Plug-in Effects:

Plug-in Effects are termed thus because they are called upon from within the host sequencing or recording software. There is usually a selection of these included with the host and there are a plethora of others available from third party companies. Whilst Plug-in Effects are available to modify MIDI data we shall concern ourselves here with the more common function of effecting audio data.

Plug-ins are incorporated or 'wired' internally in the DAW in much the same fashion as hardware effects are used in the corporeal world. These come in two distict catagories:

Lets' have a look at some commonly used Plug-in effects and suggest some possible gereral applications but there are no hard and fast rules:

DSP based Plug-in effects:

Plug-ins that use the computer to do the processing are said to run NATIVE. There are also hardware based DSP devices that live either in or are connected to the computer that appear in the host like native plug-ins. The difference is that these use dedicated hardware to generate the effect. This frees up CPU load for other functions such as Virtual Instruments. Because they use their own processing chips they are of higher quality than many native alternatives.

TC Electronic Powercore range offers internal and external DSP based effects processing that frees up computer resources.

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Steinberg Cubase 5 audio channel editor, showing INSERTS on the left and SENDS on the right.

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Antares Auto-Tune is a sohpistocaed pitch correction plug-in.

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But not all, there are some very high quality 3rd party plug-ins that run native e.g. www.waves.com

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Dedicated computer style processors.

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Most commonly external DSP devices connected via firewire.

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Such as a PCI or PCIe card that slots into a desktop computer.

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DSP: Digital Signal Processor, really a dedicated mini computer.

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Computer resources are used to gererate the effect. There is a finite amout of resources available.

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Perhaps to simulate an old record or telephone.

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In 'Dance' music delay is often used more than reverb.

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Big reverbs (Hall) for ballads often smaller ones (room or plate) if the song is very busy.

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Not mono as opposed to stereo but monophonic being a single voice as opposed to a chord.

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3rd party ones often sound and function better!

 

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Where sound from the speakers or headphones 'spills' into the microphone.

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After they have been recorded as an audio track. You can't hear MIDI.

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The level at which the compression starts, i.e. only the louder signals are compressed.

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For every 2 step rise in the input the output is reduced by 1.

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How much the output signal is reduced relative to the rise in the input level.

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For example to render a vocal track to a consistant loudness throughout the song.

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Settings such as delay time and the amount of repeats called feedback level.

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The amout of processing that the computer has to do to create the effect.

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As opposed to inserting the same effect on multiple tracks.

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The dry signal AFTER insert FX added is send to the main mixer without additional send FX.

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Auxilary send on selected track in mixer window, usually post fader or as a proportion of the DRY level.

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Termed BUS FX as they return on a separate bus or channel in the mixer, usually in stereo.

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The same Plug-in maybe inserted on different tracks with different settings, or parameters.

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Such as a guitar pedal or rack mount reverb unit.

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Digital Audio Workstation: The software, computer and audio interface combination.