Freebie: “Golden” Multiband Presets

   Multiband Dynamics Processors. Such Beasts. So Much Power. So Easy to Abuse.

   During experimentation for a different purpose (making the “ultimate audio effect”… stay tuned), i got carried away and made “Golden” presets for a bunch of Multiband Dynamics plugins.

So what are Golden Multiband presets?
   I’m glad you asked. The basic idea is to sculpt an audio source to be less like white noise and more like golden pink noise. So what is golden pink noise? A modification of pink noise that is colored by the “goldilocks curve”.

   For most of the “Multiband Dynamics” type processors i own (see brief reviews of many of them in this recent post) i’ve crafted a “Golden” preset.

   Since most music follows more of a pink noise curve than a white noise curve to begin with, applying the full effect is far more likely to have a “warming, thickening” effect than a “brightening” effect, though it does depend on the particular source and plugin.

   However, you’ll notice that if you compare a golden multiband preset applied to an audio part — as compared to a similar, static EQ curve, that they feel less “murky” than they do “bulky”. The Pinker rack is included in the “Xtras” folder to test this concept with quick A/B tests.

   For evenly balanced to bright mixes, a golden dynamic preset can be perfect to smooth things out and add a dash of debonair; for mixes that are already leaning on the darker side, they can still be helpful for adding in a grounding touch of solidity— but in these cases should usually be used to a more subtle degree.

   I’ve fashioned such “Golden” presets for the following plugins:

~TB Broadcast*
~Brainworx bx_dynEQ V2
~Brainworx bx_XL V2
~ProAudioDSP DSM V3
~HOFA Dynamic Tilt
~Waves F6
~GVST GMulti*
~VoS Limiter6*
~VoS Nova67P*
~TDR Limiter6 GE
~
Ableton Multiband Dynamics
~TDR Nova*
~TDR Nova GE
~Xfer OTT*
~Klevgrand Pressit
~Newfangled Punctuate
~IK Quad-Comp
~Sonic Anomaly Quadracom
~Reaper ReaFir*
~Reaper ReaXcomp*
~W.A. The King
~Max for Cats TriComp
~Acoustica VioletCM
~Freeverb3 WindCompressor*
~Beatassist X-Press*

   Since each plugin has different functionality, the exact curvature varies between them (which gives them individual character). Some, for example, have no low- or high-cut capabilities and so retain more of those frequencies. The dynamic behavior of each also differs, so they may affect various material dissimilarly (especially the ones that have upward in addition to downward compression!).  What all the presets share in common, however, is a basic sculpting which is more likely to help than hinder your overall tone for consistent playback on different speaker types. The more you use them, the more you’ll get a feel for the unique quirks of each.

~`~

DOWNLOAD THE “GOLDEN DYNAMICS” PRESETS HERE
golden dynamics

   Provided both as Audio Effect Racks for Ableton Live 10+ (.adg) and as vst presets (.fxp for VST2 or .vstpreset for VST3), organized in folders by type.
   They load the same presets, but the Ableton racks are also hard-wired with some useful macro mappings for quick knob twisting of the most relevant parameters.

   You can either grab the zip file with everything in it, or you can only grab the specific presets for the plugins you own. I would probably recommend that latter strategy. There is also a pdf user manual which includes links to all the plugin vendors.

   When both VST2 and VST3 versions of a particular plugin are available, i’ll provide both .fxp and .vstpreset extension types, and the Live rack will load with the VST3 version, with sensible macros mapped for easy access. When no VST3 version is available, the rack will load the VST2 version instead.

USE WITH ANY DAW
   You should be able to use the .fxp and .vstpreset files with any DAW, as long as you have the given plugin installed.

Nifty Tip: I just recently realized that .vstpreset files can be dragged directly into a track in Ableton Live to load a plugin, just like any Live rack, which is super cool.

CAVEATS:

Designed for busses or the master channel more than for single tracks:
   Since the goldilocks curve upon which golden pink noise is based was formulated based on analysis of complete songs, these “golden” dynamic presets are not always appropriate for application on individual parts, suited more for groups or the master channel. But if you’re having problems with a certain track in a mix, one of them just might be the ticket.

Based on Flat as a Starting Point:
   If your mix is basically following a pink noise curve or leaning towards white noise (flat), golden dynamics presets tend to work pretty well at tasteful overall tone shaping. If your mix is already on the dark side with the top quite rolled off, however, they might make it too dark, in which case you may want to apply less of the effect, or add some top-end brightening to counter-balance.

Calibrated to -16 LUFS Integrated:
   These presets are designed to give a perfect frequency contour when applied to material which has been loudness-normalized to -16 LUFS integrated. Since dynamics processors utilize level thresholds, setting a base target level was essential. For optimal results, first make sure the audio feeding into it meters at or close to -16. You can still use the presets on louder or quieter material, but you might have to fiddle with controls to fine-tune the results to be optimal.
   Why -16LUFS? It’s my go-to loudness level for mixdowns and audio playback, giving a solid degree of punch with enough headroom for mastering. By getting in the habit of mixing down all of your songs to (and listening to all reference tracks at) -16LUFS (or whatever reference you decide upon), you can develop a more clear objective grasp of the relative spectral contours between them than you would when listening to tracks at erratically differing average levels.

You need to own the plugins!
   A given preset will only work if you have the corresponding plugin it uses installed in your system and recognized by your DAW. Don’t have any of these? You can fix that… the ones with *asterisks* in the list above are free!

   Interested in the “Goldilocks Curve” this was based on? It is contained within the “DynaMixing Ultimate” mega-pack for Ableton Live 9 along with a crap-ton of other carefully-crafted, highly usable effect racks.

   Interested in the upcoming magical device that adjusts dynamics and tone to make everything just wonderfully better? Stay tuned!

PerforModule Site Redesign

Main Page Navigation

You may have noticed, i’ve done a bit of a site redesign for performodule.com to make it easier to find stuff that you’re looking for. Now, there are handy thumbnails for individual posts, organized into four main sections:

Free Ableton Live Packs

Audio Production Tips & Tricks

Sale Ableton Live Packs

Releases & Reviews

Click on one of those to be teleported to a sub-page containing thumbnail links to individual pages for all available articles. Nifty!

Just below the three section links on the main page are blog entries in a linear stream, as before. So if you want to read the latest, just scroll down and see what catches your eye.

~`~

PerforModule.com: Sidebar

You can also find specific posts in several different ways: by Search Term, by Category, by Month, or by Tag (see the column on the right side of the main page, or, if you’re on a phone, scroll all the way down). If you remember reading about something previously you want to look up but don’t recall specifics, one of these methods might be helpful.

To get notified about blog posts as they are dropped, use the “Follow Blog via Email” field. I don’t have direct access to the addresses entered this way; they send you updates automatically.
If you want less frequent newsletters (1/month or less), scroll down to the bottom of the blog posts to sign up to the PerforModule mailchimp mailing list instead.

You can even snag the RSS feed if you’re old-school like that.

~`~

Be sure to check out the Free Packs section to see if there’s any you missed. Lots of new posts in the works! Keep your brains peeled.

~`~

p.s.
if you like drum & bass music, check out this amazing new album 170.2 by Phidippus from Denver which i mastered recently. It bumps hard!

107.2 by Phidippus on Spotify





How to Warp Songs (in 3 Simple Steps)

So what exactly is Warping?
In Ableton Live, you can warp clips, so that they will always play in-tempo along with the grid. For most general composition and mixing tasks, you don’t want to do this, as it degrades audio quality, but for live performance it’s super amazing, since you can basically combine together any audio clips you want like legos. It’s also useful for transitioning between songs in more typical “dual deck” DJ-style setups, wherein the outro of one song can seamlessly blend with the intro of the next one, with a tempo ramp between them happening along the process.

Continue reading

Super Awesome Sounds

We’ve got a new pack for you, Super Awesome Sounds, featuring samples of the Casio SA-20 Keyboard. This was my first instrument as a kid and thus has a very nostalgic place in my heart, so i recently re-acquired one and went nuts sampling its 100 patches and making instrument and drum racks for ableton live out of them (plus audio effect racks inspired by them), using the amalgamation of my accumulated knowledge over the years to create the most refined PerforModule instrument pack to date.

The SA-20

Since it seemed to fit nicely with his existing collection which includes quite a lot of 80s- and 90s-esque sensibilities, i’ve teamed up with Brian Funk to release the pack. We talked about it as well as various other random topics on his show, the Music Production Podcast. Many thanks to Mr. Funk for having me on, always an interesting and insightful time.

There is a free version of the pack as well as the full version linked below, which can be currently had for just $6 by joining Brian’s Music Production Club this month (along with a bunch of other cool stuff). That’s a sweet deal! The MPC is a great way to acquire a constant influx of goodies into your inbox every month for a very accessible sum, so that even poor, cheap bastards like me can afford it. It’s rad! The price for Super Awesome Sounds is otherwise $15, itself a tubular deal considering the vast assortment of wonderful gadgetry it contains within.



Click to check it out at Brian Funk’s site.


Read ON FOR NERDY TECH DETAILS…

Social Isolation Freebie: “Secret Weapon” Racks.













While we’re going through some crazy times right now, it has been heartwarming to experience how humans have upped their compassion game in response to shared crisis. I’ve seen more freebies and crazy deals going on this past week than any other time i remember, which seems because people want to help each other, share and be nice (well, not so much a certain political faction in the usa who seems to prefer that regular people suffer as much as possible. But that’s another topic). With graciousness and care for their fellows is how humans should act, rather than trying to take advantage of each other sleazily—which happens all too much.

In this spirit, i am offering up my super secret stash of “Sweetie Pies”—a small collection of effect racks for Ableton Live Suite 10, each crafted to address a specific need in a sweet manner. These are highly practical yet fun racks with the primary purpose of “getting stuff done”.

i WAS planning on releasing this pack eventually anyways once it grew a bit more, but to expedite the process of getting you the goodies, i’ve decided to simply omit the not-quite-finished devices, give everything a good once-over, and release the pack for free as it is now.




SO WHAT ARE THESE GOODIES OF WHICH YOU SPEAK?

Continue reading

Array Mbira Pack by Sonic Bloom

The mbira (aka kalimba aka thumb piano) has a peculiar sound all of its own. I think they tend to sound pretty cool, with a distinctive tone that is reminiscent of some other types of instruments but not quite exactly like anything else.

But what’s this? The Array Mbira? It has four octaves, you say? Including multiple copies of the notes? Well, then. That’s sure nifty.

The Array Mbira


Madeleine Bloom, whose Ableton Live Tutorials i wholeheartedly recommend, has sampled one such Array Mbira and assembled the results into a series of 34 Instrument Racks for Ableton Live. There are only a small handful of Ableton Live instrument craftors whose work i’ve encountered that put in the depth of care that i consider the level of the adept, and Sonic Bloom is one such. I’ve had the grateful opportunity to give the instruments a deep look and am here to report on my findings.

Continue reading

Organizing Your Ableton Browser Like a Boss PART 2: Custom Categories!

You might have already checked out the post about organizing your User & Plugin Presets like a boss using Ableton’s built-in folder architecture.

Well, now we’re ratcheting it up a level to give you ultimate control of your own personalized device organization structure, with the ability to decide exactly what those categories will be.

Modified Audio Effect Categories

If you’re like me, you’re obsessed with systematizing your production tools and resources into a cohesive configuration, making it easy to access what you want when you want it, for maximally optimized workflow when diving into creativity.

While working along with the default categories for years, i was never quite fully satisfied by Ableton’s built-in selection of available choices, so i did some research and testing and determined that it’s not only possible, but actually fairly easy to set up your own custom categories. The trick is to plan things out logistically.

If at this point you have no idea what i’m talking about, please check out the above-linked blog post for background on how Ableton’s category structure works. Then come back here and continue on. The gist is that by including devices in folders of particular names, you can get them to automatically show up in Live’s Core Browser. Normally, we’re relegated to using the default built-in categories that Live comes supplied with. All PerforModule Premium Packs are set up with devices like this, so they install and devices show up in the Core Library for anyone who purchases them. But now, should you want to, you can modify those actual categories. Sweetness.

Virtual Folder Config

The trick to setting up your own categories lies with the VirtualFolders.cfg file.

VirtualFolders.cfg Locations (for Ableton Live 10, similar for Live 9)…

PC:
C:\ProgramData\Ableton\Live 10 Suite\Resources\Core Library\Ableton Folder Info

Mac:
Ableton Live Application (show package contents) > Contents/App-Resources/Core Library\Ableton Folder Info

Always Back Up!

When starting out on this mission, firstly save a copy of the original VirtualFolders.cfg file in a safe place in case you make a mess out of things and need to restore the default state. You can always reinstall Live to do so as well, but that’s not necessary if you back up the file.

In addition, you definitely, absolutely will want to save a backup copy of your own custom-crafted VirtualFolders.cfg in a safe place, because every time Ableton updates Live, it will get overwritten and you’ll need to replace it (just like with Themes aka Skins). Maintaining a backup of your custom configuration is essential in order to continue using it in the future, so do not forget to save a copy of it after you complete it.

Your Custom Configuration

If you open up the VirtualFolders.cfg file in a text editor (such as the recommended Sublime Text 3) and gaze around at it for a while you’ll get an idea for how things work.

Virtual Folders are arranged in Groups. Each Group can include an arbitrary number of Virtual Folders, which will be the names of the folders that show up in Live’s browser. Each Virtual Folder allows two parameters: the Name (a single string of text that will show up as the category title), and the Patterns, a list of text strings which will trigger search results for devices in that category. Neat!

To set up your own system, simply alter the existing entries, and/or add your own new ones. I would recommend starting slowly, perhaps by adding in one new category to one group and testing it out, before planning a major overhaul to the entire scheme. Be extra cautious about deleting existing options, since while doing so won’t affect any devices directly, it may reduce your ability to easily access certain existing patches.

In the image below, see how on the right i’ve added the “Chiptune” Virtual Folder to the Drum categories. Now i can find chiptune-style drum hits easier. Radical.

After you backup both the original and your new configuration, replace the original with the new one, restart Live and check out what happened. Chaos? Euphoria? Now ponder whether you made a wise decision.

PerforModule’s Configuration Strategy

I’ve found Ableton’s default categories for the Sounds group to be mostly adequate, and so i haven’t altered much there. Notably, i’ve removed the “Booms” entry (new with Live 10), which i find useless and annoying to exist as its own folder, since anything i’ve found that could be classified as such could instead fit into a more appropriate category.

Because i was already invested in having sorted thousands of patches into the existing categories, it made sense for me to keep them, but perhaps in your case it might be a good idea to reassess the default categories and use ones instead that make more sense to you. Perhaps you would prefer to have multiple categories of basses available, for example—coordinating your clean, distorted, and wobbly bass patches separately. I might change “Synth Misc” into “Chiptune”, since that’s basically what i use the category for anyways…

Note that the Drums group is for drum hits, not drum racks. (Unfortunately, i’m still not sure of a way to suavely organize drum racks by type, so for those i still use User Library folders.)

The AudioFx group is where i’ve shifted stuff around a bit more.

The “Analysis” category is added, and it is much welcomed.
“Distortion” has keywords added so that degradation effects show up there.
Various effects previously crammed within “Mixing & Mastering” have been granted their own categories…
I’ve added a “Compression & Transients” category to align with the Elemental Mixing Template.
“Gating & NR” category for dynamics-increasing and noise reduction effects.
“Console & Saturation” has been added as a category, since i tend to use those for different purposes than more overt distortions.
“Delay” (previously placed inside “Modulation & Rhythmic”) now has a dedicated category.
“Enhancement” category added for exciters and other special-purpose, hard-to-categorize processors.
“EQ” now has its own category apart from “Filter”.
“Generative” category added for audio effects that generate sound.
“Channel Strip” category added for multi-effect chain plugins.
“Loudenating” category (shoutout to chris from airwindows for that term) added for limiters, maximizers… things whose purpose and result is to make stuff louder.
“Multiband Dynamics” category added, because those beasts are unique and special-purpose enough to have their own demesnes.
“Parameter Control” category because all those MaxForLive gadgets are so damn nifty to have on-hand in an accessible fashion.
“Routing and Playback” for all the odd toys that do strange things with channel routing, signal sending, and et cetera.
“Verb” because why the heck is there not a reverb category to begin with? They used to live in “Space”, which now i can designate only for things to do with stereo panning, perceived positionality, phase, and depth of field.
“Drums” and “Instrument” still exist as effect categories, and are used for instrument-specific plugins (examples: eddie kramer DR, bass professor).

Should you use the same custom categories as me? Probably not. But you can use these examples as thought-food to inspire your own devious system planning that suits your particular preferences.

But Why?

“I can just custom organize stuff however i want in my User Library, and ignore the Core Library. What’s the practical point of this?”

I dunno… i guess if you’re an anal-retentive nerd. It just streamlines stuff and feels like a cleaner, more unified experience. If you can’t see the appeal, then this is not for you. Have fun with your disorganized midden heap of chaotically-organized junk. Just kidding. It’s all love. Well, mostly.

Limitations

As swagtastic as implementing a custom system in this way feels, it’s still far from perfect. There are various improvements that could certainly be had.

Being able to classify individual Samples, Loops, and Clips might be kinda neat. As mentioned above, drum racks don’t count as a group like the other device types, and that’s kinda dorky.

Being able to access things with a sort of tag-style metadata system might be more elegant than folder trees. I know some DAWs can do this.

What would you add or change?

Free foobar2000 Theme

Hey!

Apologies for the delay between posts, but i’ve been super busy with the finishing stages of completing production on Shavano‘s upcoming new album Progressive Energy Transfer (among various other things).
Now, on to the topic!

foobar rocks

I spend a good deal of time listening to music and occasionally take stabs at optimizing the experience. A recent subwoofer upgrade to a nicer one i snabbed at auction for super cheap is one example. Another example is fine-tuning my Desktop PC music playback experience.

Lately i have taken quite strongly to foobar2000 as an exquisite audio playback experience, as it is highly customizable and of utmost quality, but feels quite approachable. And also it’s totally free.

Having recently optimized my foobar interface to a highly satisfying degree, i figured i’d share it with you / the world. You can use it as-is, or (as i would recommend) spend some time tweaking it to your personal liking, perhaps removing some elements, moving things around, or adding features.

Continue reading

New Brian Funk Pack: ADM CHIP

OLD NEW IDENTITY
In case you haven’t heard the news, Brian Funk is no longer going by the name AfroDJMac. You can hear his thoughts on the evolution to this “new” identity at his podcast episode here.

MONIKERS CAN BE AWKWARD
I recall, when i appeared on his podcast for episode 13, joking briefly about the awkwardness of monikers. So from my perspective, this shift has been a long time coming and is totally sensible. HOWEVER…. at the time it happened we were smack dab in the middle of the process of releasing a series of ADM packs, epic agglomerations of his instruments, collected into organized, self-installing, themed ableton live packs, ideal for satiating completionists who desire to access to the catalog of devices in the easiest manner possible.

Continue reading

Pingdemonium

So i found myself slightly annoyed that Ableton Live’s Ping Pong Delay effect always starts the first echo repeat on the left side. Sure, you could flip the stereo field after applying it to reverse the direction—but that also reverses the stereo field of the source audio. What if i want the source audio to stay the same, but have the echo repeats reverse direction?

Well now, it’s easy..

Continue reading