It’s easy to assume ATOM is an MPC-type pad controller, and ignore it if that’s not of interest. But ATOM is tightly integrated with Studio One for navigation, editing, and more, and also works with third-party software—which even applies to third-party software (like virtual instruments) running inside Studio One.
The problem: you have a 4-octave keyboard, but you’re using a program like SampleTank or Kontakt that uses lower-octave keys for keyswitching. The solution: Add ATOM as an auxiliary keyboard for triggering keyswitches (Fig. 1).
1. Select the Instrument track and set it to All Inputs, so it receives notes from the main keyboard and from ATOM.
2. Tap Pad 15 to transpose down an octave (Fig. 2). Each tap transposes down another octave. To keep track of how far down you’ve transposed, Pad 15 is orange at the default octave, tan = -1 octave, purple = -2 octaves, and red = -3 octaves.
3. Tap Pad 16 to transpose up an octave. Each tap transposes up another octave.
Considerate Bonus Feature: ATOM remembers the octave settings for different instrument tracks, even if they’re not instruments bundled with Studio One.
Leading or lagging rhythms by only a few milliseconds can make a major difference in the “feel,” the mix, and therefore, the music’s emotional impact (for more about the “feel factor,” please check out this article on my educational site, craiganderton.org). But how can you do that with Studio One, whose highest resolution goes to 64th notes? It’s easy with ATOM—and frankly, this feature alone justifies ATOM to me. The following works with both note and audio data.
1. In Studio One, turn off snap.
2. Select the notes (or audio Events) whose timing you want to shift.
3. On ATOM, press and hold Nudge (Fig. 3).
4. Tap the Left button to move the selected notes or Events ahead (lead) by 1 ms, and the Right button to move the selected notes late (lag) by 1 ms (Fig. 4).
This is huge. Try moving percussion a few milliseconds ahead of the beat to give a more “urgent” feel, or a snare a few milliseconds after the beat for a “bigger” sound.
Stuck notes? No problem—see Fig. 5. (Note: the upper left Setup button needs to be off.)
1. Press and hold the Quick Setup button, and select the track with the stuck notes.
2. Tap Pad 4 to send an All Notes Off command.
This is one of my favorite features for songwriting, because it’s a lot easier to tap a tempo (Fig. 6) than tweak it when you have a song idea.
1. Tap the Song Setup button in the upper left.
2. Tap Pad 2 at the desired song tempo; this sets the tempo in the control bar.
3. To fine-tune the tempo, turn Knob 2.
You can call up instruments and presets quickly with ATOM (Fig. 7).
1. Press Setup, and it glows orange.
2. Toggle the Browser show/hide by tapping Pad 13 (Browser).
3. When the Browser is open, use the Up and Down buttons to go up and down through the list of instruments and presets. Use the Right button to open a preset list, and the Left button to close the list.
4. When you have the preset or instrument you want, press Select. This creates an Instrument track with the currently selected preset, or the instrument itself if no preset is selected.
There are many times—especially when proofing tracks before mixing–that I want to be able to select tracks quickly, and go into exclusive solo mode (i.e., only that track will be soloed—even other tracks that are soloed will be muted). It’s super fast if the Arrange View or Console has the focus (Fig. 8).
1. Tap Setup, and it glows orange.
2. Use the Up button or Left button to step up through tracks, and the Down or Right button to step down through tracks. (That’s kinda cool that either one Up/Down or Left/Right works, because it’s natural to use Up/Down in the Arrange view, and Left/Right on the Console).
3. Tap Pad 3 to mute the selected track.
4. Tap Pad 4 to solo the selected track, or Alt+Pad 4 for exclusive solo.
This is an easy one. Call up an FX Chain. Move the ATOM knob you want to assign to a Macro control. Right click on the Macro control. Assign it to the ATOM knob (Fig. 9).
ATOM is happiest when playing with Studio One, because of the tight integration. But I still use Cakewalk’s Rapture Pro in a lot of tracks; I sampled a ton of Gibson basses, and made what I think are some really cool instruments with them. Unfortunately, in theory you can’t use ATOM’s aftertouch or knobs as a generic control surface when running in Studio One…but hey, we laugh at theory around here! You can, by faking Studio One into not recognizing ATOM as ATOM.
1. Go to Studio One > Options > External Devices, and remove ATOM.
2. Click Add, and choose New Keyboard (I named it Faux ATOM; see Fig. 10). You don’t need to Send To anything. ATOM’s status light at the top will glow green to indicate ATOM isn’t under Studio One’s control.
3. If your instrument has MIDI learn, assign the four controls or aftertouch however you want, and record as you would any automation from a control surface (Fig. 11).
Don’t worry, you haven’t lost ATOM. Go Studio One > Options > External Devices, and remove Faux ATOM. Click on Reconnect; Studio One finds ATOM, and lists it as an external device. Another option is to close and re-open Studio One (ATOM gets added automatically).
The documentation seems to imply that you can do cool event editor things only with the Instrument track, but that’s not quite true—you can do plenty with audio tracks as well.
1. Press the Editor button (in the left side, under Event). It doesn’t matter if Song Setup is on, because if it is, hitting Editor turns it off. The Edit view appears.
2. To hide the Edit view, hold Shift and tap Editor.
While in the Editor (or with audio tracks, the Arrange view):
Hold Shift and tap Undo (Fig. 12) to undo your last mistake…because there are never enough ways to undo!
1. How long have you worked for PreSonus?
I joined the company back in July of 2012.
2. What’s your official job title?
“Hello! My name is Perry Tee, Artist Relations Manager at PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc.” (but I wear a lot of different hats for the company).
3. What’s your favorite thing about your job? Why did you choose to work here?
Being able to develop meaningful relationships with other creative and influential human beings to showcase relate-able use cases of our product line in action; ultimately bringing people together from different backgrounds in life who share a common love of expressing themselves through sound and video.
I moved out to Louisiana from California back in 2012 to get away; a sabbatical from the L.A. hustle, if you will. Being the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans to this day still has a vibrant live music scene compared to other cities and I had enough $$$ saved up to live for at least 6 months. So I went from one L.A. to another LA. For those who aren’t aware, PreSonus is based an hour northwest of New Orleans and they were hiring so I applied, got hired and ended up moving to Baton Rouge. Even though I no longer live in Louisiana, I’m still very lucky to be working daily with such amazing talented people. No other company is quite like us in terms of camaraderie and dedication to making things happen, world-wide.
4. Choose a movie title for the story of your life.
“Interstellar”. I travel between many different ‘worlds’ and can access experiences from all points in the timeline of my life’s stored memory banks to find viable solutions and resolving issues effectively. Never journeyed through a wormhole, though.
5. What was the first 8-track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?
Prince & The Revolution “Purple Rain”.
6. Who’s your go-to band or artist(s) when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Roger Powell, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Clouser, Yasutaka Nakata, Mick Gordon, S U R V I V E.
7. What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
“Regulate Ft. Nate Dogg” by Warren G.
8. Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?
Recording live keyboard/bass/guitar tracks for producers, sound design. Playing live gigs and teaching at The School Of Rock. But when I’m not PreSonus’ing, I’m in full-on #DadMode and loving every moment.
9. What instruments do you play?
Keyboards, bass, guitar, cello, drums, the PreSonus ATOM and of course, Studio One. My favorite instrument by far is the DSI Pro 2 synth.
10. What do you love about playing music?
It’s fun, brings people together and very instantaneous joy for me. It’s also a great discipline (mentally and physically), like practicing a martial art.
11. Why did you choose this as your favorite?
Engaging in real-time musical conversations with other willing musicians and expressing myself freely without being bound by the spoken or written language construct. When those moments of true musical chemistry and magic happen, you know it’s because the people involved are actively listening to one another, putting their heart and soul into the collective effort and channeling it as a group “sonic painting” event that rarely happens exactly the same way twice.
Speaking of musical magic, did y’all see Kodi Lee’s recent audition video on “America’s Got Talent”? I was moved to tears especially when his Dad lifts him up onstage near the end. Maaaaan!
12. Tell us about a successful event you worked with PreSonus products. InfoComm, NAMM, or an Install somewhere.
I’ve worked so many NAMM Shows over the past decade+ demoing gear and fielding questions, it’s become an annual reference marker for me like family birthdays. Stop by and visit us at Booth #18701 in January, if you’re in Anaheim.
13. Got any tips for working with Studio One?
I’ve got a bunch of Studio One “1-Minute Tip” and music-related videos on my Instagram feed here: https://instagram.com/da.real.
Or on YouTube:
14. What are you currently working on at PreSonus? What’s next for you?
Finding more relevant product/use case resonant relationships for the company. We’re really interested in content creators with strong online audience engagement (YouTube, podcasters, livestreamers) in addition to Artists, Producers, Live FOH Engineers, Studio Mix Engineers, and Mastering Engineers. Continuing to develop my Studio One chops as there’s always new improvements to our DAW happening regularly from user base input. Helping to make our products better every day for you all to enjoy and benefit from.
15. What’s the strangest talent you have?
I used to be able to perform the Doctor Who theme (lead synth melody line) using a cello bow on the edge of a standard hand saw; all while having gulped an entire packet of grape-flavored Pop Rocks and not letting the chaos inside my mouth affect my musical performance. That talent came to an end when all the bow hair frayed out… GAME OVER.
16. Speaking of GAME OVER… are you a gamer (if so, what are your faves)?
Did my inner nerd really transmit through in this interview? So yeah, I am. Overwatch > Rocket League > WoW > Katamari Damacy > GTA > DOOM > Super Smash Bros. > Mario Kart. It all begins with Mario Kart.
17. Anything else you want to share?
“No amount of money ever bought a second of time” (Howard Stark, The Avengers Endgame) really resonates the older I get and I hope that others will take that quote to heart too, as we make decisions that will inevitably shape the reality of what future generations will inherit from us.
Basically, choose wisely what you do with every moment of your lifetime and don’t take anything for granted!
18. What’s your social media handles and is it OK to tag you?
Of course. Follow me on Instagram @da.real.agentp and hit me up via DM, anytime.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? Why did you choose to work here?
It was destiny that I came to work here. I’m from Baton Rouge, first of all, so it’s awesome to be home. I started playing music when I was 13 or so and my dad bought me a 4 track tape recorder to record myself with after watching me play with our answering machine for hours. I wanted to post my recordings on the internet, so I figured out that you could plug the headphone jack of the tape recorder into the mic input of a computer, and then I downloaded a little program called “Kristal” to record with. Turns out, that program eventually became Studio One. This experience was the gateway to a 10-year stint as a sound guy with various production companies, and eventually a degree in computer engineering. PreSonus sponsored my senior design project. I was thrilled when I got an email from Jim Odom after graduating. It really feels like I’ve finally found a permanent place in the world. Never been around so many people who will nerd out on audio like me, and I love it!
What was the first 8 track, cassette, CD or digital download you purchased?
In 2001, I bought P.O.D’s “Satellite” because I was a youth of the nation at that particular time.
Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
I’m a big fan of Ice JJ Fish. He’s really pushing boundaries.
Everyone has a side gig, what’s yours? OR when you’re not at PreSonus, what are you up to?
I’ve been a sound guy for the past decade or so, and I also write and play music. I’m between bands at the moment if anyone is looking for someone to jam.
Why did you choose this as your favorite?
The StudioLive 64S was the first big release I had a significant role in here at PreSonus. I’m proud of the work we did!
Got any tips for working with the StudioLive 64S?
The user layer is probably the best feature of the console. Use it!
Now while supplies last, enjoy significant savings on all StudioLive Console Mixers! Note that regional pricing will vary slightly, but the below are the savings in USD.
Mixers included in the price drop:
Everyone is talking about the StudioLive Series family, including MIX Online:
“…extremely user-friendly. Having two hands on big, accurate faders for every layer of a mix and brightly illuminated buttons to guide the way was pretty luxurious. If you are looking for an all-in-one console, interface and control surface, this is a really impressive option.”
The price drop is available WORLDWIDE!
I was never a big fan of MIDI guitar, but that changed when I discovered two guitar-like controllers—the YRG1000 You Rock Guitar and Zivix Jamstik. Admittedly, the YRG1000 looks like it escaped from Guitar Hero to seek a better life, but even my guitar-playing “tubes and Telecasters forever!” compatriots are shocked by how well it works. And Jamstik, although it started as a learn-to-play guitar product for the Mac, can also serve as a MIDI guitar controller. Either one has more consistent tracking than MIDI guitar retrofits, and no detectable latency.
The tradeoff is that they’re not actual guitars, which is why they track well. So, think of them as alternate controllers that take advantage of your guitar-playing muscle memory. If you want a true guitar feel, with attributes like actual string-bending, there are MIDI retrofits like Fishman’s clever TriplePlay, and Roland’s GR-55 guitar synthesizer.
In any case, you’ll want to set up your MIDI guitar for best results in Studio One—here’s how.
Poly vs. Mono Mode
MIDI guitars usually offer Poly or Mono mode operation. With Poly mode, all data played on all strings appears over one MIDI channel. With Mono mode, each string generates data over its own channel—typically channel 1 for the high E, channel 2 for B, channel 3 for G, and so on. Mono mode’s main advantage is you can bend notes on individual strings and not bend other strings. The main advantage of Poly mode is you need only one sound generator instead of a multi-timbral instrument, or a stack of six synths.
In terms of playing, Poly mode works fine for pads and rhythm guitar, while Mono mode is best for solos, or when you want different strings to trigger different sounds (e.g., the bottom two strings trigger bass synths, and the upper four a synth pad). Here’s how to set up for both options in Studio One.
Note that you can change these settings any time in the Options > External Devices dialog box by selecting your controller and choosing Edit.
Choose Your Channels
For Poly mode, you probably won’t have to do anything—just start playing. With Mono mode, you’ll need to use a multitimbral synth like SampleTank or Kontakt, or six individual synths. For example, suppose you want to use Mai Tai. Create a Mai Tai Instrument track, choose your MIDI controller, and then choose one of the six MIDI channels (Fig. 2). If Split Channels wasn’t selected, you won’t see an option to choose the MIDI channel.
Next, after choosing the desired Mai Tai sound, duplicate the Instrument track five more times, and choose the correct MIDI channel for each string. I like to Group the tracks because this simplifies removing layers, turning off record enable, and quantizing. Now record-enable all tracks, and start recording. Fig. 3 shows a recorded Mono guitar part—note how each string’s notes are in their own channel.
To close out, here are three more MIDI guitar tips.
MIDI guitar got a bad rap when it first came out, and not without reason. But the technology continues to improve, dedicated controllers overcome some of the limitations of retrofitting a standard guitar, and if you set up Studio One properly, MIDI guitar can open up voicings that are difficult to obtain with keyboards.
In Mono mode with Mai Tai (or whatever synth you use), set the number of Voices to 1 for two reasons. First, this is how a real guitar works—you can play only one note at a time on a string. Second, this will often improve tracking in MIDI guitars that are picky about your picking.
This isn’t a joke—there really is an envelope-controlled flanger hidden inside Melodyne Essential that sounds particularly good with drums, but also works well with program material. The flanging is not your basic, boring “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” LFO-driven flanging, but follows the amplitude envelope of the track being flanged. It’s all done with Melodyne Essential, although of course you can also do this with more advanced Melodyne versions. Here’s how simple it is to do envelope-followed flanging in Studio One.
As with any flanging effect, you can regulate the mix of the flanged and dry sounds by altering the balance of the two tracks.
Note that altering the Pitch Deviation parameter indicates an offset from the current Pitch Deviation, not an absolute value. For example if you drag down to -10 cents, release the mouse button, and click on the parameter again, the display will show 0 instead of -10. So if you drag up by +4 cents, the pitch deviation will now be at -6 cents, not +4. If you get too lost, just select all the blobs, choose the Percussion algorithm again, and Melodyne will set everything back to 0 cents after re-detecting the blobs.
And of course, I don’t expect you to believe that something this seemingly odd actually works, so check out the audio example. The first part is envelope-flanged drums, and the second part applies envelope flanging to program material from my [shameless plug] Joie de Vivre album. So next time you need envelope-controlled flanging, don’t reach for a stompbox—edit with Melodyne.
The previous tip on creating a dual-band reverb generated a fair amount of interest, so let’s do one more reverb-oriented tip before moving on to another topic.
Studio One has three different reverbs—Mixverb, Room Reverb, and OpenAIR—all of which have different attributes and personalities. I particularly like the Room Reverb for its sophisticated early reflections engine, and the OpenAIR’s wide selection of decay impulses (as well as the ability to load custom impulses I’ve made).
Until now, it never occurred to me how easy it is to create a “hybrid” reverb with the best of both worlds: using the Room Reverb solely as an early reflections engine, and the OpenAIR solely for the reverb decay. To review, reverb is a continuum—it starts with silence during the pre-delay phase when the sound first travels to hit a room’s surfaces, then morphs into early reflections as these sounds bounce around and create echoes, and finally, transforms into the reverb decay—the most complex component. Each one of these components affects the sound differently. In Studio One, these components don’t all have to be from the same reverb.
THE EARLY REFLECTIONS ENGINE
Start by inserting the Room Reverb into an FX Channel, and calling up the Default preset. Then set the Reverb Mix to 0.00 and the Dry/Wet Mix to 100%. The early reflections appear as discrete vertical lines. They’re outlined in red in the screen shot below.
If you haven’t experimented with using the Room Reverb as a reflections engine, before proceeding now would be a good time to use the following evaluation procedure and familiarize yourself with its talents.
Now that you know how to set up different early reflections sounds, let’s create the other half of our hybrid reverb.
THE REVERB DECAY
To provide the reverb decay, insert the OpenAIR reverb after the Room Reverb. Whenever you call up a new OpenAIR preset, do the following.
There are two ways to make a space for the early reflections so that they occur before the reverb tail: set an Envelope Fade-in time, an Envelope ER/LR-Xover time, or both. Because the ER/LR control is set to 1.00 there are no early reflections in the Open AIR preset, so if you set the ER/LR-Xover time to (for example) 25 ms, that basically acts like a 25 ms pre-delay for the reverb decay. This opens up a space for you to hear the early reflections before the reverb decay kicks in. If you prefer a smoother transition into the decay, increase the Envelope Fade-in time, or combine it with some ER/LR-Xover time to create a pre-delay along with a fade-in.
The OpenAIR Mix control sets the balance of the early reflections contributed by the Room Reverb and the longer decay tail contributed by the OpenAIR reverb. Choose 0% for reflections only, 100% for decay only.
There are other advantages of the hybrid reverb approach. In the OpenAIR, you can include its early reflections to supplement the ones contributed by the Room Reverb. When you call up a new preset, instead of setting the ER/LR, Predelay, Envelope Fade-In, and Envelope ER/LR-Xover to the defaults mentioned above, bypass the Room Reverb and set the Open AIR’s early reflections as desired. Then, enable the Room Reverb to add its early reflections, and tweak as necessary.
It does take a little effort to edit your sound to perfection, so save it as an FX Chain and you’ll have it any time you want it.
As the quest for expressive electronic instruments continues, many virtual instruments incorporate keyswitching to provide different articulations. A keyswitch doesn’t play an actual note, but alters what you’re playing in some manner—for example, Presence’s Viola preset dedicates the lowest five white keys (Fig. 1) to articulations like pizzicato, tremolo, and martelé.
This is very helpful—as long as you have a keyboard with enough keys. Articulations typically are on the lowest keys, so if you have a 49-key keyboard (or even a 61-note keyboard) and want to play over its full range (or use something like a two-octave keyboard for mobile applications), the only way to add articulations are as overdubs. Since the point of articulations is to allow for spontaneous expressiveness, this isn’t the best solution. An 88-note keyboard is ideal, but it may not fit in your budget, and it also might not fit physically in your studio.
Fortunately, there’s a convenient alternative: a mini-keyboard like the Korg nanoKEY2 or Akai LPK25. These typically have a street price around $60-$70, so they won’t make too big a dent in your wallet. You really don’t care about the feel or action, because all you want is switches.
Regarding setup, just make sure that both your main keyboard and the mini-keyboard are set up under External Devices—this “just works” because the instrument will listen to whatever controllers are sending in data via USB (note that keyboards with 5-pin DIN MIDI connectors require a way to merge the two outputs into a single data stream, or merging capabilities within the MIDI interface you’re using). You’ll need to drop the mini-keyboard down a few octaves to reach the keyswitch range, but aside from that, you’re covered.
To dedicate a separate track to keyswitching, call up the Add Track menu, specify the desired input, and give it a suitable name (Fig. 2). I find it more convenient not to mix articulation notes in with the musical notes because if I cut, copy, or move a passage of notes, I may accidentally edit an articulation that wasn’t supposed to be edited.
So until you have that 88-note, semi-weighted, hammer-action keyboard you’ve always dreamed about, now you have an easy way take full advantage of Presence’s built-in expressiveness—as well as any other instrument with keyswitching.
As with so many aspects of audio, the subject of compression presets polarizes people. The purists say there’s no point in having presets, because every signal is different, and the same compressor settings will sound very different on different sources. On the other hand, software comes with presets, and there are plenty of recording blogs on the web that dispense advice about typical preset settings. So who’s right?
And as with so many aspects of audio, they all are. If a preset works “out of the box,” that’s just plain luck. However, there are certain ranges of settings that work well in many cases for particular types of signals. In any case, the effects of compression are totally dependent on the input signal level anyway—if the threshold is set to -10, then signals that peak at 0 will sound very different compared to signals that peak at -10.
The most effective way to approach compression is to decide what effect you want the compression to accomplish, then adjust the compression settings accordingly. It’s also important to remember that compression isn’t just some monolithic effect that “squashes things.” For example, with kick and snare, compression can act just like a transient/decay shaper due to a drum’s rapid decay.
The usual goal for compressing kick is an even sound, yet one that doesn’t reduce punch. However, you have a great deal of latitude in deciding how to implement that goal.
The preset in Fig. 1 uses a fairly high ratio, and hard knee, to even out the highest levels. You want the compression to take hold relatively rapidly, but not take away from the punch. The best option is to start with the attack time at 0, and increase it until you hear the initial hit clearly (but don’t go past that point). Because a kick decays fast, release can be fast as well.
For transient shaping, slowing the attack time softens the attack. Raising the ratio increases the sustain somewhat, while making space for the attack (assuming an appropriate attack time). Between the attack and ratio controls, you can pretty much tailor the kick drum’s attack and sustain characteristics, as well as even out the overall sound. A higher threshold is another way to emphasize the attack, by letting the decay occur naturally. Lowering the threshold reduces the level difference between the attack and decay.
Snare responds similarly to kick, however with an acoustic drum kit, the kick is more isolated physically than the snare. As a result, compressing the snare has the potential to emphasize leakage. Fortunately, the snare is often the focus of a drum part. As a result, you can simply compress the snare, and accept that leakage is part of the deal. With individual, multitracked drums (including electronic drums) where leakage is not a problem, it’s still usually the snare and kick that get compression.
With snare, you may want to use a lower ratio (2:1 – 3:1) for a fuller snare sound. Or, increase the ratio to emphasize the attack more. Again, use the attack time to dial in the desired attack characteristics.
With both kick and snare, you’ll usually want a hard knee. However, the knee control is a fantastic way to fine-tune the attack—and once you have that dialed in, you’ll be good to go.
Summer may be over in the northern hemisphere, but we can still splash around. This is one of those “hiding in plain sight” kind of tips, but it’s pretty cool.
The premise: Sometimes you don’t want reverb all the time, so you kick up the send control to push something like a snare hit into the reverb for a quick reverb “splash” (anyone who’s listened to my music knows this is one of my favorite techniques). The reverb adds a dramatic emphasis to the rhythm, but is short enough that it doesn’t wear out its welcome—listen to the audio example, which demos this technique with Studio One’s Crowish Acoustic Chorus 1 drum loop.
However, although this technique is great with drums, it also works well with rhythm guitar, hand percussion, synths, you name it… even kick works well in some songs. I’m not convinced about bass, but aside from that, this has a lot of uses.
Studio One offers an easy way to produce regular splashes automatically (like on the second and fourth beats of a measure, where an emphasizing element hits). Insert X-Trem before the reverb, select 16 Steps as the “waveform,” click Sync, and choose your rhythm. The screenshot shows Beats set to 1/2 so that the reverb splash happens on 2 and 4, which in the case of the audio example, adds reverb to the snare on 2, and to the closed high-hat on 4.
And that’s pretty much it. Because the reverb is in a bus, set Mix to 100%. The 480 Hall from Halls > Medium Halls is one of my faves for this application, but hey… use whatever ’verb puts a smile on your face.