To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

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.
Get Started


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...

Make better music

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Diferent perspective and approach to understand and create music

I love to be able to learn from this. Its nearly all you would need!

Well, in terms of production I haven't learnt more than I knew, only with analog synth, that really amazed me, and I learnt 'something' new. But speaking of Marketing and the correct way of promoting yourself, that's the good point for me of this Masterclass. Thanks Joel

Seeing Deadmau5 at the WaMu. Cant wait. the show will be badass after hearing the method to the madness. Let hear them synthssss #wavy


Block T.

THIS IS THE CARDINAL SIN OF EDM I was just waiting for this moment lmao, but it is a GREAT lesson 5 stars

A fellow student

Thank you for criticizing Nexus, I was wondering if I was the only one who felt that way.


Shaping sound is really a very interesting concept that has endless possibilities. Using EQ, bandpass, and effects can really change the sound any sample, synth or instrument. The concept of effects are not knew to me, but thinking of it in more systematic way and in terms of shaping the sound actually gives me a lot of ideas how to use FX and EQ. Literally, you can make a vanilla kick sound almost any way you want to, so suddenly just one kick sound has more possibilities than a collection of 100 samples or presets.

A fellow student

Lol, he said "I put that shit on everything. That's my Frank's Red Hot." xD xD


"This is what I hate about dance music." Now that I'm watching his complex, thorough process, I can understand why he said that.

A fellow student

Showing HOW these components go into his daw and HOW he takes a synth, runs it through a pedal, and back into the daw would have been helpful. I saw a lot of what I already know happens and not much about how to harness it in a track.

Andy J.

It would be really helpful if we could see an example of the physical routing from his rig to the distortion / rack effects ..and in which audio I/O box. I don't really care the brand but the specs (8x8 4x4 2x2 16x16) etc. a PDF drawing would be immensely helpful. I was taking main outs of my I/O, to the effects, and then back to record / re-sample onto another track...are there better ways...? thanks! this is really dope man PHAT !!!

A fellow student

so in contrast to Timbaland, I haven't seen you use a grid like the Ableton Push, do you just manually use the DAW to put everything in?

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"?