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DAW Producing Music

Ten Days of Using Studio One 4

One guy’s 10 day journey of using a new digital audio workstation.

I took the plunge, about a week ago, and purchased Presonus Studio One Producer (v4). I am happy with this investment as I continue the practice of music production.

Exploring DAWs – Cakewalk, Studio One, etc

I started the process of re-evaluating DAWs ever since Propellerhead changed to Reason Studios and announced Reason 11 about a year ago. I wasn’t ready to fork over $$$ to upgrade.

During this time, I revisited Cakewalk, almost bought Bitwig 3, evaulated Reaper (briefly) and evaluated Studio One (hereafter referred to as “S1”).

I returned to Cakewalk as the primary DAW of choice in order to finish producing my “Journey” project — I used it to complete reproduction of “Gotcha” (the first track on the project) and developed a level of comfort from a mixing/mastering perspective.

That said, I continue reading (or “Googling”) about DAW comparisons. Recently, I looked at an article in which I had to agree with its conclusion — Cakewalk has become TOO big and unfocused in its feature set.

  • I love the Pro Channel, but do I need it on every channel by default?
  • Were there better DAWs out there that I could invest in…?

It was clear that I wasn’t “settled” on Cakewalk, and I still wasn’t willing to pony up $$$ for a Reason 11 upgrade.

Enter (or re-enter) “Studio One”.

“Studio One Artist” was already in my tool chest since it was included with my Presonus Studio 18|10 purchase.

After reading some good reviews about S1, I visited the Presonus website and saw S1 Pro “Upgrade” offered at a discounted prices (re: SALE!!).

After some considerations about present workflow and future plans, it seemed like a great time to take the plunge.

Disclaimer

This is not intended to be a review of S1.

There are plenty of ’em on the interwebs, and you and I have a cup (or pot) of coffee requiring our attenttion, plus better things to do with our time.

These are (briefly) my first impressions of S1 Pro in the ten(10) days or so of using it since the purchase.

Ten Days of “Hey”

In order to acclaimate to S1 Pro, I decided to re-produce “Hey” (if you want to hear a preview, hit me up on Twitter), one of the songs from my soon-to-be dropped “Journey” project that I recorded back in 2018 using Reason 10.

Templates

Creating a song based on a template designed for my Studio 18|10 audio interface couldn’t be easier.

Creating a new template based on my normal workflow is just as easy.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts are very intuitive once you get used to them. I even applaud the developers for including a shortcuts mapping for us Cakewalk stragglers in case we need the crutch.

Instruments

Impact (drums), Mai Tai (polysynth), Mojita (mono synth) and Presence (everything else) are good enough to use when sketching out a new track idea, and depending on the song, I can use them in the finished song.

Impact + Battery 4 Sample Library = WIN

Compared to Cakewalk (which really doesn’t have a comparable suite), this is a gust of fresh air.

Compared to Reason 10…? I miss Europa (really!) and Thor. If you see me post about upgrading to Reason 11 so I can use the Reason Rack in S1, this will explain it.

As I explore sound design with Mai Tai, I may end up not missing Europa, so there’s that.

Tracking / Automation

The process of creating a track is as simple as pressing “T”. Removing a track is as simple as pressing “Shift-T”. No complaints here.

Adding automation lanes is easy enough.

I had to get used to the drag-and-drop flow when copying clips events, but the process is simple enough.

Slicing clips events is REALLY easy. Press “3”, and start slicing. Press “1” to return to your select tool.

What I also love a lot is the simplicity of “scrolling” and “zooming” — both horizontal and vertical.

Console/Mixing

This is the feature of any DAW that I scrutinize the most.

  • S1 has VCAs. Cakewalk and Reason don’t. I recently discovered why VCAs are important in the mixing workflow.
  • I can easily set input levels for my mics (and other sources) in S1. Not that I can’t in Cakewalk or Reason, but it’s not as intuitive.
  • I prefer the Inserts and Sends UI in S1.
Effects

FAT Channel XT is a nice “comparable to Cakewalk’s Pro Channel” plugin.

Pro EQ is suitable
(I still prefer the SSL Native X-EQ strip)

Ampire is buggy (as in, when I reopen a song, output from the parent channel is blocked until I remove and re-add the Ampire plugin).

The Limiter is a nice revelation and is almost making me regret buying the Waves L3 stuff.

Room Reverb is ok, but I need to tweak it s’more.
(I still prefer the SSL Native FlexVerb strip).

VST Support

VSTs (both 2 and 3) are supported. I can use all of my Native Instrument toys to my heart’s desire.

Initial Conclusion

I found life and producing workflow to be an efficient breath of fresh air with Studio One 4, with respect to creating a song from start to finish.

S1s Project Section deserves a post of its own once I fully get used to exporting an entire project without the need of opening Audacity.

-derrek