A Preset is a Starting Point, NOT the Finish Line
Presets are a great way for the beginner to get a feel for what the “right” type of sound is. Whether it’s compression presets, EQ, or reverbs, using presets is definitely a good starting point in your mix.
But it doesn’t end there.
Presets weren’t made for your mix in mind. They are general, overall feels that work in many situations. But you need to tweak them if you want them to apply to your mix.
They are just the starting point, and you need to do fix them to get to the finish line.
Most compressors come with a few great starter presets for whatever it is you are compressing. If you want a “tight kick drum” or a “punchy vocal”, chances are your compressor has something similar.
But you’ll still need to tweak the parameters to suit the particular waveform that you are mixing. The preset designer probably had something else in mind when he/she created it.
I rarely use EQ presets. The presets in Logic boost more than I like, so I stay away from them.
I’d rather concentrate on cutting the lower frequencies to get the apparent boost in highs than actually cranking up all the high-end. Then later, if I need a little boost here and there, I can do that. But cut first, before you boost everything out of proportion.
You really need to go through your reverb presets to find the right one for the track. browsing through the presets can usually save you from information overload.
Take your time when you’re selecting reverbs. It can take a while finding the perfect one for your vocal, or drum sound, or snare, or guitar solo etc.
A different reverb preset can make a big difference to the overall sound of your track.
I set out to create a book of simple mixing tips and strategies like this with Mixing Strategies.
If you want a guide that shows you how to reach the sound you hear in your head, check out Mixing Strategies here.
Image by: alexkess