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In the past, engineers had to use complex recall sheets to manually record and recall the settings of analog gear in their studio. Sometimes taking hours to recall a complex mix. Fortunately today, all plug-ins in Pro Tools support a built-in librarian system for storing and recalling settings or presets. These presets allow you to quickly access a preset sound for that plug-in and are a great way of working across multiple sessions. For example, having the same EQ on a singer across multiple songs.
So if we look at a plug-in, I'll look at the plug-in on the KickBus track, the EQ. We can see that every plug-in in Pro Tools is framed by the same plug-in window, and here in the center, I have the Librarian menu, which allows me to access all of those presets that came built-in to that plug-in. So if I wanted to access one of these Kick Drum presets, like Kick Monster, I could select that and it would recall that setting for that specific plug-in. Now many plug-ins come with these built-in presets.
They are called factory presets from the manufacturer. They can be great starting points for using the plug-in in a Mix. However, you're going to get the most use out of the preset system when you start saving and recalling your own presets, right. To save a preset, you can make any adjustments to the plug-in and right above the Librarian menu is the Presets menu, I can choose Save Settings As to save a new setting, and give it a name. Now we'll see that show up at the bottom of my list.
Now I could also organize these into subgroups, if I Save As again, I could even create a new folder, and save that in that new folder, so I can organize them in sub-categories. Now anytime I want, I can call up that preset just by going to the Librarian menu, and checking that box there. Now to modify a setting, all I need to do is make my modifications, again from the Preset menu, choose Save Settings as opposed to Save As, and that will update that.
And you see I get the little Compare button that lights up there, and what that allows me to do is compare my last change with the actual preset. So you can see it italicizes the preset name whenever you've made a change, and you can choose to go ahead and save over that if you like. You can also lock the settings file, which would force you to create a new settings file on the system. Now if I wanted to delete this settings file, I could choose Delete Current Settings file. And if I wanted to see where they lived on the hard drive, I could go to my Finder, and the settings files actually live under Library > Application Support > Digidesign > Plug-In Settings.
So here are all the plug-ins installed on my system and all of the plug-in settings file. So if I go to the EQ 3.0 folder, I can see those ones that I saved, I can even choose to delete it, right here. So plug-ins in Pro Tools can be told to recall a user default rather than a factory default. This is a great way when working with plug-ins that you have a specific setting that you use over and over again. What I can do is call up the setting, and choose Set As User Default.
Now I want to go down and click on the Preset menu again and choose Settings > Preferences > Set plug-in Default to User Setting. Now every time I bring up this plug-in, the EQ 37 band, it's going to recall the preset bass eq, which I defined as the User Default. And again, this is great if you want to recall the same setting every time with your plug-ins. So some general tips for working with plug-in settings. You want to remember that plug-in settings are stored and recalled only within the specific plug-in they are created for. So for example, you cannot recall a setting from the DigiRack Compressor into a Waves Compressor or a McDSP Compressor.
Even if the settings from the compressor sort of map one-to-one, they are not going to match with each other. Now these factory presets that I talked about, remember they are great starting points and they often showcase some of the special features of the plug-in. But you want to remember that the person designing the preset had no idea about your tracks and what they sounded like. So you can't assume that just because a preset is labeled great for vocals that it's going to work great on your vocal. And sometimes people do this and it's just kind of a train yrack.
But 95% of the time, I find that I need to tweak at least one parameter after loading a factory preset, even if it is appropriate for the track I'm working on it. I'm still usually tweaking some preset or another. So plug-in presets are a great way to store and recall your favorite ways of using specific plug-ins across sessions and tracks, and often times these built-in presets are great starting points. So try storing your own presets. When you come to an interesting sound, even if it's not going to work in the current context, you never know when it might be useful and plug-in presets are great for doing that.
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