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Top ten audio effects every recording artist should know

Nov 022017

 

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  Any engineer will tell you that its the quality of instruments you choose as well as the recording that will contribute to a good mix. Early on in the recording process there quite a few techniques artist can use to get the studio quality sound in their recordings. But in order to achieve the sound you want, you'll need to know the basic fundamentals of the recording process. And knowing when to apply certain effects to your vocals. In this article I will be going over the top ten audio effects every recording artist should know.

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1-Compression- Keeping the low parts loud and the loud parts low of your vocals can be achieved with compression. Another alternative would be to use automation on the volume control of your vocals. But if you're looking to use compression to alter the tone of your vocals, or tighten them up in the mix. You can do so by adjusting the threshold below the average level of the vocals. This way the compressor will be most active during the louder parts of the performance like singing. The audio will sound overly compressed at first but using a longer attack setting will fix this. However if your looking for a more up front aggressive presence for your vocal mix. The desired compression settings are threshold -2db, ratio 4:-1-6:1 ,attack 1rms, release to about 40rms and adjusting the gain output so that it matches the input level. At this output you'll need to add a considerable amount of of gain to compensate.

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2- Equalization (Eq)- Boosting ,reducing and sometimes attenuating a signal this will allow you to clean up vocals by removing unwanted frequencies. Eq is one of the most important tools you'll use. Knowing where to cut and boost is vital part to achieving good sounding vocals. When applying Eq to your vocals its best to start by removing unwanted frequencies. When cutting from the low end its anywhere from 75HZ to 100Hz. Removing “boominess” and small room resonance ranges from 100 Hz to 150Hz. This will depend on the vocals your working on as the frequencies range can sometimes be used to add warmth and fullness by boosting in 100Hz to 150Hz. For lyric clarity you can either boost or reduce in the 800Hz-1k range. For open presence boosting in the 3k-6k range. For brightness 9k-11k range. For air you can boost or reduce in the range of 12k.

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3-Reverb- Used to add space and depth in the mix. The idea behind using this effect is to create a natural sounding environment and space for each of the sounds in the mix. Think of live music performances and how the instruments along with the vocalist are positioned on stage. Lead vocals
will be in front of the band along with any accompanying lead instruments. Every instrument being played needs its space. When applying reverb keep in mind that subtlety is the best approach. Bring the input level of reverb effect to where you want it and bring it back down to about 2db-4b lower then you initially intended it to be.

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4-Delay-Like reverb this effect is used to add space and soft instruments and vocals in the mix. Delay can be used with or without reverb to add a bit of depth to your vocals. As reverb tails can cause clutter issues in the mix if applied excessively. Whereas delays and echoes can dissipate quickly, giving you a cleaner sound.

 

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5-De-esser- Think of it as a frequency compressor allowing you to keep harsh noises at bay. Preferably used on vocals and sometimes lead instruments. Great for removing sibilance from vocals. An extremely useful tool when mixing your vocal and keeping them clear of unwanted noise caused from speech.

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6-Limiter- After applying compression for tone and compression once again for dynamics. At this point the vocal volume should be consistent. But for a more commercial sounding feel you can take the extra step and add a limiter to grab any peaks that may have gone noticed during the compression stages. Subtly is key when adding a limiter to your vocals.

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7-Exciter-The idea behind this effect is to add controlled distortion also referred to as saturation, to vocals, instruments and an over all mix. There are many types of saturation that can be applied varies frequency areas of your mix. For example if you wanted to add some saturation to the highs or mid frequencies of your vocals. This effect can be achieved in one of two ways the first would be to create a copied track of your lead vocals. Using a hi-pass filter to isolate the highs while removing the low and mid frequencies of the copied vocal track. At this point the sound will be extremely thin and low so to compensate for this you may need to add a limiter or compressor to add some presence to the copied track. You'll then need to bring the level of the copied track into the mix once you've applied the effects. The next approach would be to create a bus track or an additional fx track from your main fx track. This is done because the saturation signal coming from the exciter plug-in can be extremely harsh so with that being said you'll want make that you're adding too much of it. Remember subtlety is key.

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8-Pitch Correction- Primarily used for correcting notes that are sung by vocalist. Most DAWS may have some form of pitch correction but for those that don't. Can look into plug-ins like “Celemony's Melodyne”,”Izotope's Nectar 2” And “Antares Auto Tune”. The idea behind this effect is to correct notes that were sung out of key by moving them in the right key.

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9-Chorus-While having the longest delay out of all modulation effects. The chorus effect is commonly used to create vocal doubling.

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10- Auto tune- I'm sure by now you've heard of this effect and what it does to your vocals. But for those that don't, it's an audio processor that alters pitch in vocal, instrument recordings and performances.

 

How to improve the audio quality of your mp3 recordings.

Jul 182017

For artist who are unable to opt out for Wav leases as they can be pricey. When you're putting together a project and you're a few beats away from going over your budget. Here's a method that can help you save some money and preserve audio quality with your songs at the same time. For This method you will need to create a Wav file by recording from a mp3 file. While using a DAW of your choice but for this illustration I’ll be using Presonus studio one 3. This is a similar technique producers use to create beats from old and new recordings called sampling. But in this case the beat is already made, mixed, mastered and you'll just need to create a wav file from its recording.

  1. Load up your DAW: While methods may vary upon program the principle remains the same and can be applied to any DAW.undefined
  2. Import the mp3 file:  Set the project tempo to file you're going to use.Locate the mp3 in your file browser then drag and drop into the sequencer.undefined
  3. Create a “bus”: After you have imported the mp3 file, right click on the audio channel and select create bus. undefined
  4. Route audio to a send: Click send so that the audio can sent to another channel and make sure the “bus” is selected.undefined
  5. Create a new track. This new track is where you''ll be recording the audio to. undefinedundefined
  6. Choose “bus”: Now to receive the audio signal on the new track make sure bus is selected as the input source. undefined  
  7. Adjust the input levels: At this point you should hear audio coming from the mp3 channel as well as the bus track. You'll also notice the sound being too loud.Adjusting the levels from mp3 channel so that it reaches a level you're comfortable with on the VU meter. you'll also want to give yourself some headroom for your vocals. You will need to adjust the volume levels to your liking. Adjusting the bus volume as well if you're unable to reach a desirable level.undefined
  8. Arm the audio track: Once you've adjusted the levels make sure the monitor tab is and deselected and arm the track.undefined
  9. Press record: Now that you have your levels and have armed your track click on record.                    
  10. Review audio: Mute the mp3 and “bus” tracks to review what you've just recorded.
    Once you've finished recording your song you'll now have to Bounce it out to either a Wav 44.1khz 16bit  wav or mp3 file. Depending on how your songs will be distributed online most companies will prefer you to upload in wav format only.