Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Capture-and Keep-Your Creative Impulses


Gregor Beyerle recently posted a video called Producer vs. Engineer-What's the Difference?, which had quite a few comments. It seems most people feel that for those who work in the studio by themselves, these roles overlap. But it's vital to understand the mindset of these different roles, because how we adapt to them can either enhance or destroy our creative impulses.

Why Creativity Is Elusive

You've probably experienced this: You have a great idea for some music. But by the time you boot your computer, open a file, turn on your interface, and get ready to record, the inspiration is gone. Or, you're deep into a groove and being super-creative. Then some technical glitch happens that requires fixing before you can proceed. Yet after you fix it, you can't get back to where you were.

These scenarios highlight how the brain works. Your brain has two hemispheres, which are dedicated to different functions. The brain's left hemisphere is involved in analytical and logical processes. The right hemisphere deals more with artistic and creative aspects. Although this is oversimplified (both hemispheres also work in collaboration), research into the nature of these differences earned the Nobel Prize in 1981 for Physiology or Medicine.

So How Can We Stay in a Creative Space?

Here's where it gets interesting. The corpus callosum is a wide, thick nerve tract that connects the two hemispheres-and several studies with MRI and fMRI scanners have implied that a musician's corpus callosum has better wiring than the general population. Apparently, playing music is like an exercise that improves the ability of information to flow between the two hemispheres.

Before home studios became common, recording involved the artist (right hemisphere), engineer (left hemisphere), and an experienced producer who integrated the two. The artist could stay in a right-brain, creative space because the engineer took care of the analytical tasks. The engineer kept a left-brain focus to make the technology run smoothly. Meanwhile, the producer integrated both elements to shape the final production.

Today, when we wear all three hats, we have to switch constantly among these three roles. This works against the way the brain likes to function. Once you're doing tasks that take place primarily in one hemisphere, it's difficult to switch to activities that involve the other hemisphere. That's why getting sidetracked by a glitch that requires left-hemisphere thinking can shut down your creative flow.

Retrospective Recording to the Rescue

Fortunately, Studio One has a built-in engineer who remembers everything you play on a MIDI controller (fig. 1). Create an instrument track, and just start playing. You don't need to hit record or enable anything, because Studio One is always doing background recording of whatever MIDI data you play. You don't even have to arm a track for recording, as long as the track's Monitor button is enabled. If after playing for a while you come up with a great idea, just type Shift+[numpad *] or click the red button in fig. 1. Then, Studio One collects all the notes it squirreled away, and transfers them into the instrument track you were using.

Figure 1: Retrospective Recording works in the background to capture all the MIDI notes you play, whether or not you're recording.

There are two Retrospective Recording modes. If the transport isn't running, simply play in free time. Or, if the transport is running and you're playing to a click, the notes will be time-stamped correctly relative to the grid. Furthermore, with Input Quantize enabled (fig. 2), these notes will be snapped to the grid. However, be aware that if you switch Retrospective Recording modes (e.g., record with the transport stopped, then record with the transport running), anything captured previously using the other mode disappears.

Figure 2: Play to the click, and Retrospective Recording will place your notes on the timeline-as well as quantize them if Input Quantize is enabled.

Retrospective Recording operates independently for each track. If you have different instruments on different tracks, you can play on one track and then decide to play on a different track. Everything in a track will be remembered until you transfer what you played to that track. For example, maybe you think playing on an acoustic piano will get your creative juices flowing, but you might wonder if an electric piano would be better. Load both instruments on their own tracks, play on each one, and you'll find out which inspired you to play the better part.

What About Audio?

As expected, Studio One won't remember audio that you play-audio requires much more memory than a MIDI data stream. But there's a Faderport workaround that's almost as good. Plug a footswitch into the Faderport. As soon as you open a song in Studio One, select a track, choose a track input, and arm the track for recording. Then, start playing. When inspiration strikes, press the footswitch. From that point on, Studio One will record on the track that you armed. Tap the footswitch again to stop recording but keep the transport running. You can resume recording with another footswitch tap. To end recording or playback, stop the transport.

Other techniques can help you stay in your right hemisphere. For example, the right hemisphere parses colors easier than text, so using color to identify tracks helps keep you in a creative space. Also, knowing shortcuts and macros can make initiating functions so second-nature you don't have to think about them. In any case, the bottom line is that when it comes to being creative, you don't want to think about anything-other than being creative.
See more stories from presonus

More from PreSonus


The Sweet Spot with Grammy-Nominated Producer 6ix

Logic's Grammy-nominated producer breaks down his Sweet Spot. Before he found success as an avant-garde hip hop producer, 6ix was just 30 units shy of a de...


The Sweet Spot with Multi-Platinum Producer Warren Huart

The Grammy-nominated multi-Platinum producer breaks down his Sweet Spot. From the studio with chart-topping artists like Aerosmith and The Fray, to empowering ...


Don't Make This Mixing Mistake!

By Craig Anderton Do you think of mixes in absolute terms, or relative terms? Knowing the difference, and when to apply which approach, can make a huge differe...


Tuff Beats

By Craig Anderton Calling all beats/hip-hop/EDM/hard rock fans: This novel effects starts with drums modulating the Vocoder's white noise carrier, and take...


Reinvent Your Stereo Panning

This tip is about working with stereo, NOT about Dolby Atmos or surround-but we're going to steal some of what Atmos does to reinvent stereo panning. Stud...


Studio One: Mix in a New Dimension with Jeff Ellis

The GRAMMY-winning recording and mix engineer shows us how he uses Studio One to create an artful immersive mix. Jeff Ellis is a force to be reckoned with. The...


Presence Electric 12-String (the Artist Version Remix)

Presence's sound library includes a fine acoustic 12-string guitar, but not an electric one. So, perhaps it's not surprising that one of the more popula...


Faster, Simpler, and Better Comping

At first, this might not seem too exciting. But follow the directions below, and try comping using this method-I don't think you'll be disappointed. Thi...


How to Quickly Slash Your Latency

You know the feeling: You're tracking or doing an overdub with a virtual instrument or amp sim, but you're frustrated by the excessive latency inherent ...


How to Fix Phase Issues

Recording audio using more than one feed from the same source may create phase issues. For example, when miking a bass amp and taking a DI (dry) input, the DI&#...


Bigger, Wider Sounds: Try Stereo Miking

If you haven't experimented yet with mid-side stereo miking, you'll be in for a treat when you do. Here's why: Record background singers with gorge...


How to Prioritize Vocals with Mix Ducking

This complements the tip Better Ducking for Voiceovers and Podcasts and the tip Why I Don't Use Compression Anymore. It applies the concept of voiceover duc...


Should You Use Highpass Filters when Mixing?

Engineers sometimes advocate using high-pass filters to clean up the low end and tighten the sound. Others believe that because of issues inherent in highpass...


Studio One: A Brief Exploration with Josh Cumbee

The GRAMMY-nominated artist, producer, and songwriter shows us how he uses Studio One to cook a musical idea from scratch. Josh Cumbee is a triple threat: The ...


Why I Don't Use Compressors Anymore

This wasn't a conscious decision, or something I planned. But when I looked through my last few songs while seeking candidates for a book's screenshots,...


Phrasing-The Final Correction Frontier

First, a follow-up: In the October 13 tip about creating Track Presets for parallel processing, I mentioned that Track Presets can't include buses, which is...


Vocoder Tweaks and Tricks

Vocoder's aren't normal effects. For example, Arturia's Vocoder V is an effect/instrument hybrid, because it's an audio effect that includes a...


Release Your Music in Stereo and Immersive

For over a decade, stereo and mono vinyl records co-existed before the transition to stereo was complete. During that time, many records were released in both m...


String Arrangements Made Simple

Strings can enhance almost any genre of music-and with a little more effort, you can do string arrangements that go beyond simply adding a string pad preset. So...


The Metal Amp De-Harsher

Since Dynamic EQ was introduced in version 5, I've used it to replace and improve some techniques I used to do with static EQ. For example, I'm a fan of...


Capture-and Keep-Your Creative Impulses

Gregor Beyerle recently posted a video called Producer vs. Engineer-What's the Difference?, which had quite a few comments. It seems most people feel that f...


Better Drum Reverb with Dynamic EQ

Sending too many low frequencies through reverb gives a bloated, muddy sound. This is one reason why you'll rarely see a send from a bass track going into r...


A Happy Accident for Drum Sounds

While trying to do something else with Melodyne, I stumbled on this way to add depth or tightness to drum sounds-quickly and easily. Here's the sound of an ...


Create Track Presets for Parallel Processing

Parallel processing splits a signal into two or more parallel channels. Bi-amping is a common example of parallel processing: One channel processes low frequen...


Easy Atmos: Grab Headphones, Mix, Have Fun!

Everyone talks about the importance of Dolby Atmos for post-production, but the implications go further than that. Atmos really does change how you create and ...


You Can Do Immersive Audio. Right Now.

You don't need a massive surround system with speakers wired all over your studio to create immersive audio. Whether you want surround or Dolby Atmos mixes...


Better Ducking for Voiceovers & Podcasts

By Craig Anderton Background music or environmental sounds are usually an essential part of commercials, movies, presentations, podcasts, and more. When doing ...


Steal Your Intro-with Ripple Editing

The post Mixing la Studio One had a great response, so here's another tip that relates more to making better music than making better-sounding music. We&#...


Quick EQ Fixes with Dynamic Tilt EQ

This FX Chain's inspiration is the Tilt filter circuit created by Tonelux designer Paul Wolff. First used in the Tonelux MP1A mic preamp, the Tilt filter h...


Create Authentic, Customizable EDM Pumping with X-Trem

But first, some breaking news: Version 1.5 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available from the PreSonus shop. Like previous versions, it...


Superspeed Comping with Studio One 6.2

Studio One 6.2 reworked Layer and Take handling, and some of the new functionality is exceptionally useful. For example, suppose you want to record comp vocals ...


The PhaseTone Warper

We haven't done a boutique digital effect for Studio One Professional in a while, so let's use a plugin in a totally wrong way-yet end up with somethi...


Improve MIDI Drum Loop Flow

MIDI drum loops have a bad rap, because some musicians consider them metronomic and boring. But they don't have to be. Subtly leading or lagging the beat at...


Mixing la Studio One

Ask 100 recording engineers about their approach to mixing, and you'll hear 100 different answers. Here's mine, and how this approach relates to Studio ...


FL Studio Meets Studio One

FL Studio is a cool program. Yet when some users see me working with Studio One's features like comping tools, harmonic editing, the lyrics track, Mix FX, M...


Make Bass Pop in Your Mix

Bass has a tough gig. Speakers have a hard time reproducing such low frequencies. Also, the ear is less sensitive to low (and high) frequencies compared to midr...


Notion Mobile 3.2 Now Available

Notion Mobile v3 took mobile music creation to the next level with support for iOS, Android, Windows and macOS. Now v3.2 adds many enhancements and fixes, as we...


Enhance Your Reverb's Image

First, an announcement: If you own the eBook How to Record and Mix Great Vocals in Studio One, you can download the 2.1 update for free from your PreSonus acc...


Free! Three Primo Piano Presets

Let's transform your acoustic piano instrument sounds-with effects that showcase the power of Multiband Dynamics. Choose from two download links at the end ...


Fix Boring Acoustic Drum Loops

Acoustic drum loops freeze-dry a drummer's playing-so, what you hear is what you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. ...


3 Special FX for Lead Guitar

Melodyne can do much more than vocal pitch correction. Previous tips have covered how to do envelope-controlled flanging and polyphonic guitar-to-MIDI conversio...


MIDI-Accelerated Delay Effects

Synchronized echo effects, particularly dotted eighth-note delays (i.e., intervals of three 16th notes), are common in EDM and dance music productions. The foll...


Friday Tips in the Real World: the Sequel

This is a follow-up to the Friday Tips in the Real World blog post that appeared in 2020. It was well-received, so I figured it was time for an update. Althoug...


The Surprising Channel Strip EQ

Announcement: Version 1.4.1 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is a free update to owners of previous versions. Simply download the book again from ...


Set Up the Quantum Interface Preamps with One Track

A single Automation track can set up a session's preamp levels and phantom power in the Quantum interface, as well as the older Studio 192. So, you can stop...


The Drenched Chorus

Studio One's chorus gives the wet sound associated with chorus effects. But I wanted a chorus that went beyond wet to drenched-something that could swirl ...


Solve Vocal Problems with the De-Esser

Studio One offers several ways to de-ess excessive sibilants ( s sounds). De-essing combines compression and EQ. The EQ focuses on the frequency range where ...


Authentic 60s Flanger for Artist

In the 60s, flanging was an electro-mechanical process that involved two turntables or two tape recorders. Since then, flanging has evolved into a digitally dri...


EZ Vocal Plosive Control

No matter how carefully you set up a mic's pop filter, some pops are bound to get through the filter with vocalists who sing close to the mic. But you don&#...


15 Free Analog Cab IRs for Ampire

This week, I wanted to give y'all a little gift: 15 analog cab IRs that provide alternate User Cabinet sounds for Ampire. Just hit the download link at th...