MY CURRENT DAW DOESN’T INCLUDE MIDI EFFECTS PLUG-INS, BUT I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT SWITCHING DAWS FOR VARIOUS REASONS AND WONDER IF IT’S WORTH CHOOSING ONE WITH MIDI EFFECTS. HOW USEFUL ARE THEY? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST APPLY AUDIO EFFECTS TO A VIRTUAL INSTRUMENT’S AUDIO OUTPUT, OR USE MIDI EDITING FUNCTIONS, TO DO THE SAME THING?
KANSAS CITY, KS
Logic Pro X includes several MIDI effects, such as the MIDI modulation source shown here. Several programs, such as Cubase, Sonar, Live, Reaper, Digital Performer, and Logic, include MIDI effects. (Find extensive background information at emusician.com/gear/0769/the-case-for-midi-in-the-21st-century/134095. Also, check midiplugins.com for a listing of third-party MIDI plug-ins.)
MIDI effects’ main value is that they can work in real time. For example, if you’re writing a song and have recorded an inconsistent MIDI drum part, you can quickly tame the velocities and quantize notes by inserting MIDI effects. Other MIDI effects analyze chords, perform step sequencing, create rhythmic functions, add echoes, split notes, snap to scales, and the like. Although you could obtain similar or perhaps even identical results with MIDI editing and/or audio effects, the plug-in option is faster and more fluid.
Their usefulness to you depends on not just their compatibility with your host program, but also your workflow and musical style. For straight-ahead rock recording, MIDI effects are probably of limited value. But if you use MIDI-driven virtual instruments, or work with MIDI in the context of “groove”-oriented music, MIDI effects can help speed up workflow (especially when songwriting) as well as jump-start the creative process.
Got a question about recording, gigging, or technology?
Ask us! Send it to ElectronicMusician@musicplayer.com.