Effects in Caustic

Caustic Effects

In my previous article, "Caustic for Android - Working with the Sequencer: Part III", we took our song 'Mysong' and modified the 4th measure by changing the patterns, and we also edited the note properties within the patterns themselves to create a more 'human' sound to the song.

In this article, we will take what we've created, add effects, and work with the mixing board.

Regarding effects;  effects were originally invented to make a recording sound more 'real', 'live', or 'authentic'.  They were used to trick the listener's ear into believing the audio was being performed in someplace that it truely was not.  Effects were also designed to 'clean-up' a mix, to help eliminate unwanted 'hiss', 'crackling', 'popping', echoes, or other unintended sounds from the final recording.

Fast forward to the present.

Today, effects seem to be used in every way imaginable.  From heavily distorting sound, to making the sound appear to be robotic, speeding it up, slowing it down, adding anything to make a sound unique.  Some artists you can even identify simply by hearing a particular sound in their music, because they have modified a signal in a way nobody else yet has.

Adding Effects to Your Song

In Caustic, load the song we have been working on called 'Mysong'.  Go to the mixing board screen, and make sure all your dials look just like the image below:

CreativeDesign Caustic Mixing Board 1

Press the PLAY button a moment, and watch the activity on the mixing board during the playback.  Notice how the signal meters come to life for the PCMSYNTH1, BASSLINE2, BEATBOX, and MASTER channels.  Also notice there (should be) no activity in the signal meters for the DELAY and REVERB controls.  (That's because we haven't applied any yet).

The Effects Screen

CreativeDesign Caustic Effects Board 1

Bring up the effects screen, and it should look like the one shown above: empty.

Let's make our PCMSYNTH1 sound a lot different than it currently does.  Touch the 1st box under the slot title 'PCMSYNTH1', and select the 'AUTO-WAH' effect.

CreativeDesign Effects Auto-Wah

Here's a list of the controls in the Auto-wah Effects module:

  • Speed:  The reaction time for the filter to go from ON to OFF
  • Depth:  The max amount of cut-off applied to the incoming signal
  • Cut-off:  Frequency for the internal band-pass filter
  • Resonance:  The amount of resonance for the internal band-pass filter
  • Wet:  The ratio of modified signal to original (clean) signal, 0% - 100% 

Set up your Auto-Wah to look like the one shown above, and then play back your song.  To quickly hear the difference with an without the effect, simply change the WET level from full left (0%) to full right (100%) during playback.  You can change any of the dials during playback and hear how it affects your sound.

Using the Caustic Mixing Board

Return to your mixing board screen, and we will modify the sound even further.

If you are using headphones (highly recommended), during playback you'll notice how the PCMSYNTH1 sounds like it's right in the middle of your head.  It doesn't have any 'width' or real character to it.

On the PCMSYNTH1 part of the mixing board (channel 2), change the REVERB dial to point straight up:

Reverb Dial

Press play, and notice there is now activity on the REVERB meter, and the sound appears to be generated in some sort of room.

Still, it sounds rather mono, uninteresting and needs more work.

On the REVERB panel, there is a button labeled ST.  ST stands for 'Stereo', so go ahead and press that button:

Reverb Panel

Play the mix back again.  Starting to sound better, yes?  Lets improve it further!

Change the room size on the same panel to be about 1/3 of the way up, and then also change the WIDTH dial on Channel 2 to be 100% (fully right).  Also change the DELAY dial on Channel 2 to be 50% (pointing straight up), and on the DELAY master panel, enable the 'ST' button, and turn the TIME dial to be about 30% of the way up.  Your screen should now look like this:

Effects PCMsynth1 caustic

Play your mix back and notice how much more alive the PCMSYNTH1 instrument sounds now.

Save your work, and we'll continue working on the track in the next article!