Parallel Compression: Now Easier Than Ever

A few years back, we showed you a bit about Parallel Compression in SONAR. Now that we’ve introduced Patch Points in the Jamaica Plain update, you can do these same things with a much more efficient workflow.

Let’s quickly define parallel processing: In parallel processing, a signal is duplicated into two or more signals. Each copy of the signal is processed differently but plays back simultaneously with the original. The copy/copies are then mixed together.

Parallel Compression Diagram_600x222

Parallel Compression, aka “New York Compression,” is most commonly used on drums to add body to the drum mix without flattening the snappy transients.

Check out the video below to see just how easy (and great sounding) this technique can be:

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Reader’s Choice: The most popular mixing articles of 2014

by Dan Gonzalez
Mixing is and always will be one of the core elements of each and every DAW. Here at Cakewalk, SONAR features hundreds of a ways to mix and process your tracks for personal and commercial use. Here are some of the most popular articles we have featured in 2014.

How to use Reverb to create depth

Mix engineers that have had their time behind a board can pick out the misuse of Reverb when they hear it. Just like with anything, applying the proper Reverb requires more time than just scrolling through the presets of the basic Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms. Music tends to have a significant three-dimensional experience to it. This concept requires the understanding of width, height, and depth. Check out this article on how to use reverb in your mix.

Subtractive EQ Parts 1-5

Equalization is one of the most powerful tools that an audio engineer can get their hands on. Live engineers, post-production engineers, and recording engineers all have their specific uses for it. It’s so powerful that some beginner engineers habitually reach for it without understanding what it can ultimately do to a mix. Check out this 5 part series about how to properly apply EQ

6 creative ways to use the VKFX-Delay

Overloud’s VKFX Delay Module is a rendition of a classic tape delay with an incredible set of parameters that virtually allows you to get just about any sound you please. Check out this frequently read article about how to use this powerful ProChannel module.

Know Your Signal Flow in SONAR

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. Read the article here.

Ten Nasty Mix Mistakes

Mixing is tough enough as is, but avoiding the following mistakes just might help the process go a little more smoothly—and give you audibly better results. Check out this awesome article by Craig Anderton.

Thanks for reading!

 

Reader’s Choice: Most Popular Drum Production articles in 2014

by Dan Gonzalez

Free Quick Kit Project Templates for SONAR X3 Users

 

Yes, we’re bringing back the freebie post from last December. Our Free Quick Kit Project Templates made a big splash with the community as one of our top posts over the last 12 months. These pre-mixed project templates load right from quick start menu in all three versions of SONAR X3 without any assembly required. Open a quick kit, drop in your sequence, and you’re ready to rock with great sounding drums. Now we’re opening it up to anyone who has Session Drummer 3 in their arsenal.  Download the free pack here.

9 Microphone Techniques for Recording a Snare Drum

Ever wanted to know how to mic up a snare drum? Well we wrote a comprehensive article about 9 different ways to do it. This article is brought to you by the community of Cakewalk readers that follow the blog and read it regularly. Check out the article here.

What’s New in Addictive Drums 2?

2014 brought us more than just content, it brought us Addictive Drums 2. Ever since we’ve posted our extensive video about XLN Audio’s new instrument we’ve heard nothing but great reviews. Here’s our most popular video chosen by the readers of The Cakewalk Blog. Check it out here.

Subtractive EQ Part 1: Snare Drum

Here’s one of our most popular posts this past year in case you missed it the first time around. There are a ton parts to this series, but the first part has seemed to win over the rest. Here’s a nice thick article about how to apply subtractive EQ to a snare drum. Check it out here.

Setting up your Addictive Drums

Check out how you can easily setup Addictive Drums (1 & 2) to accommodate multiple different working environments within SONAR X3 Studio and Producer. This one of kind drum synth is the best of the best. Check out the article here.

How to use Compression on Snare Drum in SONAR X3

Using compression is one of those tools that is tricky to understand if you’re not familiar with how the different audio signals in your mix. Check out our most viewed video from the extensive video series about using the CA-2A Leveling Amp on snare drum. Check out the video here.

How to Compress Drum Reverb in SONAR X3

Another popular drum related video from the Compression video series is #6 where I give some tips on using compression on drum reverb. You can see the video here.

Producing Drum Samples in SONAR X3

Last but not least we’ve seen that our community has really enjoyed our Producing Drum Samples video series. This video series is available to watch here and guides you through some awesome ways to mix and EQ drum samples to your liking.

If you’re looking for more Drum Production tips check out the tag for this on our blog here.

Choosing the right compressor in SONAR X3 (Producer & Studio)

What is Compression?

Compression is a massively useful tool for pro audio applications. As a simultaneous corrective and creative utility suitable for both tonal shaping and controlling levels,  a compressor is one of the most important pieces of gear in your sonic toolbox.

Instead of explaining the history and value of knowing all the different types of compressors that exist, we’re just going to dive in and show you how to get results. Once you understand this you’ll be able to grasp the larger picture of compression and the many different circuits and types. SONAR X3 Studio & Producer come packed with quite a few different types of compressors, so let’s open them up and take a look.

PC76 U-Type

Modeled after one of the most classic leveling amplifiers in history, the PC76 U-Type is a go-to compressor for Continue reading Choosing the right compressor in SONAR X3 (Producer & Studio)

Mixing Video Series: How to use Compression with the CA2A in SONAR X3

Mixing with Compression is an essential part to shaping and creating a great sounding track. In this video series I take you through a track-by-track video that shows you how to use compression on various types of instruments in SONAR X3 with the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier. You can use compression to control levels, enhance dynamics, and much more. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check out this series today.

 

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Try the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier

Knowing Your Effects in Addictive Drums Part 2 (SONAR X3 Producer)

Quick Review

In the first part of this article we went through some of the primary effects every user should be aware of inside of Addictive Drums. To review, these effects were the Sampler, Pitch, Volume, and Snare sections of the EDIT section. Read Knowing Your Effects in Addictive Drums Part 1.

As I’ve stated in Part 1, Addictive Drums is a power-house when it comes to the amount of mixing options that are available within it’s mixing engine. Don’t let the small interface deceive you.

What is Compression?

Compression is a tool that has two main uses – controlling levels, and dynamically shaping the volume of a signal over time. Within Addictive Drums there is a compression section that outlines four basic parameters for compression: Threshold, Attack, Release, and Ratio.

Threshold

This parameter is the first part of the compressor that the signal hits Continue reading Knowing Your Effects in Addictive Drums Part 2 (SONAR X3 Producer)

How to make your Kick and Snare sound more aggressive using compression

Compression can be used in many different formats but one of the most useful methods is for adding an aggressive sound to your Kick and Snare. A typical compressor’s settings involve Threshold, Attack, Ratio, and Release.

  • Threshold is a setting in decibels. Once it senses that audio surpasses the set decibel level it activates the compressor.

  • Attack is a measurement in milliseconds for how fast the compressor should begin compressing audio that exceeds the set threshold.

  • Ratio is the amount of gain reduction applied to the compressed signal.

  • Release tells the compressor how fast to stop compressing the signal once the threshold is no longer exceeded.

 

By setting the Attack and Release times relatively fast it allows for each drum’s initial hit to sound and then afterwards reduce the audio transient in gain. From our ears’ perspective, each hit sounds more aggressive.

Pictured above: The ProChannel in SONAR X2 Producer.  Try it free!

Your New ProChannel Effects Have Arrived – Overloud VKFX (Download Free Presets)

Overloud has been more than gracious to welcome their classic Vintage Keyboard FX to the Cakewalk family by releasing them as ProChannel Modules.  With these effects you can customize your ProChannel Presets to include Overloud’s classic Amp, Preamp, Compressor, Overdrive, Delay, Chorus, Phaser, and Wah Effects within SONAR X2 Producer.

EFFECTS

These virtual racks will enhance your tone with a classic analog touch.  Here is only a taste of the kind of effects these rack modules can produce: Continue reading Your New ProChannel Effects Have Arrived – Overloud VKFX (Download Free Presets)

Testing the CA-2A in the Real World: Three Reasons it’s a Must-Have Plugin for Mixing

I was recently hired to burn the ole midnight oil and produce, mix, co-write and play just about every instrument on an EP for an artist out of NYC.  The record is pretty cool, definitely fun to make, and it falls somewhere between Fiona Apple and Taylor Swift.  Considering the genre, I figured it was a great time to try out our new CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier in the field and in a practical situation.

From testing the beta out briefly during development, I knew I was going to like the outcome of using the CA-2A, but what I didn’t expect was the versatility of the plugin.  I ended up using it on a lot more than what I expected.  From smoothing out vocals to arpeggiated guitars to piano tones, I really loved what I was getting from the CA-2A.  I also had the benefit of A/B’ing it with another branded Leveling Amplifier that I use, and I found the Cakewalk CA-2A thicker sounding in general and also more versatile due to the R37 screw [knob.]   Here are the reasons I found myself going to the CA-2A instead of my other comparable leveling amplifier.

1.)    R37 Adjuster on Vocals – This adjustable screw is interesting.  The physical appearance of the screw does not give off the importance of its usefulness.  Basically, this parameter allows you to adjust the compression on the high frequencies.  Since my other Leveling Amplifier does not have this adjustment, I always started out by keeping the screw all the way to the left (0%) and then dialing it in until I found the sweet spot.  The result was amazing especially on vocals.  I was able to always get a warm yet transparent sound but without the harshness on most of the “ess” words.  Since this project is with a female vocalist, I found it especially helpful.  I was also able to work the QuadCurve EQ into the mix and combine it with the CA-2A nicely.  By tweaking the hi-end frequencies on the EQ along with the R37 screw, I was able to get a more present vocals without any harshness.

2.)    “Limit” Mode on Bass Guitar – I’m not sure if it will be like this for every song, but for this track the CA-2A on the bass guitar in “Limit” mode was a magic bullet.  I always run the bass into its separate bus, so I ended up using the limiter on that stage.  I played the bass guitar (as you can hear from the track on this post) with a pick for this song.  The CA-2A in limiting mode on the bass bus really allowed me to fatten up the sound of the low end, but also kept the attack of the pick in focus.  It leveled out the attack of the pick hitting the string but also kept it present.  I had the EQ running on the bass track, and then the limiter on the bass hitting the peak reduction at about -3db.  I kept the R37 at 0% as you can see from the image.

3.)    “Compress” Mode on Piano and Whirlie – fortunately for this track I had the benefit of having David Cook (keyboardist and MD for Taylor Swift) play on the track – the guy is a genius.  I’m pretty much a hack at keyboards so my usual piano editing (to make myself sound decent enough) was not going to cut it.  As you can hear from the attached track, there is a lot going on in the song, so I had to figure out a creative mixing strategy to make room and carve frequencies.  To say that the CA-2A helped me achieve this on the track would be an understatement.  Using the plugin in compress mode on the piano enabled me to really place it in the mix correctly.  It also helped dial in the frequencies to get it out of the way of all the other things that were in the same frequency range.  To get the piano to sit correctly, I hit the compressor pretty hard, used the R37 at 50%, and then notched up the highs of the QuadCurve EQ.  I also used the Channel Tools plugin to give it some more width and depth and get it out of the way of the guitars.  The more I use this, the more I understand the importance of the R37 screw.  It’s almost an oxymoron, but by combining the R37 with the high-end frequencies on the QuadCurve EQ it seems like I am able to get a warm top end sound out of instruments.

On the rest of the track I also ended up using the CA-2A on some acoustic guitar tracks as well as one of the clean electric guitars.  I’m psyched about the performance and versatility of this plugin – instantly you can hear the difference wherever you use it.  I also think this is a plugin that would be a great benefit to folks who are just getting into mixing.  The simplicity of the unit basically makes it fool proof for obtaining professional results without a lot of technical worries – basically just use your ear and turn the knobs;)

Try the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier for free

Thanks for reading and be sure listen to the mix posted below.

The song on this post uses the CA-2A on exactly the following tracks:
Lead Vocal track (Compress Mode)
Bass bus (Limit mode)
Piano track (Compress Mode)
Whirlie track (Compress Mode)
B3 track (very lightly) (Compress Mode)
Left acoustic guitar track (both mics)  (Compress Mode)
Arpeggiated Electric Guitar track (Compress Mode)
1 of the backing vocal tracks (Compress Mode)
Tom drums bus (Limit mode)
Hi Hat (Compress Mode)
Mandolin track (Compress Mode) (doubled – CA-2A only on 1 of the tracks)

Cakewalk’s V-Studio 100 Tops ‘Sound Guys’ Holiday Wishlist

V-Studio 100The Ask A Sound Guy bloggers, Ben and Sanjay, were first introduced to Cakewalk’s V-Studio series last winter at the NAMM Show. The smaller of the two units, the V-Studio 100, impressed them so much that they included the unit in their 2009 Holiday Wishlist.

When they later got hold of a unit to review, they put the portable music studio through its paces. Ben began by recording vocals and electric guitar remotely using the V-Studio 100’s built-in XLR inputs (with phantom power). “The preamps were exactly what you would be looking for in an interface like this,” he exclaimed. “They’re quiet, transparent, and boost the signal accordingly.”

To track the project live, Ben used the V-Studio 100’s on-board EQ and Compression. And to edit and mix the project, Ben integrated the V-Studio 100 with his own DAW. “I set it up to be used inside Logic and Live, and it worked well both times. The 100mm touch-sensitive motorized fader was a really nice feature to have. It’s probably more of a personal thing, but I enjoy seeing a fader move when its reading back automation inside my DAW of choice.”

Lastly, in hopes of pushing the envelope of the V-Studio 100, Ben recorded a full band (drums, bass, guitar and vocals) in a rehearsal space situation. He placed “two mics on the drums, a SM57 on the guitar cab, condenser on the bass cab, and vocals directly into the V-Studio.” Although it was live and “sloppy rock and roll,” Ben reported that the band was pleased with the final recording.

In all, Ben recommends the V-Studio 100 to producers, engineers and musicians on a budget, looking for an “all in one” solution for music production.

Visit Ask A Sound Guy to read the full review.