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SoundGrid Studio Quickstart – Real-Time Audio Processing in Your Studio

Jun 18, 2020 | 74,750 Views

In June 2024 we will release the next version of StudioRack, which will no longer support offloading plugin processing to a SoundGrid server via SoundGrid Studio: Learn more.

In this video, we will help you get started with the SoundGrid Studio software for real-time mixing, recording and monitoring with plugins.

SoundGrid is a system for real-time audio processing and networking. It allows you to:

  1. Mix with more plugins by offloading your plugin processing;
  2. Record & monitor in real-time with plugins;
  3. Connect and network audio devices in a super-flexible way

Waves SoundGrid Studio is the software application that controls and manages your SoundGrid network. In this video we’ll go over its various features and capabilities.

SoundGrid is a scalable system, so how you set up your system depends on how you want to use it.

  1. You can go from a small setup, for example just one computer and one SoundGrid server for plugin offload;
  2. to a setup that also includes a SoundGrid audio interface, for real-time recording and monitoring thru plugins;
  3. and to an even larger setup for collaborating with others, or for building a super-studio, with any combination of up to 14 SoundGrid audio interfaces or computers on top of your local computer.

The Setup Window

Within SoundGrid Studio, you have four main windows.

The Setup window is where your audio interfaces and all the other abovementioned components are set up. This is also where you select which configuration of SoundGrid Studio you want (how many channels), and how you want SoundGrid Studio to configure itself every time you launch or re-start your computer.

If you have more than one computer in your studio setup, SoundGrid Studio is a quick way to stream audio between those computers.

SoundGrid Studio lets you offload processing from a host computer to a high-speed SoundGrid server. This results in a huge improvement in DSP, which lets you use a lot more plugins and takes the pressure off your computer's built-in CPU. All you need for plugin offload is a SoundGrid server and the StudioRack plugin on your tracks in your DAW. You can connect your non-SoundGrid I/O within the SG Connect assignment, here. (To learn more about the ‘SoundGrid Connect’ feature of SoundGrid Studio, watch this video.)

The Patch Window

Patching in SoundGrid Studio is very simple.

The Patch window is organized into 4 patch tabs: Input, Output, Internal, and Device-to-Device.

  1. In the Input patch view, you have two separate input tabs, A and B. You can flip between these two completely separate input configurations with the flip of an assigned user key, or channel by channel.
  2. The Output patching is divided between Direct channel patching and your Mix Buses.
  3. The Internal patch view is where you assign channels to groups, your main out, and links. In this mode, there is no patching to outside devices.
  4. In Device to Device, you are able to connect hardware audio interfaces or software I/O devices to each other. These patches are used to stream all channels from a SoundGrid audio interface directly into a DAW’s inputs and back, using the SoundGrid Driver.

Now, not only can you assign all routing from the Patch window, but you are also able to make input, output, and internal routing within our next two windows, the Mixer windows.

The Mixer Windows

SoundGrid Studio includes a fully featured studio mixer, with up to 64 channels, depending on the configuration and license you choose. The mixer section is called eMotion ST. This mixer, used in conjunction with the StudioRack plugin in your DAW, allows you to monitor while recording with plugins—at very low latency.

These two Mixer windows are inspired by traditional mixing consoles. They provide a broad, multichannel view of the entire mixer: input, routing, plugins, assignments, and channel parameters.

For an expanded at-a-glance view of multiple windows, you can easily tear off any of these windows.

The Mixer Layer Selector panel at the bottom is used to choose which channels, groups, auxes, monitors, and link groups are at the front of the display.

  1. The four Channel layers display all mixer input channels. The mixer’s channel count will depend on which SoundGrid Studio license you own—8, 16, 32 or 64 channels.
  2. Groups are commonly used to downmix several channels to a single buss. (Note that Groups are available only in the 64-channel and 32-channel configurations of SoundGrid Studio—not in the 16-channel version or the free 8-channel version.)
  3. Aux buses are used primarily for processing signals that will be sent to monitor outs or other paths. Auxes can be patched directly to the main buss, with no need for additional return channels, however you can also patch them to the control room and headphones, as well as to I/O devices.
  4. Aux and Monitor channels are very similar in most Layer Modes, but their signal flows differ slightly. Monitor channels are typically used for monitor mixes.
  5. A Link group is a collection of channels that move together in all modes. Links are not the same as channel groups. Groups mix together the audio of several mixer channels. Links control the faders and mutes of several channels—no audio passes through a link fader. This is just like a VCA.
  6. The StudioRack layer is used for low latency monitoring with or through plugins. To have StudioRack represented here, you must first go to StudioRack, and assign an active input within StudioRack in your DAW.
  7. Channels of any layer type can be combined in user-created Custom layers. This enables control of specified channels in one view, without having to jump between mixer layers. Channels can be organized in any order within a Custom layer.
Also, within the mixer, you have several modes:

  1. The Input mode section accepts signals from outside sources, whether driver channels or I/O device channels.
  2. Each eMotion ST mixer channel can host up to eight plugins. The Rack mode is used to add, remove, rearrange, and control these plugins.
  3. The Route mode patches Input, Group, and Output channels. Patching is different for each layer.
  4. The Aux and Monitor modes are where you can control your Sends, On/Off, Source pre and post, and levels.

More Features

Now that we’ve gone over the mixer, let’s review some extra fundamental features.

On the top bar, you will find the File menu. This is where you manage your sessions. A session includes your inventory, your patching, and all mixer settings.

SoundGrid Studio includes a large list of plugin chain presets, which you can find here. These presets cover everything from individual instruments to mastering chains. Opening these plugin chains directly inside SoundGrid Studio will be useful whenever you are using it as your input mixer or busing out from your DAW.

If you have a SoundGrid DSP server, the DSP meter will help you track your DSP load.

Set the mixers tempo manually, by tap or sync to your DAW.

Monitor / Control Room Section

Finally, the SoundGrid Studio Monitor panel lets you create a personalized control room.

  1. Here you can choose your source, whether DAW output, your mixer output, any I/O input (for example your phone or a listen mic), and buses, so you can listen to what you’re sending to a musician.
  2. You can insert up to four plugins of your choice. Add a limiter, Abbey Road Studio 3, or an EQ for room correction. You can listen to all your sources with the same processing.
  3. Choose between three sets of speakers to cross check your mix, and easily manage your monitor’s gain, mute, mono, and dim.

Below the Control Room, you’ll find four additional headphones mixes. Here you can manage what your musicians are hearing, add plugins and quickly toggle between different sources.

Use the Clear Solo icon to clear all solos in all layers. Choose between single solo or latch solo mode.

The Talkback function sends the signal of an assigned I/O to selected busses. Click on the gear icon to set this up.

As you can see, there are a lot of powerful features waiting for you within SoundGrid Studio, and this was just a quick glance at what’s possible.

Should you have any more questions about SoundGrid Studio or want to learn further details about what we covered in this video, you can check out the user guide on the SoundGrid Studio product page, or from within the SoundGrid Studio app itself.

Don’t have the SoundGrid Studio software yet? Download the free 8-channel version.