With all of today's music production plugins, it's pretty standard that they will come with preset settings for different sounds and instruments to help speed up your workflow.
This is a great feature of the plugins, but it doesn't mean you should just apply them and leave it there. It's best to use these presets as starting points to adjust to your own specific sounds, especially if you're using a preset that uses more than one plugin. For example, if you use a preset with an EQ and compression plugin, you should at least make sure that the level of makeup gain on your compressor is adjusted to compensate for the reduction in your sounds dynamics. I've seen a lot of people use compression plugins and be deceived by the volume jump of the default preset, thinking that it instantly sounds better because it's louder.
Another reason I feel that creating your own presets is useful is because it will help you to understand what's actually being done by the plugins. If you just use factory presets all of the time, you may find it difficult further down the line to know how to effectively EQ and compress sounds. If you're interested in doing music production professionally, you need to understand how things like EQ and compression work, especially if you're working with hardware units which don't have any presets!
Also, creating your own mixing presets that work well with your instruments and sounds, help to define your overall unique sound as a producer and speed up your workflow once you've created them.
Now that we've covered why it's good to do this, we're going to look at some tips on creating your own mixing presets for music production.
Before we get into the nitty gritty and technicality of creating your own custom mixing presets, it's important to understand how the processes work. Otherwise it'll be difficult to adjust the parameters effectively to your needs.
I'm not going to go into how to use EQ, compression and other mixing techniques in this blog, but there are plenty of useful resources out there for this.
If you are interested in learning mixing and other production techniques at a professional level, we offer a foundation degree in creative music production and business here at Community Music. Check out our course page for more information.
If I'm honest, I have spent a few years tweaking parameters and trying different mixing plugins before being happy with the sound I've got.
Even though I've now created presets that define my sound, I'm still always tweaking them to fit the specific instrument that I'm using them with. However, the custom presets act as a great base to start with that keep in line with my production style and overall sound.
Spending time to develop your own unique sound and production style is really important as it can help you to stand out in the sea of generic production styles in an oversaturated market.
Be creative and experimental with this process and when you're happy with the plugins and parameters that you're using, it will speed up your workflow as well.
Don't stop there though! Even when you've created presets that define your style, always try and keep things fresh and start to evolve your sound.
The more advanced you become as a music producer you realise that your workflow needs to be on point. You often need to get things done as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality for speed!
This is where your custom presets really start to work for you. Having them as mixing tools that give you a major head start will save you time and potential stress as well as maintaining your signature sound.
For me, I'm so glad that I spent the time earlier on to create these presets as they really are priceless in helping me get things done as quickly as possible whilst retaining the quality of the production.
As well as just creating presets for individual plugins, it can be really useful to create whole channel strip presets which contain multiple plugins for each track or bus.
For more detailed information on improving your workflow check out our other blog: Music Production - Tips For Improving Your Workflow.
I know and understand how easy it can be to just use factory presets on mixing plugins in this fast paced world, but spending the time to create your own that will help your sound to emerge and speed up your workflow, is extremely important in my opinion.
I'm not saying don't use the factory presets at all because they can often act as really good starting points but try to develop them into something that countless other producers aren't using.
Most importantly, experiment, be creative and find your sound!
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