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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.
Okay, so here we are in our plug-ins session, and we're going to talk about the two different ways you can apply plug-ins, or the places that they exist in the DAW. First, we'll look at how you insert one into a track in the mixer, and then we'll look at using them at the file level as a rendered effect. So, it's pretty simple! You go into your mixer, in the Insert section, and insert a plug-in. We'll go ahead and insert some reverb here on this channel. That will bring up an interface for setting the parameters and settings of the effect.
Now, you don't hear anything when you just open it up; you have to actually play something, so we'll go ahead and listen to a drumbeat through some reverb. (drums playing) So, that's a plug-in in real time. We're playing that file through the effect. I can set up, in this situation, up to five of these plug-ins in a row. We'll use an EQ here, and then I will change the tonality of what's going on there.
(drums playing) Cut out some of that snare drum. (drums playing) So, that's using a plug-in in real time as an insert. When you're mixing, this is really nice because you can go in and you can set it up, make some adjustments, and then go back and change those adjustments as you're kind of making decisions about how different sounds sound together. Sometimes, you initially put a little bit too much or too little effect on, or it's not EQed quite right. You can load it in and then go ahead and go back and change it as you want to.
But the trick with real-time plug-ins is that they're processor-intensive. They are little applications that are actually running while everything else is running. They have to do a lot of math to figure out how to make reverb sound good. So, they can put quite a strain on your processor, and you'll find that as you start to include plug-ins, when you get to a point where you have a lot of them, you might notice some performance issues. Or at some point, you might not be able to insert or initiate any more plug- ins, because your processor can't handle it. So when this happens, it's good to look at applying effects at the file level, or to kind of render the effect to your sound file.
Now, this can be done in a destructive or non-destructive way, meaning that you can actually alter the original sound file itself on the hard drive. Or if you do it in a non-destructive way, you apply the filter or the effect, and it actually creates a new copy of that sound. I encourage you to work nondestructively as much as possible, so that way you always have your original recording still intact. So, let's go ahead and apply some effects. We'll select a file. Let's just select a drumbeat again. In Pro Tools, they have what they call the AudioSuite, which is where we have similar dropdown menu like we did in the Insert channel over here that shows you the different plug-ins by category.
Here we can grab something. We'll grab a D-Verb again. It's the same effect, but when I play back the sound -- Well, we have it here. When I play back the sound, there is no reverb. (drums playing) We're just going through. In order to apply it here, I select the sound file and then I--in Pro Tools it's called Preview, but now we are just playing that sound file on its own through this effect. We are listening back to that alone.
Notice the playhead is not moving. We're just checking out that sound file. So, we can make some settings, set up some reverb, put maybe some play down there. (drums playing) We can put a bypass here to see what the difference is. That's the original unaffected sound. Here is our affected sound. So, I think that sounds pretty good! So, I can hit Process now, and this sound file, the drumbeat, just had that Reverb added to it.
You can see, actually, it kind of throws in a little tighter there, D-Verb to let you know that we did that. So, we can listen back, and now I'm going to take these out just so it's really clear that we're not using the D-Verb as an insert, but that that reverb now is built into this file. (drums playing) So, that's applying an effect and, of course, we can undo it. Apple+Z -- (drums playing) And go back.
So, applying effects at the file level can be very useful because, one, it will free up some of your processor to do other things, and also, if you know that there is a setting that you want to have on a certain sound, you can actually really commit that setting or that effect to that sound. You'll see that actually there is quite a few things that fall in the sound tools category that really only exist as a file-level plug-in, and you can't plug them in as a real-time insert. The other thing I want to talk about quickly in this section that you'll see in a lot of plug-ins are a few words: wet, dry, and mix.
These refer to the amount of effect being applied to a signal, or to a sound. Dry implies that there is not much effect or no effect applied. Wet implies that there is a lot of effect, but it's a sliding scale. Mix generally refers to the balance between wet and dry. So here we'll preview again. (drums playing) And we'll go to zero mix, or completely dry with no effect on it. Then we can go to completely wet.
That means we're getting all affected signal. In the middle, we're hearing half of the signal or so without any effect on it, mixed with half of the signal with effect on it. So, this is good to know. You'll see the Mix option in pretty much every plug-in you work with, especially if it has an effect like a reverb or delay. So, it's good to know about wet, dry and mix.
Now, let's go take a look at some of these different categories of plug-ins individually.
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