Getting the Multitrack Sound You Want through Effects

The question of whether to record effects — reverb, delay, chorus, and so on — along with an instrument is a long-debated topic. Professional recording engineers caution you against recording your instruments wet (with effects) because this limits your options when you mix the song.

On the other hand, by recording an instrument with an effect, you can use that effect processor on another instrument during the mixing process. Ultimately, you have to decide whether adding an effect to an instrument on the front end (before recording) is the way to go.

If you record using a computer-based system, adding an effect during tracking may stress your computer’s processor to the point that it affects your recording. This can cause audio dropouts, pops, clicks, or other unwanted interruptions or corruptions to your audio data.

If you have a slower computer or if you record a lot of tracks at once, you may find that you can’t record with effects. In this case, your headphone mix while you track has no effect added to the sound, but you can still add effects during the mixing process.

If you’re sure about the sound you want, you can add the effect on the front end. If you’re not sure, you’re probably better off waiting until later. You can always print (record) the effect during a bounce procedure, a neat trick where you rerecord one or more tracks to another track.

Bouncing is a common procedure if you don’t have enough tracks in your system to record each of your instruments to its own track.

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