If you’ve read our introduction to software instruments on the previous slide you’ll know that it’s possible to download plug-ins that enable you to produce great sounds within your computer. But there’s also another type of plug-in: the effect.
Software effects were actually invented before instruments, and in the early days critics argued that they’d never match up to the hardware processors they were designed to replace. As time went by, however, it became clear that virtual effects were not only becoming a match for their physical forebears but, in some cases, were also capable of doing things that weren’t previously possible.
effects are frequently used to make your parts sound better - they can correct deficiencies and add a professional sheen. On other occasions, effects are called upon to degrade an audio signal; this might sound crazy, but a lot of famous sounds have become popular because they’ve been ‘messed up’ in one way or another.
Similar to instruments, you’ll probably find that your DAW comes with plenty of effects built in, and these should be enough to get you started. If you’re looking for alternatives to these workhorse effects you’ll find that there are loads on the market, while other FX are designed to offer something unusual.
Although it’s wise to learn what the various knobs on your effects plug-ins do, most come with presets to get you started. Many of these are helpfully named so you’ll know what kind of instrument and sound they’re best suited to.
If you’re not a natural born tweaker, it’s worth noting that we’re starting to see more ‘one knob’ plug-ins on the market. These might have a lot going on under the hood, but are simply turned up or down to taste.