The Evolution of Audio

There was a time once where it was the standard to record a track with nothing but hardware. From an engineer’s perspective, the band would come in plugin. The engineer would then mic up the vocalist, guitarist, bassist and drummer based on the style demonstrated by the band. These tracks would then be routed though a massive console and outboard effects would be patched in via a patch-bay. The signal would then be routed to a tape machine for record and playback. If there were any errors, the band would have to do the take again. In those days recordings were great not only because the band was great but also due to the fact that they had to practice more in order to get the perfect take.

Fast forward to now and we have DAW software. The workflow for the most part continues on the same path as before with the exception of TAPE and plugins. The signal is routed to the console and from the console to the DAW software. From the DAW software the output channels are routed back to the console in order to enable playback. It is now up to the engineer to decide whether to record to tape or not. Many opt to do so as they claim that the tape enhances the sound.

In reality, all that is necessary to record a band are great microphones, A low latency audio interface with great preamps, with enough inputs/outputs and a reasonably powerful laptop. That is all that is needed. There have been many arguments over hardware vs. plugins that try to emulate that “analog” sound. But let us take this a step back without being over zealous in mentioning any names. In today’s age we have superior audio with a resolution of up to 192 kbps and 24 bit. We never had any where near that resolution with tape. Now that man have accomplished this massive feat, plugin manufactures are now placing the illusion that great mixes cannot be made without these “classic” hardware models. This is simply not true.

In simple terms: a compressor is a compressor, an eq is an eq, and distortion is distortion.

A compressor is designed with only one thing in mind, and that is to reduce dynamic range.

An equalizer was designed to accentuate favorable frequencies to better sculpt the audio spectrum. Anything else is distortion, which in many cases can prove to be unfavorable and yet quite favorable in some instances. I have experienced many different pieces of hardware and software used to emulate the corresponding hardware and I can confidently say that the differences are greatly exaggerated. A knowledgeable engineer can get a usable sound out of most compressors. Having said that the SSL 4000 Buss compressor and the 1176 are two excellent compressors. The 1176’s super fast microsecond attack time distorts the incoming signal, giving it a perceived “liveliness”. The SSL 4000 Buss compressor add life to a mix through the use of distortion as-well.


Studio Tips – Episode #1


Music is an art-form. It builds, strengthens and enhances the human life. It is built with the purpose of delivering a message. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that (as artists, producers, and engineers) our message is delivered in the most accurate way possible. In the “Studio Tips” series I discuss methods on how to enhance the experience and delivery of “the song”. Enjoy!


Ensure your environment is optimal as an uncomfortable environment will leave you with a poor performance. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, what you do, both as an artist and as a person. Do not be quick to “take what you get”, as you always have options. Never let anyone make you think that you don’t have options. If you are unhappy with the situation it is bound to show.


If your intention is to record, make sure that you have adequately practiced the material before hand. Magic can and may happen in the studio but it is always best to prepare. If you are a singer ensure that you are hydrated, as failure to do so may leave you with some dry sounding vocals. If you are a guitarist ensure that your guitar is properly tuned and that you have at least 2 extra set of strings available. Other than failure to prepare it can be equally disconcerting when the performer is unable to record a take due to technical difficulties. If you are the producer/engineer set up your project with plugins that introduce the least amount of latency / CPU usage during tracking / recording.

The Message

Vocals / Lyrics are the most important part of every song (that contains vocals). They tell the story, and you want them to shine to the best of their ability. Be sure that your engineer is providing you with a space carved out just for you. Listen to the mix. If you cannot hear yourself clearly when the music is playing, you will be shouting above the mix and this is never recommended. The same goes for performing live. If you cannot hear yourself, you will not perform correctly. It is therefore extremely important to get the balance right, before you open up.

Focusrite Red 2 & 3 In-Depth Look


AL Red 2 & 3 In-Depth

The Red Range was established in the year of 1994 by Focusrite. Both hardware units inherit the sound and circuit design of their predecessors from the ISA range of processors.

The Red 3 is a compressor was built as an outboard successor to the ISA130 compressor module built by Rupert Neve for Sir George Martin’s console at Air Studios London. This compressor is famously known for maintaining mix intelligibility, even in the event of significant compression. Due to its simple and intentional VCA circuit design, this compressor is well suited for a variety of sound sources.

Focusrite has continued on with the philosophy of providing  microphone pre-ampfliers that are accurate with the least amount of artificial colouration possible. Where many audio companies today seem to create equipment that purposefully imposes harmonic distortion onto the signal being passed through it, this has never been the aim for the folks at Focusrite.

The Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor had no measurable distortion as evidenced in their specification sheets and thus you will not find any present in their plugin counterparts. In addition to near zero distortion, these pieces of equipment also had a lot of headroom available to them thus making distortion due to overdriving them near impossible to do.

The Red 2 EQ and Compressor plugins come bundled with the purchase of any Scarlett, Claret, RedNet, or Safire audio interface and are also available for sale via the Focusrite website.
After testing these plugins must say that I was rather impressed with them. Aside from the beautiful and realistic graphical user interface, the sound that I produced while using them was truly remarkable.

Red 2 EQ: I placed the Red 2 EQ on a Kick Drum, shaved off some lows using the low pass filter, boosted some lows at around 60 Hz while taking out some of the boom using the low-mid bell filter with a medium bandwidth. The result was a more solid and punchy kick. Using this graphical representation of the hardware piece always re-enforces what great joy it is to use hardware, due to its knobs and VU meters. I will always love my VU meters, to the point where, if they are not present on the hardware, then I probably will not buy it. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, for example in the event of the audio interface: most use LED meters, but non-the-less VU meters are definitely preferred.

Red 3 Compressor: After achieving an adequate balance of the drum kit, I then placed the Red 3 Compressor on the Drum Sub-master. I set the ratio at 4:1 with a fast attack and fast release. First ensuring that all levels were correct on the way in to the compressor as to prevent clipping, I then proceeded to bring down the threshold parameter. I could start to hear the aggression kick in, as to be expected with compression, however the aggression that this compressor provided was one of the pure kind. The sound remained solid and took a bit of an effort to became grainy. After receiving a reasonable amount of compression, I then proceeded to adjust the mix knob to taste, in order to bring back the dynamics of the drum kit that were lost due to compression. The result was a solid sounding drum kit.

Placing the compressor on the bass and guitar parts yielded similar results. Using the EQ, I was able to bring out some mid-range on the guitar parts, further adding to their character. Placing the compressor on synth parts led to a slightly more aggressive sound and one that remained full. I was careful not to overdo it as to prevent the pumping effect from occurring. Due to the extensible attack (0.300ms to 90ms) release times (0.1second to 4 seconds), setting this compressor to taste was no problem. In the topic of pumping: I would have loved to see a key input option provided.

I progressed towards the lead vocal for my single entitled “Hurt” of which I originally had the stock Logic EQ and Compressor on. Up first was the EQ, The vocals were recorded using a condenser microphone, recorded through the preamplifier of the Scarlett audio interface. Both the microphone and the audio interface have a relatively flat frequency response and near zero THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). Using the high shelf filter at around 12 kHz (the 1073 frequency) I turned the high end up only about 2 dB in order to increase presence within context of the mix. It did indeed provide a sound unique to this equalizer. A somewhat airy effect, however subdued it may be. After removing some lows, I progressed with a 1 to 2 dB boost at around 1.2 kHz in order to gain legibility in the mix.

I then placed the Red 3 Compressor on the vocal with a fast attack and a fast release. With a ratio of 4:1 and an optimum level, I began to bring down the threshold just until the sound was relatively constant. This was not at all difficult to achieve as compression began will little to no artifacts. I continued adjusting to taste. After was satisfied, I placed a second Red 3 Compressor on the vocal. This time with a medium attack and release. In this scenario, The first compressor is used to level the peaks and the second one is used to smooth them out. The results were as reasonable as one would expect. The voice remained clear, consistent and true to the source with out any sign of distortion.

For the fun of it I decided to lay down an additional vocal take with both the Red 2 EQ and the Red 3 Compressor instantiated. With a buffer size of 64 samples, I enabled Low-Latency mode in preparation of the event, that these plugins created any latency. I am glad to say, that this was not the case. This increases their value in the recording and tracking department. CPU load was placed at a minimum as well, leading one to conclude that these are indeed well coded.

I placed the EQ and Compressor on supporting vocal tracks and set them to taste in order to better evaluate the mix with their presence. After I was satisfied with the vocal mix, It was finally time to move on to the stereo master. Starting with a moderate ratio, medium attack and fast release I listened to the already well balanced mix come together in a beautiful fashion. This compressor has a way of making elements even smother than they already were. The compressor was definitely doing a great job.

Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor are what I would consider to be an underrated pair of plugins that deserve attention (even if you do not own a Focusrite audio interface). If not only for their vivid appearance but also for the clean, transparent and full “character” they impart on your mix. In addition, these plugins do not require a dongle to run, which is always a plus in my book. The Red 3 Hardware Compressor has received praise from the likes of Chris Lorde-Alge who uses it on every mix.

If you are looking for the current hardware incarnation of the Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor your best bet would be to check out the ISA 430 MKII Channel Strip from Focusrite. While it is not entirely similar, this remains the most current, favorable and enhanced reproduction of the original ISA 110 eq module and 130 compressor module originally designed by Rupert Neve, of which the Red 2 and 3 are based. The ISA 430 can be seen in the possession of top producers / engineers like Pharrell Williams and Damian Taylor and Adrian Bushby.

Waves Scheps 73 Review


73 Demonstration


The Neve 1073 is a critically acclaimed microphone preamplifier and 3 band equalizer module established by the legendary Rupert Neve in the year of 1970. It was originally designed for the 28 channel A88 console at Wessex Studios. Although later succeeded in 1973 by the 1084 module designed for the 8048 console, the 1073 remains an industry staple to this very day.

The Neve 1073 consists of a high shelf fixed at 12kHz, a frequency selectable bell curve for the mid band, a low shelf with selectable frequencies of 35, 60, 110, and 220 Hz. To iron that all out it adds a high pass filter with fixed options of 50, 80, 160, and 300 Hz. The Neve 1073 is the preamplifier most commonly used on vocals, as it is well known that due to its transformer based design it imposes subtile harmonic distortion that can remove harshness and thicken audio passed through it when pushed. A Neve 1073 in hardware form currently costs around $3500.

The Scheps Test

Taken from what looks to be a Neve BCM 10 console at Andrew Scheps’s studio in Van Nuys, California, Waves have claimed to painstakingly module each and every detail of the 1073 module. While the chosen selectable frequencies, mid frequency bell curve, high shelf, low shelf and high pass filter configuration all have the utmost influence on the “sound” produced by the 1073, harmonic distortion plays a significant role in the process. This is what will be demonstrated today. On an important note, I will not be testing the pre-amplifier in the “Drive” mode setting or comment on the additional 10kHz band present on the mid band equalizer section as those properties are not present (in functioning form) on the hardware unit. I will only be demonstrating the harmonic distortion characteristics of this preamplifier in its Line and Mic mode stages.

To conduct this test an oscillator emitting a sine wave at 800Hz was placed on a mono audio track followed by the Scheps 73 plugin, and the Blue Cat frequency analyzer at the end. The Blue Cat frequency analyzer was chosen because of its ability to display content all the way down to -120dB. Waves did not model the volume of the preamp, only the harmonic distortion. Separate Input and Output faders (not shown in collapsed view) are provided for that purpose.

Starting at its default setting (0dB Line Level) we can see that not much is going on, only a harmonic at 1.6 kHz.

Scheps 73 Pre at Line 0db

The harmonics increase once the preamp is switched to -20 dB Mic Level.

Scheps 73 Pre at Line -20db

At -60 dB Mic level we can see some rich harmonics being added to the signal. I am sure you can guess what happens at -80 dB. 

Scheps 73 Pre at Mic -60db

At -20 dB Line Level we also get added harmonics though (as to be expected) not as much as received with the Mic Level position. 

Scheps 73 Pre at Mic -20db


Does the Scheps 73 provide an accurate representation of the 1073 microphone preamplifier? That is for you to decide. Vintage gear of the same make and kind tend to have subtile differences, however for the most part will sound similar enough to be classified under their respective headings. It is therefore a more correct approach to ask “Does this piece of equipment (in this case a plugin) provide you with the tools necessary to complete the said task?” In support of the previous statement, do not use a 1073 simply because of its legendary status, use it because it provides you with the means necessary to create the “sound” you are going for. At the end of the day, it is all about the sound.

Alexander Lindo

Alexander Lindo is a singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, technology enthusiast, Apple Certified Pro and Pro Tools Certified Operator. If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on TwitterGoogle Plus. When you are done, please check out my music. Thank you for your continued support.

This is not the equalizer to use when you need to fix the source. This equalizer is to be used simply for the enhancement of a well recorded source. For a more surgical equalizer do check out the H-EQ by Waves.

Waves Element AU Factory Preset Library


With hits constructed by the likes of Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and many other synth rock/alternative bands. Synths have come a long way in regards to music and construction. One of the most common types of synthesis is known as subtractive synthesis. This is were sound is generated by an oscillator and shaped by a filter. This filter parameter in most cases is a low pass filter but can also include high pass and band pass filter depending on the features present on that synthesizer. This filter shapes the sound by taking away harmonics present within the oscillator’s waveform.

Sound travels from the oscillator to the filter which is controlled by an ADSR filter envelope, after this stage, the signal is then routed to an amplifier envelope which allows the user to further shape the overall Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release cycle of the synthesizer. In addition to the features listed above, most synthesizers include a LFO (low frequency oscillator) which can be used to modulate the signal. The most common incarnation being the wobble bass; which is achieved by modulating the filter cut-off frequency. The combination of these parameters provide the user with many sound shaping options.

The Element synthesizer by Waves is indeed a very powerful yet simple incarnation of a subtractive synthesizer. As shown in the picture above, all its parameters are layed out in an organized manner.

For convenience, I have converted all of the included factory presets (created by Waves) into the AU preset format (available here) so that they can be navigated easily from within the library of the industry standard music creation software: Logic Pro X.

While I rarely use presets when composing (unless I have created them), presets can occasionally spark inspiration while in the thought creation process.

Kudos to the Waves team for developing this great subtractive synthesizer.

Simply extract the folder from the .zip file and place this folder in “Users/Yourname/Library/Audio/Presets/Waves/“

The Library folder is hidden by default. You can access it by holding down “Option” while accessing the “Go” menu in the Finder menubar.

Kind regards,

Alexander Lindo
Singer-songwriter | Producer | Audio Engineer
Apple Certified Pro | Pro Tools Certified Operator

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Visit Waves at: and while you’re at it, use this link to obtain 10% off your next Waves plugin purchase.

Ubuntu & Audio Production



Music is one of the most vital industries in our world today. Music builds us and helps shape us into the persons we are today and the persons we will be tomorrow. It is therefore extremely important to have an environment that ensues productivity. When people think audio production, people think Mac / Logic or Mac / Pro Tools. Audio production on Linux has been for the most part a stable experience but is not without its caveats.

On a Mac, you turn it on, fire up Logic and get to work. Couple it with a class complaint audio interface and everything flows from there. On Ubuntu Linux, you can achieve similar results, but if you are not careful you will often be greeted with varying opinions and recommendations about which distribution you should use in order to achieve the best performance. This can make it more difficult for new users that it has to be. In this article I will do my best to be up front and tell you to use vanilla Ubuntu with its default desktop environment known as Unity.

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions available and is therefore well supported. You do not need an “audio focused” distribution in order to achieve optimal performance. However if you do have a computer that is low on memory, then I’d recommend you use Xubuntu. Xubuntu is a variant of Ubuntu Linux with a lighter desktop interface called XFCE. Linux has always and still commands over 90% of the server world with the likes of companies such as Red Hat, SUSE and more recently Ubuntu being the beneficiaries of this competent market share. It is no surprise considering the fact that when you need a platform that is secure, fast and stable there is no comparison to Unix/Linux (Linux is based on Unix).

In addition to its security the Unix/Linux platform has always been known to be the most efficient with its resources, hence the reason of it powering a variety of devices such as those running IOS & Andriod. It also powers motor vehicles, Smart TVs among many others. It is the driving force behind GoogleAmazonFacebook and many other businesses. It is these same reasons why Apple’s Unix-based operating system known as OS X is currently the only platform currently recognized by the entertainment industry. If you are doing audio/video production on a professional level it is imperative that you own a Mac.

With that said, the state of audio/video production on the Linux platform has been improving significantly over the years, with JACK (The real-time audio framework) receiving many bug fixes, along with application support from commercial products such as Bitwig Studio and Lightworks Video Editor. It will only be a matter of time before others make it to the platform. Now that we have completed the introduction, it is now time to turn ourselves over the specifics.


To record music on Ubuntu Linux, you must have QJackCtl (aka QT JACK Audio Connection Kit Control). And a class complaint USB audio interface (Fire-wire interfaces are supported as well, Google is your friend). The JACK software enables you to record audio at the lowest latency possible, while giving priority to audio related tasks. It is the equivalent to ASIO drivers on Windows with “ReWire-like” functionality to boot. The Mac is not mentioned here as it uses CoreAudio which was designed for low latency audio tasks from the get go. Ubuntu Linux uses ALSA as its default sound server. PulseAudio provides a means for applications to interact with the ASLA sound server and is thus placed on top of it. Think of PulseAudio as a bus that carries audio for all your non-professional audio needs like listening to music from Tomahawk Media Player or watching movies from YouTube. PulseAudio handles these tasks exceptionally well, where it falls short however is when it comes to professional low latency audio monitoring. This is where JACK comes into play. When you activate JACK, PulseAudio is bypassed and all priority is given to JACK (professional) enabled applications. By default this will also disable all audio activity from PulseAudio related applications. This should not be an issue as you never run other applications in conjunction with your DAW. However, if you require this functionality, it can be remedied by installing the pulseaudio-module-jack from the Ubuntu Software Center (The equivalent to the Mac App Store on OS X). This module will enable the PulseAudio sound server to route itself to JACK, when it is enabled. Allowing you to still use PulseAudio based applications but instead, having them routed through JACK.

Audio Interface

When purchasing an audio interface for Mac OS X or Ubuntu Linux it is always best to purchase one that is “class-compliment. This simply means that the device does not require any special drivers to function, in other words, when you plug it in it should “just work”. The majority of class-complaint audio interfaces should “just work” with Ubuntu Linux, but there are a few that I would recommend: Focusrite Scarlett 2i22i4, M-Audio M-TrackM-Track PlusM-Track Eight. I recommend these audio interfaces as (in addition to being class complaint) they do not require any special/proprietary software to control/configure their settings (it can be all done right from the hardware device). A more comprehensive list of compatible audio interfaces are available at

MIDI Keyboards

Look for class-compliant MIDI keyboards and you should not run into issues. M-Audio wins this round again. Check out the Axiom and Oxygen series.


In regards to DAWs we have: ArdourMixbus and Bitwig Studio. After sifting through various audio applications I can confirm that these are currently the most solid audio applications available on the Linux platform.


Ardour, created by Paul Davis and his team in the past received funding from both SSL (Solid State Logic) and SAE institute for the development of this DAW. Development has come a long way and progress continues to be made in this department. It is best integrated with JACK Transport, enabling seamless synchronization with other audio applications such as the Hydrogen Drum Machine. Ardour exposes all available channels to JACK and thus enables you to route anything anywhere. It also provides post production support using Xjadeo. Ardour + the CALF plug-in suite are great companions. Be sure to install Ardour from its website, as the one present in the Ubuntu Software Center may be outdated.


Mixbus is packaged and maintained by Harrison Consoles, creators of legendary analogue consoles used by countless audio professionals to record the likes of bands such as Queen, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. Mixbus is based of Ardour and thus provides you with basic Ardour functionality, but in addition to this you are provided an entire virtual analogue console in which to to work. Each channel strip is a console channel strip, complete with filter, equalizer, compressor and gate. The channel strips have also been modeled to operate like their hardware counterparts and thus is said to provide you with rich lush sound. Mixbus supports LV2 and LinuxVST plugins on the Ubuntu platform. The company also provides plugins which are available for purchase from the Mixbus website.

Bitwig Studio

Bitwig Studio is aimed at music composition, it provides a decent repository of sounds, clips and loops. It comes with great sounding instruments and plug-ins out of the box. It also features a Clip launcher, useful for getting ideas down and testing them out before committing. Bitwig Studio takes features from Ableton Live and Logic Pro and merges them into its DNA.

In addition to the above, the Trackton DAW is also available for use, although it is currently in beta.


Reaper can be installed on Ubuntu using WINE software. See my article on installing Reaper on Ubuntu. Reaper will be able to run properly coded VST plugins made for Windows. Some of the plugins confirmed to be working  by the WineHQ team include Native Instruments Kontact and Guitar Rig.


If you are looking for quality professional plug-ins to go with your setup, sadly you will not find any plugins from Waves. I do hope this changes in the future but until then I’d recommend visiting Loomer has a great sounding synth by the name of Aspect, be sure to check that out. feature plug-ins which model analogue hardware such as the Fairchild 670. The hardware in JJPs own words makes material sound Long and luscious. While the plug-ins provided by OverToneDSP is modeled on a different unit, I doubt the sound would be far off. Do install the Guitarix AMP simulator LV2 plug-in suite from your software repositories as it will provide great value. When you have installed QjackCtl you may be saddened by its low resolution icon (or if you are coming from the Windows platform you may not even notice). If it becomes a nitpick be sure to follow my article on “Upgrading your Icons” to solve that.

Alexander Lindo is a singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, technology enthusiast, Apple Certified Pro and Pro Tools Certified Operator. If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to like me on Facebookfollow me on Twitter & Google Plus. When you are done, please check out my music. Thank you for your continued support.