CommitYesterday we looked at using busses to route several tracks through one effect as one way of preserving some of your computer’s processing power.

Today I want to talk to you about commitment. That’s right, I said it. Have trouble committing to something? She mentions “baby,” and you freak out, right?

Okay, I’m not talking about that kind of commitment.

Options, options, options

The great thing about today’s computer-based recording systems is all the options they give you. The problem with today’s computer-based recording systems is all the options they give you.

That’s a digital society for you. We’re already overwhelmed with choices. I was looking at cable TV packages the other day, and I’m pretty sure the cheapest package from this particular provider included 150 channels. One hundred fifty!

Your recording system isn’t much different. You can create more tracks and insert more plug-ins than you would ever need. And you’ve got dozens of plug-ins to choose from, right out of the box, not to mention all those third-party plug-in bundles you added to your system.

So what does this have to do with preserving processing power? Well, when you have the option to change every plug-in on every track whenever you want, you tend to exercise that freedom. You’ll change that guitar amp setting every twenty minutes, and you’ll never be happy with the result, because you know you can just change it later. All those plug-ins start taxing your system pretty quickly!

Here’s a thought…make a decision!

Rather than letting all these options stifle your creativity, decide on something and commit to it! This is particularly applicable to guitar amp modeling plug-ins and virtual instruments. But you can apply this things like EQs and compressors as well.

Rather than telling yourself that you can go back and “fix” the tone later, hunker down and get the tone you want right now. Once you’ve dialed it in, route that track to another audio track in your DAW and record the effected signal.

Now that the signal is recorded, you can deactivate the first track (the one with the plug-in on it), thereby freeing up processing power.

Wait…what just happened?

Two things:

  1. You made the decision to dial in the tone you want now. This made you focus on the sound more closely. If you really are happy with the tone, you’re set!! You just saved yourself from having to go back and fix it later.
  2. You preserved processing power by deactivating the initial track/plug-in.

Think of it this way, you’re just doing what recording engineers have been doing for decades. You’re treating the amp modeling plug-in like an actual amp. When you mic up a real guitar amp, you’re committing that amp’s tone to tape.

You can’t go back and change the dials on the amp once it’s recorded. Is this a limitation? Yep. But limitations are good, especially when you’re drowning in a sea of choices.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at offline processing. Got a question? Want to share a pearl of wisdom? Leave a comment below.