Effects and Processors

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Chorus

Description

  • Original signal mixed with slightly delayed version
  • Caused by LFO modulating the sound
  • This gives the signal a thicker sound - as if there are multiple players playing at the same time

Examples of use

  • The Police - Walking on the Moon
  • Nirvana - Come As You Are

Controls

  • Wet/Dry - balance between original and altered signal
  • Intensity - amount of modulation - higher intensity means more obvious chorus
  • Rate - speed of modulation - meaured in Hz
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Flanger

Description

  • Two identical signals are mixed together
  • Second signal delayed by less than 20 ms
  • Then fed back into flanger
  • Creates a swirling effect

Examples of use

  • Queen - Keep Yourself Alive
  • The Small Faces - Itchycoo Park
  • Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels (3 mins in - drums)

Controls

  • Wet/Dry - balance between original and altered signal
  • Rate - speed of the modulation (caused by LFO)
  • Feedback - How much of the signal is fed back into flanger - higher feedback means a more pronounced flange sound
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Phaser

Description

  • Combines original signal with a copy which is out of phase
  • Creates a sweeping sound
  • Used mainly on guitars and electric pianos

Examples of use

  • Pink Floyd - Have a Cigar
  • Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing
  • Radiohead - Paranoid Android

Controls (exactly the same as chorus)

  • Wet/Dry - balance between original and altered signal
  • Intensity - amount of modulation - higher intensity means more obvious phase
  • Rate - speed of modulation - meaured in Hz
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Tremolo

Description

  • Modulates the amplitude (volume) of a signal
  • Used in old guitar amps (called vibrato)

Examples of use

  • Tommy James and the Shondells - Crimson and Clover
  • The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
  • Radiohead - Bones

Controls

  • Rate - speed of LFO that affects the frequency of amplitude variation - can be synchronised with the tempo in DAWs
  • Depth - amount of modulation - higher modulation means more obvious tremolo
  • Wave - changes the waveform of LFO
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EQ

Description

  • Controls the tone of a signal
  • You can cut or boost specific frequencies

Examples of use

  • Used in every song as it is an integral part of the mixing process and allowing sounds to blend together

Controls

  • Frequency - sets the frequency (Hz) to be affected (cut/boosted)
  • Gain - sets the volume (dB) of the frequency - This is where the cutting and boosting happens
  • Q - sets the range of frequencies around frequency setting affected by the gain setting - higher Q means less frequencies are affected
  • Master gain - sets the output level of the whole unit
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Reverb

Description

  • Reflection of sound off surfaces
  • Gives the impression of space
  • Makes the sound seem more natural
  • Generally applied digitally now but it can also be created by playing the sound into a room and then recording this again

Examples of use

  • Like EQ, it can be found in almost every recording in some form
  • It can help blend the sounds together if used sensitively

Controls

  • Wet/Dry - balance of original and altered signal
  • Pre delay - time in ms between initial signal and the early reflections - gives impression of room size
  • Reverb time - the time it takes for the signal to decay by 60 dB
  • High cut filter - removes high frequencies from the reverb
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Delay

Description

  • Repeats original sound after an interval (generally quite short)
  • Produces an echo-like effect

Example of use

  • Angels and Airwaves - The Gift
  • Twin Atlantic - Serious Underground Vibes
  • Although less common than reverb and EQ, this effect is used in many songs, but these choices feature very prominent delay

Controls

  • Wet/Dry - balance between original and altered signal
  • Delay time - frequency of echoes
  • Feedback - how much of the altered signal is fed back into the delay unit - number of echoes
  • High/Low cut - removes high/low frequencies from delayed signal
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Compressor

Description

  • Reduces the dynamic range of the sound it is applied to

Examples of use

  • All songs use compression, but especially more recently as the whole track is often heavily compressed

Controls

  • Threshold - the amplitude the signal must be before the compressor starts working
  • Ratio - The amount the volume is reduced by compared to the input level - e.g. 4:1 means for every 4dB above the threshold the input is, it will become 1dB at output
  • Attack - time it takes (ms) for the compressor to work after the signal goes above the threshold
  • Release - time it takes (ms) for the compressor to stop working after signal goes below the threshold again
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Expander

Description

  • Increases dynamic range by reducing the force of the signal that passes lower than the threshold that has been set

Examples of use

  • Due to their similarity to compressors, expanders are also generally used in all professional recordings

Controls

  • Threshold - the level at which the expander begins to work
  • Ratio - the amount by which the expander reduces the signal that is below the threshold
  • Attack - the time it takes for the expander to begin working after the signal falls below the threshold
  • Release - time it takes for the expander to stop working after the signal rises above the threshold again
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Gate

Description

  • Allows signal to pass through once it has reached a certain threshold
  • Stops unwanted audio and noise from being heard

Examples of use

  • Gates, again are used in most, if not all, professional recordings
  • Particularly used with signal that is recorded with a sensitive microphone, which picks up more noise and therefore a gate is important

Controls

  • Threshold - level that the signal must rise above before the gate begins working
  • Attack - time it takes for the gate to open after the signal has surpassed the threshold
  • Hold - time that the gate stays open for after the attack
  • Release - time it takes for the gate to close after the hold time
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Distortion

Description

  • Creates an effect similar to that of an amp being overdriven
  • Gives a fuzzy quality to the sound

Examples of use

  • Most rock and metal songs involve distorted guitars

Controls

  • Drive - amount of distortion
  • Tone - makeup of the harmonics (and therefore the tone)
  • Level - overall level of the output signal
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