I’ve always loved having one track impart its characteristics to a different track (“cross-modulation”), particularly for EDM. A good example is using a vocoder for “drumcoding,” where drums—not a microphone—provide the vocoder’s modulation source. Previous Friday Tips along these lines include The Ultra-Tight Rhythm Section, Smoother/Gentler Sidechain Gating, Pumping Drums – With No Sidechain, and most recently, Rockin’ Rhythms with Multiband Gating.
Sending audio from one track over a sidechain to control dynamic EQ in another track is great for cross-modulation effects—and now this is easy to do in Studio One 5 because sidechaining has been added to the Multiband Dynamics processor. One of my favorite effects is using the kick drum to boost the upper midrange on a rhythm guitar part or keyboard pad so that the guitar or pad emphasizes the rhythm…and that’s just one possibility.
This isn’t about “textbook” dynamic EQ in the sense of being able to use any type of filter (e.g., highly resonant bandpass) as the EQ, but as pointed out in the Friday Tip Studio One’s Secret Equalizer, the Multiband Dynamics combines both EQ and dynamics. We’ll use that to our advantage—and in a way, a relatively broad filter response is better for this kind of application. (The typical dynamic EQ application involves fixing a problem, and for that, you often need precise filtering.)
Insert the Multiband Dynamics in the Target track, like guitar, pad, organ, etc. Then, insert a Send (pre-fader is probably best) in the Source track (e.g., kick or snare drum). Assign the Send to the Multiband Dynamics sidechain (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: This technique requires a source track to trigger the Multiband Dynamics’ sidechain and a target track that’s processed by the Multiband Dynamics.
This is where the fun begins. The sidechain feeds all Multiband Dynamics bands simultaneously, so the most basic implementation would be bypassing all the bands except for one, which you then set to either cut or boost a particular frequency range. The amount of boost or cut depends on the level that the source track sends to the sidechain.
For example, with compression, you can create pumping effects (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: The Multiband Dynamics attenuates the selected frequency range whenever it receives a signal from the source track.
In this example, a kick drum is modulating a pad. Every kick drum hit attenuates the HM (High-Mid) range; the amount of attenuation fades over the 1000 ms Release time. A shorter Release parameter creates a more percussive effect. Choose the frequency range you want to modulate by adjusting the crossover frequencies. Even better, note that you can automate the Multiband Dynamics’ crossover frequencies, so the frequency range can sweep over time—this is a novel effect that adds considerable animation.
Another option is to raise the target band’s Gain so that any modulation lowers the band’s level. In other words, the default state for that band is boosted, and modulation reduces the boost.
You can also boost a band’s level in response to dynamics, by setting the Multiband Dynamics parameters for upward expansion (Fig. 3). Note how the graphic in the upper left shows an expansion curve instead of one for compression.
Figure 3: Upward expansion boosts the target audio in the selected frequency range.
The control settings here are fairly crucial. Ratio must be set for upward expansion, so the second number in the ratio control needs to be greater than one—the bigger the number, the steeper the expansion. For the maximum expansion effect, set High Threshold to 12.00. The Low Threshold parameter determines where expansion begins, and Gain increases the overall level to compensate for the lower level below the point where expansion kicks in. Adjust Attack and Release to shape the boost’s dynamics. Because upward expansion boosts the output signal level, you may need to reduce the Global gain somewhat.
The best way to understand all the possibilities is to create a basic setup like the one in Fig. 1 with a kick drum as the source and a very simple, sustained pad (e.g., a chord with sawtooth waves) as the target. This will make it easy to hear the results of playing around with the Multiband Dynamics’ controls. And of course, it is a multiband processor, and the sidechain feeds all the bands, so you could have one band attenuating while another is boosting. If you get into automating parameters, the sky’s the limit.
Dynamic EQ can also be useful to process signal processing. For example, suppose there’s a main reverb inserted in a bus, to which you send drums, guitar, voice, etc. To avoid muddiness, insert a Multiband Dynamics after the reverb, use kick as the sidechain source, and attenuate the low frequencies whenever the kick hits.
Cross-modulation with dynamic EQ can be serious fun…give it a try.
Swedish DJ and Producer Ken Bauer has several successful releases under his belt over the span of his career and has recently been making the transition into the Future House scene with each single. His latest collaboration with J-Rob MD with “Feels Just Right” has certainly cemented his place as one to watch in 2020! With all his success, he has become an expert in the EDM music scene alongside Studio One. Here he shares in his own words, six reasons everyone should consider adding Studio One to their workflow.
I was asked by the esteemed online music school nextlevelsound.com if I could write a blog post giving 5 reasons why any EDM producer should consider Studio One. When starting to think about it I realized it was impossible to only mention 5 reasons so I asked if I could write a series of blogposts instead. But the theme will always be 5 reasons or features why you should consider Studio One.
This time I will be looking at 5 features that make it easy to start a new track idea with Studio One. One small disclaimer though, some of the features I will mention requires the Pro version of Studio One.
When I start a new track it can sometimes feel overwhelming. We all know how easy it is to come up with an 8 bar killer idea and then after hearing the same loop for 4 hours you don’t like the idea anymore and you try to come up with a new 8 bar idea and the process repeats itself. What I do is that I always start by drawing the blocks for the arrangement. I study the latest trends for the genre I produce in and then I draw down the arrangement blocks in the Arranger track in Studio One. If it is a club-oriented EDM track I would probably come up with something like:
The cool thing is that you can move and copy these arranger blocks with drag and drop. This will actually move and copy everything, such as events, parts and automation. This means that you can save a lot of time by working on the first drop and then just copy that block to the second drop and then just tweak the second drop to your liking.
To be honest, I haven’t studied music theory as much as I should even though I know the basics. For me, any help I can get with musical composition is highly appreciated. This is where the Midi Scale Lock comes in. First, we have to decide on a key for the track. You can easily do this when creating the song but you can change it in the bottom of the arrangement view as well. In this example, I have chosen G minor. When you double click on a midi event or just creating a new one by clicking on an empty area you will see the musical event inspector on the left. Click on the checkbox next to the small keyboard where it says scale. Now Studio One only allows you to enter notes in the key of G minor. However, you can override this by moving the existing notes with your arrow keys or just disable the checkbox again. This makes it super easy to input 3 musically correct chords in the key of G minor. In this example, I have added G minor, F major and D# major
OK, now we have a great starting point. A chord progression. Let’s see how we can use this to continue on our idea. Studio One has a chord track that you can enable. After enabling the chord track we can right-click on our midi event with the chord progression we just did and find something called “Extract to Chord Track”. Studio One will now analyze the midi event and extract the chords to the chord track as you can see in the picture below.
Now let’s go ahead and add another VST instrument with a bass sound. Then I will just add a bass rhythm playing the same note, in this example, just the note G.
Now I will open the track inspector for the Bass track by clicking on the “i” button on the top left. There I will find something called “Follow Chords” which is Off by default. Now go ahead and choose “Bass”. Now, this Bass track will follow the bass of the chords. See below how the bass pattern changed to follow the chords:
Now we have to come up with a melody and to make sure we use only the right notes I will be using two great features in the Midi editor. The first one is coloring all the notes by Pitch. This means I can easily see that the bottom bass note in the example has the same note as the bottom G-note in the chord above. The second awesome feature is the “multi-lane” button in the middle left (blue box with 4 white lines). This lets you choose any track from your list of Instrument tracks to have it being displayed while editing the midi of another track. In the example below I am displaying both the chord track and bass track together with my new melody track. However, the only track that I will edit is the track having a “blue pencil” which in this case is the Melody track. Now I can easily find notes belonging to the chords as well as making sure they time well with the bass rhythm.
In this example, I have added a melody.
After adding a 4X4 KICK and a straight hi-hat pattern I realize that the hi-hat pattern needs a better groove. I go to Splice and download a cool hi-hat loop. However, I don’t want to use the loop, I just want to use the groove from the loop. In the pictures below you can see my original hi-hat pattern and the loop I downloaded from Splice.
Then I will enable the Groove Assistant by clicking on the “Q” icon on the toolbar and select Groove. Now all I have to do is drag the audio loop event at the bottom to the Groove area as you can see below.
The groove is now extracted, and you can now use it as a Quantize template and/or save it for later use. Now I click on my hi-hat event and press “Q” for quantize. Voila, the straight 1/16 hi-hat pattern have now inherited the groove from the audio loop. Now if I would like to, I could use this groove pattern for all my basslines and melodies to keep everything in the same groove.
Wait. Didn’t we say 5 features? In my opinion, it would be impossible to have a Studio One EDM tutorial without mentioning the excellent pattern editor. I will now add an Impact instrument with a percussion. To create a pattern, I just have to double click an empty area together with my option key. Now a drum machine kind of sequencer appears and I can easily draw in my pattern as I would in any drum machine editor. This is virtually like having a built-in drum sequencer in the arrangement. With patterns, you can simply drag the right edge of the part to extend/loop it. My preferred way of arranging with patterns is to loop the part to the full length of the song, then cut the long part in places you want to hear a different variation. Then use the local pull-down menu on the part itself to select the variation. It’s really that simple.
All in all, these six features help me start a new track quickly, the arranger tracks give me a great overview and sort of a to-do list. The Midi Scale makes sure that I create my chords in a key. The Chord track is great for having all my other tracks, such as the bassline, following the same chord progression. The multi midi editor (Ghost Notes) makes it is easy to draw in a melody that is in key and sounds good together with my chords and bassline. The groove editor is great for “borrowing” grooves from both audio and midi files. Finally, the pattern editor makes it super easy to create drum beats and bass patterns.
Follow Ken on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/kenbauersweden/
Listen to Ken Bauer on Spotify here: