Gates are wonderful processors that can clean up background noise and bleed in your audio tracks. They’re a bit tricky to understand because the key to successfully using one is often a specific feature that’s hidden or buried in the interface. The feature I’m referring to is called the sidechain. It’s a powerful element of my mixing workflow and I’d like to show you why.
In its simplest form, a gate allows a signal to pass through it only when its decibel level is above a set threshold. This means the gate is ‘open’. If the signal falls below the threshold then no signal is allowed to pass. This means the gate is ‘closed’. The sidechain becomes an integral part of this entire process because it’s what the gate uses to detect whether or not the signal is above or below the set threshold.
Something inspiring is happening in the Dallas music scene, and Cakewalk is excited to be a part of it with SONAR Platinum. When Norman Matthew gets off the road from touring with his band Murder FM, or finishes up a major video or full length record, it’s not time to chill out. In fact for him, that’s the time when he buckles down and digs into his “little side-thing” which is a major music operation called The Sound Foundation (TSF) in Dallas, TX. Dallas has always been known to be a great music town, but Norman’s TSF has a great angle to its existence that resonates to the very core of his soul. In fact just recently, TSF caught the eye of the Ford Motor Company who took notice of Norman and his operation and were so impressed, they featured the establishment on their “Good Works” series.
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you are aware that the Major Label system has pretty much all but collapsed. Look anywhere on the internet and you will find all the articles you can handle about how evil all the labels were, how they had this coming to them and how the lavish lifestyles of the greedy executives fostered this meltdown. But what you may not know is that “back in the day,” a good piece of that excess cash folks paid down on an $18 CD that cost $1.76 to make went right back into a pool of starving artists (not directly of course). It was called “Artist Development” and it helped pay and pave the way for many iconic artists who started out with the ole “Label Demo Deal.”
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with our friend Ben Cantil (aka. Encanti) – EDM Producer, author of the Mutant series Expansion Packs, and evangelist for Z3TA+ 2.
Who is your Masters Sound Design Course at Berklee Valencia geared towards?
I am working with young professionals from all walks of life who have come to Berklee Valencia to earn their Master’s degree, especially as part of the Music Technology Innovation program. My curriculum emphasizes practical and professional applications of creative music software. Some of these students will become sound designers, but many others will become engineers, stage musicians, film scorers, and installation artists, so I try to find common threads to make the content really relevant and useful no matter where you take your skills outside the classroom.
What are your goals for the students in your class?
This course is all about the fundamentals of sound design. The first goal is to equip students with creative and technical skills for generating sounds from scratch, emulating sounds, and composing unique sonic gestures intuitively. Another goal of this course to produce content using a variety of different medians. I think it is an ideal class for anyone that learns best from hands-on experience.
What are some of the Cakewalk Products being used in your class?
Z3ta+ 2 is a major part of my masters sound design course. We spend several weeks building patch libraries and sequences to make the synth really sing. I’ve found this is the ideal plugin to use when teaching synthesis, because it’s so unrestrained and versatile without being a processor hog.
Signal Flow is an important concept to understand, and it may be easier to think about when presented with a diagram of how audio is passes through SONAR.
Inputs and Outputs – Easier than you think!
The first concept to understand is the relationship between Inputs and Outputs. There isn’t anything complex about the subject unless you over-think it. It is the underlying theme to just about anything within your Digital Audio Workstation. Always remember the following:
Outputs: Always feed Inputs
Inputs: Always fed by Outputs
Sometimes Outputs can be named “Outs or Sends” and sometimes Inputs are labelled “Ins or Returns.” If you’re a guitar player then you can associate this concept with the FX Loop that exists on the back of your amp. You use this to Send audio to your effects pedals and then back to your Amp’s Return.
First, let’s start where audio starts. Typically it begins with an instrument or audio file:
Go pro with SONAR X3 for as low as $49 – plus get a free video Create music in any style with cutting-edge instruments, effects, and creative tools. Thanks to the award-winning Skylight user interface, SONAR X3 lets you move seamlessly in your production workspace, instantly going from recording to editing to mixing and back again. Produce flawless tracks with the 64-Bit Double Precision audio engine and upload polished mixes directly to YouTube and SoundCloud. Plus, SONAR X3 lets you do it all without limiting the number of tracks and plugins; all while supporting the latest technologies like VST3, multi-touch, and Gobbler cloud save.
PLUS GET A $40 VIDEO: When you purchase or upgrade to SONAR X3 from February 1st-March 31st you will also receive the Groove 3 SONAR X3 Explained video free ($40 value). Watch and learn as SONAR guru, Eli Krantzberg, takes you from beginning to end, showing how to unleash the true power of this fully featured, cutting edge DAW. The Groove 3 SONAR X3 Explained video will automatically be added to your order and available for immediate download.
Professor Chris Sampson, founding director of the Popular Music program at the USC Thornton School of Music, recently wrote an article for the Roland Music Education blog explaining why he prefers to teach with SONAR X2.
“As a professor of songwriting, I teach in both a classroom setting and privately, and a little over a year ago, I incorporated SONAR X2 into my instruction with great results.”
“With these assignments, it is very important to me that the tracks sound great and authentic to the style I’m presenting, because the students’ enthusiasm can be seriously eroded if the track does not sound good. This is where the sound quality of SONAR X2’s 64-bit audio engine really shines.”
The professor also gave us ‘extra credit’ for our own commitment to teaching aspiring musicians.
“In addition to the educational benefits of SONAR itself, there’s an abundance of training resources available at SONAR University. The videos there make it easy to understand the concepts behind every phase of the recording process, and the various tips I’ve picked up from The Cakewalk Blog have been invaluable as well. Both are great resources for students to build their own skills independently.”