Every producer and mixer knows the struggle; the infamous car test. You know the drill. You print a near-perfect mix in your home studio and then bounce it with the label, “FINAL MIX_wav” and send it to your phone. You can feel the excitement, energy and anticipation of releasing your masterpiece into the world…and then you step into your car.
The nervous sweat drips down your back and your ears are clogged from hours of non-stop mixing. You press play and immediately regret not going to law school. OK…maybe it’s not that bad but straight from the bat you know your mix isn’t translating well in your car stereo or even the cheap earbuds that came with your phone. You are not alone.
Sure, the LP EQ is a great linear-phase, stereo EQ. But it was designed for mid-side processing as well as conventional stereo, so let’s explore what mid-side processing is about, and why it’s so important.
LP EQ BASICS
You can add up to 20 nodes, and each can have one of the following responses:
However, there’s some intelligence when adding nodes; for example if you double-click to enter a node close to the highest possible frequency, the LP EQ will insert a lowpass filter. At a somewhat lower frequency, there’s a shelving response (although you can of course change these default responses to whatever you like). Drag nodes horizontally to change the frequency or up/down to vary amplitude; a right-click + drag on a node alters the width, as does using the mouse scroll wheel on a selected node.
You can ctrl+click, or draw a marquee around, multiple nodes to select them, but there’s an interesting twist. Suppose a node is set to boost, and another to cut. If you select both, then click on the one that boosts and drag it downward, the amount of boost will decrease. However the one that’s cut will start boosting. This complementary motion allows increasing or decreasing the overall emphasis easily; for example, if you think you went too far with the amount of EQ and want to pull it back, this reduces all aspects equally.
If all the selected nodes either boost or cut, then their amplitudes vary together.
These basics give a flavor of the features, but there’s much more—so click on the UI to give the LP EQ the focus, then press F1 to call up the comprehensive documentation.
MID-SIDE EQ PROCESSING
Mid-side processing encodes a stereo track into two separate components: the center becomes the “mid” component in the left channel, while the stereo track’s right and left elements become the “side” component in the right channel. You can then process these components individually, with automatic decoding back into stereo.
To get started with mid-side processing, click on the LP 64’s Expert button and under Mode, choose Mid/Side. For best results, set the precision to High. This results in the most latency but the highest accuracy, which is important because with mid-side processing, you don’t want any phase shift or sample misalignment—that will interfere with the decoded stereo imaging.
Processing can be independent for the mid and side components (as it is for the left and right channels in conventional stereo applications). You assign a node to the appropriate component by clicking on the node, and then clicking on M or S (toward the LP EQ’s upper right corner). Here are a few possible applications.
With mastering, you can get “inside the file” to do pseudo-remixing on a stereo track. One typical application is giving a slight boost to the higher-frequency side components to provide a bit more “air” and a wider stereo image.
If you’ve been seduced by vinyl’s comeback, remember that it’s crucial to center the bass and minimize bass excursions in the sides. With mid-side EQ processing, you can reduce the bass in the sides, and if needed, increase bass a bit in the center. Even if you’re not mastering for vinyl, taking this technique further can give a super-anchored, “center-channel” bass sound.
Drums with lots of room ambience can benefit from a bit of upper mids in the sides for extra definition, and a little bit of lower mids in the center to accent the kick.
If a synth bass has a wide image that “steps on” other instruments, you can bring down the bass in the sides.
For taming reverb, set a node to Mid, select the high pass curve, and slide it all the way to the right to take out essentially everything. Then you can shape the remaining reverb with the side EQ, while chasing the away from the center, where it can muddy the bass and kick.
THE VALUE OF THE MIX CONTROL
But…how do you know whether you’re really making an improvement to the sound or not? The LP EQ includes a Mix control (accessed in the Expert section) so you can vary the mix from full EQ to no EQ. Yes, parallel processing for EQ…very handy, and even better, the Mix control can be automated (like virtually all other parameters, including display characteristics and bypass).
You can also switch quickly between two different EQ settings with the A/B comparison function.
Granted, there’s no shortage of EQ plug-ins, but the LP EQ truly brings something new to the party. If you’re not familiar what mid-side processing can do with EQ, there’s no better way to find out than with the LP EQ.
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.”
Here at Cakewalk we are fortunate to have an external team of rocket scientists who help test out SONAR beta releases. This team is dedicated, passionate and most of all appreciated by all of us internally here at the Cake shop. Recently I received a general email from one of my esteemed colleagues mentioning that one of our trustworthy beta soldiers was jumping off the beta-battlefield in lieu of another SONAR related activity. Huh? This peaked my curiosity and I felt obliged to dig a bit deeper on the subject. What could “another SONAR related activity” involve? SONAR Olympics? SONAR CPU Racing? SONAR Academy?
Featured Music Placements on Discovery Channel, History Channel, CBS, Bravo Network
Just a few short years ago, we learned of a new up-and-coming artist who was using SONAR. After introducing ourselves and learning more, the one thing that kept resonating were the infectious melodies and counterparts embedded into his tracks. We were delighted to witness him working in SONAR, but at the same time very intrigued that he was using SONAR 8.5.
Soon after being in touch with iLan, we were able to catch up with him face to face in his studio just north of London for a night where we introduced SONAR X3 to him. It was a fun night and very interesting to watch a pro’s reactions going from 8.5 to X3 considering that undoubtedly the platforms are truly different. There were some moments of, “Whooaaah… that will save me a ton of time,” and there were moments of, “Ummm…that will take a while to get used to.” Leaving iLan to his own devices we were really unsure where he would take it.
Toggling back and forth from 8.5 to X3 for a while, iLan finally found his stride with SONAR Platinum. He told us, “After working on both 8.5 and X3, once I was on Platinum there was no going back. The basic features alone like the smart tool and Mix Recall not only save me a lot of time, but allow me to create things I could not create in 8.5. With the amount of tracks I create and pace of my workflow, the fact that Platinum is rock solid and really fast means everything to me. 8.5 always allowed me to ‘not’ sound like everyone else in my genre, and Platinum just continues that path for me.” iLan’s first full production in SONAR Platinum titled “Bigger Than Love,” a collaboration with singer/songwriter/artist Giuseppe de Luca was recently released on Anjunabeats and quickly found its way up the charts to the #1 spot on Beatport.
Thanks to Melodyne’s advanced tempo detection and SONAR’s powerful ARA drag-and-drop integration, your projects can now follow a live recording’s tempo. Simply drag a standard audio clip (or Melodyne region effect) to SONAR’s timeline, and SONAR creates a tempo map that follows the clip tempo. Watch the new video for more information.
With South by Southwest over and the Northeast starting to thaw out, we checked in with a few of our professional artists to see what they have been up to.
Norman Matthew and Murder FM Announce New Tour and Wrestlemania
Just when we thought it could not get any more murderous, Norman Matthew of Murder FM is jumping into the wrestling ring??? Fresh off of a national tour with Drowning Pool, in support of their latest record Happily Neverafter which was produced in SONAR X3 & Platinum and doing very well, Murder FM have announced April tour dates. The shows kick off with the wrestling debut of vocalist Norman “The Gnar” Matthew, during “Wrestlemania” Weekend at the 1010 Collins Ctr in Arlington, TX! (Yes, you heard us right – Wrestlemania.)
April 1 – 3, the Trifecta of wrestling brands, Knokx Pro/ Territory League, Samoan Dynasty Wrestler “TMD” Teams up with Murder FM in Arlington, TX. Murder FM Vocalist Norman “The Gnar” Matthew takes the corner of “TMD” during WRESTLEMANIA weekend, featuring WWE Hall Of Famer “Rikishi”.
Recently we also found out Norman is using SONAR Platinum live on stage. Next month we will be focusing an article around that setup and how he uses SONAR in a live application… [this is if he makes it out of Wrestlemania this weekend ;)]
Other New Tour Dates:
04/14 – Dubuque, IA – The Venue
04/15 – Crest Hill, IL – Bada Brew
04/16 – Springfield, IL – Capitol City
04/17 – Pekin, IL – Twisted Spoke
04/20 – Kent, OH – The Outpost
04/21 – Toledo, OH – Realm
04/22 – Chesterfield, MI – Diesel
04/23 – Battle Creek, MI – The Music Factory
04/24 – Harrison, OH – The Blue Note
What do Zagreb Croatia and SONAR have in common? The answer to that question is one talented musician/producer by the name of Yogi Lonich. LA based Lonich who has worked with iconic artists such as Shakira, Buckcherry, Wallflowers, Fuel and most recently Chris Cornell is on hiatus from LA and producing a few great rock artists in Croatia in SONAR Platinum.
“UP,“ is an alternative rock band formed in Zagreb Croatia by singer/guitarist Leo Angelcovich. In 2015 Leo started recording demos by himself and caught the ear of Yogi who has now joined him in person as a producer and collaborator. The efforts so far are focused on turning out a few singles, following an album in 2017 before world domination. The bands influences: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Free, Nirvana, AiC and Rage Against the Machine to name a few.
Yogi has also been working with Blues(ish) guitarist/songwriter Dario Brnad who is also located in Zagreb Croatia. “I’m so used to my SONAR rig in LA that it took a bit to get used to my mobile setup here in Croatia. Platinum has been an inspiring creative tool here on these projects and I have been using a lot of Rapture and Dimension Pro as well.”
Chillwalker Announces New Recording Project Inspired by Mobile Recording
German artist Chillwalker has just announced the plans for what we think is a very unique project: “Holy Grounds.” Starting in August he will be touring to 12 sacred locations to which will eventually end up in a full-length 12-track release all inspired and taking direction from each location’s character. “With SONAR being so stable now, and the ability to create music virtually anywhere on devices that have longer battery life with core i7 processing, doing a project like this makes perfect sense to me. I will also be preforming live during the trip to help offset some of the costs.”
After releasing close to 70 tracks and remixes, Chillwalker took a bit of a break in 2015 to rebuild his musical spirit. He also took the time to physically build a new SONAR studio setup where he is currently working. “Platinum has really brought my music to another level since the last record on an older version of SONAR. I actually upgraded my Melodyne the DNA version just because of the fact that it works so incredibly well with SONAR. The Browser is a feature I cannot live without either—it’s always open and I am constantly auditioning and manipulating sounds. The ProChannel is another item I use all the time. I do a lot with sidechaining for compression with it. Finally, huge time-savers for me are both project and track templates.”
We will be checking in on Chillwalker’s interesting upcoming trip/project and will be doing a full length story on the project as he gets going. He will be updating his information in real-time here https://www.facebook.com/Chillwalker/ . In the meantime you can Chill[walker] here:
Javier Colon Anounces New Tour to Support April 15th Concord Music Group Release
NBC The Voice winner Javier Colon has been setting up for his new record to be released next week on Concord Music Group, and a few new songs are being leaked including “Giant” which was uploaded to Youtube not too long ago. Javier wrote much of the record in SONAR Platinum in his home project studio before recording in different locations. Along with the new full length 15 track record (yes… that’s right… 15), he has just announced an national tour for April/May/June that spans cross-country starting in Atlanta on 4/23. The tour so far from east to west and tourdates/tickets can be viewed here on his site http://javiercolon.com/tour-dates/ .
In a recent interview, Jav told us, “A lot of the songs on this new record started right in my home studio on SONAR Platinum. The thing I like about SONAR for writing is that it’s really quick for getting ideas down. It’s like a creative partner. Of course it’s great for mixing and creating masters too, but for me since I was fortunate enough on this record to be working with top-notch mixing engineers, the single most important thing was getting the songs right. The features in Platinum are great for songwriting. Even just the loops in Addictive Drums 2 are a great starting place to generate ideas—there’s just no shortage of inspiration in the program.”
SONAR Artist, Professional and Platinum are used by countless artists worldwide who are are taking their music into their own hands. If you are a musician who owns a PC, why not turn it into a recording studio? Please visit the SONAR pages for more information on getting started. No matter what stage you are in your career, there is a version of SONAR right for you.
Introducing the new video series from Cakewalk, where you’ll find feature reviews, artist interviews, audio lessons, and lots and lots of musical “nerding out.” The first episode is available on YouTube now.