Parallel Effects

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Dial Back Your Effects

Sometimes you want to use an effect on a track, but the resulting sound is a bit too overwhelming. Maybe you want to keep part of your original sound but also have some of the effect. This is a perfect time to use parallel effects! Parallel effects basically means you have the original clean sound and the effected sound running in parallel, or at the same time. Then you can balance which part is louder to get the perfect mix of the clean sound and the effected sound.


Dry or Wet?

In Ableton Live, many of the stock devices have a dry/wet knob. At first, I didn’t realize the usefulness of this knob. Now I understand that it’s probably one of the best features in Live!  Being able to control the amount of clean signal  that gets output with the effected sound gives you complete control over your effects. In today’s video, I show three examples of this. Delay, Distortion, and Compression. All three of these effects sound great on their own, but sometimes you want that effect on your sound, but not as overpowering as it can sometime be. Use that dry/wet knob to get the perfect balance!


What If I Don’t Have Ableton?!

First of all, relax. Second, it’s easy to recreate this kind of effect. Just create a group and add your track into it, then duplicate the track. On one track, remove the effect in question. On the other add the effect and make sure any mix or dry/wet settings are set to full.  Now all you need to do is balance the volume levels of each track to get the perfect mix. This method  may not be as clean as the dry/wet knob, but it gets the job done just as effectively.



Beginner – Open up a song you’re working on, or create a simple loop. Try to add some delay or distortion and practice using parallel effects. Pay attention to what it sounds like without the effect as well as with the full effect. Try to get a nicely balanced sound somewhere in between.

Advanced – Start using parallel effects whenever you can, and don’t just blindly set the levels. Make sure you’re actively setting the mix level to really get the best sound for your song. (Remember, you can’t do that in isolation so keep that solo button turned off!) Try also bringing in some parallel compression, maybe on your drums. This can be a little harder to hear the difference, so if you can’t tell what it’s doing that’s ok.

Question: Have you ever added an effect and wished you could tone it down at all? Which effect was it? After playing with parallel effects for a while, how has it improved your tracks?