Plugin presets:Are they helpful or not?
Whatever DAW you have, I am sure that you have noticed that stock plugins have some presets and I am sure that you have spent some hours exploring them. I have seen in many mixes, that presets have been used just the way they are. This doesn’t guarantee, that the result is going to be the best as can be.
Now, these presets are created from professionals, who designed this specific plugin and they are experts. You can say that presets are recommendations for configurations on specific instruments and for a specific genre.They haven’t been created based on some thoughts or by accident.
In the picture below you can see the stock compressor that comes with Cubase and I have selected a preset for vocals and for guitars also. What you can do is check what configurations has.What is the ratio? Attack time is it fast or slow? What about the release? Things like that. You can keep notes and you can have a better point of view on how your compressor should work on vocals or guitar.
My opinion is , you should better use plugin presets like a starting point and then you can adjust its parameters on your demands. I want to tell you something that may sound weird to you. As i told you before these presets are designed on specific instruments, spaces, and genres. The programmer doesn’t know how loud you have recorded and that’s why , Isometimes the preset configurations might not “listen” to your recording.So, you can’t use presets like the way they are.
So you select the preset that you want for your guitar or your vocal tracks,and you notice that your compressor doesn’t respond on your recording,So you decrease your threshold until the point you get some gain reduction. You listen very carefully and you decide if you want to make some changes,to set faster attack or your release, and this way you can achieve a better configuration for your recording. You have started with a preset that gives you some good levels and you adjusted all these on your demands. And this way you can keep going on your mix.
I can’t say the same about EQ though. It’s not the same at all. Although there are EQ presetslet’s say for guitars ,it’s totally different. You can’t start Eq with a preset for the reason that these configurations don’t represent your recording. It depends on the instrument and the room, that is recorded.So , you surely are going to cut other frequencies than these on the preset. You can always keep notes and have these presets like a starting educational point ,but i think you can’t use the preset configurations on your recordings for the reasons I told you above.
On the other hand you can create your own presets and use them any time you want.
In closing , presets , can be very helpful and teach us how we can start using plugins with more confidence.