The best and most popular sound effects

Special effects for your audio recordings

Your audio recording is in the bag – but you need to add the final touches. Sound effects enable you to make the most of your music and audio files. They bring the listener to another reality, create feelings such as tension or excitement and let you change the atmosphere of a piece of music, radio play or podcast to achieve the effect you want. In this article, we explain what kinds of music effects there are and the best way to use them.

The most common sound effects and what they do

Whether it's natural sounds like the noise of trees in the wind or acoustic effects like reverb or echo, there are many sound effects you can use to refine your recordings. There are basically three different types of sound effects: those from nature, background noise and artificial or digital effects. Digital effects are often added to music recordings. These create certain effects and can significantly change the sound of guitar and drums. For example, you can give the vocal track a reverb or an echo, you can make your music faster, add distortion or have sections repeat.

These are the most commonly used effects:

  • Reverb
  • Echo
  • Time stretching
  • Crossfade
  • Loops

In addition, there are various guitar effects that are among the most frequently used sound effects. Keep reading to get the lowdown on these effects and what they can do for you.

Create tension with reverb

In principle, a reverberation or reverb effect consists of several echoes, which are perceived as a single effect. If you apply the reverb effect to your audio recordings, it sounds as if it is further away from the listener and/or was recorded in a special room: A perfect reverb effect precisely mimics these room conditions, such as the size, ceiling height and texture of the floor and ceilings. In this way, reverb can sound as if the recording was created in an empty room with hard floors or in a cathedral.

The echo effect

An echo is a kind of delay effect, where the audio signal is output with a delay – for example as echo or reverberation. Sounds are repeated, reverberated and fed back. This creates futuristic and psychedelic music effects.

Time stretching: Accelerate music

Time stretching changes the playback speed of your audio material. You can make your music faster or slow it down without changing the pitch. However, this sound technique requires intuition. If the speed is changed too much, this can create unpleasant noise. Music can usually be slowed down or sped up by 15 to 20 percent.

Effects for professional audio recording

Creating transitions with crossfade

Crossfade refers to the smooth transition from one audio recording to the next. This way there are no gaps between two songs or speech sequences.

For example, you can reduce the volume at the end of a recording and crossfade into the following song.

Loops: An effect on repeat

loop is a sequence repeated by technical means within your audio recording. This can be a guitar loop that is repeated without any changes, but also vocals or drums. A loop can be taken from a pre-recorded audio sequence or directly from the music itself.

The chorus effect: Simulates several notes

The chorus effect is a kind of modulation effect and describes a sound effect that virtually doubles a tone: it sounds as if another extremely similar yet different note is resonating and overlapping the sound – just like a choir.

The chorus effect is not only used for vocals: above all, it's a popular guitar effect and is also used for bass sequences. The sound is richer, fortified and fuller, with harmonic oscillations. It can be reminiscent of the typical sound of the 80s, when chorus effects were particularly popular.

Guitar effects:
How to get more out of your guitar sound

Guitar effects are among the most popular sound effects, so there are numerous effects available for the electric guitar. One of the most common is distortion. A distorted sound creates distinctive riffs and clean sounds. Distortion effects can be controlled in many ways and you can modify timbre, frequencies and volume with a distortion effect.

The wah-wah effect is also a popular guitar effect, with the name of the effect describing what it sounds like. Originally created using a sound pedal, it can be mixed into your sound recording electronically.

Another modulation effect is the tremolo: literally translated from Italian, tremolo means "tremble" or "flicker", and that's how the guitar sounds when the tremolo effect is applied. The audio signal appears to fluctuate: it first becomes quieter, then louder again and the tempo can also be influenced. A tremolo effect can be used to create emotion in a piece of music in a clever way.

Compressor effects compress the sound. They produce a reversal of the sound signal: the volume of loud notes is decreased, while quieter tones are increased in volume. This creates a balance between different audio signals, making the sound tighter and more expressive.

However, compression effects should be used sparingly. If compression is too strong, the sound may seem dull and unclean sound signals such as noise or squashed sound may occur.

You can easily create all these effects plus even more with free music software Music Maker.

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