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Effect Plug-Ins Explained

In this series you'll learn the essential basics to properly and effectively use EQ, compression, delay and reverb plug-ins in any DAW! We don't just give the textbook meaning of each knob and button, there are hours of practical examples and real-world techniques demonstrated on the most common instruments and vocals.

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Intro to Frequency 6m:32s

In this tutorial you are given fundamental understanding of what frequency is and how it relates to your mix.


EQ Overview 11m:03s

This video describes the key concepts behind EQ, what all the common features of an EQ are, such as frequency, Q, filter type, etc... Most importantly it is full of audio examples so you can hear how these parameters affect your sound.


EQ on Acoustic & Electronic Drums 14m:30s

Dig in deeper and start applying the concepts you have developed. Get strong understanding of how you can use EQ on various elements of drums. Learn how to fatten a kick drum, or bring out more attack, see and hear how you use EQ on toms, cymbals, snare drums. Also learn how to use EQ on electronic drums.


EQ on Guitar 16m:05s

This video introduces several different guitar riffs, of varying style, and shows you how to use EQ in each unique situation. Essential viewing for anyone looking to mix bands or work with guitar.


EQ on Bass Guitar 15m:11s

Bass guitar can be a hard thing to mix. EQ is crucial to getting bass to sit right with the other elements. This video examines several different bass styles and looks at lots of options for achieving a wide range of possibilities.


EQ on Vocals 9m:41s

This video takes a look at several male vocal riffs and how you can use EQ to manipulate them. Learn how to help bring your vocal out in a mix, clean up the low end and more.



Intro to Dynamics 11m:25s

Dynamics is the range of volume for a sound, softest to loudest. Good dynamics are essential to creating a good mix. This tutorial gives you a foundation on what dynamics are, how they relate to your mix and sets you up for the rest of the tutorials in this chapter.


Compression Overview 7m:06s

Compressor Plug-Ins can be hard to understand initially. This tutorial details each parameter commonly found in a compressor, regardless of manufacturer. If you want to get comfortable with compression and how to use compressors, this is a must see.


Compression on Acoustic Drums 13m:35s

We look at the acoustic drums again, this time focusing on compression. In this video each element of the acoustic drum kit is detailed and discussed. Learn essential skills for taming volume, bringing out the ring, fattening or adding space to your acoustic drum mixes.


Compression on Electronic Drums 10m:48s

Compressing electronic drums can require a different approach than acoustic drums, so this tutorial focuses specifically on how you can use compressors to improve your mixes that use electronic drums.


Compression on Guitar 12m:27s

We revisit several different guitar riffs that cover a range of styles. Each style may need a different approach when using compression, so we take care to show you these differences and walk through the process with each different riff.


Compression on Bass 7m:35s

This video takes you through using compression on several different styles and examples of bass guitar. Learn how to tighten up the bass without losing too much low end and tons of other practical examples with real world use.


Compression on Vocals 9m:09s

This video takes another look at our male vocalist takes and shows how you can use compression to really smooth out vocal takes, add richness to your sound and more.



Intro to Reverb 5m:55s

Reverb is both simple and complex. In this video you get a good basic understanding the elements that make up the natural reverb you hear everyday and how those relate to the reverb plug-ins we use.


Reverb Overview 11m:57s

Learn all the various elements of a Reverb plug-in, what each means and how they each affect your audio.


Using Reverb as a Send 5m:32s

This video details how to set up a Reverb as a send and return type effect. This setup allows you to blend the reverb signal with the original signal much more effectively and really control your reverb. You also are able to share the one reverb amongst several tracks.


Reverb on Drums 9m:08s

Detailed instruction on how to effectively use reverb on the individual elements of your drums as well as the overall kit.


Reverb on Guitar & Bass 9m:19s

Essential reverb techniques for dealing with guitar and a detailed look at how reverb affects bass.


Reverb on Vocals 8m:17s

We take another look at the male vocals and see the effects reverb can have as well as some interesting and useful ways to use reverb on your vocals, in your mixes.



Delay Overview 8m:03s

This video describes what delay is, how it can be created and the common elements you will find in delay plug-ins.


Delay on Drums 13m:33s

Learn how you can use delay to add new life to your drum parts, give depth and add space. Also learn some more creative uses of delay with drums.


Delay on Guitar & Bass 14m:25s

This video goes through several different guitar and bass parts while showing you the various ways you can use delay to enhance these elements in your mixes.


Delay on Vocals 7m:28s

Delay can help blend your vocals, give them extra depth or thicken them up. It can be a great creative effect for production work or used subtly to help vocals fit in the mix. This video teaches you some practical uses and examples that you can implement.

Craig McCullough

1. When did you start dabbling in music?

I have been living and breathing music, and music technology, for most of my life. I first got into music by learning guitar over 20 years ago, at around 11 years old, and after playing in bands throughout my school years. I studied Audio engineering at college, at first with analogue tape and MIDI gear using external synths and an early version of Cubase.

2. What training have you had?

After leaving school and earning a living playing in bands for a while I started working in live sound in the mid 1990s, working on a lot of live music events, large and small, while still writing and producing my own music, both solo and with various different bands.  By this time my music took more electronic focus, switching to Logic to sequence samplers, synths and drum machines, and record live instruments and vocals. 

3. When did you get into recording?

From 2000 I worked in a production studio in the UK, mainly using Logic, Cubase SX, Nuendo, Wavelab, Sound Forge and the Waves plug-ins for audio engineering, and Reason and Acid for music composition, until discovering Ableton Live in 2002.

4. People you have worked with/for?

When MIDI was added to Live in version 4, I focused much more on using Ableton Live with Native Instruments and Waves Plug-ins, getting to know them intimately. Over the last few years I have been an internal tester for Ableton’s upcoming versions and I am also an Ableton Certified Trainer.

5. Why are you so good at training people?

I am good at training people because I have an intimate relationship and passion with the technology I use. I strive to develop a deep understanding of the tools I use and genuinely want to share that expereince with others

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