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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
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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