Growing up in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, Donnell Alexander was not allowed to play outside without supervision, so he learned to entertain himself by playing instruments made from kitchen pots and pans. When his father started to pay attention to the sounds that his son was making, he bought the boy a drum set. At age five, the youngster began playing in his church.
Today, Alexander is a performer, sound engineer, studio engineer, live-recording engineer, producer, composer, remixer, songwriter, and vocal arranger. He has over 3,000 tracks in his production credits and can create original samples and produce in multiple genres and sub-genres, including R&B, gospel, jazz, rap, spoken word, neo-soul, country, and light rock. In addition to his 25-plus years of experience as a professional musician, he has arranged for numerous local plays, including a production of The Life Story of Marvin Gaye, written by Norbert Brown.
Alexander and longtime business partner Darrell Hays have collaborated with an impressive list of talent, including producing, recording, and developing former American Idol contestant Cheyenne Lavene. At T1V2 Productions, the duo also took on artist Steven Walker (a former member of Natalie Wilson & S.O.P.).
In 2008, Alexander became the music director and keyboardist for Grammy and Stella Award nominee Kevin Jarido and Nu Virtu. He assisted with the recording and arrangement process of their album Time to Get Up and edited, mixed, and mastered their hit single “Rain" using PreSonus Studio One. “It's an easy product to learn,” Alexander explains. “I downloaded the Studio One demo, and the next week, I used Studio One to edit, mix, and master “Rain.
“I use Studio One Professional 2 and the FaderPort on my Mac and my PC for production, recording, mixing, and mastering,” says Alexander. I kept hearing great reviews about Studio One, and one day I downloaded the demo. It blew me away! I love the editing features; the drag-and-drop features are incredible.
“My former DAW was Logic Pro 9 but Studio One runs smoother. Logic’s automation was glitchy; Studio One’s automation is smooth. When I used Logic Pro, I had to bring the software volume down and then raise the sound-card volume. That’s bad because it changes the sound of the mix. But Studio One’s headroom is incredible, and it does not color your mix. What you see is what you get.”
Key commands are essential for Alexander, and with Studio One, he can use his Logic commands or Pro Tools commands or create his own custom key commands. He also makes extensive use of Studio One’s Melodyne integration. “I’ve been using Melodyne for years to clean up notes, create harmonies, and change keys to songs. I love the fact that it is built into Studio One,” he explains.
Alexander calls Studio One’s Impact “the best drum plug-in on the market. I love the fact when you drop a sample on a pad, it create a channel strip for that sample,” he explains.
His favorite Studio One feature, however, is its implementation of transient detection and editing. “This feature saves me so much time,” he declares. “Sometimes I work on track that wasn’t recorded to a clock so I use transient detection to sync audio to a clock. Logic’s transient detection wasn’t accurate.”
Concludes Alexander, “Studio One Professional is a complete recording studio. It covers all areas from start to finish, from production to recording, editing, mixing, and mastering, all in the same program. Studio One is solid.”