What are FX?
FX are those sound (or visual) effects you hear often in radio sweepers and highly produced electronic dance music. It’s similar for visual FX in that the effect is visual instead of auditory, for instance, when you see a screen transition, wipe or swirl. FX is simply a shortened producer acronym for the word effects. Sound FX and sound effects are completely interchangeable terms in terms of sound production. Sound FX are often short in from lasting between 0.5 to 3 seconds in duration and can be anything from static to beeps to glass braking to a crowd screaming.
Usage of FX in Audio Production
You can use FX in the best way by using them for a reason. That means before you create that awesome radio jingle or podcast sweeper consider what the sound effect you’re using is going to do. What is the purpose of the FX you are going to use?
A big do not is just throwing 10 FX into a multitrack session and hoping that they’ll work.
The best way to use sound FX is in order to punctuate something that is said. Here’s an example:
The best radio station in the world [SFX] this is [SFX] Awesome FM!
Notice in the above script that a sound effect was used to punctuate the radio station slogan and then another to add suspense before the station name reveal.
Consider SFX as the audio equivalent of punctuation and you’ll always use them with purpose!
What is a Pad Sound Effect?
A pad is a sustained chord, note, drone or sound which is usually generated on an electronic synthesizer.
Usage of Pads in Audio Production
Pads are often used as complimentary audio to a main production to add atmosphere or background harmony. When they are produced to a specific BPM as our royalty free sound effects are you’ll be able to mix them with music beds and other audio that has a regular beat to it.
As pads last anything from 10 seconds upwards you can often get a radio station name and slogan or your podcast name in before the pad finishes up with an echo decay or in many cases an abrupt stop (almost like the pad reversing quickly in fast motion).
The Pet Shop Boys made the usage of specific synth pads popular in their 1986 hit West End Girls.
What is a Music Bed?
Where did the term music bed come from? That’s perhaps the first question to ask here! A music bed is essentially a piece of production music that can be used to create an advertisement, promo or jingle. The idea is that you lay your voice over, pads and FX on top of the music “bed”. That is why well produced production music libraries will leave plenty of room to add elements on top.
Usage of Music Beds in Audio Production
Music beds often come with very little in the way of lead instruments so that you can use them well in your productions. You may even find that some music beds come with multiple stems (bass, drums, snare etc.) that you can edit as you wish and at different lengths. 30 seconds is the most popular duration of a music bed as this is the average length of a radio commercial or podcast promo. The best produced music beds will always end (rather than fading out) allowing the producer to do something clever at the end of their production such as mix in multiple SFX and a final voice over to bring everything to a climatic end.
Stings, Sweepers, Bumpers and More – It’s Over To You!
What other audio production language can you think of that you need explained? Let me know if the comments and I’ll do my best to lend a helping hand!