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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Mixing "Weather The Storm" pt. 6 - Reverb and Delay

G’day guys! This is my sixth video in my series on mixing “Weather The Storm”. If you missed the other videos, you can check them out in the links below.

Part 1 - Setting up the Session

Part 2 - Balance

Part 3 - Mix Bus Processing

Part 4 - EQ

Part 5 - Compression

In this video I’m going to be adding a bit of reverb and delay to give the track a bit more sparkle. These are just subtle effects that will be added to give the track a sense of space. Many mixing engineers like to go very heavy handed on reverb, but I feel that less is more in this sense.

Creating a space

I like to use reverb in two different ways. The first way is the most important, and that is to create a virtual space for your listener to be in. The second way is more of an effect for individual instruments, but I want to focus on the space creation for this blog.

When I’m mixing a project, I like create a virtual space that the listener is in. In a perfect world, you should be able to close your eyes and imagine that the music is happening around you. You should be able to picture where the sounds are coming from and visualise where you are.

This kind of effect is hard to accomplish if you have a different reverb effect on each channel. If you want to create the virtual space, the sounds within that space should be bouncing off the same walls. This is why I like to use one universal reverb sound for all of the channels.

On this particular track, this was a bit harder to do because the guitar and keys sounds already had reverb on the tracks, and quite a lot of it. But I could do this with the vocals and the drum sounds, and I think it worked quite well.

I like to pick a fairly medium reverb with not too much length. I’d rather a sound that’s a bit more realistic, as opposed the those big 80s gated sounds. I try to pick a reverb sound that makes me feel like I’m in the room with the instruments. For this one I used a medium size plate on Pro Tool’s D-verb plugin.

Put Yourself In That Space

So many times I’ve heard songs where the lead vocal is drowned in reverb and it usually makes the space sound a little weird. Imagine for a second that you’re sitting in a room with a band playing just to you.

I’d think that the drummer would be at the back of the room. The bass player would be just in front of him, maybe slightly to the side. There’d be the guitars and/or keys players scattered left and right, half way up the room. Finally, the singer would be right up in my face, singing at me, trying to make me listen to what they were saying.

Now imagine what that would sound like in terms of reverb levels. The drums, being far back, would have the most reverb. Guitars, bass and keys would have a medium amount of reverb, and so would the backing vocals that they’re singing. The lead singer would have the least, as he/she would be right up close to me.

If you replicate this scenario in your mixing, that’s the kind of space you will create. The more reverb you add to a sound, the further away that sound feels. So, if you’re adding heaps and heaps of reverb to the lead singer, they’re going to sound like they’re sitting at the back of the room, behind the other instruments.

This may be the sound that you’re looking for, but 9 times out of 10, I like to have the singer up front, in my face, trying to make me listen to what they’re saying.

Setting the Delay

I used a very simple sense of delay in this track. Just a ¼ note delay over the main vocals set to a very low level. If I was to be automating the delays, I’d probably bump them up at points and bring them down at other points, but i wanted a sound that wasn’t too distracting and just gave a nice sheen over the sound.

I put the delay up a little bit more on one of the vocal channels because I felt it needed something a little extra.

EQing your Effects Channels

This is very important, and many people don’t bother to do this. In fact I only just started doing this over the last couple of years, but I feel like it’s one of the best things you can do to your effects channels to make them sound good.

It just involves putting an EQ before your effect. Many people like to put the EQ after their delay or reverb, but I feel that the things you’re EQing out can still find their ways into the other frequencies that you’re keeping and drag them down.

You can go fairly in depth with creating an EQ curve for your channel, but I usually just put in a high and low cut filter. Put these in and drag them up and down until you feel like you only have the necessary information left being effected. 

Reverbs are notorious for adding a tonne of low end, muddy sound. Taking these frequencies out of the input of your reverb ensures that you have a nice clean reverb that doesn’t sound like you’ve just dragged your mix through the mud. As I mentioned in other videos, low end builds up very quickly in a mix, making your track sound dull and muddy. Low end in reverb is one of the worst culprits of that.

I also took out some of the sizzling high frequencies as they were a bit too much as well. You can play around with EQ setting for ages, finding a sound that works for you on any given song. Definitely worth the time.

With the delay, I went a bit more drastic with the EQ until I had an almost Telephone type sound going on. This is because I only really wanted a hint of the delay shining through the mix. So, again, taking out those unnecessary highs and lows means that I get the effect I want without filling the mix with unnecessary frequencies.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial, I hope there were some things you learned about reverb and delay and I hope you use these techniques in your own mixes.

Have a good one guys, you’ll hear from me soon.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them down in the comments section below.

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