Studio One - struggling with stock plugins in a real life mix

Brief update.

So a client recently asked me to start using as many stock Studio One plugins as possible so that I could commit the non-S1 plugins then send the session back to the client for editing/automation etc… I still haven’t run into any major deal killers workflow wise. But I’m at the point where I can say I’m not real happy with the stock plugins. Here’s a few of the problems I ran into and how I tried to fight through them.

As far as I know there are only two saturation tools in this entire library. One is the guitar amp simulator, the other is the Redlight Distortion plugin. This library is in real bad need of a console saturation plugin or a reel-to-reel emulator. What I did to get around this was put the Redlight OpAmp mode with the drive completely off. I started with the mix down then nudged the mix until I could hear it doing something, then tuned the 2 EQ knobs to the frequency range. This was not a fun way to warm things up.


I did discover a saturation knob in the Analog Delay plugin. It isn’t any better, but it at least does something. Unsync the ‘time’ control and set it to 1ms with the feedback at 0% basically eliminates the delay. Then you’re free to use the saturation in parallel.

Next, I hated that the gates don’t have a hysteresis control, which isn’t an issue when using something like the SSL channel strip gate, because they just don’t need it. I’ve never had to do this before, but I stacked up gates to add a second layer of control. Timing two gates to work in tandem is not fun, and I hope I never have to do it again.

Speaking of hysteresis, another thing I was caught off guard by is that S1 doesn’t have a proper transient design tool. Its been a very long time since I’ve had to manually tune an expander to re-shape the decay time in cymbal hits and to enhance the ghost-notes on a snare. This was annoying. I stuck the Waves Smack attack behind it just to use the visual display because it took me a minute to remember how to use an expander.

The other major problem I had was verbs. OMG! Was ever I not prepared for what would happen when someone takes away my Bricasti away :frowning: I went for 3 verbs on this mix. A short, a long, and a plate. I started by trying to copy my settings from the Exponential Phoenix verb into this thing, and it didn’t work. The early reflections lacked detail, and there was a nasty phase like issue that occurred when trying to widen the image. The sound felt claustrophobic and muddy. So I ditched the numbers and just started turning knobs until I had something I could tolerate. I had to laugh when my display was showing me a 13x6 room that sounds more like a 4x6 bedroom closet to me.

Verbs were big problem here. I was hoping I could use some guitar pedal verbs from the amp simulator plugin but like the Scuffham plugin, you can’t bypass the head and amp to just access the reverb from the guitar pedals. Its too bad though, because to me they sound better than the reverb plugin.

The chorus/doubler tool in S1 is obnoxiously awful. I remembered there was a way to create a choursing effect by smearing a delay so that the crests and troughs of the sound waves smear into a chorus. But it didn’t work. I ended up making 2 more copies the vocal track, transposing +10 cents/ -10 cents, then manually un-aligning it with the dry vocal by 9ms and 19ms. Then I panned the doubles hard L/R, filtered, saturated, lo-fi’d and then we had a doubled vocal. Shit, that was a lot of work :frowning:

I’m pretty confident that I can force out a listenable demo mix with stock plugins. But it sure as hell doesn’t mean I want to. I’d post a mix, but the client is a songwriter attempting to publish an entire catalog of stuff for licenses.

I like studio one but i can’t say that i have used the stock plugins much. I fortunately/unfortunately ( i am not sure which) have a decent collection of plugins to work with.

Now go figure. Lol.

The guy sends me a list of all the plugins I could have used. All signature Waves, entire Abbey Road collection. Tonight he texted me and asked me what I thought he should get. My two recommendations in light of the epic wall of text above were the classic compressor and the Scheps Omni channel. Bought them. Installed them…now we’ll be changing some things on his mix. OMG! That Omni strip will be a game changer strait down from heaven on this dudes tracks!

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hi I have S1 Funny because I too use sweeten the vocal and turn down the verb a bit. When I use reverb, I use catacomb and turn that down too. I have version two and I only have ampire and that is not the best. chirp chirp

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I’m surprised he didn’t think to ask you what plugins you had in common instead of forcing you to work with stock plugins.

He bought them the day after I did his first mix lol

I don’t think he realized how much of a difference it would have made

I think you have moved on now, but for what it’s worth…

The Console Shaper is amazing(!) and worth reading up on. It’s in the “Mix FX” on top of the 2-buss and the busses channels. EQ something without it, then turn it on and listen to things just open up…


Softube’s Satration Knob is also a free download with your account which can sound pretty good on some things.


Reverbs: some have gotten really good results with the Room Reverb. I haven’t used it too much because it was pretty resource heavy early on.

Delays: assuming you’re on Professional, one of my favorite Studio One plugins is the Groove Delay. It too can be a little resource heavy, but when I want to dial in something creative quickly, that is one I’ll always try out.


What!!! I never even knew that thing was there! DANG!

Nice. I’ll have him download this one too. And (yet again) wasn’t aware of it. The Scheps, Abbey Road Redd, and J37 tape machine all have good saturation, but having this one on his rig certainly won’t hurt. Another one I just thought of is the Flux bittersweet. I need to poke around for a list of free plugins.

Love the Scheps, but I haven’t tried the other 2 yet and I had issues installing Flux, but people seem to like it.

If you’re talking about paid for saturation, as you know there is an almost limitless number. In particular to Studio One though is Softube’s Tape plugin. Presonus has integrated it into their MixFX architecture, the same idea as the Console Shaper. If it’s does anything close to what the Console Shaper does to tracks/mixes…! (I don’t have it yet.)

From that page:

Extras for Studio One Users
If you run Presonus Studio One, you can not only use Tape as a standard plug-in. Adding Tape to your MixFX slot gives you Tape Multitrack. Tape Multitrack includes all the goodies of Tape, but in addition, you get selectable crosstalk between each individual track—and you can easily control the Tape Multitrack settings from a single interface. The Tape and Tape Multitrack license is one and the same. This means that if you’re not a Studio One user but at some future point decide to switch to that DAW, you will already have Tape Multitrack installed, licensed and ready to go.

Some Freebies with saturation/character (so many!):

Klanghelm! :sunglasses:

Tokyo Dawn’s Slick EQ

Melda’s Free pack has a host of options, most notably is that the Free EQ allows you to add harmonics.

TSE Audio makes a decent enough knock-off of the SansAmp:

OK, I’ll stop there. :slight_smile:

Oh! Also, unique to Studio One (as far as I know) is the Splitter. You can split your channel audio by frequency, L/R channels, or simply split it for parallel processing. Endless possibilities!

OK, NOW I am stopping.

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This reminds me that I need to spend some time on S1! I’ve had the license for a couple years, but I got sidetracked. lol

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Well. Been mixing for those guys since about 10 am this morning. It went REALLY well. I cut them a break on the pricing because I felt like a clown fumbling around Studio One, but it really didn’t bother anyone. This was the first time I’ve really ‘battle tested’ S1…I’ve used it on a few broadcast mixes over the last few weeks, but not under the same kinds of time constraints and workflow pressure.

I’m very very impressed with that Scheps Omni strip. I found it to be deceptively versatile and the ability to patch in the CLA 2A, 3A, and 1176 into the chain just makes this thing a sheer beast.

That compressor bundle and the added oomph from the Scheps processing was just what this thing needed to get their demo mixes across the finish line. I had to use my UAD plugins to process the vocals but that was the only thing I felt external plugins were absolutely necessary for. Really cool guys.

They have an enormous amount of material and can’t pay me to do all of it. I think brining in their top priority songs and only having me spend about 45 min having me make as many major tweaks as I can then taking the mixes home and handling all the automation, arranging, tuning, editing, and comping is totally the right way to go for what they need. Namely a bunch of demos of their publishing catalog. They took careful notes on how to save me time. I let them know how I wanted stuff color coded, labeled, busses imported, automation cleaned off, marketed, composited etc… when you have a guy that’s serious about working with you, all of this stuff amounts to ridiculous amounts of time saving.

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Curious what is the reason behind using studio one for this project. Are you trying to get familiar with it for the fun of it and diving in head first or was it a requirement for the project? Learning a new DAW sucks.

For the same reason I use PT with everyone else. It places us on a common format. This publishing company has enough work to justify learning it. There’s one local recording studio in town and it runs on S1. I started learning it so I would be able to work with them as well down the road.

The idea was I spend about a 45 to an hr on each song, because they have a LOT of them. It saves me all kinds of time just being able to dropbox the files back to them. Its almost like working on Splice or the Avid Cloud.

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I picked this up for $29 recently - and I have to say it might be the first channel strip / EQ where I can hear a sound in my head and use a plugin to dial in that exact sound and tone. It just gets placed on every track in my DAW without question now.

Dude!! Me too!! What’s crazy is how much it exceeded my expectations. I’m able to dial sounds in on this thing that I’ve previously had to use four or five plugins to achieve. I know that sounds like duhhh because it is a channel strip, but what I realized is when I pull up the Neve 88rs or UAD E strip, I was only using half the channel strip because the other half wasn’t right for the sound. I can’t believe the ease of use on this thing, and how MANY different flavors it can nail with one instance. And OMG, being able to freely insert that optional plugin then move it about the path is something that I’ve only ever been able to do on consoles. The reason being that the routing options to the consoles patch matrix are NEVER included included in the plugin versions! We’re also talking about a serious DSP efficiency saver here too.

Edit: If that’s not clear, what I mean is that if you want an outboard compressor infront of or behind the EQ on a real SSL, you can use switches to route it there (located at the top of a channel on an SSL, Neve, or Avid console). No channel strip I know of (besides this one) allows for this. It enables you to maximize the features of the strip.

I was going to say in Studio One, just use he Splitter and a create a “channel strip” with any of your favorite plugins, not just Waves, then save it as an FX Chain that you can pull up whenever you want to…

Now you guys have got me wanting to take a deep dive into the Omni Channel. :thinking:

Now’s as good a time as any to demo it!

hah, i just did that too (demo’d it). Something like 187 parameters on that thing. They need to do another $29 special.

They will have a sale on Black Friday if not before. I actually picked it up a couple of months ago but havn’t used it much since I initially found it a little resource heavy for my CPU-challenged DAW.

Its gonna take months to build a midi controller for it anyway… I can wait. Maybe.