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Using the Effects Rack

The screen shots in these lessons were taken using the Classic workspace, so it’s recommended that you select it. Choose File > Window > Workspace > Classic, and then reset it to the default by choosing Window > Workspace > Reset Classic.

  1. Choose File > Open, navigate to the Lesson04 folder, and open the file Drums110.wav.
  2. Click the Transport Loop button so the drum pattern plays back continuously. Click the Transport Play button to audition the loop, and then click the Transport Stop button.
  3. Click the Effects Rack tab, and drag the panel’s lower splitter bar downward to extend the panel to its full height. You should see 16 “slots,” called inserts; each can hold an individual effect and also includes a power on/off button. A toolbar is located above the inserts, and meters with a second toolbar are below the inserts.
  4. To add an effect to an insert, click the insert’s right arrow and choose an effect from the drop-down menu. For the first effect, choose Reverb > Studio Reverb. Inserting an effect turns its power button to “on” (green) and opens the effect’s graphic user interface. You may need to move the effect’s graphic user interface window to load more effects. For the second effect, similarly choose Delay and Echo > Analog Delay.
  5. Turn off (bypass) the Analog Delay effect by clicking its power button. Press the spacebar to begin playback, and then turn the Studio Reverb insert’s power button on and off to hear how reverb affects the sound.
  6. Click the Rack Effect – Studio Reverb graphic user interface window to bring it to the front. Press the spacebar again to stop playback.
  7. When playback is stopped, you can choose an effect’s preset. Click the Studio Reverb’s Presets drop-down menu, and select Drum Plate (Large). Begin playback.

    You’ll hear a more pronounced reverb sound. Note that the effects’ graphic user interface window has an additional power button in the lower-left corner to make it easy to bypass/compare the processed and unprocessed sound.

  8. Click on the Analog Delay effect graphic user interface to bring it to the front, and then turn on its power button.

    You’ll hear an echo effect, but it’s not in time with the music.

  9. To make the delay follow the rhythm, double-click in the Delay parameter’s numeric field, type 545 in place of 200, and then press Enter (Return). The echoes are now in time with the music. (Later in this chapter we’ll explain how to choose rhythmically correct delay times.)

Keep this audio file open as you continue.

Removing, editing, replacing, and moving an effect

Rather than present a structured exercise, try the various bulleted options that follow to see how they work. After each action, choose Edit > Undo [name of action], or press Ctrl+Z (Command+Z) to restore the project to its previous state:

  • To remove a single effect, click the name in the effects’ insert and press the Delete key, or click the insert’s right arrow to choose Remove Effect from the drop-down menu.
  • To remove all effects in the rack, right-click (Control-click) anywhere on an effect’s insert, and then choose Remove All Effects.
  • To remove some effects in the rack, Ctrl-click (Command-click) in each effect insert containing an effect you want to remove. Then right-click (Control-click) anywhere in any selected effect’s insert, and choose Remove Selected Effects.
  • To edit an effect when the effects window is hidden or you closed it, double-click the effect’s insert, click the insert’s right arrow, and then choose Edit Effect from the drop-down menu, or right-click (Control-click) anywhere in an effect’s insert and choose Edit Selected Effect. Any of these actions bring the effects window to the front and open it if it was closed.
  • To replace an effect with a different effect, click the insert’s right arrow and choose a different effect from the drop-down menu.
  • To move an effect to a different insert, click the name in the effect’s insert and drag to the desired destination insert. If an effect already exists in that insert, the existing effect will be pushed down to the next higher-numbered insert.

Bypassing all or some effects

You can bypass individual effects, groups of effects, or all effects in the Effects Rack by doing any of the following:

  • The power button in the lower-left corner of the Effects Rack’s panel bypasses all enabled rack effects. When powered back on, only effects that had been enabled prior to bypassing are turned back on. Bypassed effects remain bypassed regardless of the “all effects” power button setting.
  • An alternate way to do the preceding bullet item is to right-click (Control-click) on any effect’s insert and choose Toggle Power State of Effects Rack.
  • To bypass some effects, Ctrl-click (Command-click) on each effect’s insert you want to bypass, right-click (Control-click) on any of these inserts, and then choose Toggle Power State of Selected Effects.

“Gain-staging” effects

Sometimes inserting multiple effects in series causes certain frequencies to “add up” and produce levels that may exceed the available headroom. For example, a filter that emphasizes the midrange could create distortion by increasing levels above acceptable limits.

To set levels, in the lower part of the Effects panel use the Input and Output level controls (with associated meters). These controls can reduce or increase levels as needed.

  1. Close the project without saving so you can start fresh. Choose File > Open, navigate to the Lesson04 folder, and open the file Drums110.wav. Do not start playback yet.
  2. In any effect’s insert, click the right arrow, choose Filter and EQ > Parametric Equalizer from the drop-down menu.
  3. When the Parametric EQ window opens, click the small box labeled 3 in the EQ graph and drag it to the top of the graph. Close the Parametric EQ window because it’s no longer necessary to have it open and take up space.
  4. Caution: Turn your monitoring levels way down, and then press the spacebar to initiate playback. The excessive levels will trigger the Output meter’s red overload indicators to the meter’s right.
  5. Turn up the monitoring level enough so you can hear the distortion this causes. The Input and Output level controls default to +0dB gain, which means neither the signal coming into the Effects Rack, nor the signal leaving it, is amplified or attenuated. However, the massive EQ boost is overloading the output.

  6. Reduce the Input level until the peaks no longer trigger the red distortion indicators after the meters have been reset (see the following tip). It’s generally good practice to keep the Output control at +0dB and compensate for the excessive levels by trimming the Input level. This will likely require reducing the Input to -35dB or so.

Keep this project open for the next lesson.

Altering the effect’s wet/dry mix

An unprocessed signal is called dry, whereas one to which effects have been applied is called wet. Sometimes you want a blend of the wet and dry sounds rather than all of one or the other.

  1. With the previous project still open and the levels set properly to avoid distortion, click the Mix slider below the meters and drag left.
  2. Drag the slider to the right to increase the amount of wet, filtered sound, and drag to the left to increase the amount of dry, unprocessed sound.

Applying effects

Inserting an effect doesn’t change the file but instead plays the original file back through the effect. This is called a nondestructive process using a real-time effect, because the original file remains unaltered.

However, you may want to apply the effect to the entire file, or only a selection, so that saving the file saves the processed version.

  1. Close the project without saving so you can start fresh. With the program open, choose File > Open, navigate to the Lesson04 folder, and open the file Drums110.wav.
  2. In any effect’s insert, click the right arrow, and choose Reverb > Studio Reverb.
  3. When the Studio Reverb window appears, choose the preset Drum Plate (Small) from the presets drop-down menu.
  4. The Process drop-down menu, located in the toolbar at the bottom of the Effects Rack panel, allows you to apply the effect to the entire file or just a selection. For this lesson, choose Entire File.
  5. Click the Apply button. This not only applies the effect to the file to process it, but removes the effect from the Effects Rack so the file isn’t “double processed” from the effect being embedded in the file and from a processor remaining in the rack.

  6. Close the project without saving by choosing File > Close All.

Let’s move on to lessons that show how individual effects change the sound.

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