July 15th, 2010 – Today I worked on a quick mix for some singer-songwriter stuff I recorded a while ago. I’m sure you all know about Waves plugins. Well, what you may not know is that they have new plugins for people who don’t know what plugins to use.
For example, the CLA (Chris Lord-Alge) series has awesome 1176, LA2A and LA3A emulations, and there are also plugins available in his signature line with names like CLA Vocals and CLA Guitars. Let’s take the CLA Vocals as an example. You may not know how to use a compressor, but with the CLA Vocal plugin, there’s a fader that controls all the usual compressor parameters automagically. Want more compression? Turn up the fader.
These types of plugins are really the ultimate presets. Of course, they don’t always provide the perfect setting for every song, but all-in-all they sound surprisingly good. Many engineers would call it cheating, others just want something to quickly get the job done.
Personally, I like to flip through presets (ones offered by the manufacturer, and ones that I’ve created myself) to get a close approximation to the sound I have in my head, and then tweak it from there until it’s perfect. I find that it lets me get my ideas out faster, which is a good thing when you have a terrible memory like me.
How about you? Do you think it’s cheating to use presets?