Presets or not?


Hi everyone

As I am fairly new to producing / mixing / mastering, I’m struggling to take it all in, so therefore, I’m using presets for EQ / Compression etc etc, is this a good idea? Does it make a difference from learning how to mix / master properly, ie doing things manually? Also are DAWS stock presets useful, or would you always choose a 3rd party preset (I use Cubase 7.5) and mostly use NI KU10


A lot of people use the presets as a starting point. The hard part is if you don’t tweak them a little bit they might not sit right in the mix. I’d say the stock presets can be useful but it’s all about how creative you are with them.


I’m a big fan of presets as long as you know how to tweak them if you need to. For any bands I’ve been in I’ve been a bit more hands on but presets let you get that balance between speed and quality when you’re writing vast amounts of RF tracks.


Presets for things like EQ and Compression can offer useful starting points, but with some of them you have to make sure you adjust for level (e.g. the threshold setting for compression) otherwise they won’t work as they should.

If you are using an all-in-one mastering package like Izotope Ozone I think the presets can be really quite misleading as the whole point of mastering is to adjust everything to suit the specific track and it’s unlikely that any given preset will be right. I got quite confused about this when first using Izotope!

In terms of getting a better understanding of the mixing/mastering process I found this website a really valuable resource:


That’s good advice on the mastering presets. I use Maximus and the presets for the most part just push the music balls to the walls, not in a good way. It always sounds better to do it from scratch for each track.


As SmartOwlMusic said presets are good starting point and usually you should tweak them to get the sound you want.
But also it’s some times interesting to try diffrent/random presets,look on controls and listen how they affect sound.
It may help to master some specific plugins or VSTi.


Presets for EQ and compression are completely useless in any shape and form, even as starting points. Doesn’t make any sense at all.


Presets for synth and complex FX - yes as starting point. Presets for basic tool - no. It’s basic tools, it’s easier to set it by myself


Everyone is of course right when they say presets as a starting point is a good idea. DAW tools such as EQ and Compression are generally very good, especially in something like Logic Pro X and updated versions of Cubase.

One of the biggest issues most people have is the end product. Anyone can write a track, but it’s a lot more difficult to get it to sound good. That’s where a lot of the rejections come from imo.

Some of the compression I see on the tracks submitted here make me cringe. I can’t believe the amount of compression and limiting that gets used in a lot of these tracks. They don’t get rejected necessarily, but they sound like s**t most of the time. EQ on the other hand should really be used most commonly, but not always, to reduce.

It then boils down to what kind of sound you like to come from your plugins. If you can’t get a good result from DAW plugins, it’s highly unlikely that expensive 3rd party plugins will make any difference either.


And yes and no. Eq presets can be very useful for understand the principles of eq, but your equlizer doesn’t know your material. for example snare eq preset can have very aggressive hi shelf, but your snare can be allready bright enough, so be careful. It’s always better to understand how to eq and compress different instruments. And then you can choose good preset. It’s all depends on your material, it’s always better to understand and hear what you want.


The challenge is that we have available now all the tools to make professional standard recordings without needing expensive studio time. But these tools can just as easily wreck a recording. The best thing I think is to focus on learning how to use the tools you’ve got correctly and appropriately for your music rather than looking for something that will somehow magically do it for you. Many new plug ins are often just repackaging what you’ve already got really!


Presets can be good start point. But it is important to understend what plugin with this preset do, how it change your sound.)


Presets are a good starting point, also a good way to see where things should be for each type of plugin and instrument, then go from here, but always trust you ear over presets!


@CustomMelody @PaulGraves @SmartOwlMusic @LuckyBlackCat @TenRoomsAudio @SkinnyAtlasMusic @TheWhiteElephant @JohnRosso @stardustmusic @BravoMusic - Thank you for all your advice guys, really appreciate it, some great comments!


I like presets created by my own and would advise you to make your own presets.
Especially track templates with preloaded vst’s. It saves you a lot of time.


I’ve mixed songs using FX starting from scratch, only to find out that there was a preset that had nearly the same or exactly the same settings. In my opinion, you just have to know what sort of result you seek, check to see if there’s a preset for it or not, and work from there. If there’s a professionally developed preset, there’s chance it will work with nothing but minor adjustments if any.

In the end, it is always going to be better to understand what the plug-in does and how to work with it from its initialized state even if you do nothing but use presets 90% of the time for efficiency. If you don’t understand the plug-in, “tweaking” means “experimenting and fooling around with it” instead of “fine tuning”. You end up wasting time or possibly making it sound worse rather than better.


mastering presets are often not good for your particular projects, watch videos about mixing and practise a lot