Zen of Recording

Presonus Proves They Listen, Too!

In the music creators’ world of audio gadgetry and recording tools, nothing shouts quite as loud as a satisfied customer, except maybe those of the dis-satisfied variety.

Increasingly, they seem to be everywhere (those of the genus displeased en perpetua). Whether they’re data-crunching enthusiasts in heavily starched short-sleeved polyester shirts or some dude in a Megadeth tee trying to finish a bassline, artists seek expression. If that manifestation isn’t immediate or free from effort or artifacts, the whole world will hear about it and discuss it further, until we are satisfied that this will never, ever happen again. Until the next time.

Some manufacturers keep an ear tuned particularly close to their user grounds in an effort to keep their products fresh, useful, and relevant. Presonus has been doling out regular between-version updates since the very beginning. It’s current version (Studio One 5.5.1.85792 Win x64) is in fact the fifth or sixth significant update to the Version 5 build and every one of them has come free of charge, even though these updates are often accompanied by seismic changes in functionality that can be felt product-wide and moving forward.

5.1 Brought an improved score editor on board, as well as the concept of Retrospective Recording, which essentially allows you to capture early moments of inspiration by recording before you actually hit record!

5.2 pivoted toward greater MIDI integration including the ability to easily convert tracks between audio and MIDI formats, as well as embedding the MIDI instrument into the file info.

5.3 Kept gnawing at that MIDI chordal bone with the ability to import entire song structures into our song files.

5.4 Gave users a new feature that helps keep CPU resources from running too low, by allowing plugins to go into “nap mode” when out of use for extended periods. I really dig this thinking and for me, it actually works quite well.

All of which brings us to Studio One Version 5.5

The full-court press on MIDI integration remains in evidence, as new features like Chord Stack, Note Strum, MIDI Chord Extraction, and others are keeping those 1’s and 0’s flags flying.

Just as I was about to politely interject that the mastering could use a bit of an upgrade since recent streaming guidelines are proliferating along with the content providers, wham!! Here comes Presonus with handy, intuitive workflow options, especially for those submitting content to streaming services like Apple, YouTube, Spotify, etc.

The Project page now affords automation envelope editing that can be saved with the file. I found it very useful in tracking down some nasty sibilance and then manually de-essing some sections by editing the envelopes on the final masters. Myriad variations are possible, depending on your needs and imagination, but at least the means to explore for solutions exists. I say solutions because this is the final (right?) mastering stage, so you’re usually not fixing as many things as you are engaging in the never-ending task of highlighting the strengths and de-emphasizing the weaknesses. That said, those final tweaks on the master level could be the difference you’re seeking, especially within the context of finishing touches.

I’ve watched many an experienced recording engineer pushing and pulling master volumes a mere tenth of a dB in an effort to imbue and amplify some real feel into the performance. It is at that level of artistic involvement: Providing access to a simple, editable volume envelope is an empowerment when used in the service of the song’s immediacy and the listener’s experience of it, which is decidedly not a small thing. So yeah, build or heighten your song’s macro dynamics by riding the volumes of your master, or get your fade-outs exactly how you want them. This is a feature for which I’ve been waiting for a very long time and am pleased with its inclusion and performance.

I’m also stoked about the ability to output multiple file formats simultaneously when exporting, i.e. 96/24 Wave and 48/24 Mp3…

To be honest, the following is probably a familiar issue to the folks who frequent the Community (https://my.presonus.com/community/channels/all_posts) section of the company’s website. I’m just not one of those visitors.

If I were, however, I’d mention that the Layers Follow Events checkbox in the StudioOne 5.5 Inspector window should a) not be checked by default and/or b) should be globally set to the user’s preference.

What did get a lot of love was the Project Page.

Most of the post-mix action takes place in this arena and it’s a clean and well laid-out work space. The at-a-glance metering of eq, volume, phase, and new volume for streaming data, like LUFS and LUs, make critical thinking more spontaneous, with less effort.

The ability to work with your own VSTs along with some of Presonus’ proprietary mix effects and even integrate your own hardware into the chain means this is a very powerful DAW.

There is a lot of improved stability not just here, but throughout this update. You can feel a game-changer coming. Could it be as soon as the summer’s NAMM show? If so, will they finally make it possible to burn more than one audio CD in a row?

Based on the momentum I’m feeling, Presonus is going to show us even more in coming months…

Sven-Erik Seaholm is an independent artist and producer in Southern California.

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