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Plug-ins

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: Plug-ins

Plug-ins or signal processing software are really essential tools for fine tuning your audio production. There is also a ton of fun that allow you to kind of generate really interesting sounds and psychedelic effects as well. So they're worth checking out. Generally, its one little application kind of dedicated to one task. So some might work for tonal enhancing, like equalization or dynamic compression, changing volumes, they can apply effects like reverb, or delay, or crazy chorus effects, they can also act as virtual instruments where you actually plug in something that you can use to set sounds and use as a sound module and control with MIDI within your application.

Plug-ins

Plug-ins or signal processing software are really essential tools for fine tuning your audio production. There is also a ton of fun that allow you to kind of generate really interesting sounds and psychedelic effects as well. So they're worth checking out. Generally, its one little application kind of dedicated to one task. So some might work for tonal enhancing, like equalization or dynamic compression, changing volumes, they can apply effects like reverb, or delay, or crazy chorus effects, they can also act as virtual instruments where you actually plug in something that you can use to set sounds and use as a sound module and control with MIDI within your application.

We'll explain this more and actually take a look at it later in this movie, but virtual instruments are something to be aware of, they're great for making music. Other plug-ins can function as tools in terms of changing the sound, the volume, doing things like noise reduction, or cleaning up audio files, kind of the dirty work. Plug-ins come in really handy when you're doing mixing and trying to get different sounds to live together well and making certain sounds sound better and they're also great for mastering. There are whole sets of plug-ins that are designed just for mastering purposes. We'll get to all this later in a few other chapters, but it's good to know that you can use plug-ins for a lot of applications.

Speaking of applications, if you're doing music production or voice-over and sound design, they're great things to have. With music, you can change the EQ of the guitar, the drums, put that reverb on the drum set. For voice-over production, you can compress the vocal track, or take out some of the noise in the background. They're also great for sound design if you're working on game sounds or film sounds. You can use plug-ins to create new and interesting sounds via effects and different kinds of manipulation of the Digital Audio. In general, they're great for all around enhancements and manipulation of your Digital Audio and well worth looking into.

Most Digital Audio software will come with a fair number of plug-ins built in, but you'll also find that there's a ton of third-party plug-ins out there that you can buy and use in your software. One note there, there is a few different formats for plug-ins, and so it's important to make sure that the software you're using will actually accept or work with the plug-in format that you're using. So it's important to make sure that your software and the plug-in are compatible. Some popular manufacturers of plug-in software include Waves, McDSP, and Native Instruments, but there is a whole wide range out there, you can find freeware, and you can also go spend a couple of thousand dollars on a beautiful suite of compressors and EQs.

So let's go into Pro Tools and take a look and listen at what you can do with plug-ins. Okay, so now we're in Pro Tools, and we've got a session set up, and we're going to play it back, let's give it a listen. (music playing) And I am going to go ahead and solo our drum track, highlight it, and make sure it's set here to Loop and just let the drum track go. Now, I am going to hotkey into the Mix window. Here's our drum track over here.

In this area I can initiate a plug-in. Now, I am going to hit Pause, go in here, click an Insert, and we will click a multi-channel plug-in. Let's start with something simple like an EQ, say maybe a 3-band EQ. So with this I can change the sound of the drum track. Play it through in real-time, take that, take some of this out, go in and cut all the bass off.

Simple equalization, pretty cool. So that's a plug-in. I can also add effects like Reverb. (audio playing) Oh yeah! Change a bunch of these parameters, get different sounds, from non-linear action, very cool! There's also other kind of cool effects like Modulation and effects that you can apply.

This one is kind of nice. (music playing) So that's how you can use plug-ins as signal processing devices, and you can bypass them, get in and out, we'll do a whole section on all these different ones. I just want you to get sense of how they operate. The other thing I want to show you though is a plug-in as a virtual instrument.

So I have created an instrument track here, and I am going to show you where you go in, say Instrument, and you pick this instrument called Xpand!, this opens it up. In here I can go in and pick different sounds. If you think about it, it's kind of like GarageBand, and that there is these different voices available, but they aren't samples, they're just single notes usually. So I can go, and I've kind of decided I am going to use a B3. So I set that up in a channel. I can make manipulations and adjustments. But the thing is to know that I've loaded a voice into this virtual instrument. I am going to hide that, go back to my main Edit window.

Make this a little bit bigger, and I will solo it, and then I can go in, and this is a MIDI track and these are MIDI notes. These not actually contain sound, but if I click on them, they send information, and they tell that virtual instrument what note to play and for how long. So check this out, if I click on it, I get that organ. I can change the note, I can go in and change the duration of that note. So if I want it to be a long note. (audio playing) So that's the virtual instrument.

You can send it some MIDI, and here I will go back to our Mixer window and then pick different sounds. So if I wanted to use that classic B3 sound, I have got it. What if I want to go to like let's see, maybe the Glockenspiel, we can go back and change that, and now it will play the Glockenspiel. (audio playing) And now here it is in my beat.

So that's what you can do with the virtual instrument and then what's possible is really amazing with virtual instruments. They are really cool, very exciting, and definitely worth looking into if you want to do composition or make different pieces of music, very, very cool! Great for sound effects too. It doesn't necessarily have to be musical, you can also load in different sound effects or sound samples just different kind of random noises and kind of play those noises as instruments to come up with special sound effects. So those are plug-ins. In the next movie, we'll take a look at some of the other varieties of software that are out there that don't fall into the last few categories.

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This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 27092 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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