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PreSonus, Studio One 3 Professional Review

Studio One 3 Professional from PreSonus has got to be the most complete and robust DAW that I have ever come across, and that goes without mentioning all the hardware that PreSonus has that works with it perfectly.

From just starting out with creating a new song or project to those that have been doing it for years, Studio One 3 Professional is a workhorse and has everything you need to get your productions done without using extra plugins, loops, or software instruments. Alone, there are 44 tutorials covering every aspect of Studio One that you need to get you up and running in no time.

When creating a new song, you have an abundant amount of templates to choose from or you can create your own. What’s great about the style templates is that, say for instance, you load the House/Techno template, it opens up with a house/techno sample song complete with tracks and basically all you really need to get started to create your production.

Virtual Instruments

Studio One 3 Professional has five virtual instruments which include Impact, Mai Tai, Mojito, Presence XT, and SampleOne. Impact is a drum machine with 45 kits and 34 MVP Loops, which contains kits and special effects. Mai Tai is a synth with two oscillators, 2 LFO’s, filter and envelope controls, modulation, delay, and reverb, and noise control. Mai Tai has patches for bass, bell, drum, FX, Heavy Artillery, leads, pads, poly, strings, and templates to get you started on creating a synth of your own.

Mojito is another synth with 59 patches and the ability to create your own patches. Personally, I think Presence XT is the coolest synth in Studio One 3 Professional. Presence XT includes virtually all instruments such as guitars, keys, organs, percussion, bass, effects, strings, brass, and woodwinds. I noticed some of the instruments have key switches, especially within the orchestral ones.  SampleOne, as the name implies, is a sampler. SampleOne lets you import loops and will even let you import an audio file, either part or whole, into SampleOne right from the audio track. SampleOne even reads rex files that are widely used with reason. Having not used SampleOne before, I was up and running fairly quickly. If you have used samplers before, SampleOne really is a breeze.

Arranger Track and Scratch Pad

There are lots of tools and effects within Studio One 3 Professional to help you create your song the way you want it. The Arranger Track feature allows you to rearrange your song by copy and paste, moving sections, and deleting sections. The Arranger Track helps you organize your song into sections like Intro, Verse, Chorus, and so on. You can then click on a section and move it to anywhere in the song where you want it place. I have found that the Scratch Pad feature works great with Arranger Track. It let me create something, not being sure if it worked or not, and not messing up my creation, to experiment.

When creating the scratch pad, you can drag it over the original arrangement to the place where you want to try something different, and from that point, you can drag whatever you want from the original composition to the scratch pad. When you achieve want you want in Scratch Pad, you can drag it back to you original composition on Arranger Track. These two tools combined work great together.

I’ve been taking an EDM class, and one of the assignments was to create a track that is only 20-24 seconds long, a full composition, then break that down into different parts and make an entire arrangement out of that creation. This has and will make future compositions easier for myself and everyone else as well! You can create as many Scratch Pads as you want in a song, so the possibilities are endless, and even more fun for doing remixes.

Midi Effects

Diving into midi effects, I want to start off with Note FX, which is new to Studio One 3 Professional and is found under the Instruments tab. Note FX is used to help change and or make midi data easier to work with tools that you may be familiar with such as arpeggiators, input filters, repeaters, and chord tools.

What I found with the Arpeggiator was that the presets seemed more lifelike and not robotic as with some other DAWS. With having up to 32 note lengths for the Arpeggiator, the options are almost endless, but I think you may find yourself using the really cool presets more than creating your own and manipulating them in some form. It can do single note arpeggios or even add some cool rhythms to chords in chord mode, and of course, there is a user input mode. The Arpeggiator has nine presets.

The Chorder is another tool that creates chords from single notes and if you are like me, well, I can do okay on piano, but if I can play chords using one note, then that is what I’m going to do. There are presets to use or you can create your own to use. I like the fact that it is really quick to create your own chords in Chorder, especially if you want to use extended chords like maybe a C Major 11 for example. Chords can be transposed an octave up or down. The default range of Chorder is C2 to C4, but the range can be adjusted to be larger or smaller. The presets are divided into three sections, Chord Groups, Chord Types, and Intervals. Chord Groups has ten presets including Neo-Soul, EDM, and Rock. Chord Types has nine presets for Augmented, Diminished, Major, Sus Chords, and more.

Intervals has five presets including octaves, thirds, fourth, and fifths. I combined the Arpeggiator and Chorder on a piano track using the Piano in Presence XT and came up with some really cool ideas for future tracks.

Input Filter is a tool I will probably be using a lot. It helps to define the key range and velocity of your midi data. Sometimes when creating a new song, I find myself adjusting velocity for each note, which can be time consuming, Input Filter will help speed up this process so you can spend more time creating new music. The last tool in Note FX is the Repeater. The Repeater can create echo and delay effects, adjust pitch and velocity, and note length. In a way, this may seem similar to the Arpeggiator, but it isn’t. A lot of different patterns can be created from this with dynamics and velocity being a big part of the patterns. I think I had the most fun combining the Chorder and Repeater and taking the presets and manipulating them. It came up with some really cool chord changes and rhythms with being able to adjust pitch and velocity for each step, having a total of up to 32 steps. You can also adjust the note length from quarter note to a 1/64th triplet note. The Repeater can also transpose down 70 semitones or up 120 semitones for each individual step. Not only does it make for some nice chord changes, it can be used to create some groovy bass lines too!

Extended FX Chains

Extended FX Chains allow you to be more creative with effects and can be any combination of serial or parallel effects. Each channel in the Mix console has a channel editor, which also allows you to do routing of the effects, with basically just drag and drop into the channel editor. You also have the option of using a splitter within the channel editor, which allows you to expand the routing of effects even more with being able to do up to 5 connections with the splitter. You can also mute any of the effects and have options for split mode to include normal, channel, or frequency split. In normal mode, the signal is sent to all devices on the splitter, in channel mode, say if you have 2 effects on the splitter, one will go to the right channel, the other to the left channel. In frequency mode narrows or widens the frequency range to the effects. You can even use splitters within splitters, so the amount of effects that you can use is practically limitless!

Multi Instruments

Another cool feature of Studio One 3 Professional is Multi Instruments. This, as the name applies, lets you have multiple instruments on one track and allows you to record and play them as a single instrument. Basically, this works very similar to the FX chains, just drag and drop an instrument on a track, then add another to the same track. When you drag another instrument onto the track, choose the option to combine instead of replace. You then get a window where the multi instruments are displayed. From this point, you can edit the instruments in the Multi Instrument window changing the many options that are available, adding NoteFX, with a minimum of 3 instruments, setting the range, transpose, panning each instrument individually, and more. You also have the option to save these instruments as presets and there are a lot of Multi Instrument presets already provided for use. All VST and AU instruments will work as Multi Instruments. Once you have your multi instruments set up, you can add and remove different instruments right into the multi instrument window, instead of dragging them to the track and adding them that way. More options include control knobs to control parameters and effects of the instruments. I suggest taking a look at the multi instrument presets to get an idea of how powerful this is.

Mastering

Studio One 3 Professional is packed full of everything you need, from starting and building your song, all the way down to final mastering. Studio One 3 Professional includes all the tools needed to master your project or song, no matter what level you are at. Studio One projects are built for mastering and it has four workspaces. You start out by placing the songs you want to master in the track column or project page. Studio One 3 Professional can also mix down your song for you automatically. Each track can be modified separately for your project. VST and AU effects and tools can be used along with the mastering tools already found in Studio One 3 Professional. The mastering section has everything you need to finish your project including compressors, limiters, EQs, spectrum analyzers, ability to place your tracks in different order and even crossfade tracks. I can see where crossfading tracks would be exceptionally beneficial with doing film scoring.

Conclusion

Studio One 3 Professional is the complete package, from start to finish for your songs and projects, no matter what the genre. Over the past few months, I have learned a lot about Studio One 3 Professional and still have a lot more to learn. There is so much that it can do that it is almost impossible to cover everything. From a basic standpoint, it is a DAW that allows you to create, produce and master your creations, whether it be EDM, or just doing tracks for others.

From a bigger perspective, it is everything you need in one package. I used it for quite a few airgigs and my clients were very pleased. I’ve used it in combination with Notion 6 and I’ve also used it to create EDM, beats, etc, and it does it all. As a matter of fact, with everything included in Studio One 3 Professional, you don’t need anything else.

Studio One 3 Professional also works great with other tools from PreSonus such as the Faderport series and PreSonus audio interfaces. It’s pretty cool how the Faderport works along with Studio One 3 Professional really giving you the feeling and control of something bigger than a home studio.

Check out Studio One 3 Professional online at presonus.com or at a PreSonus dealer near you.

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