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What Does FX Mean In Sound?

There are various acronyms in audio production and it’s not always possible to know them all and actually know what they do…

It therefore pays to research acronyms that you don’t understand well enough so you know what they mean and how they fit into audio production.

This post will discuss the acronym “FX” and what it means in sound. Most newbies to music production have asked me the meaning behind FX in the past so I figured, this post may be useful to another newbie out there….

With that said, What does FX mean in sound?

FX in sound or audio production refers to either Effects units or sound effects.

Effects Unit

An effects unit or effects pedal is digital or analog device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.

Common effects include distortion/overdrive, that are often used with electric guitars, dynamic effects such as volume pedals and compressors, which affect the loudness and dynamics.

There are also filters like wah-wah pedals that create the wah wah effect and graphic equalizers, which allow you to modify various frequency ranges.

Musicians, audio engineers and record producers use different effects units during live performances or in the studio, usually with instruments like electric guitar, bass guitar, electronic keyboard or electric piano.

While effects are most frequently used with electric or electronic instruments, they can be applied to any audio source, such as acoustic instruments, drums, and vocals…

Digital plugins come in all types and formats such as VST, AAX and so forth.

This usually depends on the digital audio workstation you’re working in as well as the operating system.

Most Windows users rely heavily on VST, VST 2, VST.

Mac users also use a different format of plugins.

Some effects units:

Below are some effects units that you can find in analog or digital form. I’ve discussed them briefly to give you an idea what they do and their role in audio production.


A delay unit us used to create a repetition of a signal which is quite useful in processing.

For example, in music production, delay is a familiar effect that you’ll most likely run into.

It’s usually meant to give recorded audio or a live signal a little more edge and a cool effect that broadens it by create a copy of the original  that plays at specified intervals.


A reverb unit is used to create a reverberation effect which gets rid of any dryness in a signal.

Reverb is also used to create some space around a sound and sort of give it some width.

In situations where you’re working with a lot of mix elements, reverb is helpful because it allows you to also create and widen given sounds.

There are various types of reverb units both digital and analog that are used in audio processing.


Compressors are one of the most vital tools in audio production. They work as volume correction tools.

Primarily, a compressor is used when one is looking to fix the dynamic range within a vocal or instrument or a signal.

What this simply means is that a compressor will keep a consistent volume throughout a signal so that there are no parts louder or softer than others.

There are different kinds of compressors available both as physical and digital units.

Most guitar players run signals through a compressor to keep everything at a consistent good level.


Saturation is useful in adding harmonics to a signal which makes the the signal sound a lot more crisp.

There are various saturator units available such as tube saturators, tape saturators (that mimic tape recording effects) etc


EQ effect units are used for Equalisation which is tool that is very useful in cutting and boosting frequencies of a signal.

There are different types of these effect units as well.

Sound effects

A sound effect or an audio effect is an artificially created or enhanced sound, or sound process that is used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media.

For the most part, sound effects where created using foley.

In motion picture and television production, sound effects are sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music.

They act as a way to give and creating more meaning around content.

In professional motion picture and television production, dialogue, music, and sound effects recordings are treated as separate elements.

Dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, even though the processes applied to them are often referred to as sound effects e.g. reverb, delay etc.

What Does FX Mean In Sound?
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