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Audioguide: Processing

Audioguide: Processing


In this episode of Audioguide we’ll be exploring audio effects and processing – from reverb and tremolo to noise gate and automation - tools that allow you to shape and enhance sound in countless ways. Presented by Laura Michelle Smith. Music by DayFox.

PodcastEffectsProcessingReverbEQCompressionDelayChorusPhaserNoise GateAutomation


Hello, you're listening to Audioguide, a podcast series about sound and music production from audio.com. I'm Laura Michelle Smith and in today's episode, we'll be exploring audio effects and processing – tools that allow you to shape and enhance sound in countless ways. Let's go over the most common. Reverb Reverb, which is short for reverberation, can add a sense of depth to your audio. It can be achieved naturally by recording in a tiled room, for example, or with plugins that mimic the acoustic properties of different spaces. Whether you want to recreate the ambience of a concert hall, a small room, or a cathedral, reverb can transport your listeners to different environments. Use it to give your vocals and instruments a little shape, or experiment with creating surreal, immersive soundscapes. Equalisation EQ is your secret weapon for sculpting sound. It allows you to boost or cut specific frequencies in your audio. High frequencies can add sparkle and clarity, lower frequencies provide bass and depth, while middle frequencies are the reserve of sounds like human speech. EQ can be useful to bring out certain details or eliminate problem frequencies. It's important to remember that subtlety is often key. Over-EQing can lead to harsh and unnatural sounds. Compression Think of dynamic range compression as like an audio leveller. It reduces the dynamic range – that is, the difference between loud and quiet passages of a recording – by making loud parts quieter and quiet parts louder. It's commonly used in music production to control the levels of different instruments and vocals, but it's widely used in broadcasting, too. When using compression, experiment with the threshold and ratio settings. Remember that every project will have different requirements and that over-compression can make your recording sound lifeless. Delay & Echo Delay is a time-based audio effect that repeats the input signal after a specified time, creating a distinct reflection. While Echo is a specific type of delay characterised by discrete repetitions of the original sound, often with increasing decay. These effects can make vocals sound larger than life or turn a simple guitar part into an intricate tapestry. Chorus & Flanger Chorus is an audio effect that thickens and enriches sound by blending slightly delayed and detuned copies of the original sound, simulating the effect of multiple instruments playing together. Flanger, on the other hand, creates a swirling, sweeping sound by combining delayed copies of the signal with slight variations in time, producing a distinctive whooshing effect. Phaser & Tremolo Phaser is an audio effect in which a series of notches or peaks in the frequency spectrum are shifted over time, creating a swirling, spacey sound, while Tremolo modulates the volume of the audio signal at a rhythmic rate, resulting in a pulsating or trembling effect. Distortion & Overdrive Distortion and Overdrive are audio effects that intentionally introduce clipping and saturation to the signal, distorting the waveform. Distortion typically produces a heavier, more aggressive sound with significant signal alteration, while Overdrive produces a milder, smoother clipping, often used to simulate the natural break-up of a tube amplifier. Effects Chains Combining multiple effects in a chain can often produce unique and complex sounds. Scientists like My Bloody Valentine base their whole careers on perfecting the complex interplay of different effects. Spend time on experimenting with different combinations to create your signature sound. Noise Gates Noise Gates are dynamic processors that control the volume of a signal, allowing only sounds above a specified threshold to pass through, effectively reducing background noise during silent passages. Remember when all the pop songs in the 80s had that big drum sound? Well, that was the result of a technique called Gated Reverb, in which the tail of a reverberation is abruptly cut off with a noise gate to create a distinctive and powerful sound, while keeping the rest of the mix transparent. Automation Before the days of digital audio workstations, mixing a song down involved physically moving faders up and down as you bounced a track to a master tape. Thankfully, these days, you can just plot points in your software that will tell it where you want the sound to change. Automation allows you to control effect parameters in real time. For example, you can automate reverb levels to create a sense of distance, or vary delay time for a dramatic effect, not to mention control the volume. In conclusion, the effects and processing techniques described in this episode are creative tools that will help to shape and transform your recordings. Whether you want to fashion lush soundscapes, or add some character to an instrument, the possibilities are literally endless. Experiment, be creative, and always trust your ears. That's it for this episode. Thanks again for listening. Stay tuned for more insights in our next episode, and remember that you can write to social@audio.com, or post in our social media channels with your comments or questions. Catch you next time!

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