Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with Effects!

I’m just going to come out and say this: you can get some crazy sounds by experimenting with stacking different effects and plugins. There’s a right and a wrong way to do this though, and that’s what I’m going to be going over today in this post.

First things first, make sure you’re sending your effects to a different buss. You might be saying to yourself, “Nah that’s garbage, I have nice control with my wet/dry, I have a good ear, I’m good”. Okay then, hotshot, go ahead and take that Valhalla you have set to 30% mix, and put distortion only on the reverb signal. Yeah that’s what I thought, you can’t.

When your effects are bussed to their own track, you can do whatever you want to them, and not affect your original sound! This is super powerful because you now have the ability to put reverbs on reverbs, compress and distort reverbs (this is an amazing, widely used sound, try it out on your next vocal or bell track!), and get super specific with the stereo placement of your effects. Pro Tip: Most of your effects should be nonexistent in the mono channel. The best way to do this in any DAW that I’ve ever used is with the Ableton Effect Rack. It’s by far the most intuitive, workflow-efficient way of creating a parallel track.

Think about how the brain perceives the sound of a piano panned moderately to the right, when that piano has a slap-delay reverb panned HARD left at -8db. It’s downright trippy! Try putting phasers on reverbs, side-chain compressing reverbs and delays to the drums, and other creative sound-design ideas you might have! Don’t hold back, because in the end, you have the ability to fade in the end result to the intensity of your desire.

The one thing I do recommend though, if you’re going to be using nine million plugins on one bus, is to freeze or print the bus afterward. This will allow you to make crazy chains without sacrificing CPU power in the long run.

Let me know what combinations you guys come across, let me hear about it on Twitter @mastrprod. Peace!