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Mixing with reverb

From: Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Video: Mixing with reverb

So as a big sounding rock tune with a crunchy open chorus, Take Me Down incorporates reverb to help define its size and place elements in the mix. One thing I think people find surprising about mixing with reverb is how a little can go a long way or how a lot of reverb on a single element is all that's necessary to create a big sound in the mix. So if we look at the reverbs here and how we're using them, again, I have three main reverbs, I have a Room Verb, a Plate, and a Drum Room.

Mixing with reverb

So as a big sounding rock tune with a crunchy open chorus, Take Me Down incorporates reverb to help define its size and place elements in the mix. One thing I think people find surprising about mixing with reverb is how a little can go a long way or how a lot of reverb on a single element is all that's necessary to create a big sound in the mix. So if we look at the reverbs here and how we're using them, again, I have three main reverbs, I have a Room Verb, a Plate, and a Drum Room.

Now, if we look at my drums, the one thing that really defines the sound of the drum kit or I should say the size of the overall kit and the space that it lives in is going to be this Snare Reverb. So the kind of reverb you're using on the Snare is really going to define the overall size of the kit. So if we take a look here or I should take a listen, going to bring up my Sends F-J. I've got on the Snare, the Mike Snare a little bit of Big Plate, and even more on the Snare Sample.

So when the Snare Sample kicks in in the first chorus, it kind of gives it that really big sound. So, let's just take a listen here from the first chorus. (Music playing. Drum solo.) As we could see, it's not too much, but it's sort of just enough to kind of give it that nice wet sound on the snare.

I'm not going for the 80s super huge snare effect, but it's going to help define the size of the kit. Now the other thing that's going on here is that the DrumSubMix is actually being processed through a little bit of that DrmR verb. The reason that I'm doing this is that the drums were recorded in a smaller space. It was actually a converted garage recording studio, sounds great, maybe just not as big as it should be for this specific mix.

So what I did is ran the submix through this sort of specific drum reverb right here, if we scroll up, and basically it's just a room set in a very short tail. There's a little bit of compression going on just to kind of sponge that out a little bit. We've got some EQ taking away the low end, so I don't want to get that kick drum, that beefy kick drum. I don't want it making my mix muddy.

So, if we listen here, kick up that drum hall. (Music playing. Drum solo.) So, it's just giving a little extra space. So in the mix, it's just going to help those drums sound a little bit bigger.

(Male singing: So take me down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes.) (Male singing: I'm come around...) Again, less is more. I'm not really going for that super huge drums at the back of a warehouse kind of sound. But I don't want it to be super intimate and tied either. Now, if I move on to the vocals, go ahead and hide these Sends, the Lead Vocal here is mainly being processed with delays, which I'll talk about in the next video and a little bit of chorus.

So there's not as much reverb happening directly on the Lead Vocal. This can actually be a good thing, because I don't want to really obscure that vocal with a big washy long reverb. It's not a ballad tune, I kind of want that vocal to be upfront and carry the song. However, the background vocals are getting a bit of Room Verb, and if we look at our other Sends, they're getting a bit of the Big Plate. Now, it's kind of nice with the Lead Vocal here, add just a touch of the Big Plate.

It's almost something that's more subconscious than sort of overtly sounding like a lot of reverb on the Lead Vocal. So if we listen to that... (Male singing: ...down, take me down and my feet will follow, wherever my heart goes.) (Male singing: I'm come around, I'll come around, like I always. I'll keep my feet on the ground.) So mostly the vocal sound is kind of upfront and drier and there's just these kind of subtle hints that there is a bit of tail to them.

This could completely change depending on your tune, so you kind of want to play around with the amount of reverb, but be careful not to wash things out. And make sure you EQ those tails, de-ess them if you have to. The background vocals have a little bit more effects treatment. That's generally what I'm going for in this kind of song. The background vocals kind of sit a little more in the background. Now if we look at some of the other instruments that are using the reverbs, the B3 is using a lot of this plate.

So, if we listen here... (Music playing) It really isn't a main focal element in the mix. It's not something that you might instantly recognize when the whole mix is playing during the chorus. But it's just something that's kind of help glue some stuff together. A really cool trick that mixers like to use is adding a whole lot of the longest reverb to a non-percussive sound, something that's more legato, like a string pad or an organ or actual strings or maybe kind of a little lead guitar melody.

What that's going to do is help define the back wall of the mix. So again if we're thinking of the stage where the characters can be all over the stage, we need to have somebody at the far back to kind of define and help the listener get a sense of where that space is and where people are placed within that stage. If you take anything way from the reverb usage examples in the demo session, understand that it doesn't take a huge wash of reverb on everything to create a big sounding mix.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. To me, big sounding mixes generally showcase a distinct perspective of depth or a close to far. Without this relative relationship, everything is either really far away, which can be cool, or really close, which can also be cool. But that doesn't constitute big in my mind. Remember that a lot of reverb on only a few elements can effectively define the back wall, and they can share their tail with other elements.

So, a really long reverb on one element can make it sound like a lot of other dry elements also have reverb on them. So, make sure to keep a few things dry and upfront and really think about the perspective in the depth of your mix.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

77 video lessons · 9478 viewers

Brian Lee White
Author

 
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  1. 14m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. The past, present, and future of mixing
      6m 20s
    3. Strategies for mixing and mastering
      5m 38s
    4. Using the exercise files
      1m 40s
  2. 40m 24s
    1. Mixing "in the box"
      5m 9s
    2. Setting up the studio: Speakers and acoustics
      13m 12s
    3. Staying organized: Effectively prepping the mix
      10m 50s
    4. Managing system resources during mixdown
      11m 13s
  3. 41m 39s
    1. Introducing the Pro Tools Mixer
      2m 24s
    2. Understanding mixer signal flow
      3m 42s
    3. Using inserts and plug-ins
      7m 4s
    4. Working with plug-in settings
      5m 1s
    5. Using sends and creating FX returns
      6m 55s
    6. Submixing with aux tracks
      4m 30s
    7. Using groups while mixing
      3m 46s
    8. Using master faders effectively
      8m 17s
  4. 21m 11s
    1. Conceptualizing the mix and making a plan
      7m 45s
    2. Using volume and pan to balance the mix
      11m 18s
    3. Knowing when to process: Mix problems vs. mix solutions
      2m 8s
  5. 1h 3m
    1. Understanding the mechanics of sound
      3m 53s
    2. Learning the basics of EQ: Frequency-specific level control
      4m 29s
    3. Using DigiRack EQ III
      16m 3s
    4. EQ strategies in mixing: Corrective vs. creative
      7m 18s
    5. EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum
      5m 39s
    6. EQ workflow example 2: Filtering loops
      5m 10s
    7. EQ workflow example 3: The "telephone" effect
      3m 7s
    8. Mixing tips and tricks for EQ
      17m 36s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Understanding dynamics and dynamic range
      2m 1s
    2. Working with dynamics processors
      2m 57s
    3. Using the DigiRack Dyn III compressor/limiter
      10m 6s
    4. Balancing and shaping track dynamics
      3m 19s
    5. Using gates and expanders
      9m 22s
    6. Using de-essers to eliminate sibilance
      5m 47s
    7. Dynamics workflow example 1: Vocals
      10m 0s
    8. Dynamics workflow example 2: Drums
      9m 29s
    9. Mixing tips and tricks: Dynamics
      11m 37s
    10. Building parallel or "upward" compression
      7m 53s
    11. Reviewing dynamics concerns: How much is too much?
      3m 28s
  7. 47m 48s
    1. Using time-based effects to add depth and width
      3m 22s
    2. Using DigiRack D-Verb
      14m 27s
    3. Using the DigiRack delays
      9m 18s
    4. Mixing with reverb
      7m 59s
    5. Mixing with delays
      6m 19s
    6. Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth
      6m 23s
  8. 18m 8s
    1. Working with the Creative Collection
      9m 8s
    2. Building distortion and saturation
      9m 0s
  9. 37m 33s
    1. Understanding automation
      4m 10s
    2. Recording real-time automation moves
      7m 6s
    3. Viewing and editing automation
      10m 17s
    4. Automating plug-ins
      7m 36s
    5. Automation strategies for mixing
      8m 24s
  10. 29m 31s
    1. Understanding the characteristics of a great mix
      7m 2s
    2. Working to reference tracks
      4m 35s
    3. Avoiding some common pitfalls
      7m 50s
    4. Building healthy mixing habits
      3m 36s
    5. Crafting your mix from start to finish
      6m 28s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding mastering
      4m 15s
    2. Bouncing the mix
      7m 9s
    3. Working with general mastering strategies
      8m 50s
    4. Using limiting and compression to maximize track level
      10m 57s
    5. Working with multi-band compression
      7m 9s
    6. Understanding sample rate, bit depth, file formats, and dither
      7m 30s
    7. Using Pro Tools for CD track sequencing
      10m 11s
    8. Compressing audio for the web
      9m 41s
  12. 44m 51s
    1. Tips for evaluating plug-in processors
      6m 51s
    2. Using EQ plug-ins
      5m 35s
    3. Using dynamic compression plug-ins
      11m 3s
    4. Using reverb and delay plug-ins
      10m 46s
    5. Reviewing additional plug-ins
      10m 36s
  13. 57m 18s
    1. Effectively using saturation/analog style effects
      13m 40s
    2. Setting up side chains
      7m 5s
    3. Master buss processing
      5m 34s
    4. Creating and using mix templates
      6m 54s
    5. Surround mixing
      6m 22s
    6. Dealing with plug-in delay and latency
      6m 26s
    7. Drum sample replacing
      11m 17s
  14. 32s
    1. Goodbye
      32s

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