Common Studio Effects
Today we are going to look at the most common studio effects. You will see these as outboard gear and as plug ins. Outboard gear gives you knobs and dials to turn but are more expensive and take up room. Plug ins are less expensive but take processing power away from your computer. Either way you go, use these tools to help dial in your recording and mix.
A compressor reduces the dynamic range of a performance. Vocals and real instruments have a huge dynamic range. The threshold on a compressor controls the levels automatically. When any sounds exceed the threshold, they are automatically pulled down in volume. Using compression allows instruments such as bass guitar to sit better within the final mix. The difference in volume between the loudest and the quietest parts of the recording are reduced. This means that any uncompressed signals will become louder relative to the compressed parts. This effectively boosts the average signal level, which in turn not only allows you to push the volume up further, but also makes it sound louder.
While a compressor attenuates the level of any signal that exceeds the threshold, a gate can attenuate or remove any signal that is below the threshold. The main purpose of this is to remove any low-level noise that may be present during a silent passage.
As sound rebounds off nearby objects and walls before reaching our ears, the reflected waves take longer to reach your ears than the direct sound itself. This creates a series of discrete echoes that are all closely compacted together. This is known as reverb. Reverb is an important tool in EDM production. This is due to samplers and synthesizers not generating natural reverberations until the resulting signals are exposed to air.
Delay Delay Delay….
Delay allows you to delay the incoming audio signal by a predetermined time. The number of delays produced can be altered so that you can produce more than one repeat from a single sound. Some more advanced delay processors may permit you to delay the left and right channels individually and pan them to the left and right of the stereo image. They may also allow you to apply modulation to the subsequent delays which can be a desirable effect.
Equalization (EQ) is a frequency-specific tone control that allows you to intensify or attenuate specific frequencies. EQ plays a larger role in mixing than it does it sound design. It is important to make sure your kick drum does not interfere with your bassline. Each element should be EQ’d so that their dominant frequencies don’t overlap.
Distortion is an overdrive effect to any sounds that are fed through it. Often EDM producers will use a distortion made for guitar on a synthesizer to add grit and character.
A vocoder is a talking synthesizer effect. They allow you to use one sound, commonly your voice (known as the modulator) to control the tonal character of a second sound (known as the carrier), which normally is a synthesizer’s sustained timbre. When a vocal signal enters the vocoder, it analyzes the signal’s properties and uses a number of filters to divide the signal into a number of different frequency bands. When speaking into the microphone, your voice is superimposed onto the instrument’s timbre. Singing in tune isn’t necessary as it won’t make a difference.
Common Studio Effects Finale
These are the most common studio effects you will find in both professional and home studios. They will help dial in the sound you are looking for. Use them as tools in your toolbox and take them out when needed.
Check out AmericanMusical.com to see all the common studio effects you might need to dial in your studio. Between outboard gear and plug ins software, we have what you need. If you are in the market to upgrade your interface, many come with free plugins and would be an affordable way to upgrade your interface and effects at the same time.