What am I talking about? Plug-in presets.
Now, if you’re starting out with recording, and you’ve never really messed around with an EQ or a compressor or a reverb, plug-in presets are your best friend.
Any plug-in that you get (any plug-in worth anything at least) will come with a fair number of presets that you can use. This is wonderful because you may not know which frequency bands to be boosting or cutting or how long your reverb tail should be, and using plug-in presets allows you to pull up an entire setting without you having to know necessarily how each little knob in that plug-in works.
It’s a really helpful thing.
However, once you’re used to using plug-ins, it becomes tempting to do everything yourself, to start from scratch with every track and every plug-in. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’ll admit that’s normally how I do things, but I’m starting to play around with using presets and saving them to help make my workflow a little bit better.
The first thing that saving will do for you is save you time.
Think about it. If you’re doing a mix of a 14-song album and every song has 13 drum tracks, once you mix the first song, and you get those drum tracks sounding pretty close to how you want them to sound, it makes a lot of sense to go ahead and save all of those presets, or all of those plug-in settings, and then load those into the remaining 13 songs. Then you can start with the drum sound that you’ve already gotten in the first song without having to build it from scratch every time.
This is also helpful because it keeps your mixes sounding consistent from one to the other.
How do we do that? Well, you can save individual plug-in presets within the plug-in, which is certainly doable, or you could save an entire template of your session, and then import the audio files into that template for each new song.
Another reason to save plug-in presets is it builds up your arsenal.
In other words, it allows you to over time acquire a massive collection of presets that you can use on future sessions.
Let’s say you find a great preset that works wonderfully for a MusicMan Sterling base. Well, that’s great. Next time you have that bass in your studio, if you saved that plug-in preset, you can go pull that back up and get a similar sound. You’re starting from a great sounding preset that was custom made for that particular instrument.
You can imagine that over the course of a couple of years, you could develop some really valuable plug-in presets that’ll save you a lot of time and help your mixes start sounding better and better as you continue to improve the sound of those presets.
Finally, there are plug-in presets, and then there are channel strips. Certain DAWs, like Presonus Studio One, allow you to save entire channel strips in your session. That means if you have five plug-ins on a track, you can save all of those plug-ins and their settings to a single channel strip.
Unfortunately, Pro Tools doesn’t do this, but if you have a DAW that allows you to save full channel strips,use that function. It will definitely help you in the long-run.
So, that’s the question for you…do you save plug-in presets?