Make presets of your idiosyncratic sounds
Yesterday’s post talked about the idea that you might have ways of working that are idiosyncratic; that are unique to you. Perhaps they’re beginner mistakes that accidentally produce cool results — that’s valid, and you should keep your ears out for those! — or perhaps they’re workflows that you’ve developed over time.
For me, because I work in the computer, these unique workflows often take the form of processing chains. Sometimes I will arrive, via experimentation, at a series of plugins that do something super cool and very distinct to a sound.
And I’ve learned that it’s a great idea, when I stumble upon a cool processing chain, just to save that as a preset!
Every DAW these days can save a plugin chain — you just give it a name, and then you can subsequently right-click on a channel, select that preset, and load that plugin chain onto the channel.
For example: I’ve done that with my vocal master bus. Last year, at the beginning of working on Shannon’s album Good to Me, I stumbled upon an absolutely killer vocal bus processing chain. And I mean, this is a CHAIN; it’s nine plugins! 😂 One of them I’m literally not even using the settings on; I’m just running through it because it’s a model of a weird old piece of analog gear and the “box tone” that it imparts is cool.
But anyway: this processing chain sounded COOL. So I imported it into the second song from Good to Me, to see if it would work equally well there — sometimes these things can be highly situational. And it worked great!
So I saved it as a preset. And for literally every song I’ve worked on since then, in any genre, I’ve loaded up this preset and put it on the vocal bus. Sometimes I’ll change some of the settings — sometimes a lot — often I don’t change it at all. It’s become part of my sound.
Build up a big enough library of personal presets like this, and you’ll accomplish two things: you’ll develop your own distinct sound, and you’ll save a ton of time mixing. The best win/win.
Routinely — jamie