Surge updates and TrackSpacer from Wavesfactory

One thing I’ve been struggling with is keeping my track “open” and “big”, and not at the same time be straining (harsh sounding), so I did some research on that and made some changes accordingly. I think I’ve succeeded pretty well for now at least. Considering the track isn’t final (far from it) there’s no reason to spend too much time getting a perfect mix, but I at least wanted to have the knowledge now and make my track sound a bit less straining (mainly for my own sake as I’m the one who’s listening to it quite a bit, over and over again… 😛 ).

I’ve also done some work on the percussion elements, making them more interesting. Might still need a bit of tweaking here and there, but I’ll look into that later. The clap sample has also been replaced, as I never felt the old one really sat well, but the new one does. I also added a cymbal crash, because hey, got to have that, right? 🙂

The top melody has also seen a slight change in that I’ve removed two notes for better flow. 🙂

Surge (WIP 103)

I’ve also scrapped the entire current (old) intro and working on a new one. I got an idea for something I could do and I figured I might as well start from scratch now that I have a some melodic elements that I can utilize during the intro segment.
It’s also important to note that these current WIP updates are not representations of how it’s going to be in the track. It’s basically a small little segment that has been made as I was making the chord progression and melody, so that I could have it in context of a track setting to see how it works.

I also recently discovered a plug-in called TrackSpacer from Wavesfactory. It’s a great little simple plug-in that I’m currently using as “frequency sidechain compression”, having replaced some of the compressors otherwise doing that in the track. What I mean by “frequency sidechain compression” is that the plug-in works as an EQ, where you send in a sidechain signal and it then applies “compression” on the frequencies that are active in the that signal to where you have the plug-in. You can control how much (compression), the attack and release, panning or work in mid/side mode, as well as HP and LP filter the sidechain signal. Basically it’s just a more surgical sidechain compression where you only actually compress the frequencies you need, instead of the entire signal.
Right now it’s running on the basses, triggering from the kick. It’s also on the bus that has all tracks going into it, except for the lead sound and kick, helping create a bit more room for the lead (it’s the one triggering the compression) when everything else is playing.

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Surge update number 100! The trance is closing in.

Yes, I’m a render whore… 100 bloody WIP updates and I’m far from done? I’m horrible… It was the same when I did 3D graphics… I will try to improve, okay!?! Does anyone know of a support group for this kind of thing? 😛

Anyway… A good amount of changes have happened. The chord progression has seen a few minor changes and the top melody major ones.
A lot of minor changes to a lot of other aspects as well, most notably the hi-hat patterns have been made more interesting and the sounds of all them tweaked. Lead, main pluck and bass sounds have been tweaked, too. And a whole bunch of other tweaks here and there.

Anyway… Give it a listen!

Surge (WIP 100)

And the artwork I’m going with for Surge, at least for now, is this:

Cover 03 (1024)

A different Surge update

I was trying to make some progress on Surge yesterday, but my brain wasn’t quite having it. So instead I jumped into Photoshop and played around with making a new cover, because the current one was just something silly I threw together quickly.

I wanted something that was visually interesting and that I could re-use for other tracks, which this allows me to do (especially since I can easily change the entire color scheme).

So uh, yeah… Here it is!

Cover 03 (1024)

Here’s a few quick color variations I made, just to try out some alternatives.

Cover 03 (1024) - Alt 03Cover 03 (1024) - Alt 02Cover 03 (1024) - Alt 01
Besides that I’m working on the track, trying to really nail a good chord progression/melody, since I’m not entirely happy with what I have. My latest attempt (which I haven’t posted) was… Not good… 😛

A Surge update with quite a few changes!

It’s been a little while, but here’s an update to Surge. 🙂

A good few things have happened since the last update, most noticeably I’ve changed the chord progression a bit and completely replaced the lead melody sound. I wasn’t quite getting the sound I wanted from the Hive (x2)/Nexus/Mai Tai (a Studio One synth) setup I had going on, so I decided to try my luck with Spire instead, which is what you’re hearing now (and an instance of Nexus still).
I struggled to get a properly big sound, while still keeping it fairly clean, despite trying all manners of tricks. Add to that the high frequency noise I was getting from Hive for some reason, which wasn’t particularly ideal. Not sure what the deal is with that, but something I might look into. But I ended up simply trying another synth to see what I could do with it, and that seemed to be the right call in this case.

The top melody has also been refined to, among other things, fit with the new chord progression. Might tweak it a bit still though, not sure I’m entirely happy with it.

I’ve also done a bit of work on various other elements, but nothing major as such.

Never the less, check it out and leave any feedback, good or bad! 🙂

Surge (WIP 078)

More harmonizing melody adjustments to Surge…

Remember when I said I would leave it for now? Yeah, apparently that wasn’t the case… I’ve fixed it a bit, but I’m still not happy with it. Going to be spending some more time on it today and see if I can’t get it to sit properly.

In this recent update I’ve also tamed the higher frequencies some. The track could be come a bit straining to listen to because of it, and hopefully now it’s a bit less so.

Surge (WIP 058)

Surge update, more trance melodic elements added

I’ve managed to add some harmonizing melody on top of the chord melody of the lead sound. It’s probably not entirely where it should be, but I’ll stop poking it for now and maybe revisit it a bit later.

Anyway, short and sweet update, here’s what it sounds like!

Surge (WIP 057)

In less exciting news I’ve dropped the BPM from 141 to 140… 🙂

Studio One 3, multi instruments, plug-in delay compensation and sync problems

Listen to the audio examples at the end of this post to hear the issue.

Update 3
I realise I never actually updated this post, but the issue has been fixed. It got fixed in the very first update for version 3. As expected PreSonus was on it and knew that this issue was one of the bigger ones, so they got it sorted quickly.

Update 2
PreSonus is sending the issue to the software team as per their tweet: https://twitter.com/PreSonus/status/603214149791789057

I didn’t doubt they would – PreSonus after all seem to take customer concerns quite seriously. Thanks, PreSonus! 🙂

Update 1
Added a sound example where the multi instrument has been created the way you would do it before, meaning 3 separate tracks routed into a bus.
It has all the same plug-ins and is 100% identical to the multi instrument, except it’s not using the multi instrument feature.

Original post
A few days back while working on the lead melody for Surge I noticed something. I’m using Studio One version 3 now, which is a pretty awesome update to an already great DAW.

This new version introduces “Multi Instruments” which basically allow you to stack a whole bunch of instruments within one, meaning you don’t have to create a bunch of separate tracks for each instrument, but can play it from a single track. It allows for other fancy stuff to be done too (check out this article on Studio One Expert to learn more), but for this example all I’m doing is playing 3 instruments at the same time. For Surge I have 2 instances of u-he’s Hive and 1 instance of reFX’ Nexus 2.

The problem I noticed was that it seemed like my lead melody, the only thing in the track using the multi instrument feature, was slightly ahead of everything else in time. This also contributed to the melody tripping over itself, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. While some of that I believe was the melody timing itself (while the notes were quantized properly, they just didn’t fall in the best manner), compared to the rest of the track, it’s still a problem after I’ve fixed that.
I suspected a bug with the PDC (plug-in delay compensation) and multi instruments, but I didn’t really look much more into it after having briefly talked to Matt from Studio One Expert about it.

Then yesterday I saw a post on the PreSonus forum where other people brought up this exact issue, meaning I apparently wasn’t crazy thinking there was an issue, so I tested a bit more, and best I can tell there is a bug with PDC and multi instruments.

I put an Analog Delay (a Studio One built-in effect) plug-in first in the inserts chain of the multi instrument, turned BPM sync off and delayed the lead melody a few milliseconds. I also made a somewhat similar sound to what I had using a single instance of Reveal Sound’s Spire, meaning that would get the correct PDC as it wasn’t a multi instrument.

Below are some audio samples and I do think you can hear the different from the normal non-delayed one to the ones I have delayed. The 16ms (just a random number I picked) is probably the one closets to what it should be, but not quite fully there. The Spire version is obviously being synced up properly without issue (but it does feel a little staggered, which is more to do with the sound itself and that it’s hitting the notes rather hard).
Listening to all 4 of them playing right now, I can easily tell when it’s the non-delayed version that is playing – it just sounds a bit off.

Anyway, here are the sound samples!

Surge (WIP 048) – No delay on the multi instrument

Surge (WIP 048) – 10ms delay on the multi instrument

Surge (WIP 048) – 16ms delay on the multi instrument

Surge (WIP 048) – Multi instrument re-built the old way (separate tracks routed to a bus)

Surge (WIP 048) – Single instance of Spire, no multi instrument

Obviously all of this is a bit unfortunate because the multi instrument is a great tool, but with it being out of sync due to PDC it makes it hard to really use at this point. Regardless I’m sure the PreSonus software team will sort this out as quickly as possible!

Surge melody is now tripping itself up a little less

So I’ve made some timing changes to the lead melody, getting it to flow a bit better with everything else. I’m still not entirely satisfied, but I’m also at the point where I need a break, as my head is wonky from working on music too long. If you’ve ever done it, you know exactly what I mean. 😛 I need to learn to take breaks more often…

Regardless here’s the latest iteration!

Surge (WIP 047)