What about effects?

In my last post I briefly took a look at Digital to Analog Conversion. Today I’d like to discuss effects.  Not guitar pedal effects, which in my case would probably make more sense to those of you who know me well, but Digital Audio Effects used when configuring a digital mixing board, their categories, plugins and properties when using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

This is the third post in a series devoted to completing assignments for an online Introduction to Music Production class.  I hope you enjoy reading about what I’m learning and perhaps get some learning along the way.  Any input on your part is appreciated. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read through the material.

Categories of effects: Teach the effect categories including which plugins go in each category and which property of sound each category relates to.

Categories of Effects: Plugins and Properties.

The process of recording, mixing and editing music has come a long way and those that have gone before us have paved the way to great music production by giving us some pretty awesome tools or plugins that help us get the sound we’re hearing in our heads into the airwaves and into the ears of our audience.  The complex spectrum of Audio Effects at our fingertips is simplified a great deal when we understand their categories and the most appropriate way to configure them into a signal flow based on their uses.

Digital Audio Effects fit into three basic categories in digital processing that relate directly to some basic elements of sound itself.   These three categories are

Category 1: Dynamic Effects

Category 2: Delay Effects

Category 3: Filter Effects.

  1. Dynamic effects plugins- generate amplitude over time.  You may recognize these effects as gates, compressors, expanders and limiters and can give the listener a sense of emotional intensity or help the music “tell the story” by increasing or decreasing the dynamic.
  2. Delay effects plugins –  Sound propagation or the speed at which a sound travels through and around objects can be simulated in the DAW to give us a sense of space.  Delay effects, like chorus, or phase and reverb as well as the flange make a recording sound as though it were played in a large or small space.  If you want your audience to get the feeling they are in a concert hall or perhaps outdoors delay effects can accomplish it.
  3. Filter effect plugins control something called timbre, (ˈtambər) or particular sound quality of an instrument such as a trumpet or violin or a voice.  When you adjust highs and lows in the DAW you are using filters.  The most common filters are the parametric and graphic equalizer or EQ.  Other Filters include high, low and band pass filters.

My first assignment was to discuss signal flow in a home production studio set-up.  Part of the signal flow which I did not discuss in-depth included the flow through the DAW itself.  Knowing where to position which effects can help a lot when producing music especially when mixing multiple tracks.

For instance, lets assume you’re mixing several background vocals and you equalized them carefully but now you want your listeners to feel as though the singers had performed in a great cathedral.  You’d want to add a delay effect plugin.  Trying to mix delay into each singer’s track individually and keep it consistent between the tracks would take some time to accomplish but if you routed those tracks into one sub-track you could filter them all at the same time, equally, and get that cathedral sound without all the fuss of individual mixing for that plugin.

So, you see, having an understanding of when and where to use which effect can make a huge difference in time management in the studio as well as improve accuracy and efficiency in the processing stages.

In reflection I’ve learned so much as I’ve contemplated and researched this topic.  My appreciation for those who have a great knowledge and understanding of this topic. Learning these categories and knowing where the plugins fit helps me get my head around some complexities that would otherwise be out of my reach!  And, in the end it’s not so overwhelming.

Thank you again for taking the time to read through my topic and for sharing your knowledge with me!

1 Comment

Filed under Gear, Music Education, music production, Tech Tips

One response to “What about effects?

  1. Pingback: Worship Tech Roundup | Worship Links

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