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Using Studio One's Mixing Console

PreSonus Studio One Tips & Techniques By Robin Vincent
Published May 2023

The fully expanded console view.The fully expanded console view.

We explore the mixing possibilities offered by Studio One’s console.

You’ve recorded your audio, programmed your MIDI, and your arrangement is complete. Now it’s time to turn your attention to mixing. That’s not to say you must follow those steps in producing your music. You may find that you mix as you go, rearrange as you mix, or only touch the faders as an absolute last resort; we’re open to all workflows in Studio One. But you need to have at least something done before you begin mixing.

Studio One refers to the mixer window as the console, and you switch it into the space usually held by the editor. You can also detach it and spread it across multiple screens. It’s wonderfully fluid and dynamic, squashing and stretching depending on how much height you give it. You may find some of the sections are hidden, only to be revealed as you pull the window up.

You can have all sorts of track types represented in the console. There are input channels, audio tracks, instrument channels, auxes, buses, FX channels and outputs. What’s the difference between an aux, a bus and an FX channel? Good question. Aux channels are for mixing in external sources through your audio interface that you don’t want to record (because if you did, you’d use an input channel). Bus channels are for creating submixes of other channels. FX channels are for creating send effects. 

Channel Strip

What you see on a channel strip is very configurable. If you click on the little spanner at the top left of the mixer, you can show or hide a bunch of different components.

If all of them are present, you’ll have input gain and polarity controls at the top, followed by insert effects, and then sends. In the next section, around the fader, we get panning, mute/solo, monitoring/record enable, the fader with level monitoring, a peak indicator, and VCA assignment. Then track type, grouping and automation mode. The section at the bottom holds channel notes (as in text notes, not musical) and the track icon, followed by the track name.

Most commonly, you’ll find that your console will show just the inserts and sends, and then the basic fader, panning and mute/solo controls; otherwise it can all get a bit busy. Talking of which, there are a couple of buttons to the bottom left of the console that can help tidy it up. The first one is a button with two triangles pointing at each other vertically. This removes the top half of the console. The one beneath it with horizontal triangles makes the console super‑narrow and compact.

The channel strip actually appears in three different places in Studio One. You’ve got it in the console along with every other channel, ready for that big mixer experience. But you’ve also got a version of it in the Inspector, to the side of the arrangement window. A larger, more expanded version is available in the Channel Editor, which is new in version 6, and comes up if you click the little pack‑of‑cards icon to the bottom right of the fader.


FX Chains are selections of plug‑ins bundled together for specific tasks. Here’s a selection of FX Chains intended for processing guitar.FX Chains are selections of plug‑ins bundled together for specific tasks. Here’s a selection of FX Chains intended for processing guitar.Inserts are plug‑ins inserted directly into the path of your audio. In Studio One, you can insert individual effects or you can try out some of the curated FX Chains. FX Chains are preset bundles of effects put together to do something appropriate depending on the audio content. So, for instance, you could select ‘Female Pop’ under the ‘Vocals’ category, and it will load up a Compressor, Pro EQ and Room Reverb with settings tailor‑made for a woman’s voice. This is a swift and useful way of setting up the processing of your tracks, particularly if you’re still learning how to mix and are unsure what plug‑ins you should use.

The FX Chains are accessible from the little down‑arrow beside the word ‘Inserts’. Next to that is a plus sign which brings up our list of PreSonus and third‑party plugins. Each new plug‑in is added to the bottom of the insert chain, but these can be easily dragged around to reorder them. If the list gets too long they might disappear behind the sends, but you can drag the divider between the effects and the channel fader down to reveal more.

To bring up the editor of an effect, just double‑click it. But, with a single click, you can also see and edit a simplified version of the parameters directly within the insert space. For some PreSonus plug‑ins, such as the Pro EQ and Compressor, you also get a mini display of the action that can be edited. It’s very useful for making quick changes to one or more tracks without bringing up many plug‑in windows.

You can drag effects from one insert section to another to copy it to another track. One good tip is that you can copy over the whole effects chain at once if you click and drag on the inserts header rather than the individual plug‑ins.


With send effects, the idea is that a single plug‑in or chain of plug‑ins is loaded on its own mixer channel. You then ‘send’ signal from other tracks to that channel to run through the effects. This has the advantage that one effects chain can be applied to multiple sources, in differing amounts.

The little down arrow lets you remove the sends and also enable/disable a separate panning control, while the plus button gives you a list of available destinations for the sends. And sends have other uses besides effects; you can employ them for all sorts of routing shenanigans.

Version 6 introduced Fader Flip, which lets you turn all the level faders into send faders. This is very useful for having a better overview of your mix’s effects routing. You can flip your faders by clicking the button beneath the spanner over on the top left.

Fader Section

At the top of the fader section, you have the panning control. Move it left or right to position the audio within the stereo field between your two speakers. If it’s a stereo track, you have a couple of other options. Dual Pan gives you independent left and right panners. Binaural uses Mid/Sides processing to manipulate the perceived stereo width (Studio One also has plug‑ins that do this, with more advanced controls).

The mute button disables the audio output of the channel, while the solo button temporarily mutes all the other channels, allowing you to hear it in isolation. You can press M or S on your keyboard to engage those buttons on the selected channel(s). There’s also a function called Solo Safe, activated by Shift‑clicking on a solo button. Solo Safe channels remain audible even when other channels are soloed.

Interestingly, muting a virtual instrument track doesn’t cut off the audio, but stops the MIDI note data playing. The manual doesn’t tell us why, but perhaps it’s to ensure that instrument track mute behaviour is the same for virtual instruments and for external hardware synths.

At last we come to the fader itself. It controls the channel output level, letting you set how loud it should be relative to all the other tracks. You can move it with your mouse or mouse wheel, or you can enter a value by clicking the number at the top or by right‑clicking and entering it in the menu. Faders also enjoy MIDI control.

The visual metering shows the audio level. You can set it to Peak, Peak/RMS or Pre‑Fader, which have special meanings that I described at length in a previous workshop. Opposite the meter is a quizzical little box with three layers. This indicates whether the channel uses any inserts, sends or effects. It is handy when the top half of the console isn’t showing so you can see which channels are using effects.

Underneath the fader, you can set the automation mode, add some notes about how terrible the singer is and give the channel an icon so you know what’s on it.

If you’ve grouped any tracks together for editing in the arrangement window, then the console channels for those tracks will also be grouped...


If you’ve grouped any tracks together for editing in the arrangement window, then the console channels for those tracks will also be grouped, to pretty much the same effect. Move one fader and you move all the faders in the group. Same with panning, mutes, inserts and all the other functions. You could use this for grouping the microphones on a drum kit, or a group of singers, string tracks or anything where you want to apply the same changes to every part.

If the faders or other parameters are set differently when the channels are grouped, they move in relation to each other to maintain the same ratio of difference. If you want to temporarily move something without the other channels in the group following, hold the Alt/Option key as you drag the mouse. You can also remove elements of the channel strip from grouping, such as panning or inserts.

VCA Faders & Scenes

VCAs are like ‘next level’ faders. They can control the level of multiple channels without all that tedious mucking about in groups or using a bus. You create a VCA fader in the console and allocate whatever channels you like to it. It gives you a simple way to control the levels of multiple channels at once, and can be automated too. You can even cascade the automation moves from the VCA fader to the assigned tracks, if you’d like to use them as a basis for individual fader moves.

Once you start mixing, it can become a never‑ending process of adjustment and fiddling. Late one night, you might come up with an exquisite mix only to find that it sounds very different to your ears the next day. And so you make further adjustments and can never quite get to where you were before. Or you may find that you’re getting a bit lost in the enormity of your project, and customising the mixer could be helpful. This is where Scenes can come in.

Scenes can store the status of the entire console, or just certain elements, such as volume, panning and inserts.Scenes can store the status of the entire console, or just certain elements, such as volume, panning and inserts.

A Scene stores the current configuration of the console for recall. You can hide unwanted channels, group things together, set some effects and routings and store the whole lot as a scene. You could get to a point in your mix where everything sounds interesting, but you’d like to explore other options. No problem: save it as a Scene, and you can come back to that perfect mix. You don’t have to store everything; a Scene can be anything from a mini template to a console full of possibilities.

Scenes are available from a button at the bottom left of the console. You have tick boxes for what aspects you want to recall, and you can even do it for only a few selected channels rather than the whole thing. It’s a fabulously useful tool.  

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