Does there exist a cheat sheet that showcases the proper order to apply effects?

For example, if a vocal track needs reverb, compression, and amplification, which order do I apply those effects?

Although I'm interested in the specific example above, (more so) I'm looking for some type of cheat sheet that covers way more than just this example.

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    Mixing is also a creative endeavor, so "cheat sheets" don't generally apply, but I think you would find trim, EQ, compression/dynamics, modulation, delay, reverb to be a time tested signal chain. Obviously, you wouldn't need every stage of processing for every input. Sep 19, 2022 at 17:22
  • Thank you. That's the type of advise I'm looking for. Question: Let's say I've done a bad job on trim during a recording, and the wav file isn't loud enough compared to the rest of the tracks. Would you typically apply amplification prior to applying other effects, or would you apply all the other effects first, and only then apply amplification? BTW, my goal is clarity. While doing things in any order may produce desirable distortions, I'm wanting to do things in the order that produces the least amount of distortions (for lack of better word that i know) @DataProcessing Sep 20, 2022 at 18:39
  • The first item in the signal chain I gave you was trim. It's a nautical term borrowed into electronics, which means setting the overall general direction of the ship's travel. If the signal is too low coming in, turn it up. If it's too high so that you have no headroom to work with, turn it down. Sep 20, 2022 at 21:17
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    After the fact, but still serving the same function. Live, streaming off disk, what's the difference? Sep 21, 2022 at 0:23
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    By applying gain to a quiet signal, you raise the noise floor, and I'm pretty sure you also stretch the discrete digital steps, losing fidelity by increasing quantisation noise through conversion and also affecting the dynamic range (depending on some precision factors). Obviously, this is proportional to the amount of scale-increase. The most perceivable effect in most situations is most likely the noise floor.
    – n00dles
    Sep 24, 2022 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


There is no cheat sheet because you can use them in any order depending on exactly what effect you want to create. Literally, anything goes.

Now, that said, if you want a specific output, then you can probably follow a reasonable set of assumptions, but these are not set in stone.

As an example, compression is far more usual on input, to gain stage, with reverb after gain stage and pre amplification stage. But I might want some reverb earlier in the chain if I wanted to muddy input to another effect for example.

As far as Sound Design Stack Exchange goes, this is a much better resource for asking how to create a specific sound you have heard. Specific answers to specific questions is what the Stack Exchange network does well.

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