Common FX Settings/Suggestoins

First-time poster here. I’ve searched the forum and really can’t find specifically what I’m looking for. I’ve been using Audacity 1.3 lightly for over a year now, so I’m somewhat familiar with it and have done some informal editing/mixing.

However, with the TONS of effects that are possible, I’d like to find some “baseline” settings for common FX. I realize tweaking is a normal in the mixing process. However, it seems that many of the default values are simply too aggressive.

For a little background info on what I use and my purpose…

I record using a TASCAM DP-004…digital recorder with no FX. However, it will allow on-board editing/mixing/mastering.

I’ve been experiementing with Audacity using an older vocal track I overdubed. I recorded it using the DP’s built-in condensor mics. VERY low signal level…peaks at -51 db around 1000 Hz.

After refining my craft, I plan to do more recording using MXL condensors (large and small dia.) for vocals, acoustic guitar, perhaps some electric guitar fills, bass guitar, and perhaps even adding a djembe line on occassion.

So far, I’ve experiemented with Noise Removal, Amplify (close to 0 db), Compressor, EQ, and Gverb. I’ve also installed Chris’ Compressor, ANWIDA lite, and GSnap, but haven’t played with them yet. Further, I do plan to optimize my recording space as finances allow…ie, building my own absorbers/reflectors, etc.

I realize I won’t be able to attain a studio quality mix. However, I would like to attain a nice sounding, quality mix using the resources available.

Any suggestions for settings for these, and any other plug-ins, would be greatly appreciated.

There are no easy answers… You might look for a book and/or subscribe to [u]Recording Magazine[/u].

Recording engineers have standard setups or standard starting set-ups for various instruments, voices & equipment. There are websites with suggested compressor & EQ settings, but I don’t have any links handy. And, mixing is all about using your ears and mixing/adjusting for the best sound.

I’d start with the assumption that you can make a good recording with no effects, if you’ve got a good performance, a good mic & preamp, and a good room. Classical music is often recorded in stereo with a pair of microphones, with no effects or mixing.

Now, with most music, just about every track in every song has some compression & EQ. The trick is to listen (monitor) and try not to over-do anything. It’s easy to get carried away and over-do effects. It’s often helpful to come back the next day and listen to the original and altered tracks to make sure it actually sounds better with the effects.

People use all kinds of terms to describe the effect of compression (“punchy”, etc.), but essentially it makes sounds louder by boosting the average level, without boosting/clipping the peaks (or while re-shaping the peaks). You’ll probably want to use some compression on vocals to keep the “intensity” up, and to make sure the vocals don’t get lost in the mix. You just have to experiment… If you’re not hearing an improvement, don’t do it. Compression is often used during mastering (and by radio/TV stations) to make everything constantly-loud.

The EQ also depends on the mic and what you’re recording… If vocals (or instrument) sound a little dull, you can boost the highs. If the “T” & “S” sounds are too bright or harsh, you can reduce the highs, etc. A lot of people like to filter-out the bass from everything except the bass & kick drum.

With reverb, some peole like to actually hear it, and other people like to back-off to the point where you can hear it when you A/B, but othewise are not aware of it. (I usually don’t notice the reverb on CDs or MP3s, but they probably wouldn’t sound as good without it.) There is usually lots of natural reverberation in a live performance hall, but sometimes that much reverb sounds unnatural coming out of speakers or headphones. (And, singers often like to hear reverb in their headphones, even if they are not hearing exactly what you are recording.)