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Studio One: Surround Delay & OpenAir2

PreSonus Studio One: Tips & Techniques By Robin Vincent
Published March 2024

When used as an insert, Surround Delay’s taps will always follow the panning of the source track.When used as an insert, Surround Delay’s taps will always follow the panning of the source track.

Now we know how to get immersive in Studio One, let’s add some delay and reverb to our Atmos mixes!

Having covered the basics of immersive and Atmos mixing last month, I thought it might be a good idea to have a rummage through two plug‑ins that are uniquely kitted out for the job: OpenAir2 and Surround Delay.

But first, I would like to go over the difference between beds and objects very quickly, because I’m not sure I fully grasped it until now, and I get the feeling that I might not be alone. A bed is a multi‑channel track or bus that maps directly onto the speakers within your setup. Its outputs feed physical output channels in the same way that a stereo track goes out to a pair of outputs. When you create a surround bed, you generate a number of individual audio tracks, one for each speaker, and they are routed back to those individual and specific speakers on playback. If you are missing a speaker, then you won’t hear that part of the bed.

By contrast, an object is not associated with any specific speaker or collection of speakers. It exists as a mono or stereo audio track that is mapped on playback to whatever speakers are available, based upon the panning and positional information that’s created when you render the Atmos file. So, it doesn’t matter how many speakers you have; an object will appear in the available speakers that are best placed to convey its position.

About Latency

Personally, when exploring effects, I like to load up a virtual instrument or a real‑life instrument and play it through them. It gives you the chance to interact with things in a way that a pre‑recorded sound source doesn’t. However, when you’re dealing with Dolby Atmos, you’re required to work with rather sloth‑like latency settings. At 48kHz you have to use a buffer of 512 samples, and at 96kHz you have to use 1024 samples. On my system, a 512‑sample buffer setting produces a little over 10ms latency for soft synths: playable at a pinch, but some people might find it a tad laggy. For live input monitoring of sources such as guitars, that latency doubles up as the signal has to come in and go back out again, so 512 samples gives a very noticeable and probably unplayable delay.

The alternative is to drop down to Surround Sound rather than Atmos. This gives the advantage of lower and more playable latencies, but you lose the binaural headphone monitoring, which is that marvellous thing that lets those of us without a 7.1.2 speaker array mix spatial audio. If you need to do this to achieve low‑latency monitoring, all you have to do is reduce the buffer size under Options / Audio Setup / Audio Device. Studio One will cleverly disable the Atmos Renderer but leave everything else in place, so all you have to do is return the buffer size to 512 to re‑engage the Renderer and continue mixing in Atmos. However, for the purpose of this workshop, I’m going to stick with Atmos and assume you’re either happy with the lag or using pre‑recorded source material.


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