Presets: The Fast Food of the Plug-in World

Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down to a nice meal. That’s why Ray Kroc invented the fast food model.

Sometimes you just don’t have time to move all the knobs and change all the numbers when you’re mixing. That’s why we’ve got plug-in presets.

But the similarities between fast food and presets don’t stop there. Too much fast food is bad for your health. And too many presets is bad for your mixes – here’s why:

Let’s start of by saying that presets are pretty awesome. You can pretty much load something in and get a pretty great sound. When used in moderation or as a starting point for further tweaks, they’re an invaluable tool. But when you use them and don’t even try adjusting the knobs for yourself to get the best sound possible, you’re probably not going to end up with a great sounding mix.

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Even though a preset might be called “Killer Kick 1”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be right for your kick drum. It’s not tailor-made to suit your track, it’s simply an average of what works on most tracks. Sometimes you get lucky, but a lot of times you don’t get that lucky.

Many times you don’t even know how good your tracks can sound if you’re just settling for the preset. Plus, you’re not learning anything about how the processor works. If you turn the knobs yourself and listen closely, you’ll be learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t, ultimately making you a better engineer.

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So the next time you reach for that plug-in drop down menu, think twice. If you want to see a pro work through an awesome session, turning just about every knob you can, check out Nashville Metal In-the-box Mixing.


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