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Presonus Studio One 6 – The Synth and Software Review



If you were worried that the program was going to be dumbed down when Fender bought the company, guess again

PreSonus has announced version 6 of Studio One. This is the first major revision of their digital audio workstation (DAW) since Fender Music Instrument Corporation (FMIC) announced its acquisition of PreSonus in November 2021.

The DAW was originally introduced in 2011, and has steadily gained more users, adding substantial features and becoming popular the world over. As is usually the case with its major revisions, PreSonus has added a healthy list of new features in version 6.

At the time of the acquisition, FMIC CEO Andy Mooney opined that the program should be simpler and more intuitive. That statement unsettled more than a few Studio One “power users,” who interpreted his comment to mean Fender would dumb down the app to make it friendlier to hobbyists, musicians, and other folks who are more interested in creating music than in pro audio.

Studio One 6 should bring a sigh of relief from those who worried it would stripped of its powerful pro audio features. It’s still the same world-class DAW with all the capabilities it’s ever had.

Smart templates, customizable interface. Fender did, however, honor Mooney’s thinking with a couple of new features: smart templates and a customizable user interface. These smart templates for a variety of project types show up when you launch the program.

The customizable user interface lets you decide which tool buttons and functions appear in the user interface, a nice way to declutter the app for those who only need a few simple buttons. More subtly but still noticeable, it has been made very clear and readable.

Global lyrics track. Another welcome new feature is the global lyrics track. It shows lyrics directly in the session on a horizontal track. They can also be displayed in a separate window, which could be sent to a completely separate monitor – useful for vocal tracking sessions or live performance.

In this view, the current lyrics are highlighted in blue (as distinct from the normal white-on-black display) – not exactly “follow the bouncing ball” but similar to a karaoke-style display, and very helpful. The lyrics editor allows syllable-level alignment of lyrics with MIDI notes, and lyrics can also be displayed directly in the MIDI editing window.

Lyrics can be imported from an external text editor, and they also link directly to Studio One’s notation view, so you can create high quality sheet music with lyrics. Another neat aspect of this feature is the ability to navigate through the song’s timeline by clicking on lyrics – very nice to quickly get to a song section based on the request of a vocalist to “go to the spot where I sing such-and-such.”

Global video track. Studio One now offers a global video track, a feature absolutely necessary for film or television audio production. You can drag video clips directly into the track, and simple cut/copy/paste editing is available. Video can be slipped, and ripple editing is featured as well. (Ripple editing means that if you insert some frames, video [or audio] automatically moves over to the right to accommodate it; if you cut frames, video moves left to fill in the gap.)

Clips can be locked to time locations, and there is a replacement feature for when the film editor sends the latest edited clip. Any audio embedded with the video appears on an associated audio track, where it can be separated and processed just like any other audio in the DAW. 

Another feature that audio for film or television producers will appreciate is the spot option for events, which lets you place events on the timeline based on based on various attributes, including start and end points or their original timecode position.

Plug-ins. Studio One 6 adds three new plug-ins: a de-esser, a vocoder, and the latest revision of the DAW’s stock equalizer – ProEQ3. ProEQ3 is a dynamic equalizer, a truly sophisticated feature for the stock EQ built into a DAW.

Studio One’s autofilter has also been updated with new parameters and capabilities. The de-esser is simple but effective, and the vocoder opens up substantial new creative options.

Sidechain. Virtual instrument sidechain support is a handy mix feature. Routing an audio signal to the sidechain input of a virtual instrument used to be a bit of a chore. Now it’s a simple pull-down menu. Any audio can be routed to an instrument’s sidechain input, either at the source or the destination. By using auxiliaries, external signals can be introduced, a handy way to get a microphone input to the aforementioned vocoder, for example.

Track presets and other mixing delights. A new track preset feature lets you save and recall literally everything about tracks or channels. If you use a large-format mixing console, you’ll be happy to see the new fader flip mode.

Any auxiliary can now be flipped with the mixer’s main faders, making it easy to adjust send levels for effects, cue mixes, and sidechains. This is particularly nice for working with fader controllers, making it quick and easy to adjust all the effects sends, tweak a monitor mix, and so on.

Auxiliary sends can applied to effects channels, for instance to send a delay into a reverb.

Alternative panning modes. Double-clicking a channel’s pan display opens a larger display showing balance, dual, and binaural panning. You can now link the panning of an auxiliary to the panning of the main channel.

Double clicking an auxiliary send now opens a larger display, making it easier to control. Studio One has historically offered “micro view” controls for parameters in its stock plug-ins, but parameters of third-party plugins can also be displayed on the channel in the same way, and you choose which parameters are shown.

Track and channel icons are now available, with images for just about any musical instrument, section, or other mix-oriented element imaginable. A new “mixer channel overview” has  pop-up box showing every attribute of the selected channel.

Collaboration. The new version advances the DAW’s collaboration features, making for an easier workflow with others using any DAW, not just with other Studio One users.

MPE. Note controller features (for polyphonic aftertouch and MIDI polyphonic expression) has now been integrated into Studio One’s Mai Tai, Sample One XT, and Presence XT virtual instruments, for more expressive playing with MPE-compliant controllers.

Database. You could already organize plugins into folders in the browser, but now you can designate presets as favorites.

A similar improvement has been made at the start page level of the DAW. Sessions can now be organized into folders, for example a folder for each artist or project. You can create a unique profile for each artist, including name, genre, website address, and an image – all information to be imbedded into each mix as ID3 data (ID3 is a metadata container standard).

Stepping back. PreSonus is throwing a bone to several different types of users. Some of the improvements are targeted at small studio producer types (“beatmakers”), some at composers for film and television, others are targeted at serious mixers.

The improvements are substantial and beneficial, and they signal that fears of Fender dumbing the product down were unfounded.

Studio One has always been quite customizable, but it’s even more so in version 6. It has some meaningful advantages over other DAWs, particularly for songwriting and composition. Studio One 6 represents a considerable step forward.

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