PreSonus Blog

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.




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!




Bi-Amping the Ampire

I’m still wrapping my head around PreSonus giving us amp sims that are light years beyond the original Ampire in a free update…and also making them available for use in other programs. But now that they’re here, let’s take advantage of them before PreSonus’s accounting department changes its mind.

The new amp sims do not supplement the old Ampire, but replace it. New Studio One owners will have only the new amps; existing users will find that the legacy presets were removed. If you need to get the older presets back because you used them in pre-4.6 projects, simply install the Ampire XT Classics extension—but I’d recommend redoing any presets with the new amps, because they sound so much better. (The Ampire XT Metal Pack works with the new Ampire, but you may need to re-install it.) The PreSonus Knowledge Base has an article with everything you need to know about making the conversion from the old Ampire to the shiny new Ampire XT.

Why Bi-Amp?

Bi-amping a guitar amp is useful for the same reason that most studio monitors are bi-amped—just as you can optimize the speakers for high and low frequencies, you can optimize the amps for high and low frequencies. For example, with heavily-distorted chords, the high strings will be equally distorted and relatively indistinct. With bi-amping, the lower notes can have a big, beefy distortion sound, while the high notes ring out on top—which is the subject of this Friday tip.

Let’s take a bi-amped preset apart to find out how it works. This preset is available on the PreSonus Exchange, so if you just want a cool, crunchy rhythm sound, go ahead and download it. But the real value here is learning how to make your own presets, because this preset was made using my guitar, pickups, strings, playing style, pick, and follows my musical tastes. It’s unlikely you play guitar in exactly the same way, so it’s worth tailoring any amp sim preset—not just this one—to your own playing style and gear.

Recording the Guitar

Guitars are mono, but to play stereo games, we need to convert a mono track to dual mono. This allows using processors like the Binaural Pan.


  1. Record a mono guitar track with Channel Mode set to Mono.
  2. Change Channel Mode to Stereo.
  3. Select what you recorded.
  4. Choose Bounce Selection (ctrl+B). Now your guitar part is dual mono (e.g., the same part in both the left and right channels), so Studio One recognizes it as stereo.


The FX Chain Multipreset


Fig. 1 shows the FX Chain “block diagram.” The Splitter is doing a Frequency split; frequencies below 924.7 Hz go to the left split, while frequencies above that go to the right split.


Figure 1: Bi-amp Multipreset block diagram.

Next up is choosing the amps,  and setting their parameters (Fig. 2). The left split uses the MCM 800, a revered British amp that can marshall its resources to give big, beefy sounds. The right split’s VC30 amp is known amongst the vox populi for its bright, ringing high end, so the two amps are ideal for delivering the desired result.

Figure 2: Left split (on top), right split (below).

Now let’s enhance the amp sound with some EQ, reverb, and stereo imaging to spread out the reverb a bit more (Fig. 3).

Figure 3: Final touches for the bi-amp multipreset.

The EQ adds the equivalent of an amp’s “bright” switch. With a non-bi-amped preset, you have to be very careful about adding brightness because it can emphasize any artifacts caused by intermodulation distortion. But that’s not an issue here, because of the VC30’s a clean high end. The gentle low-frequency roll off simulates more of an open-back cabinet sound. The reverb is sort of a cross between a spring and room sound, while the Binaural Pan spreads out the reverb signal for a wider stereo image. The pan setting is fairly conservative; feel free to widen things further.

This multipreset makes an excellent template for further adventures with bi-amplification. Of course, this just scratches the surface of what’s possible with these new amps—so stay tuned to the Friday Tip of the Week for more applications.


Download the Crunchy Rock Rhythm preset here! 

Notion WINS KVR Readers’ Choice Award!

We’re honored to close out the decade with a win from KVR Audio for Favorite Notation Software voted on by their readers! Thanks to everyone who voted. Cheers to 2020!

Read more about Notion’s win here. 

Read the full list of winners here. 

Shop Notion here!


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

The Vinyliser FX Chain

Nostalgic for vinyl? Miss the glorious sound of dragging a rock through yards of plastic, the wild frequency response gyrations of analog RIAA curve filters, the surface noise from recycled vinyl, scratches and pops from dust particles, inner groove distortion, sound quality deterioration over time, and warpage from records not being stored properly?

Well, I don’t miss it at all. But, recently I needed to sample a loop from a song that had been recorded with (of course) pristine quality in Studio One, and apply a trashification process to make it sound like the loop was taken from an old, abused, and never cleaned vinyl record. The object was not to come up with an FX Chain like the existing plug-ins that aim to emulate vinyl’s better qualities, but instead, something that could emulate some of vinyl’s worst qualities.

Now, you might think it would be easy-peasy to take something good and make it sound bad, but it’s not—because vinyl is/was a very specialized form of bad, and reproducing that inside of Studio One is a challenge. But we tackle the tough gigs here in the Friday Tip! Here’s what I learned.

Hissy that Fits

Figure 1: The Tone Generator’s white noise output is pretty much all we need for hiss, whether tape hiss or preamp hiss.

The really old vinyl stuff was pre-noise reduction, so we need some hiss. That’s easy: use Studio One’s Tone Generator (Fig. 1), set it for white noise, and keep the level down in the final routing.


Figure 2: Each of these distortion processors gives a different kind of dirt flavor…try them both.

Simulating inner groove distortion isn’t necessarily easy, but we have a couple options (Fig. 2). The Softube Saturation Knob, set for Keep Low and a fair amount of distortion, will do the job when you’re in a hurry. If you have time to tweak, RedlightDist has much to offer. I like one stage of OpAmp distortion as shown, but you can also increase the distortion, or try different flavors. Some timbres even come close to tape-based distortion.

Warp that Record!

Figure 3: Setting the Analog Delay for vibrato, with no dry signal, emulates the pitch variations caused by a warped record.

The Analog Delay (Fig. 3) is ideal for warpage, because of its ability to do a slow vibrato. Choose a Sine wave speed of 1.33 Hz for a 33-1/3 LP, or 1.80 Hz for a 45 RPM single. Set Feedback to 0.0%, Width to Mono, and 100% for the Mix.

With 1.75 ms of initial delay (a/k/a Time), pushing the Mod amount up to 50% seems like enough warpage for most rational people. However, if you left your record out in the sun, in a car, with the windows closed, while you were at the beach, you can warp the virtual vinyl even further by increasing the initial delay time.

The Analog Delay has a couple of extras that help our cause. Turning up Low Cut and turning down High Cut can give a more lo-fi effect, like the sound is playing back from a portable record player or the like. Turn up saturation as well, because for nasty vinyl sounds, you can never have enough distortion.

Vinyl Surface Noise

I tried, I really did, to do this exclusively within Studio One. The closest I came was following white noise from the Tone Generator with the Gate, setting its Attack/Release/Hold controls to minimum, and editing the Threshold to let through only the very highest, occasional noise peaks. Adding a little high-end shelving EQ helped, as did using X-Trem in pan mode to move the clicks and pops across the stereo field, but ultimately it sounded more like cooking mini digital popcorn than funky scratches.

Admitting defeat, I went to (a fine source for unusual, 100% royalty-free samples), and found a section with vinyl noise SFX recorded by Chia. There are 37 samples, a few of which are over-the-top scratchy, but samples #12 and #29 were good for what I needed.


Figure 4: Routing for the Vinyliser effect.

For setup, the three different elements feed into a single FX Channel (Fig. 4), all through pre-fader sends. The original loop has the RedlightDist inserted to create the distortion; the vinyl surface noise samples have their own track (with a Pro EQ to boost the highs a bit); and the hiss has its own track as well. The Analog Delay in the FX Channel warps everything.

So does it sound any good? Of course not! But that’s the whole point…check out the audio examples, with before-and-after for a drum loop, and another for program material (with a more drastic effect than the drums).

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.

Resonator FX Chain


This FX Chain complements the Tightener FX Chain presented in the October 25, 2019 Friday Tip. Whereas the Tightener reduces the presence of the key center in a piece of audio, the Resonator enhances the key center by adding resonance. The download at the end includes twelve Resonators—one for each key.


The heart of each Resonator FX Chain is two delay lines whose period correlates to a particular key, and are tuned an octave apart from each other. Mixing the delayed, resonant sound with the dry sound imparts a sense of pitch, which can be useful with unpitched instruments (such as percussion) to blend in better with melodic instruments. It can also help create a sense of pitch for drums that aren’t tuned properly, as well as emphasize any instrument’s key center.


For example, suppose it’s hard to get a shaker part to fit in a mix because its level is either too high and stands out, or is too low and sinks into the track. Adding a feeling of pitch may allow mixing the part a bit higher, while also having it blend into a mix more seamlessly. If taken to an extreme (and the FX Chain allows for that!), the Resonator has special effects potential for sounds like “cylon” voices, or tuning reverb.



The Controls


Figure 1: Each Resonator has six controls; the Resonance control is the most important one.



The controls (Fig. 1) are pretty straightforward, and cover the full travel of the Analog Delay controls. There’s no need to tweak any Transform curves.


  • [key name] Resonance varies the mix of the resonant and dry sounds. Most of the time, mixing in even a bit of resonance may be all you need.
  • Sharpness adds feedback to create more intense resonance.
  • Width determines whether the resonance is stereo or mono. Most of the time, you’ll probably want to leave this control fully clockwise.
  • Saturation, Low Cut, and High Cut controls are “because we can” controls. You may not use them much, but hey, an FX Chain allows for eight controls…so why not?



Striking the Right Chord


You can also use the Resonators to impart the sense of a chord by sending a sound to FX Channels, loaded with appropriate Resonators. Fig. 2 shows a shaker part acquiring a more melodic vibe via resonators for the keys of D, F#, and A. This produces a D major chord tonality.

Figure 2: Sending the audio from a shaker to three FX Channels “tunes” the shaker to a D major chord.


Although I came up with this mostly to process unpitched sounds, I’ve found it has other uses as well. For example, with an acoustic guitar part, a Resonator can add a vibe that’s not unlike the drone strings on a sitar. The best implementation I’ve found for this is putting the Resonator in an FX Channel, and automating a send so that the resonance is added only in certain strategic parts. And of course, if you want to get crazee, you can always turn up the resonance and sharpness, and do cylon voices. Fun stuff!


Download the 12 Resonator FX Chains Here.

Studio One 4.6—what’s new

Studio One 4.6 is here! To get it, launch Studio One and click “check for updates” from the “help” drop-down menu.

What’s new in 4.6

We’ve responded to the typical Studio One user requests in typical PreSonus fashion: by giving you what you’re hungry for with a side dish of stuff you didn’t even know you wanted. The new and dramatically improved Ampire leads the 4.6 charge, followed by substantial updates to Studio One’s Browser and major improvements to the Pattern Editor. We’ve also completely re-invented Exchange! (Remember Exchange? If you don’t, we aren’t mad.) And of course, there’s a smattering of uncategorizable improvements that we think you’ll like.

Oh, and if you’ve got Studio One 4, this stuff is all free. Read on.


The Ampire Strikes Back

Studio One’s guitar amp simulator, Ampire, has undergone more than a re-design—it’s been thoroughly re-engineered. We scoured auction sites and shadowy pawnshops to collect five of the most sought-after amps—responsible for a million hit songs—and the boys in Hamburg employed our State Space Modeling technology to emulate their circuit behavior down to the last freakin’ capacitor. That’s the same tech that led to the creation of our incredibly true-to-analog Fat Channel plug-ins, BTW. Oh, and we also modeled five additional classic stompboxes, and created five new cabinet impulse responses for a total of sixteen classic cabinets.

Furthermore, Ampire’s Pedalboard can be run as a standalone effect plug-in for folks who don’t need amp and cabinet simulation. Synth users should find experimenting with Pedalboard to be quite rewarding. 

Studio One has always rocked… but it’s never quite rocked this hard.


Window shopping

Studio One’s Browser has received a major facelift. Most significantly, now has its own tab within the browser, so you don’t even need to leave Studio One to get new sounds and plug-ins when inspiration strikes. Navigating the Browser is also now significantly faster thanks to the new navigation bar below the tabs area. You also get a beautiful new Gallery view for exploring content in a more visible way—which works for the shop, your Instruments and Effects, SoundCloud, and Exchange.

Yeah, Exchange. Remember Exchange? Good, because here comes… 


Exchange 2.0!

The new Exchange is where Studio One users can browse, download, review, and preview shared Studio One content from our unparalleled user community. In addition, you’ll be able to upload and rate content from other users. Furthermore, you get a public landing page where your content contributions are posted for all to see. Join the community and share liberally—everybody wins. 


Pattern and Arranger updates

We introduced the Pattern Editor in Studio One 4, and we’ve already received a lot of feedback on how to make them better. You can now convert Instrument Parts to Patterns; both Melodic and Drum Patterns now allow for varied individual note lengths of more than one step. Great for basslines. Furthermore, each step in a Pattern can now have an individual delay value, which may be applied to all steps of an instrument at the same time. 

Patterns now have their own Preset format, which includes Variations, which can be loaded and saved independently of the current instrument. And we’ve improved real-time recording to Patterns. (Try it, ATOM users. Seriously.)

Arranger tracks have received improved support for enclosed tempo and time signature changes, even when using the clipboard.


The kitchen sink

Podcasters and voice-over producers will appreciate the new Podcast Production template we’ve added to Studio One—but we didn’t stop there. We also added a new Macro Toolbar page featuring Macros and commands tailored to the specific needs of Podcasters and audiobook producers.

We also added some convenient new keyboard shortcuts, updated the Japanese, German, Spanish, and French manuals, and improved tempo-matching for loops, new gallery views for browsing Fat Channel EQs and compressors, realtime time-stretching support for Presence XT Editor… Click here for the release notes.


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.


Tommy Finke Talks Theater, EDM and Studio One!

Tommy Finke, also known as T.D. Finck von Finckenstein, is a singer-songwriter as well as a composer of electronic computer music, theatre music, and modern dance based in Bochum, Germany. He accomplishes all this alongside a Faderport 8, a Studio 1810 and, of course, Studio One 4.5! Take a few minutes and read all about his career and workflow and what his Studio One favorites are.



Please give us some basic background info on your career and current projects.

I am what you might call a jack of all trades. When I started making music I was writing songs for myself and for different punk-music bands I was a member of at that time – those were the typical middle-class-kids-pretending-to-be-punks punk bands, but we were honest and had a lot of fun. 

My love for pseudonyms originates from that punk-milieu: I am known as Tommy Finke, T.D. Finck von Finckenstein, sometimes just Finck von Finckenstein, but Thomas David Finke is my given name.

Since someone also had to record and mix the trashy demos, I got into recording and serious music-making during that process. Later I studied Electronic Composition / Modern Music at Folkwang University of Arts in Essen, Germany to improve my skills as a composer, since I thought there should be more than INTRO/VERSE/REFRAIN in my musical repertoire and I really liked the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen or John Cage, to name a few. 

I collaborated with German artists on their video installations and composed music for contemporary dance as well as film music and was touring as a singer/songwriter with my own songs, which I still do.

In 2013, I got a call from Theatre Dortmund and they asked me if I wanted to be part of a theatre project with live-sampling and looping on stage. Of course, I wanted it! I programmed a system in Max/MSP for the performance and was live on stage. This lead to more theatre projects and in 2015, I became musical director of Schauspiel Dortmund, the acting department of Theatre Dortmund. In this position, I use all my skills from composing for a piece, recording the music, songwriting, rehearsing with the actors, mastering for the theatre sound system. Every theatre piece has to have a special and unique approach and this keeps my brain and ears busy. I like that a lot. 

And as if that was not enough, I founded the record label Retter des Rock Records in 2008 to release my first singer/songwriter album but soon released other people’s music as well. 

And this year I established Finck von Finckenstein Music and Sound Art Publishing in cooperation with Schacht Musikverlage in Hamburg, Germany because I wanted to keep all royalties of my work in good hands: mine.

Stream Finke’s music on Spotify here:


What PreSonus products have you used and which do you currently use?

I remember having used a PreSonus Firepod in 2009 alongside my MOTU 828 MkII at that time but I really don’t know where I have left it. It‘s just gone and I am sad about that. Right now I am using a Faderport 8, a Studio 1810 and, of course, Studio One 4, the software that made me a complete PreSonus fanboy. Furthermore, I am looking forward to buying either a StudioLive console or one of the rack mixers. And if I hadn’t bought a UAD Apollo 8 just before you released the Quantum 4848 I’d also be a proud owner of that great interface.

For what applications are you using Studio One Professional? 

Studio One is my main DAW. I use it for composing, songwriting, mixing, recording, sound design, mastering, basically everything except for live performances. Might do that, too in the future…

What Studio One feature has proven particularly useful and why?

Pipeline is my favorite feature in Studio One right now! I have always been trapped between the two worlds of analog accidents and the ability to recall a project 100% and work later from the same point where I left it. Pipeline helps you with that. Let me tell you what I recently managed to do with Pipeline XT: I built myself a Neve rack mixer out of a Neve 8816 summing mixer and a 8804 fader expansion. Of course, I was able to send every output to the mixer and record the sum into Studio One. But what I really wanted was a way to get the analog and digital world play nicely together, because sometimes you don’t want your kick drum or another signal with a huge impact to mess up your sum compressor or whatever you apply. So I thought to myself “Since Pipeline XT should be able to calculate all the latency I’d get, I should be able to route just SOME of my tracks into the 8816 and feed the sum back into another instance of Pipeline XT…“ And guess what? It works. I can have a beat in my DAW while I send the guitars and synths out into the analog domain and both are combined in perfect sync in the main bus of Studio One.

Naturally, I had to tweak some stuff here and there until it really worked. For example, the sum-return could not be a bus track in StudioOne but a normal track (because busses work differently with latency and the return-bus had no reference for calculating the input latency when just fed with an input via Pipeline XT…) while the sends had to be bus tracks for routing reasons. But that was just some trial and error work until I felt like I finally got the one thing I was searching for for years now. It took me 2 days but I am sure with Pro Tools it would have taken weeks and a lot of hair loss or even erectile dysfunction.

How does Studio One compare to other DAW’s you have used? What’s better, what’s not as good, what does it give you that other DAW’s don’t?

When I started recording and writing music at the age of 16, I had a Yamaha MD-8 minidisc recorder which was paired with a Steinberg Midi Sequencer on an Atari ST computer. Then I had Steinberg Cubase on my PC when I was 20. With 25, I bought a Mac and was introduced to Logic which was like a different world to me. I kept using Logic until 2015. I had to switch to Pro Tools due to production in a studio that needed projects being delivered as Pro Tools projects. At the theatre, I was always using Ableton Live due to its qualities in scene-based and looped music. I even used Bitwig and Digital Performer. So you could say I know every major DAW. When my Faderport 8 came with Studio One and I opened the DAW for the first time my impression was “Wow, this looks and feels like someone took Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools and took the best of each of them.“ Few weeks of running Pro Tools alongside, then abandoning Pro Tools. I would say Studio One is the fastest way for me to get my ideas out of my head and into the world.

Which Studio One feature or concept doesn’t get enough spotlight (or isn’t talked about enough) in your opinion?

I am a big fan of the tempo track. I like it when musical tempos, even EDM, changes over time. (Please, DJs and DJanes, don’t kill me…) So when I am ready with a basic arrangement of my track I tweak the tempo track until it sounds more natural. Sometimes I go the extra mile and take an old track that had no click at all by Led Zeppelin, The Who or Bob Dylan, feed it into Melodyne, have a tempo analysis and – thanks to ARA – import the tempo into my arrangement to get a certain feeling. It works like a charm. Though I must say I like the tempo recognition of Cubase better than Melodyne’s, so sometimes I search for my Cubase Dongle and start it up just to create a tempo map and head back to StudioOne. Maybe StudioOne needs a tempo recognition outside of Melodyne… anyway, tempo track is a great feature, just like macros and the arranger track, btw.

Any features on your wish list for us to add in future updates?

5.1 or even 7.1 mixing would be great for mixing film tracks. Also, it would be great to have a dedicated track for your movie where you could even cut the film a little.

But what I‘d really like is a live-looping option. Not like in Ableton Live, something more like a live-looper. I‘ve recently bought a software called ALK2 by a Berlin-based software company. They have developed something I have never seen before: an arrangement looper. I say: check it out and buy that company‘s idea and integrate it into Studio One. If live-looping was part of Studio One, I‘d use it for live gigs as well.

Any useful tips/tricks or interesting stories based on your experience with Studio One that would be of interest to our user base?

Since I already told you about my experience with Pipeline XT there’s not much more to say from my side. But I would strongly recommend the great Studio One User Forums at PreSonus’ website and on Facebook. A lot of helpful people with many magic tricks up their sleeves! 

Any final comments about PreSonus and Studio One?

Yes: thank you for “Mix the Music“!


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