Effects are the last part of this brief series of 4 posts, effects are a world on their own and there is too much to say on this subject. I am only going to explain what we have used, where, how and why. This is not a tutorial or a guide of any sort. I am convinced that better use of effects is certainly possible and this is an area that I am learning and always will be.

One thing that is common knowledge is that effects serve different purposes. The most obvious is that they enhance the audio that they are applied to. They also solve problems with the original audio, they provide spacing queue info, depth and contour to the audio in a way that we can thin or thicken a sound, There is the artistic use on top of all these resources that can be provided by effects. Normally when it comes to effects there are two distinct groups, Sound processors that modify the original sound and produce a new one and Time based effect that don’t modify the signal as such but manipulate it’s timing. The former are more common use in the instrument scenario and the second are common in both mixing and instrument signal treatment. that however doesn’t mean that they are limited to these worlds, moreover there are certain cases where we can find them in several stages of the signal chain and mix providing different solutions to different situations. I am not going to review effects in this way since it is a huge topic.

In the STW project and starting with guitars, base and piano, Slice play’s into a Digitech GNX4 sound processor and modelling emulator, we use this “Pedal ” as a processor to get the sound we are after and also to drive the Stereo outputs to the 2 amps and the 2 line balanced outputs to the console. The pedal is in front of the amp rather than in the effect loop.

This is an fairly old multi-effect pedal but it does it job and it does it fairly nicely. the Pedal has an effect bank of over 100 pre-sets that can be customized, directly on the pedal or via a midi software called xEdit32. 

The Pedal comes with 6 different effects banks, models 2 different amp and 2 different cabinets for each pre-set, it also emulates a conversion from HB to SC and vice versa. while playing you can recall a specific patch with the tip of your foot or you can toggle between A or B amps and cabinet digital emulation or a Wrap of both that you have predefined. Turning it in to a AYB selector on top of the effects. The next picture shows the UI for the amp and cabinet selection and tuning, as does the wrap positioning of the mix of both.   

  

Once we have the amp and cab settings we move on to page 2 effects, In this part of xEdit we configure the stomp box effects. In this section they are lied out in the natural order you would arrange them in a regular pedal board loop.  from top left moving across and down the first option is a pickup selector HB/SC I don’t like this option and regularly I disable it. the first effect is the Wha, for every effect there is a choice of a number of digitally modelled and emulated well known stomp boxes. Second are the modulation effects Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, etc. Next the compressor, forth the distortion, followed delay and reverb. you can combine and adjust any combination of these. these Stomp Box effects can be toggled on/off form the pedal during performance, for maximum flexibility.

There is also the possibility to assign different functions to the expression pedal. where it can be assigned to the Wah, the volume or any other parameter that you may like to manipulate on a given patch.

MarshallFront

Ok from here we travel to the amp, we try to keep things easy on the amp and use the clean channel maybe with a little boost on the gain to beef up the tone. We also twitch the EQ if necessary to get a balanced signal from the cab, but try to remain as close as possible to 12 o’clock on all bands. This is where we finish what I call stage 1 (recording) if I have the sound I am looking for I have completed a great step forward. 

Stage 2 is the Mix-down here it is common for me to use reverb and delay to arrange position of the tracks in the spatial context. Stereo image and depth. I also use these to try and clean any masking or un noticed problems during the recording. also the compressor and shelf compressor to bring some parts to the front and make them more present.  You have to think that I am using the original track recording for the cover and this has already been mixed by a pro, so it is very lightly going to be a busy mix. this leaves me with less head room and with the added difficulty that I may end up masking the original and losing definition in the overall mix. In Stage 2 it is a lot about experimentation and failure, you need to test different things or use you own bag of tricks. One thing I have learnt is, that if it can’t see the clear need for any effect the best choice is to leave it as is. Don’t use effects just because you have them, the clearer the track the better the result.

OtherEffects

Mostly the effects added at this point are inserts in to the effect bay via plugin or on aux buses, depending on the need.

EffectBin

The last stage or Stage 3 is the Mastering. I have said this before and I can’t express how much I would love to master this stage but it is beyond my competence.  So as sad as it may seem I use the Vintage Channel VC64 plugin using the pre-set Master Mix and play with some parameters but the less the better. It dose give the mix an extra shine and I am sure that there are many ways to improve it but at this time is what I use. I have been following some grate tutorials on this subject but not quite there yet.

 VC64

Remember to follow Slice on You Tube at http://youtube.com/user/inside71slice

Thanks for reading and leave any comment you may have. Open-mouthed smile

Ian Burt.

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