSonus: Which Studio One feature or concept isn’t talked about enough in your opinion?
SANGUINE: A BIG feature for us was the ease of adding ISRC codes. We had friends who were releasing records at the same time as us who were struggling to get theirs embedded for a sensible price—can’t say that we didn’t feel a bit smug knowing we could do ours within the session—it took us about an hour to sort out. Again, we learned and executed a new task in an hour using only free internet tutorials. That is one of the many examples of how Studio One makes our life easier and cheaper. It’s another process that we previously would have paid someone to do.
Also, I think the depth you can go inside a sound is slightly overlooked—when you start really playing with the parameters of an effect, layering them up/combining you can approximate virtually any sound within reason. Initially, we assumed that we would need to keep topping up the extension packs more frequently – however the deeper we explored the program the more we found. I would advise anyone using this program to spend at least two weeks just exploring the sounds and how you can manipulate them. At first, we grouped sounds that we liked and made notes of their location— after a while though we started using sounds that we never thought we would ever need—for example, sounds that sound irrelevant on their own but amazing within the context of a mix.
We heard that Studio One is very popular with EDM Producers—it’s easy to see why because of the quality of recording produced, sound packs and ease of use. However, we are a rock band, so 90% of the sound we record is played on drum/bass/guitar/vocals. We think if more rock/metal bands knew how radically Studio One could impact their output, many more would jump on board. Our advice would be don’t wait to be told, spend time on it, try it for yourself… and most importantly trust your ears!
PreSonus: Any useful tips/tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One that would be of interest to our user base?
SANGUINE: This is probably the most relevant question to us out of all of them. Historically every time we tried to record ourselves the programs just seemed too complicated. We would spend hours on a recording in Cubase and obtain a very average result. We put this down to none of us being a qualified sound engineer, but when we moved over to PreSonus suddenly our recording quality went up! We realized it wasn’t our talent it was the usability of the program that was holding us back.
After you master a DAW system you realize that 50% of the songwriting is achieved via the recording and production process. You may have noticed over the last few years that producers are often credited before artists on songs. It’s like the guys that used to be kept in the backroom are now thinking ‘Hang on a minute—who’s the talent here?!’ Mark Ronson is a good example. We don’t blame them—after all the song is only 50% of the process—the production and recording are what makes it viable.
We see a future where the only artists who can survive are the ones who create and record their own music from scratch. SANGUINE have taken this DIY ethic to the extremes and for our latest album, Cold Blood, we literally created every visual and sound ourselves. It meant many nights of reading, trial and error, and a few headaches… but we are now in a position where we can create everything for almost zero cost. The bottom line for any recording is spending hours grooming through the takes until you have the right sound and delivery. When you are being charged in a studio you are “on the clock” and you don’t always achieve the best take or treatment of sound. By taking control of our own recording environment we can spend hours recording and playing around with the music until we have the exact sound we are looking for… I don’t think we could have afforded to pay an engineer or producer for that!
People can overlook how psychological the recording process is – we realised how much our insecurity over our ability to pull this off was impacting us as artists/writers. We had to really learn to trust our ears and what WE thought sounded good.
We blind tested this by recording the same song three ways:
After a blind test listen of these three options we asked our fans and managers to chose which they preferred, surprisingly option 3 was the winner, so we decided to record the album ourselves with no help! Not because the other producers were bad at what they did, more that they simply couldn’t compete with the AMOUNT OF TIME we had to spend on it. Time is free after all, so it is one of an artist’s biggest assets. This confirmed our self-belief that we could do it and we found that energy very motivating—the more positive feedback we got, the more hours we put into it and the better the result. One of the frustrating things is that as you get better you find yourself looking back at songs and pulling them apart/finding fault. Having a studio at your fingertips means you can re-visit those issues and iron them out.
I haven’t met an artist yet who has left a studio being 100% blown away and happy with what they have created with another producer. In fact, it’s more often the opposite. Sure you can go back to a studio and make corrections but it isn’t very practical or spontaneous and you will always be working to someone else’s timetable. Why pay thousands for something you don’t even like that much? Studio One puts our entire catalog at our fingertips. It also means if we need to make alterations like removing vocals for a soundtrack, we can just fire up the computer and do it ourselves. Even a simple task like that would set you back £200 if you were to get a studio to do it for you.
We were joking recently that Studio One is our fifth band member—we feel so in tune with the system it almost feels sentient at times! We might start offering it coffee when we pull a late one…
Finally—something which we didn’t expect was that other bands started asking us to record them and mix their music after hearing ours. This provides an additional revenue stream that we didn’t account for. More money is never a bad thing and it’s a huge compliment to us that after two years we are being asked to do these things. If you had told us this five years ago we definitely would have laughed at you.
PreSonus: Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?
SANGUINE: Even if you have never been good with computers or tried a DAW system before we would urge you to at least play around with the Demo (full-featured Professional version, 30-day license). The gear we listed above is all we used for our record and the entire set up can be brought for a few thousand pounds. This relatively small investment for infinite recordings seems like a no brainer to us. We managed to learn how to record/mix/master and release a record in 2 years from scratch. If Studio One wasn’t as easy to navigate then how would that be possible? The proof is in the pudding.
It’s pretty rare for us to get this excited about a DAW but it has fundamentally changed everything from our recording all the way down to how we write and the business models that we use. We now have 1/10th of the previous outgoings and this has allowed us to scale the band much faster than previously. What was once by far the biggest expense a band has now reduced to practically zero. The more we use it the more we will improve which is also exciting.
Finally… artists need to understand that the music industry has fundamentally changed forever. The days of making millions from music are long gone and eventually, only those who can sustain will be able to survive. We predict a future where only producer/writer/performers will realistically be able to survive. It’s no longer enough to just be a musician. Recording is the bread and butter of any band so if you do one thing this year: try Studio One.
For us, it changed everything!
There are many uses for alternate mixes, and Studio One makes it not only easy to create alternate mixes, but also to store them as part of a song. We’ll cover traditional uses for alternate mixes, and then get into some more unusual applications.
How to Create and Store Alternate Mixes
When sending a file off for mastering, sometimes the engineer will want two additional versions, one with the vocal up 1 dB and another with it down 1 dB. This is because during the course of mastering, the relationship of the vocal to the track might change. A more prosaic example is creating a mix without vocals for karaoke, and of course, remixes are common in EDM. You might also do an “unplugged” version with only the acoustic tracks.
After creating the alternate mix:
If your mix changes are relatively extensive, save it as a Version so you can recall it later. Choose File > Save New Version, and name it (Fig. 2). Use a name that corresponds to the name of the alternate mix file, and then you can choose File > Restore Version to recall the version corresponding to that particular mix.
Processing Song Sections with Alternate Mixes
Suppose you want to add flanging to only a solo section of a song. You can insert a flanger in the main bus, and then adjust automation to enable it and set the parameters as desired. However, another option is to create a mix, and bring it into your song as a track. Then, create an alternate mix you bring into the song. Now you can experiment on the alternate mix with the effect(s) you want to use, and when you have the sound you want, render it. Cut the solo section you want to flange from the main mix, and insert the rendered solo section from the alternate mix.
Better Virtual Instrument and Amp Sim Feel
Last week’s tip covered how to save CPU power with amp sims by bouncing and/or transforming the track with the sim. One user commented “I can see how doing [this] reduces CPU load, but only after I’ve finished choosing and using an amp sim patch. My frustration is the latency or CPU hit when actually playing my guitar through an amp sim, deciding on what I’m going to play, rehearsing it, auditioning amp sim patches and so on.” Alternate mixes to the rescue: make a premix of all tracks except the one with the amp sim, and then disable the tracks themselves. With the tracks now placing no load on the CPU because you’re listening only to the premix, you can throttle the latency way down when playing around with your sim and adding a new part. After recording the part, you can use the tips presented last week to reduce the CPU drawn by the amp sim.
Auditioning Different Mixes for Albums
The renewed interest in vinyl has had a corollary effect: an interest in albums and collections of songs, not just singles. As a result, Studio One’s synergy between the Song and Project page—where you can edit songs after hearing them in context with the master file, and update the master file with that song’s changes—is brilliant. But even if you don’t produce albums, Studio One’s mastering options make it easy to obtain consistency among songs. That way, if someone switches from one song of yours to another on YouTube or Spotify, there won’t be a jarring difference.
But you might do various mixes of songs, so you can choose the best one when assembling an album. If you update the version in the mastering file after changing a mix, to compare it to a previous mix you need to open the file with the other mix (which may take a fair amount of time if you have lots of effects and virtual instruments), update the mastering version, and repeat with any other mixes.
A simpler option is to create alternate mixes in your song as described above (remember to save each alternate mix as a separate version), and mute all tracks in the song except for the track with the mix you want to audition. Update the mastering file with that track. To audition a different mix, mute all tracks except for the different mix, update the mastering file, and hear that mix in context. Once you decide which mix you like best, open the Version containing that mix, and then you can make further tweaks to it.
Luke Sital-Singh is a British singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. He sings and writes songs of love, loss, longing, grieving, hope, and basically the whole gamut of the human experience. His voice is haunting and personal… and his lyrics? Profound. With three studio albums, one live album, seven EPs, a ton of singles and a TED Talk in 2018, Luke’s gift is exceptional and rare, and we’re glad he’s sharing it with us.
We connected with Luke on Instagram and immediately became huge fans. What’s made this friendship better is that he’s new to the Studio One family. We took some time to get to know him better and hear how his experience with Studio One has been so far.
Give us some background on yourself. How long have you been making music?
I’m an artist and songwriter from the UK currently based in LA. I released my first EP in 2012 and have been making and releasing music ever since. My latest album came out in 2019, and right now I’m currently working on writing my fourth album whilst trying my hand as a songwriter working with other artists and writers on their projects.
How has the music industry changed since your early days?
In so many ways but I think the most obvious to me day-to-day at the moment is the impact of social media and keeping your online persona updated every second of the day. It’s a horror show and if I were starting out again today it would be enough to send me running for the hills.
Describe the first time you wrote a song? Produced it?
Hmm, I don’t remember details but I can imagine it was an easy, pure, uncomplicated. I most probably thought nothing of it. It was almost definitely a rip off of the Goo Goo Dolls (who were my favs at the time). I never had a lightbulb moment in where I knew I was gonna write songs. It was such a gradual process. I just wanted to give it a try, and I kept trying and trying… and I’m still trying today.
Who has been a musical influence in your life?
I would say my eldest brother Matt was the first major musical influence in my life. He introduced me to some cool music when he was a teenager and it was his guitar I stole when I started learning. He was also a bit of a computer geek so he helped me record some early demos and covers in his bedroom. I still have some of those recordings. Truly awful songs! But it got the ball rolling.
Have you ever wanted to give up on music? What keeps you going?
Yes, many times. It’s often overwhelming and ever-changing. So you once you feel like you get a handle on a way forward, the industry changes and you’re left scrambling around again. Also the pressures of always being on. I always feel guilty when I’m not writing or gigging or posting on social media. It’s hard to find downtime without feeling like you’re losing time and opportunities. Unfortunately and fortunately it still pays all my bills and I’ve got no other life skills to fall back on. Also when it’s good. It’s really good.
I was looking for a change from the DAW I was using. And I started to see a lot more people talking about Studio One online. I found myself watching loads of YouTube videos about the features and reasons why it’s better than the other DAWs. It piqued my interest enough to try a demo and see what I thought of it myself.
What features are you most impressed with?
As a jobbing artist, the price was pretty compelling, for one thing. Perhaps that sounds a little unexciting, but it matters for people like me. I don’t have tons of cash to drop on all this software whenever I want.
I’m still learning Studio One, but I’m finding it a lot faster than what I’ve used before. The drag and drop functionality is so great. In general, and incoming from another DAW, I’m just finding it more intuitive. Studio One is faster and compliments the workflow habits I’ve developed using other software. As I use it more I’m excited to see how my workflow develops around Studio One’s unique functionally. As of now, I’ve only produced a handful of tracks using it and I’m loving it and I’m excited to keep learning.
I also find the chord track functionality brilliant for songwriting and trying out ideas I would never think of on the guitar.
Very easy. I especially found that the ability to map the keyboard shortcuts to match other DAWs made it so much faster to get up and running. Now I’m slowly transitioning to the Studio One keyboard shortcuts.
Where do you go for support?
I haven’t had to yet! Knocks on wood…
Any other thoughts on Studio One or PreSonus gear?
I just think PreSonus is great! For whatever reason, it’s not the sexiest name in music gear but it should be. I feel like I wish I’d tried Studio One years ago. I find I go into sessions with other people these days and tell them I use Studio One and they turn their nose up. When I tell them the kind of functionality it offers, everyone is impressed and surprised. It’s one of those unfortunate things about the music recording culture and I suppose just general culture when it comes to brands etc. People like the cool stuff even if it’s actually no better or perhaps it’s worse than lesser-known brands. I hope more people start to see how great Studio One is and PreSonus in general!
Recent projects? What’s next for you?
I’ve got a new EP dropping in April, a few tracks are available online. Also, I’m going on tour in Europe and the UK in April/May and I’m hoping to play some more shows around the US later this year. Other than that I’m busy writing my next record and working with other artists as a songwriting collaborator.
[This guest blog post comes to us from EarthMoments.]
To journey into the realm of Middle Eastern music is to unveil a tradition that is inextricably linked to religion—a uniting factor that brought together people of several different countries, languages and cultures.
The prevalence of Islam enabled the Arabic influence to spread across areas including Morocco, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and North Africa from the 7th century onward—a cultural influence that also permeated the region’s musical framework. There are various elements that give Arabic music its distinctly otherworldly quality—the music often features quarter tones between notes, the Arabic scale is based on various maqamat or modes, and complex rhythmic patterns play an essential role in the tradition.
In order to connect producers to this region’s exotic spectrum of instruments and rich sonic diversity, EarthMoments has released a bundle that grants them exclusive access to an otherwise elusive musical tradition.
EarthMoments’ Hamsa Vol. 02 – Arabic Percussion showcases several percussion instruments from the Middle East, North Africa, and Arabic musical traditions.
Forming the mainstay of the percussive practice are a variety of hand drums, instruments like the dumbek—a classic goblet-shaped drum traditionally made of ceramic clay and with a deeply resonant sound; the darbuka – also ‘goblet’ shaped, and said to be a modern variation of the dumbek; and the riq—a frame drum with 5 sets of cymbals, usually skinned with goat or fish skin – all of which are included in the bundle.
These traditions are heavily steeped in rhythmic patterns that perhaps at first listen are unusual to the Western-trained ear—complex time signatures that evoke a sense of the mystical realm from which these sounds emerged. In creating the bundle, the EarthMoments team made it a point to go beyond a surface level depiction of the ‘exotic Orient’—and chose instead to showcase both traditional commonly heard rhythms, as well as less conventional, rare folk rhythms that stray far from the mainstream.
Included are rhythms like the Malfuf—a fast pattern that originates in Egypt and Lebanon and is often played as an intro for classical orchestral compositions, specially created for a belly dancer’s entrance and exit;
the Baladi – an urban folk rhythmic style, a derivative of which is the Maqsoum rhythm (the most common rhythm in Arabic belly dance music);
the Shiftateli – a hypnotic rhythm often used for the sensuous movements of the belly dancer such as undulations of the torso, floor work, or when the dancer moves with snake like arms;
and the Karachi – a fast rhythm that originated in Pakistan but is commonly found in modern Egyptian and North African music.
In unlocking this enigmatic world of sound, new doorways open up for the curious producer looking for unusual creative leads – and herein lies great potential to create truly unique, offbeat compositions.
There are a lot of filter responses: notch, bandpass, peak, allpass, high pass, lowpass, shelf…now let’s add the “table” response to the collection.
Parametric EQs can add peaks and cuts that are broad, narrow, or anywhere in between, but they all have slopes on either side of the filter frequency. The table response described here can boost or cut over a range of frequencies, with a flat response over that range. This avoids having to dedicate several overlapping parametric stages, which still doesn’t achieve quite the same result. The key to this response is combining shelving EQs.
Table Response Boost
To boost a frequency range, set the low- and high-shelf frequencies to the lowest and highest frequencies in the range (Fig. 1). Use the Shelf setting to determine how quickly the boosted section returns to the flat response. I’ve found the 12 and 24 dB settings works well, because the Q control comes into play. This can provide additional modifications to the response, which we’ll cover later. However, for the gentlest effect, 6 dB is valid in many situations as well.
Figure 1: This table response, inserted before a high-distortion amp sim, gives greater sensitivity to midrange notes and also trims the highs and lows for a “tighter” sound.
But we’re not done quite yet. To provide an actual boost, increase the output Gain control for the desired amount of boost. For example, if you want the table response to boost +12 dB, set the high and low shelf Gain settings to -12 dB, and the output Gain control to +12.
Table Response Cut
Similarly to the boost option, set the low- and high-shelf frequencies to the lowest and highest frequencies in the range you want to cut (Fig. 2). Again, use the Shelf setting to determine how quickly the boosted section returns to the flat response; the same general comments about how the shelf slope works with boosting apply here too.
Figure 2: This table response for a drum loop cuts back on the midrange a bit to help emphasize the kick and the snap/sizzle of the share and high-hats; it also reduces any “midrange mud,” and makes space in that frequency range for other instruments.
Cutting requires an equal and opposite approach to what we did for boosting. If you want the table response to cut 4 dB, then boost the shelf controls by +4 dB. Then, set the output gain control to -4 dB. This restores the shelf boosts to flat, and adds the desired amount of cut for the specified frequency range.
When cutting with the low shelf or boosting with the high shelf, increasing resonance by turning up the Q control adds a peak just above the shelf’s corner frequency, and a dip below the corner frequency. When boosting with the low shelf or cutting with the high shelf, increasing Q adds a peak just below the shelf’s corner frequency, and a dip above the corner frequency. This emphasizes the extremes of the chosen frequency range, while also increasing the depth of the cuts near the corner frequency. Try adding resonance to the low shelf when using this technique for vocals, particularly narration (Fig. 3).
Figure 3: The table response adds a bit of a low-frequency boost (with Q) to give the “late night FM DJ sound,” but also cuts lower frequencies to reduce p-popping. Meanwhile, the high-frequency shelf emphasizes the voice’s articulation, while reducing extraneous highs, hiss, and sibilance.
Of course, the table response doesn’t replace a parametric. But sometimes, it might be just the response you need, and you’ll find it faster to dial in the right frequency range by moving the shelf controls than trying to make multiple stages of peak/boost EQ do what you want.
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A physical guitar amp is more than a box with a speaker—it’s a box with a speaker being picked up by a mic in a room. Both the mic and room contribute to the overall sound. To better emulate the sound of a physical guitar amp, Ampire includes a Mic Edit Controls panel that allows making a variety of virtual mic adjustments.
Ampire doesn’t include room emulation, because you can emulate room sound with several of Studio One’s plug-ins—Room Reverb, Open Air Reverb, Mixverb, and Analog Delay. However, it’s best to avoid adding ambiance until most other tracks have been cut, so that the ambiance achieves the right balance. Too much ambiance can clutter the mix, or hog the stereo field.
The mics you choose, their levels with respect to each other, and whether you add delay can make a major difference in your amp’s sound. So, let’s investigate the Mic Edit Controls panel (Fig. 1).
Choosing the Mic Type
Many guitarists record with their amp cranked to really high levels, to get their “sound.” Dynamic mics are ideal because they can handle high levels, and the inexpensive Shure SM57 is the classic guitar cabinet mic—many engineers choose it even when cost is no object. Although dynamic mics may lack brightness compared to condenser mics (as modeled by Mic C), this doesn’t matter much with amp cabinets, which typically don’t have much energy above 5 kHz or so anyway. Mic A in the Mic Edit Controls panel has the SM57’s sonic character, and will likely be your go-to mic.
Mic B produces the sound associated with ribbon mics, which shows one of Ampire’s benefits: older ribbon mics tended to be fragile—but you can’t blow up a virtual mic. Ribbon mics have an inherently warm midrange. Royer’s R-121 mic is popular for miking cabs, and Mic B models its overall sonic character.
Mic C emulates the PreSonus PM-2 matched pair of condenser microphones. Condenser mics are often too sensitive for close-miking loud amps, but when moved a bit back from the cab, they can give a brighter, more “open” response that handles note attacks well. They’re also commonly used as room mics, which is why these two virtual mics are arranged in an X-Y miking configuration to give a stereo image.
Wait a Minute—Did You Say Stereo?
Guitars are mono signal sources, but taking full advantage of Ampire’s mics, as well as room ambiance plug-ins, requires a stereo signal. To convert the mono guitar into a dual mono signal (i.e., stereo, but with the same audio in the left and right channels), record the guitar with the Channel Mode set to Mono (one circle showing to the right of the Record Input selector). Although this means that any plug-ins will be in mono, that’s acceptable when tracking. After recording the track, change the Channel Mode to stereo (i.e., two circles showing to the right of the Record Input selector), select the event, and bounce it to itself (ctrl+B). Now the mono guitar is dual mono.
Mic Control Applications
Each mic has three controls: level, mute button (which makes it easy to evaluate what a particular mic contributes to the overall sound), and phase switch (the Ø button). Also, Mics B and C have Delay controls.
Often when miking a physical amp with more than one mic, you’ll vary their blend to find the right mix. The Mic Mix Link button toward the extreme left simplifies this process. When enabled, altering one mic’s level adjusts the levels of the other mics oppositely. For example, turning up Mic A turns down Mics B and C, or turning up Mic B turns down Mics A and C.
The Phase buttons and Delay controls can make major differences in the overall sound. There’s no right or wrong phase or delay setting; use whatever sounds best to you. Try the following to hear how these controls affect the sound. (Bear in mind that amp sims do a lot of calculations, so moving the controls will sound “choppy.” This is because Ampire has to recalculate constantly to reflect the changing settings.)
Now check out how Mic C creates a stereo spread. With Mic Mix Link off, adjust Mic A and/or Mic B for the desired sound. Bring up Mic C’s Level control slowly, and you’ll hear the stereo image bloom. Again, the Delay control and Phase reverse button make a big difference in the sound.
Clean Sounds, Too
One of my favorite mic applications is with clean guitar sounds (cabinet only, no amp). Mic C is particularly useful, because its brightness gives the cabinet’s tone a useful lift, and creates a stereo image. Finally, note that if you change the Channel Mode from mono to stereo (or the reverse), the sound may mute. Varying one of the Mic level controls restores the sound. Of course, it’s easy enough to call up an Ampire preset, and just start playing… but becoming proficient with the Mic Edit Controls opens up a wealth of possibilities.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.