If you’re a musician that is aspiring to product digital audio, something you will need to consider early on is what music production software and plugins you’re going to use. Whether you’re interested in music production for personal use or for freelancing purposes, many beginners get overwhelmed when it comes to understanding plugins.
What are music production plugins?
Plugins extend the functionality of a program. Because of this, some people assume that the more plugins they purchase, the better their music will sound. However, this is not the case. Plugins are a tool; if you do not know how to use them properly, they will have no impact on your music.
Only if you’re prepared to learn how to use plugins will they be useful. For this reason, it is better to learn how to use a few basic plugins before purchasing more. Once you have an idea of how to use them, you can consider purchasing more. Plugins are installed on your DAW.
What is DAW?
DAW stands for a digital audio workstation. This is the software that is used to record, edit, and product audio files. DAWs can be used to produce many different types of audio files, including music, podcasts, and sound effects. If recorded audio is needed, you need a DAW!
These days, most DAWs are computer-based. This allows users to easily add and manipulate data for editing. When you are ready for new plugins, all you need to do is install them directly onto your existing DAW.
Most DAWs already contain some music production plugins. This provides you with a starting point. If you’re just getting started, you will want to spend some time with the pre-installed plugins before starting to look for new ones.
What are the different types of plugins?
There are several types of plugins you’ll want to familiarize yourself with if you’re involved with music production.
The three main categories for plugins are audio signal processing, analysis, or sound synthesis. When you first get started, it might be overwhelming to select what plugins you need. Knowing the main categories of plugins can help you start to narrow your search down.
Audio signal processing plugins help process analog audio into digital audio. Analysis plugins help analyze the volume of all sounds. And sound synthesis helps to manipulate sounds.
There are then specific types of plugins. Some plugins that beginner music producers might be interested in include: instrument plugins (allow you to digitally add an instrument), limiter (helps reduce loud volumes of specific sounds), and saturation (distorts various sounds to add audio interest).
How do you find plugins?
There are so many plugins out there to choose from, so it can be hard to begin narrowing down your options. One of the best ways to look for plugins is by reading reviews. This will give you a sense of what plugins are available and how other users feel about them.
Some plugins will offer an inexpensive trial version for you to try before you have to commit to the full version. Take advantage of trial versions. Try out different plugins and determine what you do and don’t like about each one.
Another good way to find plugins is by watching online videos. Many people make tutorials of them using plugins; watch how they work and what effects on the sound they have to determine if they would meet your needs.
Finally, another way to discover plugins is by asking friends who also produce music. Chances are, more experienced producers already have a few plugins that they will be more than willing to recommend. Some of them may even help you learn how to use the plugin!
What are some other music production tips?
As you get started with music production, don’t forget to get a good pair of headphones. This will allow you to hear frequencies better for more fine-tuned editing.
As you get started, do not compare yourself to others or professional musicians. This will only frustrate you. Give yourself enough time to learn. While it is okay to aim to be at the same level of quality as them, do not think of yourself as less talented than them. You’re still learning! The more you familiarize yourself with DAW, the better you’ll get.
As you start to get involved with music production software, one of the first elements you’ll want to introduce yourself to are plugins. Start by using the plugins that came with your DAW. As you become more familiar with different types, you’ll be ready to explore downloadable plugins as well!