Finally! I just got my first electric violin! Time to BUST OUT SOME SOUNDS!
But then, reality kicks in… The sound generated isn’t even close to that of Jimmy Hendrix or Van Halen…
That’s because you need some effects! Yes, you do! But what really are these “effects”?
Effects are to your sound what Instagram photo filters are to your craziest snapshots. They will enhance, boost, calibrate, and beautify it as well as hide its defects to turn it into the world’s most impactful sound!
Of course, as you may have guessed, basic knowledge is required before you jump into the deep end, or invest in your first effect racks or amp with built-in effects.
The different types of effects
You can classify effects according to four main families which should generally be used in the following order to form a complete “chain of effects”:
1. Sound cleaning
The first step is to clean the sound generated by your instrument. Depending on the quality of your mics, the magnetic environment in which you play, or the noise pollution of the room, countless small interferences can put themselves into the audio signal that will enter your effect processor.
So you need to clear your sound of all these audio interferences. Several effects can be used for that, such as:
> Denoiser: this will detect and eliminate the signal static component.
> Gate: this will eliminate any audio signal below a certain sound level (which you obviously set depending on the interference level).
2. Signal Calibration
You’ve got a clean sound, bravo! Now you want to calibrate it to pass into more powerful portions of effects. The next step is to control its dynamic, i.e the sound level differences between the different sounds you play. For this, several effects can be used:
> Compressor: this sound effect will “compress” the sound by lowering the sound level of the strongest sounds and increasing that of the lowest sounds.
> Limiter: this “limits” the audio signal to a certain level (that you can adjust) to prevent it from exceeding the input level in an uncontrolled way for the next effects.
> Equalizer: this allows you to boost or reduce the sound level of some frequencies that might have been over or under recorded during the sound recording process. Equalizers can pretty much be used anywhere on the chain of effects to prepare the sound to enter the different stages or reduce the altering made in the previous effect.
3. Advanced editing
That’s where things can go nuts!
You will find yourself confronted with an endless universe of effects that will allow you to entirely redesign your sound. Some examples:
> Octaver: this will allow you to shift the note you play by a set value. For example, it can change the note from an octave above or below as well as a third or any other interval. Perfect for playing bass!
Watch an example at 00:52 from the following video!
> Harmoniser: this will create one or two additional notes in real time based on the note you play and a predefined tone. Great to simulate a synthe!
Watch an example at 1:03 from the following video!
> Wah Wah: thanks to a controller (generally an expression pedal), this effect allows you to filter either the low or high frequencies, giving you a stunning effect!
Watch an example at 1:53 from the following video!
> Distorsion: also called “Overdrive” in English, this effect allows you to a certain extent to saturate the sound. The ideal solution for playing just like Jimmy Hendrix!
Watch an example at 2:29 from the following video!
The video below covers all the effects featured above:
At that point, you will want to “liven” your sound up, i.e create the ambiance that you may find in a particular place. Several effects can be used for that:
> Reverb: probably one of the best known effects, this will allow you to simulate the sound reverberation in a space of varying size, from the hushed studio to the largest cathedral. Perfect for adding some “body” to your sound.
> Echo: let’s say you put yourself in front of a mountain to play your favorite song. And suddenly, your echo, i.e the sound you’ve just generated, magically occurs with a slight delay. If it’s linked with the tempo of the song, the echo effect is an ideal way to add some substance and rhythm to your sound.
Watch an example at 00:23 from the following video!
Now that you’ve got the basics, you’re ready to use your first effects!
References & Sources : Videos : 3Dvarius – Laurent Bernadac, La Machine à Mixer, Academy AV, MusicProVid.