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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Backup To The Future

Cubase Tips & Techniques

Technique : Cubase Notes

Your Cubase project is recorded, mixed and mastered... but is it secure?

John Walden

Any long-standing SOS reader will be only too aware of the evolutionary nature of recording technology. Whether it’s two-inch multitrack tape, four-track cassettes, ADAT, dedicated hard-disk systems, SD cards or — as is currently the case for most of us — hard drives or solid-state storage within desktop computers, this evolution includes changes and redundancy in recording formats over time. This is a significant issue and, while digital hard-disk-based recording might be ‘better’ in terms of convenience and flexibility, I’m not so sure it is ‘better’ in terms of longevity or portability. Fortunately, Cubase 8 has a pretty comprehensive set of tools to both back up and future-proof your projects. Matt Houghton last looked at this topic in September 2010, when Cubase was at version 5.5. Five years is a long time in Cubase and computing terms and while some things have remained the same, there are some new options. So, if you’re using Cubase 8 and want to back things up so you can revisit them in the future, read on...

The Prepare Archive command will ensure you have (almost!) all your project data in one place.The Prepare Archive command will ensure you have (almost!) all your project data in one place.

Strategy Meeting

The Prepare Archive command will ensure you have (almost!) all your project data in one place.

When it comes to your (recording) data security, there are two aspects to address. First, you want to ensure that your entire recording project exists in a self-contained form in at least two discrete places (that is, on your primary computer’s hard drive and on a second, physically separate, hard drive) in case the primary drive fails; in other words, you need a backup. Ideally, you want a third backup somewhere off-site — otherwise, if, perish the thought, your studio suffered a fire, you’d lose everything.

Second, you need protection against incompatibilities caused by upgrades or casualties with your OS, audio plug-ins and virtual instruments; you need to future-proof your project. Creating an audio-only render of each track within your original project is probably the best current solution. It also brings the added benefit that you would also have a version of your project that could, with minimum fuss, be imported into another DAW should you need to work with it on another computer system or in a different studio.

Copy Right

The backup phase can, itself, be split into two main stages. Before you can actually create the backup copy, you have to ensure all the media (audio, MIDI and video) associated with the project resides in a single folder. With the project open, execute the Media/Prepare Archive command. When executed, Cubase checks to ensure that all the media files used within the project actually reside within the project folder and, if not, you are offered the opportunity to copy them to the project folder.

Music-to-picture composers often stream their video files from a dedicated drive so, by default, they may not reside within the project folder. If that’s the case, a ‘copy to project folder?’ prompt appears. Be careful though; video files can be large and, once copied, if you continue to work on the project, the clip will stream from the project folder rather than any dedicated video drive.

Having formed your self-contained project folder, the second step is to execute the File/Back up Project command. The dialogue box allows you to specify a new folder location for your backup copy (preferably on a dedicated, separate drive used for backup purposes) and to rename the backup copy of the project. It also provides an opportunity to spring clean the project’s media files. The combination of the Minimise Audio Files option (which excludes any portions of audio files not currently used in the project) and Remove Unused Files option (unused media files are removed from the working project and, therefore, are also not included within the backup version) can pare the project’s size down considerably. The downside is that the process is non-reversible; once those unused takes are gone, they’re gone. Whether you apply these options will depend on how decisive/ruthless you are about a project being ‘finished’.

The Back up Project dialogue can both create a backup and tidy up some media-file clutter.The Back up Project dialogue can both create a backup and tidy up some media-file clutter.There’s a further catch. If your project contains any of Steinberg’s VST Sound content (held in the VST Sound folders you can view from MediaBay and including, for example, any Steinberg loop packs or LoopMash content), note that this is copy-protected and not present in either your project folder or any backup copy. If you eventually have to use the backup copy on your own system, this should not be an issue. However, if you try to open it on a different host system, you will need to ensure that the same VST Sound content is installed for things to work smoothly.

Limited Shelf Life

The Back up Project dialogue can both create a  backup and tidy up some media-file clutter.

The backup process described above provides you with security against hard-drive failure. However, it will not protect you — a few years down the line, perhaps — from the possibility that several of the virtual instruments or effects plug-ins used in a project may no longer exist.

While it’s not a completely future-proof solution, rendering out each track of your finished project as a standard audio file (including any track-level plug-ins) is probably as good as it currently gets. If you use the ‘Pro’ version, Cubase offers you two ways of doing this; the channel batch option within the Export Audio Mixdown (EAM) system or the newer Render In Place (RIP) options. I touched on the latter in SOS October 2015 and as I mentioned then, there’s some overlap between the older EAM and newer RIP functions, so let’s consider their differences for the task at hand — a track-level audio archive of our project. (Incidentally, Cubase also has the Track Archive function but this is a somewhat different beast and a topic for another day.)

The Channel Batch Export option in the Export Audio Mixdown dialogue box makes audio-only archives very easy to generate.

The Channel Batch Export option in the Export Audio Mixdown dialogue box makes audio-only archives very easy to generate.The Channel Batch Export option in the Export Audio Mixdown dialogue box makes audio-only archives very easy to generate.While EAM provides a suitable means of generating your final stereo mix file from a finished project, or for creating stems from any Group Channels, it can also be used to generate a full, track-level, audio-only version of your project. And, if you’re using the full (Pro) version of Cubase, the Channel Batch Export option within EAM allows you to create all those channels in a single pass.

Render In Place gives you more control than Export Audio Mixdown but is perhaps better suited to audio-only archives that are only intended for use in Cubase itself.
In the example shown in the screenshot, I’ve enabled Channel Batch Export and selected all the Instrument Tracks and Audio Channels for export. I’ve also selected a new folder in the Path field. With a new folder, you get a Create New Project option in the Import Into Project section. Select this and, when you hit the Export button, Cubase will create a new version of your project in the folder you specify and open it in Cubase. Each of the original tracks will have been replaced by an audio track running from bar 1 beat 1 to the end of the project. While this means you get lots of sections of silence in the audio files, it’s about as universal a format as it’s possible to have — if you had to open the files within another DAW, it would be very easy to line everything up to start with.

There are a few things worth noting. First, the EAM dialogue doesn’t allow you to mix and match audio file formats. In the screenshot, I’ve created stereo files for each track but you can also opt for mono or split stereo. If your original project includes a mixture of stereo and mono audio tracks, you could easily do two passes to render the stereo and mono tracks separately in their correct formats. Second, note that this is an audio-only process so, while it works with Audio, Instrument, Group and FX tracks, if your project includes a video track, you’ll have to handle that manually.

Render In Place gives you more control than Export Audio Mixdown but is perhaps better suited to audio-only archives that are only intended for use in Cubase itself.Render In Place gives you more control than Export Audio Mixdown but is perhaps better suited to audio-only archives that are only intended for use in Cubase itself.Finally, it’s worth noting that the created audio files are rendered with all the track-level processing (Pre-section, Inserts, EQ and Channel Strip) applied but without any send effects or master channel processing. This is probably a good thing but it does mean that, should you have to use this audio-only archive at some stage, you will need to reapply any main stereo output processing in order to fully recreate the original mix, and that you’ll not have access to the send effects for individual tracks — if two vocal parts have been sent to a reverb, you can print that FX channel, but you can’t separate the reverb for the two parts.

I covered the basics of the alternative RIP approach in SOS October 2015 so I’ll not repeat that here, but it’s worth highlighting the differences between the two methods. On the plus side, RIP provides more control over how far you can go down the effects processing food chain than EAM (although, that said, the Channel Settings option is still the most sensible for this application) when rendering. In addition, RIP handles the mono/stereo status of the original tracks in a single pass.

On the downside (well, a downside if you’re looking to create an audio-only archive to open in something other than Cubase), unlike EAM, the rendered audio files don’t all start at bar 1 and finish at the end of the project; they only span their length/position in the original project. Cubase will time-stamp WAV files, so they can be aligned in another DAW, but relying on this method will make your backup that bit less bullet-proof! Finally, like EAM, RIP will not deal with any video files used in the project so you’ll need to manage these manually. On the whole, while I like the direction that Steinberg are heading with RIP, for this kind of total project audio rendering, at present, I think EAM is still the more efficient solution.

Insurance Policy

Bad stuff beginning with ’s’ happens even in the most well-looked-after computer recording system. When it does, if your projects are securely backed up, and also exist as audio-only archives, at least you can ensure that ‘bad’ doesn’t go to ‘worse’. The one loose end to tie up is to recommend that you also export all the MIDI data from Cubase as a MIDI file. Amongst other things, that will enable you to revisit instrument sounds in the future, and to quickly establish the project’s tempo, should you wish to add new parts to your audio project.    

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Space Race

Cubase Tips & Techniques

Technique : Cubase Notes

The Cubase Workspace system allows you to master your workflow even on the most compact of monitor systems.
Efficient management of Cubase’s Workspaces can be a great help when you need to work quickly.

John Walden

Sometimes, when you need to be able to work quickly in Cubase, you find yourself instead bogged down with what feels like a gazillion windows. If you wish to achieve Cubase Ninja Master status, you’ll need to put some time and effort into designing an efficient workflow. There are many ways in which Cubase can help you with this — customisable keyboard shortcuts, macros, the Project Logical Editor and so on. Another, and the subject of this workshop, is Cubase’s Workspaces facility, which is a significant time-saver. It gives you instant recall to fixed (and familiar) screen layouts: even if you resize things or make other adjustments, unless you ‘update’ the Workspace to reflect those tweaks, it will default to its original settings the next time you switch to it. Neat!

Back To Work(space)

We last looked at this topic way back in SOS July 2005, when Cubase SX3 was still in diapers, but Steinberg have tweaked this functionality in each release since. In v8 Workspaces were given their own entry on the main menu and the ‘global’ versus ‘project’ Workspace concept has been refreshed and refined. As will become clearer below, these two types of Workspace may be better tools for different purposes.

Creating a new Workspace is simply a matter of organising the various window layouts as you desire, and then selecting the Workspaces/Add Workspace command to ‘capture’ the current layout. Having created a Workspace, if you change it and wish to save it, overwriting the current entry, use the Workspaces/Update Workspace command. This is assigned, by default, as an Option+U (Mac) or Alt+U (Windows) keyboard shortcut.

Any Workspace(s) you create will appear in the Workspaces menu, with Global ones positioned above a horizontal line and Project-level ones below. You can switch between Workspaces either via this menu or using key commands. The first nine Workspaces are automatically assigned default key commands starting at Option (Alt)+Num 1 and continuing up to Option (Alt)+Num 9. If using a laptop without a numeric keypad it’s well worth acquiring one, or else customising these commands.

Another option is to use the Workspace Organiser dialogue, accessible via the Workspace menu, but the main function of this is to let you manage (re-order or delete) your Workspaces. Note that you can’t move a Workspace between the Global and Project categories in this way; the easiest way to achieve this is to create a new Workspace based on an existing one and assign it to the other Workspace group. Note also that the Workspace Organiser shows the key command associated with each Workspace. These commands are defined dynamically, so moving a Workspace or adding a new one may change the key commands assigned to other Workspaces in the list. I’ll come back to this later.

Elect Your Candidates

Creating a Workspace, then, is easy enough, but if you want to improve the way you work with Cubase you’re going to have to develop some sort of strategy or system for using them. Perhaps the first thing to consider is which windows you most commonly find yourself using in a typical project, as these make obvious candidates for inclusion in a Workspace. My ‘top two’ Global Workspace choices are likely to include ‘as much as I can see’ of both the Project and MixConsole windows; essentially full-screen Project or MixConsole windows but with (for my personal preference) the Transport Panel occupying a thin strip at the base of the screen. I suspect most people have a default layout that’s something like this. Beyond that, though, it will depend a little on the way you make music.

The Workspace system now has its own entry on the main menu system.

For example, I regularly use both multiple VST instruments and audio loops in my projects. I’ve therefore set up a Global Workspace that combines a more compact Project window with the VST Instrument Rack and MediaBay open. Note that you can include these windows either as separate ‘floating’ windows or by toggling on the Racks display option for the Project window. I prefer the latter, as I can then easily get at my VSTi windows for editing, have easy access the VSTi Quick Controls and can get at my audio sample library from the MediaBay.

The Workspace system now has its own entry on the main menu system.The Workspace system now has its own entry on the main menu system.If you regularly work on music-to-picture projects, assigning the Video Player, Tempo Track and Markers windows to a dedicated Workspace would probably be useful. Similarly, if you use the Score facility, then defining a Workspace featuring the Scores window should be helpful. That way, if you select a specific MIDI part and switch to your ‘Scores’ Workspace, the selected part will automatically be displayed as notation.

The Workspace organiser allows you to select, reorder or delete Global or Project Workspaces.

The Workspace organiser allows you to select, reorder or delete Global or Project Workspaces.The Workspace organiser allows you to select, reorder or delete Global or Project Workspaces.These Global-level Workspaces will be built around your most frequently used window arrangements, but you might find that you need some more specific layouts within an individual project, and this is where Project-level Workspaces come in handy. I frequently assign two types of tool to these: VST instruments and VST effects plug-ins. If any are a key Project component and I need regular access, I find that it’s worth creating one or two Project-level Workspaces for easy recall.

Workspaces can be defined for Global- or Project-level applications.Workspaces can be defined for Global- or Project-level applications.In practice, you can often fit two or more VSTi GUIs in a single Workspace. For example, Halion Sonic, Groove Agent (two of my go-to instruments) and the VST Instruments Rack all sit nicely together on my single-screen system — depending on your screen setup different things will be possible. It’s possible to arrange a number VST effects windows in a single Workspace so you can instantly get at the parameters for what might be your key send or creative effects for a specific project. What you don’t appear to be able to do is bring up insert effects for the currently selected channel. (To achieve that, configure the Generic Remote along the lines described by Matt Houghton in SOS Jan 2015 (http://sosm.ag/cubase-channelstrip).

Workspace Wiz

Workspaces can be defined for Global- or Project-level applications.

I’ll finish off with a few tips to help you make the most of Workspaces. First, while Cubase offers various ways to zoom in and out of your Project and Mixer windows, Workspaces can be used to quickly switch between zoom levels. For example, in the Project window a Workspace will store the zoom level used when the Workspace was created or last updated. Thus, I have Global Workspaces based for ‘zoomed out’ and ‘zoomed in’ views. This is really useful if you often find yourself wanting to switch between, say, sample-level and full arrangement views.

By exploiting the three alternative MixConsole views, you can easily create Workspaces that allow you to switch between different channel-width settings for different mixing tasks.

While the same is not true of the Mixer, Cubase (unlike most other DAWs) has long offered you three different MixConsole windows, each of which can be set to different ‘zoom widths’. These can be accessed from the Devices menu and assigned a keyboard shortcut. On my system, I’ve set the first MixConsole to have fairly narrow channel widths, so I see plenty of channels, and have configured MixConsole 2 to have much wider channels, so I can see more detail in each channel. By building separate Workspaces around these different MixConsoles, I can easily switch between two otherwise identical Mixer window screen layouts to see different channel resolutions on the mixer.

By exploiting the three alternative MixConsole views, you can easily create Workspaces that allow you to switch between different channel-width settings for different mixing tasks.By exploiting the three alternative MixConsole views, you can easily create Workspaces that allow you to switch between different channel-width settings for different mixing tasks.Second, once you’ve established your top Global Workspaces, don’t change the number and/or order of them unless you really have to. As mentioned earlier, the key commands for Workspaces are dynamic, which makes them potentially volatile: if you delete one at the top of your list, everything else can get shuffled up the key command sequence. This isn’t particularly helpful for a time-saving feature, as you can suddenly find a significant number of Workspaces don’t appear exactly as you expect them to! You’d be better off overwriting ones you no longer need with a new option.

Third, Global Workspace presets are stored in the Window Layout XML file. You can search for this in your file system (I’m on OS X, so for me this is in the /Users/username/Library/Preferences/Cubase 8/Presets folder) and it’s worth making a backup of this file once you have spent time crafting your Global Workspace presets. If you want to take your Workspace layouts to a different system you can overwrite this file with your own (remember to back up the original before you overwrite it!), although how well your Workspaces will travel depends on how closely the two systems’ screen resolutions match.

Finally, while Steinberg have ironed many of the previous wrinkles out of the Workspace feature set in Cubase Pro 8, there’s still the odd quirk. Even so, as part of your own Cubase efficiency drive, Workspaces can be an essential tool, particularly for anyone working on laptops or single-screen systems.    

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sony Acid Pro 7

DAW Software For Windows

Reviews : Software: ALL

Acid Pro has always offered a fabulous environment for loop‑based music creation, but version 7 sees it making a bid for fully fledged DAW status.

John Walden

If you make extensive use of loops in your music, and you work on a PC, the odds are that you will have tried Acid at some point. Acid Pro has always offered a powerful and creative platform for loop‑based music creation, and with versions 5 and 6, Sony expanded its features for audio and MIDI recording. Version 7 of Acid Pro is now with us and, again, the new features suggest that Sony are still keen to position Acid as a fully fledged DAW. So is Acid Pro now a viable alternative to products such as Cubase or Sonar for PC‑based musicians?

Those new to Acid Pro might like to look through the earlier SOS reviews (see the April 2005 and July 2006 issues) for some background, as all the previous functionality is retained in the new version. In essence, Acid Pro's long‑standing focus has been its ability to provide real‑time pitch‑shifting and tempo‑matching of audio loops. This capability is now built into most mainstream DAWs, but Acid is pretty much where it started, and it is fair to say that the quality of this real‑time process in Acid is about as good as it gets. And thanks to its very straightforward user interface, even non‑musicians can put together plausible results given a suitable collection of pre‑recorded loops — although whether that's good thing is another matter! Other key features include an excellent audio groove quantise function, a range of audio effects, a video window for music‑to‑picture work and the ability to act as a Rewire host or client.

As with most software updates, Acid Pro 7 offers a number of headline additions and numerous smaller refinements. For me, four new features fit into the headline category: the provision of an Input Bus system, a full audio and MIDI mixing window (something that was on my personal wish‑list when I reviewed version 6), improvements to the time‑stretching engine, and the impressive bundle of added extras from Garritan, iZotope, Native Instruments and Submersible Music (see box on the next page).

Also notable, but a bit less dramatic, are features such as MIDI track freeze, the ability to create tempo curves, real‑time rendering of projects (allowing external sound sources to be mixed down as part of the Acid project) and, amongst a range of user‑interface tweaks, customised labelling for ASIO devices and ports.

Mixing Acid

Acid has always had a Mixer window, but until now, its features have been somewhat limited. Although this didn't stop users from undertaking complex projects with mix automation, it did mean that mixing usually involved both the Track List and the Mixer window. The fully featured audio and MIDI Mixing Console window is, therefore, an obvious highlight in the new release.

As shown in the screenshot above, the general appearance of the mixer channels retains the classic Acid style, which is very functional if perhaps not a thing of great beauty. As well as the output, preview, bus, effects and soft synth mixer channels, the new Mixing Console window now also includes audio and MIDI channels for each track within the Track List, plus the new Input Bus channels. The user can toggle different track type groups or individual tracks on and off via the View pane or Channel List, and both of these options make it easy to configure the mixing environment to suit particular types of task.

Aside from the usual channel fader, level meter and pan controls, tracks now include slots for insert effects and sends, where appropriate. These two areas can be contracted and expanded to show fewer or more slots, as required. Clicking on an empty insert effects slot produces a drop‑down list from which effects can be selected, while clicking on an already filled slot opens the window for that effect so that its parameters can be adjusted. Other features include mute, solo, automation mode, a phase switch, record arming, input monitoring, insert effect chain editing, track freeze and an insert pre‑/post‑fader option, the selection of which depends upon the track type. This is now a well‑specified mixer, and having faders for all track types in one place makes it easier to focus on basic mixing tasks such as fader automation. In version 6, this required working in both the old mixer window (for master outputs, buses and so on) and in the Track List (for the audio and MIDI tracks).

In terms of making Acid a more credible environment for serious audio recording, the new Input Bus tracks are a big plus.The new Mixing Console window including an equally new Input Bus. They provide the ability to quickly configure which hardware input(s) are to be used, what effects (insert or send) are to be applied to the input signal and whether the input bus is to be returned to an output for monitoring purposes (which, as in most DAWs, works fine if your audio device can function at low enough latency levels).

Best Of The Rest

A few of the other new features are worth highlighting. Like most mainstream DAWs, Acid Pro 7 now includes a Freeze option for MIDI tracks. This simply renders the soft synth output to a WAV file, hence reducing the CPU load when working with a project that is stressing the host computer. This works well and the operation is pretty much invisible to the user. Tracks can be unfrozen if further editing is required.

Acid has always allowed tempo changes within projects, but version 7 sees the introduction of tempo curves for the first time. The approach used offers a number of pre‑defined shapes of tempo change between two tempo markers — not a full‑blown tempo track but a considerable improvement, and easy to use, too. As before, Acid will follow tempo changes (including tempo curves) from another application via Rewire.

For users with hardware MIDI sound sources, the new real‑time rendering option will be welcome. This enables a project to be bounced in real time rather than as quickly as the CPU allows, with MIDI tracks transmitting data out to any hardware sources and the audio being returned via an Input Bus for inclusion within the mix. One other nice detail in this release is the ability to customise the labels for your various ASIO‑based audio inputs and output. These then appear in all the I/O drop‑down options (within the Mixer, for example) — all much neater than the sometimes cryptic default names that appear for some devices.

Seventh Time Lucky

Effects management is much easier with the new Mixing Console.

As a long‑standing user of Acid, I'm obviously something of a fan. In use, I found Acid Pro 7 immediately familiar and, small changes to the interface aside, still a working environment I find simple, efficient and downright fun to use. Sony have made some changes under the hood in terms of the pitch- and tempo‑shifting algorithms (including the new Zplane 'Élastique Pro' time‑stretching that can be used with Beatmapped files), but these are generally invisible to the user. The bottom line here is that the real‑time pitch and tempo manipulation is still as good as it gets, and pretty much effortless when used with pre‑recorded loops.

For anyone familiar with virtual mixers, the new Mixing Console is very easy to find your way around, and it does make final project mixing much easier, both in terms of managing your use of effects plug‑ins and creating track‑level automation data. The new Input Bus system is well implemented and immediately makes Acid an easier environment for standard multitrack audio recording. Having run both version 6 and 7 on the same test system during the course of the review, I didn't see any noticeable difference in performance, and the v7.0a release used for testing seemed very stable.

So is Acid now the perfect DAW? Well, not quite. Rival products such as Cubase and Sonar still have tools for audio and MIDI editing that are missing here. For example, I'd love to see the equivalent of the Cubase 'Detect Silence' command available, as I find this a real time‑saver when I'm editing together multiple takes of vocals. Equally, however, there are areas where Acid outshines the competition, particularly in the mixing and matching of pre‑recorded loops.

In recent years, my impression is that Acid hasn't had quite the profile of some of its obvious competition, particularly in the UK, and this has always been a bit of mystery to me. Perhaps it's something to do with its PC‑only status but, as a tool for working with loops, I think Acid is just about as good as it currently gets. This upgrade is evolutionary rather than revolutionary but I'm sure the majority of existing users will see it as well worthwhile.

What is perhaps more interesting is whether Acid Pro 7 might now be seen as a more serious competitor for the mainstream PC‑based DAWs such as Cubase and Sonar. Sony have continued to move Acid forward in that respect, and it is now also a very capable multitrack audio and MIDI recording and mixing environment. As a regular user of Cubase, I hesitate to undertake a predominately loop‑based project in Cubase knowing I've got Acid on my PC. Equally, if I'm creating a complex MIDI‑based project, I still go with Cubase, simply because I'm more familiar with the MIDI tools it offers. However, for projects that mix and match all three elements — loops, audio tracks and MIDI — I would previously have used Cubase with Acid Rewired in, but now Acid Pro 7 is perfectly capable of handling it all. PC users looking to buy into the top end of the workstation market should certainly give Acid Pro 7 some serious consideration, because this is now a very good DAW that also happens to be great fun to use.


While Acid started life as a loop‑based music production tool, Sony's addition of further mainstream DAW features makes version 7 a credible alternative to the likes of Steinberg's Cubase and Cakewalk's Sonar. The choice may depend upon a combination of price and how you intend to make music, but if loops are likely to feature prominently, Sonar and Ableton Live are perhaps the most obvious competitors for Acid Pro 7.

Bundled Effects, Sounds & Processors

For those interested in recording electric guitars, the new Input Bus channels will be particular useful, allowing users to take full advantage of the Native Instruments Guitar Combos that are part of the bundled extras.The Twang Combo is one of three supplied with the NI Guitar Combos bundle.Garritan's ARIA for Acid Pro is also supplied.Submersible Music's KitCore add some very useful drum sounds.The Analog Delay is a highlight of the iZotope Acid Pro Effects Rack. These provide three very decent amp models — AC Box, Plexi and Twang — and each is supplied with a good number of presets. The clean and crunchy sounds are all very useable, although I did find myself taking a little top‑end off some of the high‑gain presets to reduce some of the fizz.

A special version of Garritan's ARIA sample player is also included. This VSTi includes a range of orchestral, jazz/big band, marching band and GM‑type sounds, all subsets of samples taken from Garritan's other products. The player itself is simple but offers some nice features and, although there are not huge numbers of instruments provided, what is here is very good indeed. This includes some nice key‑switched string samples (full strings and sections) and very useable Steinway jazz piano, vintage electric piano and upright bass.

The third element of the bundle is the KitCore drum sample VSTi from Submersible Music. This is a cut‑down version of their flagship DrumCore package and it includes a range of different drum kits and MIDI loops taken from the various DrumCore libraries. While it perhaps serves as a taster for the full product, as with ARIA, the basic set of drum and percussion sounds supplied are good.

The final freebie is the Acid Pro Effects Rack from iZotope. This includes a flanger, phaser, 'analogue' delay and dynamics processor, all of which will be familiar to anyone who has used any of iZotope's full products such as Ozone. I particularly liked the delay, which is both well specified (it offers, tube, tape and 'bucket brigade' models), easy to use and sounds great.      

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cubase: Advanced Vocal Compression — Audio Files

Hear For Yourself

Technique : Cubase Notes

We explore some of the advanced parallel compression techniques used by top mix engineer Michael Brauer — and how you can recreate them using Cubase.

Mike Senior

Vox Raw File voxraw.wav

VoxRaw.peak — please Download the ZIP file below

VoxCompression.cpr — please Download the ZIP file below

ZIP of all 3 files: Download      

Published in SOS April 2009