Music & Entertainment

Shaping Sounds With Effects And Processing


Lesson time 19:18 min

Learn how deadmau5 puts life back into tired presets, builds big stereo images and fattens up his basses using plug-ins and effects processors.

Teaches Electronic Music Production
6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.
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This is a cardinal sin of EDM right here. This is what I hate about dance music. I know I'm going to get some hate for this, but fuck them. I have it. Trust me. I don't use it all the time, but I do have it. Then, that's just life. But you get stuff like this. And I'm not saying it's evil and don't get it. I find some use for it. But it's this thing called Nexus, right, by sound. And then, all it is is like this instrument where you can-- You know? And you go to town or-- oh, and I'm just going to click my mouse twice there, and-- You know? It's cool, for what it is. But I mean, that, and then put a kick drum under it, it's like you could almost pass that it off as a tune, you know? And a lot of dudes do that. Sure. I don't blame them. And that's good for learning. It's good for using stuff, but to sit there and, I don't know, like fucking-- let's see what else this things got. I'm not going to use it that much. Dance pattern two. And this brings up a really important point. The point is that guys, sign artists like me and other dudes-- and they're also producers too. I just so happen to be a label manager as well. But I can tell when someone's using a preset, because I've used that synth before. I've heard it a million times. I know what it does, and know what it sounds like. So you know, when I'm hearing it, it's like I hear this preset. And I'm like, well, OK, well obviously, didn't put a lot of effort into that. And it's not very creative and stuff like that. And while it might sound great [? fidelically, ?] and that's all that, it's just I'm like, OK, well, if I know how it's done, everyone else is going to know how it's done. I know that kids today aren't stupid, you know? They know the software. A lot of them do. The addition of effects can happen right at the earliest stage, where it's like, I want a kick, or like this bass drum here, it's like, I don't know, it would sound really cool if I slammed it with some kind of distortion unit or something. So it would be like, I don't know, just crazy-- UAD distortion plug-in. So now, I've got this-- [DRUM BEAT] You know-- [DRUM BEAT] Like, that's how I want my kick to sound. So that's like a really over-the-top kind of distortion. But I mean, actually, it's funny that this is illustrated the way that it is, because more often than not, I will go into-- like I collect a lot of boutique distortion pedals, which were meant for guitar and stuff like that. Well, I can physically route the output into a distortion pedal like this, but one that's not DSP, an actual distortion pedal, and then out of the distortion pedal back into the computer, to give it that sound, but done with a guitar pedal. And that's something you could do really early on, because a guitar pedal's like, what? $30 at a garage sale? Some kids band that...

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Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.


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It just really helps me get motivated to do the things I love most in this life

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Thanks a lot ! I produce music and manage a very little label. I make this without any experience and I learn all days. Now I know if what I did is good and what can I do to doing things better.

I've learned a lot more than I thought I would! It really helped me as a beginning and I really do have a general grasp of how to produce music and some insight on the music industry! Thank you deadmau5 and Masterclass for making this happen!


Jessica J. chapter 10 shaping sounds he’s talking about using guitar pedals to make random distorted sounds and I really want to do that...


So, a good recommendation is to use guitar pedals distortion. Does the same hold true for Reverb pedals? Would a Strymon or TC Electronic reverb pedal work as a "plugin reverb"?

Chaz D.

It's a Proco Rat for anyone who wanted to know what pedal that was supposed to be

Peter P.

I like this approach. It inspired me to get out of the all too easy digital box, get my old Casio CZ-101 out of the basement and have some fun. Analog sounds + stomp boxes offer some unique creative opportunities. Just be ready to hit record and capture your sonic gems for posterity.

Zak B.

Quick tip for anyone reading you don't need mega huge equipment do what he is talking about. I use a Scarlet 2i2 and anything that has separate outputs for monitor and headphones will work great. To run through a pedal board put a boost/compressor at the beginning of your chain and overdrive at the end. Run the audio out of the headphone jack and into your pedals. Then muck them up to your flavor and run them back into one of the inputs of your audio interface. Keep your volumes low at about 12 o'clock on the audio interface and balance out your gains on the pedal board until things are stable.


Although I often create brand new sounds with effects and processing, I'm kind of conflicted here. If an untouched preset sounds "perfect" for your song, why not use it? Are we creating music to entertain an audience or to impress peers? Personally, I hardly ever use unmodified presets in my producing. I guess what I'm saying is I wouldn't frown upon anyone using an unchanged preset as long as it sounds good.


I'm looking for presets, loops, etc to use with Abelton 9. Can anyone recommend anything for me?

Kenneth S.

I wasn't a couple of minutes into this lesson, and already I was looking at experimentation with fresh eyes! There's a lot of good guidance here... I like this a lot! Makes me look at my rack and G-System and think, what else can I do with this?

Lissa J.

Back in the early 90's I knew a bunch of jazz musicians who would play their instruments, mic-ed, through effects pedals. It was the cheapest was that they could alter the sound without having to buy rack mounted processors for the stage shows. I guess I should look into getting a few of those for my kid's synth.

Paul H.

A lot of great ideas in this lesson! Looking forward to using some of my "vintage gear" in some unorthodox ways! I'm going to dust of my Midi Studio 644, that should provide a lot of routing options with pedals and effects processors....