Hello my name is Ed Malaker. Today I am going to talk about the types/categories of effects that are used in audio production and give you some examples of each type. There are actually only a few types of effects and most of the effects you will ever hear about will actually be one of these types.

    1. Amplitude Effects – These effects deal the amplitude(volume) of a sound. Some amplitude effects automatically adjust the volume of a sound to keep it at the same level, this allows you to gt a nice even volume throughout a track and makes mixing many instruments easier. Another amplitude effect might turn on/off a device (such as a microphone) when a sound reaches a certain level (this is great for recording drums when you want a microphone to turn on only when the drum is hit, or when dealing with noisy amplifiers and you only want the mic to turn on when the guitar player is actually playing something. Examples of amplitude effects include:

  • Noise Gates
  • Compressors
  • Expander
  • Limitors
  • Tremolo
  • Volume Pedal

Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal

    2. Propagation Effects – These effects deal with the speed of sound, usually manipulating a sound with a delay. Sometimes the effect is applied to the entire sound, this is how you get echo, and reverb, and it is very important for creating a sense of space in your recordings. Sometimes the effect acts in a way where it seems to change the sound somewhat, by using very small delay times you create a “sweeping” sound heard with Chorus, Phaser, and Flange, this also give the sound the illusion of being “fatter” or “doubled”. Examples of propagation effects include:

  • Delay
  • Reverb
  • Chorus
  • Phaser
  • Flange

Alesis Nanoverb 2 Digital Effects Processor

    3. Timbre Effects – These effects change timbre of a sound in some way, usually by running the frequencies of a sound through some type of filter. Timbre effects help you actually tailor a sound to achieve your desired result. You can use a EQ effect to make a sound sound “brighter” or remove any “boomy” bass sound you do not like. These effects are very useful for getting many sounds to co-exist in the same recording, they can also sometime help you create an entirely new sound. Examples of timbre effects are:

  • EQ
  • Distortion
  • Speaker Simulators
  • Wah Pedals

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Guitar Effects Pedal

    4. Pitch Effects – These effects change the pitch of a sound in some way. These have been pretty useful to guitar players helping them play multipart harmonies on one guitar, or play the bass notes on the guitar etc.. Recently pitch effects have been very commonly used to automatically fix out of tune vocal notes, both in the recording studio and in a live situation”. Examples of pitch effects are:

  • Harmonizers
  • Pith Shifters
  • Wammy Pedals
  • Vibrato

Boss Super Shifter Pedal

Thank you for reading! I hope that I got you thinking about the different kinds of effects you’ll need for your recording studio. There are so many different effects out there with so many crazy names it can be frustrating to find the sound you are looking for. I hope this helps

Have a great day!
Ed Malaker

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