Check out this podcast with Armand Mech, Eirik Murbraech, and myself as we discuss forgettable functional vs. memorable functional sound design, breaking into the industry, mental health, and changing the world through games!
Aaah, the love affair with a good brand; isn't that what we're all after? Well, I wasn't, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a sucker for a good romance. Just when I wasn't sure I could trust again, I found myself falling for a new pretty interface, a sharp DAW mind, long-throw faders, and encoder knobs for days. 2.5 years in and I'm still receiving confirmation that it hasn't been just puppy love or infatuation. Indulge me while I brag about my relationship.
Studio One 3
So, it's been a while and I'm still developing a deeper connection with this beautiful brain. We serenade each other all the time - maybe to the annoyance of neighbours, but we really don't care. After all the updates that I've coddled and had a say in (PreSonus Feature Requests), it still feels like we just met yesterday; that's how fresh and promising it still is. Steadily I encounter a feature or workflow aid that makes me feel like I'm truly done with neglectful DAWs. I keep putting myself out there for Studio One, and Studio One keeps reciprocating.
For example, when I was creating the music for Oddbird Studio's award-winning game "Arrow Heads", I needed to separate the instrumentals into 3 different layers that would gradually compile during gameplay. Even though some of the music was already made, the Scratch Pads (and Arranger) made it incredibly easy to create and organize new arrangements within the existing sessions. I also used this convenient feature when I songified that same loopable music for the official soundtrack - a soundtrack created entirely within Studio One 3. To me, great software isn't just having the right features; it's making those features accessible, desirable, intuitive, and adaptable. So, it's not enough for me if another DAW can accommodate similar needs. The how, where, and why of a feature is just as crucial to me as the what. Studio One has done this better than any other DAW I've used. There's really no substitute for your significant other being able to handle the unexpected, and handle it with such creative tact.
Also, I need to mention how much I love Studio One's browser. It didn't even dawn on me until about 1 year in that I didn't have to leave Studio One in order to find, preview, and drag 'n drop external files. I think I just keep assuming Studio One can't possibly surprise me again; I'm not sure why considering that's all it ever does. This browser feature is an epic time-saver, but the main reason I love it is because it keeps me immersed in my session. It feels like everything I could possibly need is already in there with me; not just files, but cloud connectivity, and even the PreSonus Shop too. When a DAW does this sort of thing here and there, it's called getting lucky. When a DAW does this sort of thing all the time, it's called Studio One.
Studio One 3
Scratch Pad Layers for "Arrow Heads"
My Command 8 in 2007
Once upon a time I had the Command 8 with my old Pro Tools LE setup. I had been wanting a controller with motorized faders ever since I got to touch my first studio console. But I found myself not really using it, so I sold it and just kept developing my craft. Years later I really started to feel the itch to be more hands-on. So, factoring in design, budget, my past falling out with a controller, and my newly acquired Studio One 3 software; I went with the PreSonus Faderport. I wanted it to be my new test drive for the controller experience. Surprisingly, this little thing made a big impact; it showed me what a fader controller was supposed to be.
It spoke volumes that this one-track motorized fader controller even existed! I wondered why anyone would make such a thing. The norm among brands was always a big price tag for 8 faders or more, yet I kept seeing this singular Faderport in big and small studios around the world. Turns out, a motorized fader controller is less about the breadth and more about the depth; PreSonus understood this. This one-track Faderport doesn't have a one-track mind toward your DAW; it communicates to it simply, but deeply.
After using this, I finally grasped the value of a bigger controller. When I purchased the Faderport 8 (which I was dying for), the Faderport didn't cease to be useful. My favourite use now is to assign it to my master fader. They didn't make the Faderport irrelevant, which was a good call.
I got this one used and immediately loved it. When I acquired 3 sets of studio monitors, it was a no brainer for simple, yet dynamic monitoring. It also worked as a great travelling headphone amp when showcasing my team's award-winning "Unspokin" game at public events like Level Up Toronto, TCAF, and DigiFest; that's my main use for it now. I can even give hints to stuck players during gameplay using the talkback mic; that way they don't have to keep losing the immersion by ripping off their headphones. Once again, this product suggests that PreSonus cared a little bit more than other brands about what this type of gear needed to be. And yes, I also just love seeing the PreSonus logo in my setup more and more.
PreSonus Monitor Station
The Monitor Station at Level Up Toronto
PreSonus Studio 192
This was an exciting upgrade for me! It marked the end of my 12-year DigiDesign/Avid interface era (Mbox 2 / Mbox 3 Pro). I wanted a newer and more inspiring interface; I wanted it to be rackmountable to save desk space, and I also just wanted to get the Avid brand off my studio desk (long story.. bad breakup). I looked into Motu and some other interfaces I had been eyeballing, but the Studio 192 had me drooling for the same practical and romantic reasons as my other PreSonus investments.
The recallable preamps, the built-in DSP / fat channel, the DP88 expandability, the UC Surface app, and 10 freakin' outputs! I don't know about you but I can never have enough outputs. If I could have an entire room of A-Z speakers to cycle through, I would. I love seeing this machine pump out results no matter what's hooked up to it. If Studio One 3 is the brain, then Studio 192 is the beat clocking heart. Once something is connected to it, the free flow begins. I never have to worry about cold latent hands, malnourished signal, or noise murmurs. I don't feel locked out of my interface anymore; I feel invited. It centralizes my setup, it's helping me solve capture problems before they occur, and it remembers all the important things I tell it.
Faderport 8 I really don't know how to say enough about this award-winning work of art. It's just everything I've wanted and never knew I needed for so long. If Studio One 3 is the brain, Faderport 8 is the most intimate way to communicate with that mind. I still keep learning what this can do, and I still keep upgrading my workflow. Besides the perfect Studio One 3 integration, ease of use, and sheer beauty of it, you can quickly program a handful of its buttons to command virtually any conceivable function of Studio One 3. I have buttons now for my A/B/C speakers, song mixdown, loudness detection, and even song info. And changing those up is so easy it's practically unfair. Finding your tracks are a cinch between the navigation, real-time track colours, and scribble strip info. Once I discovered how easy it was to access and execute with my Faderport 8, I found myself making better use of things like busses, writing automation, and most imperatively, mixing with my ears instead of my eyes. There's really no way to do the Faderport 8 justice apart from experiencing it. I could go on and on but I don't even want to; I'm insulted that you expect me to keep going when you should already own one.
PreSonus Faderport 8
Studio One RC
Studio One Remote
Apps like this are the reason I bought an iPad in the first place. It's a communicate with anything from anywhere proposition - like a shared telepathy with your DAW. I can clip this to my mic stand and control what I need to without running back and forth between my computer and the mic. If I need to mix while standing in different spots; this app does it. If I need to record in my closet for that old school absorption; this app does it. If I need a second operational screen; this app does it. If I want to impress people by controlling my studio with my iPad... well, you get the idea! You can control so much, so easily, and without being tied down.
Universal Control Surface
The only thing potentially cooler than having a Studio 192 is the ability to interact with it from anywhere in the room! This is so great for standing in different sweet (and bitter) spots of my studio and cycling through speakers A, B, and C. It's amazing to control the fat channel on each input, the headphone mixes, and so much more with this. This app demonstrates the extended thought put into the 192. If PreSonus cares enough about their products when they make them, it will return an equal appreciation from us when we use them. Audio is our passion, and in some cases, our means of living, so why on earth would we want to use products that hardly reflect that same passion?
Oh, did I mention that the PreSonus headphones are also a steal? Well, they are. I also managed to find a pair of PreSonus SD7 pencil condenser mics, and yes, I love the stickers too.
I have my eye on more PreSonus products that I'm sure will find their way into my setup eventually. The AMT or Sceptre monitors, their new StudioLive Series III ecosystem which I keep salivating over, and also some older classics that I would love to obtain for their unique sound, like the Vacuum-Tube Studio Channel. I'm even looking to get their apparel! I don't ever do that unless I'm truly moved by a brand. I'm incredibly curious if they'll come out with a new central station (even though the current one is still holding up after so many years), or a monitor station V3, or more dedicated processors and preamps.
Anyways, the point is that the PreSonus brand has been doing its part to help me create better, work happier, and be excited for the long-term relationship. I'm proud to be seen in public with it and I'm always telling my friends about it. Some might say we've been moving kind of fast, but that's because they don't know what we have. Yeah, I'm a bit of a PreSoNut, but I think we all do crazy things when we're in lov... ely states of growth!