Order of effects on DAW

Discussion in 'Digital Pocketstudios and Compact Portastudios' started by Emma Boyd, Jun 20, 2022.

  1. Emma Boyd

    Emma Boyd New Member

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    There seem to be a lot of differences of opinion on this online.

    My understanding is that the best order to apply effects is something along the lines of:

    Noise reduction (including de-humming, de-clicking etc)
    EQ
    Compression
    Limiter
    Normalisation

    What do you guys think?
  2. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    Looks okay to me, though normalisation in this way has no purpose (I would say it hardly ever has) because in a limiter you already set a maximum level, and with the compressor before it there's no need whatsoever IMO.
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  3. Emma Boyd

    Emma Boyd New Member

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    Thanks Arjan. It's reassuring to hear you say that because, in my experience, I've not had very good results with normalisation. Your explanation makes a lot of sense.

    Am I correct in thinking that if a song has already been mastered on the portastudio, then transferred to the DAW for the finishing touches, compression would also be redundant here (and EQ to an extent)? i.e. the effects above would only really apply if you were working with individual tracks on the DAW, not a master.
  4. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    I'm not experienced at all with the current portastudios, so I cannot comment on how the mastering functions on them really operate. But in theory there would be no need for further compression and/or EQ, if your listening environment is the same. But one could argue there is more to mastering than that: preparation for streaming, CD-markers if it's becoming a CD or other work if it goes to another carrier, crossfades between different songs, making songs sound as a coherent piece of work together etc.

    I'm always hesitant to apply limiting to individual tracks, but EQ and compression (and send effects) can be very useful or necessary. I want the mix to breathe, meaning there should be lots of dynamics in the mix process - if every individual track is at the max dynamically there is hardly any room for mixing, IMO. And I've seen mixes where people first max out every individual track and then need to use extensive volume automation during the mix to make things breathe. To me that feels like twice the work with a lesser result. That's also why I see (and promote) mastering separate from mixing - a dynamic mix leaves you with more room to play in mastering.
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  5. Emma Boyd

    Emma Boyd New Member

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    Good point, well made, Arjan!
  6. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Emma, my professional advice is to not get too hung up on things like plugin order. Sure there are logical starting points but that is what you should consider them to be: starting points. I have put plugins in some crazy combinations simply because it doesn't break anything to try them and see what happens. Also, its not unusual to have 2 different types of compression and EQ combined because often if each stage does subtle things it can have a greater overall beneficial affect since each stage can be more surgical in nature. In the end, trust your ears.