Whether you know it or not, if you’ve been to the movies lately, you’ve heard the work of Composer/Sound Designer Anthony Baldino. He’s responsible for composing the action-packed music featured in the trailers for many of today’s biggest blockbusters including Interstellar, Star Wars: Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty, Avengers: Infinity War, Prometheus, and Ex-Machina. Obviously, a soundtrack must match or enhance the feel and emotion of the film. The music for the trailer has to do all of that in about two minutes while building excitement and weaving between quick cuts, sound FX, and snippets of dialogue common to modern trailers. It’s a unique format and workflow that Baldino has mastered.
Most recently, Baldino got to use his huge collection of vintage, modern, and modular synths and effects while working with composer Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) and longtime friend and fellow sound designer Chris Lane (Ghostbusters) for the out of this world soundscapes, alien whispers, and rhythmic textures for the record-breaking Venom movie, which debuted last month.
We got to chat with him a bit to discuss his workflow, studio setup, and experience shopping with Westlake Pro.
Since the late 70’s, the synth world has seen an explosion of new technology, from the advent of digital synths like the Yamaha DX7, to the dominance of Digital Recording, and Software Synthesis. Despite this, the past decade has proven that musicians, producers, and sound designers have never lost their love of the classic, warm, and warbly sounds of vintage synthesizers. These early synths embody the sound of futuristic nostalgia, which has easily made them a go-to choice for Sci-Fi and Horror films for decades. From Stranger Things to Blade Runner, Suspiria, Mandy, and the latest addition to the Halloween franchise, the classic synths of the 70’s and 80’s have been the go-to tools used for eerie textures, melancholy memories, and a foreboding sense of dread.
While the sound of these instruments command a dedicated cult following, the hardware itself poses some serious issues for the modern workflow. For starters, let’s look at cost and availability: a Yamaha CS-80 in playable condition will cost you almost $20,000, if you can even find one. If you do, make sure you bring a friend to help lift the ~220lb behemoth, and leave room in your budget for regular repairs and maintenance.
Thankfully, modern software modeling has managed to bring these same sounds to your mix without the need to eat up your budget or studio space! The Arturia V Collection 6 is a comprehensive library of the most beloved keyboards and synthesizers in the history of recorded music. Classic Analog Synthesizers like the Minimoog, ARP2600, Jupiter 8, Prophet 5, CS-80 are modeled to sonic perfection, while the early wave of digital synths like the Fairlight CMI, Synclavier, and DX7 bring their unmistakable charm to the mix. Add on a host of Electric and Acoustic Pianos, Organs, and the Solina String Machine, and you’ve got an arsenal of keyboard-based inspiration that spans generations.
To put the V Collection 6 through its paces, I embraced the Halloween spirit and recreated some of the horror pioneer John Carpenter’s classic soundtracks, utilizing only the Arturia V Collection 6 to recreate the bone-chilling themes of Halloween and The Fog.
Check them out below, then read on to gain insight to which tools were used where:
Upgrade your studio today with a special trade-up program from Universal Audio and Westlake Pro! For a limited time, trade in your current interface to get $500 towards the any member of the new Apollo X Family!
Regardless of what interface you currently use, take this opportunity to upgrade to the latest in the award winning line of Apollo interfaces.
The sleek, Thunderbolt 3 design of the Apollo X fuses elite, class-leading conversion with the new HEXA Core processors which offer 50% more DSP than previous Apollos. This allows recording of even more tracks through UAD’s award-winning plugins with near-zero latency, while the improved connectivity and Surround Sound capabilities will be great fit in any workflow.
What’s more, Universal Audio has introduced a new member to the Apollo family – the Apollo x6, which seamlessly bridges the gap between the desktop Arrow and Twin interfaces and the rack mount Apollo models.
Check out the new Apollo X series below and take advantage of this huge savings opportunity while you can!
- Universal Audio Apollo x6
- Universal Audio Apollo x8
- Universal Audio Apollo x8p
- Universal Audio Apollo x16
Contact your Westlake Pro Sales Consultant TODAY to trade in ANY interface for $500 towards a new Apollo X rack mount interface!
Experience 50+ Years of Sonic Innovation
For the better part of the last 50 years, Universal Audio has pioneered some of the most important advances in recording technology, producing the first modern recording console along with two of the most popular compressors of all time – the LA-2A and 1176. Through that time, these classic devices have become embedded into the very sound of almost every genre imaginable. From the unmistakable spank of an 1176 on a snare drum to the smooth warmth and leveling of an LA-2A on a lead vocal, these two compressors have been used by just about every top artist and producer since their introduction to the market.
Vintage Sounds for a Modern Age
Despite the countless advances in recording technology since the days of tape, producers, artists, engineers, and listeners have still been drawn to the thick, rich tones achieved by the gear legends of yesteryear. When James and Bill Putnam Jr. (the sons of Bill Putnam Sr. – Universal Audio’s original founder) re-established Universal Audio in 1999, they set out to not only faithfully reproduce the classic recording tools their father had created while developing new gear that would bring the rich sounds of vintage analog equipment to the digital age.
UAD-2: Analog Tone Meets Digital Workflow
Fast-Forward to 2018 and Universal Audio have managed to refresh the market with exacting replicas of the LA-2A, 1176 and 610 preamp (along with a wide range of modern hybrids) while bringing the same care to bring those beloved sounds to the world of digital recording with UAD–2, their unique plug-in platform. With 95 plug-ins and counting, the award-winning UAD-2 series has become the standard plug-ins of choice for the top producers and engineers around the globe. Featuring exclusive, licensed and endorsed software versions of the most coveted gear in history, Universal Audio has managed to bring the sound, feel and workflow of a world-class studio to your favorite DAW.
Satellite of Love
Universal Audio’s Satellite DSP Accelerators are your key to bringing all the sound and power of the recording industry’s most beloved pieces of recording history right to your DAW. Each UAD-2 Satellite is loaded with up to 8 SHARC DSP chips, providing enough power to run multiple instances of UAD-2’s award-winning plug-ins across a complex mix session without taxing your CPU. Today, it’s not uncommon to open sessions with 100+ tracks, each with multiple takes, intricate automation passes, and virtual instruments, all of which will put a strain on a well-spec’d computer while crashing older or less-endowed systems. The UAD-2 platform removes these session-killing limitations while providing the rich, three-dimensional tones heard on countless Grammy-winning records. Mix one session with a Universal Audio Satellite and your ears will love you, your clients will praise you and your computer will thank you!
Flawless Integration Into Any Studio
While Universal Audio’s class-leading Apollo series of audio interfaces offer all the perks of the UAD-2 platform along with elite-class A/D/A conversion and record-breaking specs for THD and dynamic range, many studios are already wired up to other interfaces. This is where the UAD-2 Satellite comes in. Offered in every popular format including Thunderbolt, USB, Firewire and even as PCIe Cards (which offers the same performance as Thunderbolt Satellites for studios still running older Mac “cheese graters”), Universal Audio’s Satellite series brings all the power of the UAD-2 platform to your existing studio setup. Once you finish a mix with UAD’s collection of plug-ins, you’ll find that it’s hard to go back to anything else. Knowing this, Universal Audio have future-proofed the Satellite system, allowing you to daisy-chain additional Satellite’s or Apollo interfaces should you find yourself in need of even more power, preamps or world-class audio conversion.
Nashville certainly knows how to welcome new neighbors, and we had a blast getting to know Berry Hill’s Pro Audio community! From up and coming musicians to GRAMMY winning producers, we had a packed house and tons of fun at our Grand Opening celebration. It was great to see the Nashville community get hands-on with the latest gear in our state-of-the-art demo studio, and we were thrilled to have many of our top vendors there to show off the newest features of their flagship products.
With over $50,000+ in gear giveaways including two full Studio Makeover prizes, the excitement was palpable and the winners ecstatic. Thankfully, with plenty of swag from each brand and 40+ chances to win gear, there was enough for everyone to take home a souvenir!
CONGRATS to all of our GIVEAWAY WINNERS! Check out the new-gear smiles below:
Native Instruments Announce KOMPLETE 12 and More!
Huge updates and new versions of the top products from Native Instruments are on the horizon! Arguably, the most notable is Komplete 12, the latest upgrade to the industry-standard production suite. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of KOMPLETE, Native Instruments is now offering the bundle in four flavors. The flagship is the Collector’s Edition, replete with 150 products, 50 Expansions, the full Symphony Series Collection and almost 100,000 sounds – all on a 900GB Collector’s Edition hard drive. Fans of Native Instruments may already be familiar with the other versions, namely Komplete 12 Ultimate, Komplete 12 (standard) and Komplete Select, but you’re sure to be surprised by some of the new offerings from the popular production bundle!
Included in Komplete 12 is the long-awaited update to the popular wavetable synthesizer Massive with Massive X, which will be available early next year. Another update is Kontakt 6, the industry-standard creative sampler which features new tools for instrument building and fresh libraries in a number of genres. For the first time, Native Instruments have also chosen to include their acclaimed Expansions, sets of sounds, samples, loops and presets curated by genre and developed by top artists and sound designers, offering a quick and focused portal to entirely new worlds of sound. Of course, this is just scratching the surface of the new instruments, FX, samples and expansions, so be sure to explore the links below to find out which version of KOMPLETE 12 is right for you!
When Can I Upgrade?
Of course, if you already have an older version of Komplete, we offer a wide range of affordable upgrade paths to keep you on the cutting edge of this industry-standard production suite. KOMPLETE 12 arrives October 1st, so contact your Westlake Pro Sales Consultant today to pre-order the version best suited to your workflow.
Universal Audio has just announced the Apollo X series, the latest in their line of groundbreaking interfaces! The sleek, Thunderbolt 3 design fuses elite, class-leading conversion with the new HEXA Core processors which offer 50% more DSP than previous Apollos. This allows recording of multiple tracks through UAD’s award-winning plugins with near-zero latency, while the improved connectivity and Surround Sound capabilities cater to an even wider audience than before!
Meet the x6
The Apollo x6 is the newest member of the Apollo family, bridging the gap between the desktop Apollo Twin and the rackmount Apollo x8, x8p and x16. With its HEXA Core processing, dual Unison preamps, best in class elite A/D/A conversion and 16 of UAD’s award-winning plug-ins, the Apollo x6 is the perfect way to get the full Universal Audio experience at an affordable price. Of course, if you ever need more I/O, preamps or DSP in the future, you can easily connect additional Apollo interfaces or UAD Accelerators over a simple Thunderbolt connection. All the new features of the Apollo X series are found in the x6 including the new talkback mic, Surround Sound support (up to 5.1 formats, available Q4 of 2018), +24 dBu selectable operating level and elite-class conversion are all here, making the Apollo x6 a perfect foundation for a professional studio. Whether you’re recording, mixing, mastering or building a post-production suite, the Apollo x6 is sure to impress.
Elite-Class A/D and D/A Conversion
Universal Audio has outdone themselves yet again, with a new elite-class converter design that features a whopping 129 dB of dynamic range and an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of -118 THD+N. The gorgeous clarity and punchy, open tone of Universal Audio’s Apollo line has been heard on countless Grammy winning albums, and the new elite-class 24-bit/192kHz converters and fine-tuned analog circuitry continue the Apollo legacy. The Apollo’s class-leading sound is the perfect blank canvas for shaping your next hit with Universal Audio’s award winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins.
More connectivity for every workflow
The Apollo X series allows for Surround Sound monitor control for formats up to 7.1 (available Q4 2018), with monitor calibration and fold-down capability, bringing the sound and power of the Apollo to the world of post-production. For those integrating the Apollo into an older analog studio, the newly selectable +24 dBu operation will offer easy compatibility with tape machines, mixing consoles, and outboard gear. The new, built-in talkback mic allows instant, open communication between the engineer and the talent. The ability to record the talkback gives you yet another secret weapon for capturing interesting tones or recording quick demos, allowing you to stay creative rather than have to setup a mic during impromptu writing sessions. What’s more, the Apollo x8p now features both line-in and line-outputs on D-Sub connectors, allowing easy access to both the mic and line inputs for simple integration into your patchbay.
HEXA Core Processing: 50% more power than ever before!
The new Apollo X series features 6 SHARC DSP chips in every interface, allowing you to use even more of Universal Audio’s industry-leading UAD-2 plug-ins than any previous Apollo – all at near-zero latency! To get you started, each Apollo X comes with licenses for the Real Time Classics Plus bundle, featuring 16 of Universal Audio’s most popular audio processors which include stellar reproductions of studio legends including Universal Audio’s own LA-2A, two varieties of 1176’s, Pultec EQs, Marshall and Ampeg amp emulations and more. That’s not to mention the exacting preamp emulations activated by the Apollo’s Unison Technology which allows you to record through many of the world’s most sought after preamps. While the Realtime Classics Plus bundle is a great starting point, Westlake Pro offers numerous custom plug-in bundles that you can add-on to the purchase of any Apollo interface or UAD Satellite Accelerators, saving you hundreds of dollars on the award-winning tone, color, character and precision the UAD-2 platform is known for.
Get hands on with Apollo X
If you’re curious to experience the brand new Apollo X line of class-leading audio interfaces in person, be sure to visit our Los Angeles location on Thursday, September 27th for a special Sound Bites event where you’ll be able to get the full Apollo X experience and get special insight as to how it can work alongside many of Universal Audio’s top products. Enjoy exclusive discounts on Universal Audio, a FREE catered lunch and have all your Apollo questions answered by a Universal Audio product specialist, not to mention the chance to win the sleek and portable Arrow interface!
Click HERE to RSVP and get more information on the event!
To celebrate the Grand Opening of our new Nashville location, we teamed up with some of our top vendors to offer special 36 month deferred-interest financing!
iZotope VocalSynth 2 – Biovox
Along with their new Creative Suite, iZotope recently released the second iteration of their vocal effects plug-in VocalSynth 2, and with it a brand new interface, effects, and a groundbreaking new module called Biovox.
Biovox uses the scientific modeling of a human vocal tract to allow you to manipulate your voice with intelligent and innovative processing.
The Biovox module consists of four main parameters for manipulating your voice: Clarity, Shift, Nasal, and Breath.
- Clarity allows you to edit the level of intelligibility of your vocals (with 0 being more ambient and 100 being clear and upfront).
- Shift is used to change the pitch of your vocals from low to high or as I call it — demon to chipmunk.
- Nasal lets you increase the amount of resonance in your vocals.
- Lastly, Breath allows you to add air/noise to your vocals. I was instantly reminded of Kavinsky’s Nightcall when I started messing around with the Breath feature. Great, now I have to go cover that song for the 4th time…
If you can’t dial in the exact sound that’s in your head with those main parameters don’t worry — VocalSynth 2 gives you plenty of additional parameters to fine-tune under the hood in the Advanced Section!
Advanced View at a Glance
The Vowel section on the left side of Advanced View allows you to blend and accentuate vowel sounds to help aid in the intelligibility of your vocals. No more misheard lyrics! This is one of the more interesting tools within Biovox. It gives you the capability not only to accentuate but to do the opposite — generate unique or subhuman vowel sounds and transform a boring enunciation into something creative.
The Synth section gives you additional presets, or you can sculpt the sound yourself with control over the sound engine’s oscillators, LFO, filter, and pan parameters.
Biovox in Action
Now that you have an understanding of how the new module works, let’s hear some examples! I will start with the raw audio file and tweak it from there using the new Biovox module.
Please Note: All effects heard are from VocalSynth 2 except reverb
- Raw Audio File:
- Biovox Solo: (Clarity: 100, Shift -100, Nasal: 0, Breath: 50, Filter: LP, Gate: -40, Effects: Chorus)
- In The Mix:
- Biovox + Vocoder + Talkbox + Polyvox: (Gate: -40, Filter: LP, Effects: Chorus)
Nate VanBuskirk is the songwriting and production force behind Decade Defector — 80’s-style synthwave/synthpop artist on TimeSlave Records.
Listen to Decade Defector on Spotify, Bandcamp, and more…
Example Song: Flesh and Bone (Decade Defector Remix)
Located in Berry Hill, our neighbors include House of Blues Studios, Addiction Sound, The Trace Horse, Blackbird Studios, and Sputnik Sound.
Stop by and check out our showroom, where everything you’ll see is indicative of what you’d find in a studio designed by Westlake Pro—from the furniture to the recording equipment, to the instruments, to the room acoustics and wiring integration.
Also keep an eye out for our proSESSIONS and SOUNDBITES events series, showcasing the newest tech from top audio brands and presented by award-winning industry giants and product experts. To get an idea of what some of these highly-acclaimed events look like, take a look at some of our recent proSESSIONS in Los Angeles—like our recent event with Genelec and Sylvia Massy. Each proSESSIONS and SOUNDBITES has gear giveaways, exclusive discounts, plus you’ll get to chat one-on-one with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Chad Evans, executive account manager at Westlake Pro Nashville, has this to say:
“Nashville’s music community has been in need of a full-service pro audio retailer for many years. This is why I’m excited to be a part of the team at Westlake Pro and help bring them into the Nashville market. Westlake’s 50-year history of designing studios and selling equipment is exactly the kind of experience the professionals in Music City deserve.”
Give Chad a call at 615-806-7556 or swing by the store.
Nashville, TN 37204
Located in the iconic Berry Hill neighborhood.
The XLN RC-20 Retro Color analog tape saturation plugin is well known for its handiness on the master bus, but have you tried using it on individual instruments?
Today I’m going to walk you through a short demonstration on how you can use this inexpensive and eclectic plugin to breathe life into dull tracks.
Before We Start, Let’s Hear It In Action!
Here’s a Bass sample with and without RC-20 enabled. The first part is with the plugin bypassed. It will be hard to miss when RC-20 kicks in! Afterwards it’s bypassed again, and then enabled again.
Hear how it suddenly becomes more gritty, full, and colorful? That’s the magic of great analog tape saturation! The real benefit of carefully bringing this bass track to life comes when it’s living with a host of other instruments in a master mix. It’s easy for bass tone to get buried; some colorful presence can go a long way in bringing the underlying cadence of your song to life.
Now let’s dive into the specific steps it takes to add this kind of colorful saturation with RC-20:
Give Your Bass Some Gusto
I like to start by choosing a preset, something that’s close to the desired sound. Don’t worry, this isn’t “cheating”! Even many of the pros use presets to get started on an effect. For this synth bass track, I chose “Too Bright?” within RC-20‘s list of presets.
Well to answer XLN’s question, in this case, yes, “Too Bright?” is just a tad too bright for bass. So here’s where a few alterations come into play. You’ll notice in the bottom of the screenshot below that I’ve turned the high-pass filter down a bit to let a lot more low end come through, and added a mild low-pass filter. I’ve also turned down “Distort” and brought up “Space” to give the signal a little movement and some gritty reverb. Lastly I turned “Tone” down just a touch:
Now, in the end, I might listen to this track within the full mix and think it’s a little too lively, in which case I can adjust the wet/dry mix using the “Magnitude” bar at the top right of the plugin. But for now, I’m loving all of that added punchiness!
Bolster Your Brass Pads
Bass is one thing, but something like a brass pad—which sits relatively close to the font of the mix—needs some careful attention. There’s a fine like to walk between a flat, dull horn section or a tinny row of trumpets piercing your eardrums. When hearing the former, one might be tempted to throw on an EQ plug and start dragging up around 2K-10K. And sure, it might be a decent band-aid. But is it really the best tool for the job?
Take a listen to this brass pad track. My use of XLN RC-20 is a tad more subtle here, but you can really hear the track come to life when I flip off the bypass switch around 6 seconds in and again around 15 seconds:
For this effect, I started with the preset “Pad Magic” and made quite a few small adjustments. I turned “Noise” most of the way off (it’s just a white-noise generator simulating tape hiss), I turned “Wobble” off completely, “Distortion” up to around 25%, “Digital” completely off, and “Space” and “Magnetic” I turned up to 35%. I also turned up “Tone” and “Width” and lowered the overall gain just a touch.
“Space” and “Distort” are the two tools here which really liven up this brass pad the most. I want to bring up the highs with saturation (“Distort”) and then turn around and “muddy” up some of the tinny, unpleasant highs that come with it and spread them out in the mix so they aren’t, for lack of a better wording, stabbing our eardrums.
I even ended up putting a separate reverb plugin directly on this track later in the mix to exacerbate that “spreading it out” effect. If you go that route, just make sure to drag your wet/dry controls mostly to the drier side or you’ll end up drowning it in reverb!
Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
These are just two examples of the many cases in which colorful saturation can bring a track to life. Some other interesting examples I’ve seen include using RC-20 to create parallel saturation on a doubled vocal or even using it to add grittiness or modulation on a reverb or delay send. As with anything else in audio production, anything is possible. So go on and give it a try!
Products in this blog post: