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What are plug-ins?

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: What are plug-ins?

So, in this chapter, the Plug-ins chapter, we're going to look at a lot of these different plug-ins, what they do, all the different kind of cool effects you can use, and the kind of tools they can provide to help you improve and change your sounds. But first let's just kind of recap what they are. They're mini-applications that extend the capabilities of your software. They can come bundled with the software that you have, or you can buy third-party or additional plug-in software. What they do is they handle a wide variety of DSP, or digital signal processing, tasks, things like reverb, delay, or things like changing the volume of digital files.

What are plug-ins?

So, in this chapter, the Plug-ins chapter, we're going to look at a lot of these different plug-ins, what they do, all the different kind of cool effects you can use, and the kind of tools they can provide to help you improve and change your sounds. But first let's just kind of recap what they are. They're mini-applications that extend the capabilities of your software. They can come bundled with the software that you have, or you can buy third-party or additional plug-in software. What they do is they handle a wide variety of DSP, or digital signal processing, tasks, things like reverb, delay, or things like changing the volume of digital files.

There is a pretty wide range of different plug-ins out there, and some of them have pretty straightforward names, and some of them have pretty interesting and comical names. A lot of them are also modeled after hardware units that actually exist and may have existed for 20 or 30 years. A lot of the really cool compressors from the 1960s and 1970s now, you can get basically software models of those as plug-ins. So, I always think it's helpful to kind of categorize your plug-ins, or think of them in terms of categories, based on what they do.

A few kind of common categories are EQ, or equalization, which deals with kind of adjusting frequency or tonal information. Dynamics, which deals with the dynamic range or the volume of different sounds, There will be things like compressors. We'll get into all of these one at a time in the next few movies. Also, pitch shifting, which you can use to change the pitch of things, obviously, and also to correct things and auto-tune things if you have instruments that are out of tune. Reverb & delay add reflections and echoes and kind of simulate things that happen in the real world to kind of make sounds smoother, but they can also be used for great special effects.

Modulation effects, things like phaser and flanger and chorus, that can be used to add a little bit of texture or variation to a sound that might be static, or to kind of give it a little bit more body. Then finally, there are sound tools, which will help you do things like change the volume of a sound file or reduce some of the noise involved in that sound file. These are really almost kind of like utilities. They can offer a lot of assistance in terms of kind of getting the best sound possible, and enhancing your sound files. So, in the coming movies, we'll go through all of these kind of one at a time, but before we do that, I should point out that there's really two different ways, or kind of two different places where plug-ins will appear in digital audio software, and two ways to apply them to your sound files.

The first is in real time, which is when you use them as an insert in your mixing board, and you hit Play and the sound file is actually routed through that plug-in. The other is at the file level, where you're not in playback mode, but you're just simply highlighting or selecting a file and then applying the plug-in, kind of like a filter. This tends to render it, as opposed to the real-time, which affects what you hear but not how you actually change the digital file. When you work at the file level, you're actually making a new copy with the effect built in to that new file.

In the next movie, we'll take a look at using plug-ins in real time, or as inserts, and also applying them at the file level.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 26626 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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