When you need to get really detailed, object-oriented mixing is a convenient solution
by Craig Anderton
Many times when mixing, you’ll want to apply an effect or volume change to a small, specific section. Clip Automation makes it easy to handle Gain or Pan changes, but you can also work with effects by isolating specific “objects” in a track, then processing them individually. This is different from the usual method of applying effects to an entire track, but can come in really handy for detailed work. Also note that object-oriented effects processing works with any type of clip—audio, MIDI, or groove.
Here’s a step-by-step example of how to apply object-oriented mixing by adding maximization to one drum fill to make it really stand out. Download SONAR X3 to give this a try.
1. To isolate the object from a selected track, alt-click with the Smart tool at the beginning of the section you want to isolate, or place the Now time at this point and type “S.” Do the same at the end of the section.
2. Right-click on the object, and select “Open Clip Effects Bin” from the context menu (keyboard shortcut: Alt+K).
3. An effects bin opens up that’s similar to the standard track effects bin.
4. Right-click on a blank part of the effects bin, choose Audio FX from the context menu, then drill down to find the effect you want.
We all know the feature-set and workflow in SONAR X2 is world-class. It still amazes me that we can make Major Label sounding records in our homes these days as long as you have a good system, good enough ears and some good old fashion knowledge. The one feature I personally love that I think gets overlooked is the FX Chain Preset.
We live in a musical world these days where time is of the essence. While some folks have the luxury of spending as much time as needed on musical works, other folks like myself are not so lucky. I look at it as a balance between creativity/quality vs. time/money. With this being said, the FX Chains Presets have been a life-saver for me.
The beauty of FX Chains is that they are in fact a massive time-saver, but still allow you to get uniquesounds by creating your own effects.
What starts to happen when you uncap the power of FX Chains? You start to build your own library of Effects where at any given point in time you can simply drag-and-drop a chain on any effect bin, bus, or even clip. For example, let’s say you are working with a certain vocalist/songwriter one week who returns back for another song a month later. If you have saved that vocalist’s chain as an effect chain preset, you can simply drag-and-drop it from the preset folder to the track in this new project. It sounds basic but it’s not; what happens over time is that you develop your own catalogue of multiple effects that are instantly available to you on any project. What is significant, is that these FX Chains presets work with any Cakewalk or third-party plug in your arsenal. Personally speaking, I don’t know what I would do without them after becoming accustomed to their ease of use. I’m constantly fighting for minutes in a day, and having the ability to fire-up FX Chains instantaneously without sacrificing any creativity has been a game-changer. In fact FX Chains presets actually inspire me to create new sounds.
It’s simple to map multiple effects’ parameters to single knobs and switches. The uniqueness comes in to play when you start to automate the knobs and switches to get some interesting sounds. The fact that you can control multiple parameters from a single source opens countless doors of sound-character. For example, the ability to map the “left” and “right” panning sliders to one knob allows me to control where a reverb rests in a mix. Now if you take that one step further by mapping the “left” and “right” pans of a delay to another knob, you can start to split effects’ signals up. An interesting effect from here would be adding a flanger, and mapping its’ depth and speed parameters along with the delay’s feedback parameter to one more knob; so as the delay repeats more and more, the flanger effect becomes more intense.
These are just a few real-world examples of how I find the benefits of FX Chains very useful and practical. SONAR X2 ships with 48 FX Chains in Essential, 76 in Studio, and 160 in Producer. As a bonus for SONAR X2 Producer Content Club members, I’ve created a new set of 15 FX Chains that work particularly well on buses. These can obviously work on tracks as well, but I built them in buses thinking they would work well on spacious recordings that encompass vocals, clean guitars, piano and light drums or percussion. You can experiment with other types of music as well, but I think these are best suited for recordings where there is some room in the mid-range department between 600Hz and 2K.
Some of the highlighted presets in the bonus FX Chain Odyssey pack include: (Please note for demonstration purposes I have turned up the Effect Send considerably on these examples.)
Circus Buzzards – An eerie reverse reverb that is entrenched in a warm overdrive provided by TH2 and finished off with a modulation option.
Panable Ambiance – A great reverb and delay effect for vocals where you can position the reverb in the stereo field.
Smoke Stack – This is basically a button box where I have mapped overdrive parameters, wideners, and modulation to various knobs to create interesting overtones.
Another cool feature about FX Chains presets is the ability to customize the skin with your own designs. You can add interesting graphics, knobs, switches and background colors to keep your eye and mind fresh for those long mixing sessions.
So with all these components packed into the FX Chains preset feature, it’s easy to get uniquely creative while staying on top of the clock. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend you get acclimated to the world of FX Chains in SONAR X2. Here is a great overview video to get you started.
Like many of you, we’re all fired up about SONAR X2. And we’re pretty sure you’d like to know more about what makes it so delicious. So, take a closer look at the newly refined, ever smarter, SONAR X2.
What’s an FX Chain?
FX Chains are an answer to a long standing feature request; to have FX bin presets, or a way to recall an FX bin on an existing track in SONAR. In SONAR X1 Producer we introduced FX Chains, which are essentially an FX bin, or group of FX, saved as a preset.
In SONAR X1 Producer Expanded we upped the ante and upgraded the feature to version 2.0 which added assignable controls and a custom user interface to FX Chains. Later on in the free X1d update we added a Mod Matrix to FX Chains allowing up to four parameters to be mapped to a single control on an FX Chain, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.
In X2 we’re including FX Chains in SONAR X2 Essential and Studio, as well as Producer. But In SONAR X2 Producer we’ve taken FX Chains one step further having added them to the Producer exclusive feature, the ProChannel.
By now you may have heard about the upcoming X1d update which will be free for all registered SONAR X1 customers. And you may have also seen the press release which lists all of the features and enhancements contained in the free update.
However, what you might not have seen is just how insanely cool the FX Chains 2.0’s new Mod Matrix is. OK, since its really just a couple of menus it may not look cool, but what it does is absolutely awesome.