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In this course, author Bobby Owsinski reveals industry tips, tricks, and techniques for producing professionally mixed audio on any digital audio workstation. He offers recommendations for setting up an optimal listening environment, highlights the most efficient ways to set up and balance a mix, and shows how to build a powerful sound with compression. The course also explains how to master the intricacies of EQ; incorporate reverb, delay, and modulation effects; and generate the final mix.
Now that we have a reverb set up, it's time to layer the mix. In this video, I'll show you that by placing instruments in different environments, we can give the mix depth and interest. So in layering the mix, we're thinking of three different things. First thing is, are the instruments in front or behind each other in a pleasing manner in the mix? The second thing is, does one instrument or vocal need a completely different reverb sound, and therefore its own reverb? The third thing is, does an instrument or a vocal need an effect other than reverb like a delay or modulation, which are things that we'll cover in other movies? So the first thing we're going to do is set up three reverbs.
The first one is a small space and it's a room with less than a second of decay time on it. And we can use that for percussion or drums or guitars or even keyboards. Second one is a medium space and in this case, we're going to use a plate. And that's set for between 1 and 2 seconds of reverb decay. Again, we can use that for drums, we can use that for guitars, vocals, or keyboards. The third reverb is a large space and this is a hall or a church. In this case, we're going to use a hall and it's set for longer than 2 seconds.
And this is usually for instrument pads like synthesizers and strings and things like that. Organs could work really well with that. The next thing is when it comes to layering a mix we're talking about the reverb balance of each instrument or a vocal in the mix. So let's start out listening to the drums first and that's where we're going to put our first reverb. (Music playing) So this is completely flat. There are no reverbs anywhere. We have our reverb set up, but we haven't actually put anything in yet.
So the first thing we'll do is we'll go to the snare drum because usually the reverb sound of the entire drum kit comes from the snare drum. What we're going to do is we're going to go to our first or shortest reverb and this is set up on Bus 11 and 12. (Music playing) This is a reverb that's set for a decay time of 400 or 500 milliseconds, which is about a half a second, but it also has some pre-delay on it.
So here's what it sounds like. (Music playing) Let's listen in the track. (Music playing) That sounds okay, but let's try a different reverb. We're going to go down to Bus 13 and 14. This is the medium sounding reverb. (Music playing) It actually might work better.
It might be smoother in the track and let's have a listen. (Music playing) Now again, sometimes what we're trying to do is set the instrument into its own acoustic environment. We don't necessarily want the reverb to stand out; we just want the instrument to sound bigger or in its own space. Let's try the third reverb that we have set up and this one is on Bus 19 and 20.
Let's have a listen. (Music playing) Let's listen in the track. (Music playing) Now this could work even though it doesn't sound really good by itself. It has a very long pre-delay on it, which is 72 milliseconds, which is fairly long.
And it's set for about two and a half seconds of decay time, and that's kind of long as well. But notice that it's timed to the track and when it's timed to the track, it blends in. We'll listen to it by itself and it sounds funny. You listen to it with the track and it blends in. There we go! (Music playing) So that sounds okay because it blends in with the track, but it's not exactly what we're looking for because we want to put it into more of an environment.
So let's go back to the very, very first one, the shortest reverb, and that's also a room. It's on Bus 11 and 12. Let's listen. (Music playing) It sounds a lot better. The other thing we're going to do now is we're going to copy those settings over to the toms. The reason why is when a tom fill hits, we also want to have reverb in that. Sometimes you want the same reverb, sometimes you want it different. In this case, we'll just keep the same reverb.
So the way we do that is we hit the Option key, we click on Send, and we drag it over to Floor Tom, release both, and there we have an exact copy of the send. Let's do it again on Tom 2. Let's do it again on Tom 1. Have a listen. (Music playing) The next thing we're going to do is go to the vocals. Let's come over here, have a listen just to the vocal by itself. (Music playing) It really needed to be in its own space.
So now what we're going to do is we're going to go to the middle reverb, which is on Bus 13 and 14. Have a listen. (Music playing) Let's see how those are set. (Music playing) That sounds pretty good. The other thing is that we've also tailored the sound of the reverb by inserting an EQ in the signal chain before the reverb plug-in.
And you can see how we did that by going to the movie about EQ'ing the reverb. Let's listen again by itself. (Music playing) Now let's listen in the track. (Music playing) Now let me mute it and have a listen. (Music playing) It's in a nice spot.
It sounds really good, it's not obtrusive, and yet it adds a nice bit of interest to the track. Next thing we're going to do is add something to the background vocals. And actually what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to a place where there is a lot of background vocals which is the chorus. So let's listen to that. (Music playing) Now for that, let's try the long reverb and that's on Bus 19 and 20. So what we're going to do -- (Music playing) -- is take notice Background Vocal 1, Background Vocal 2 are assigned to the Background Vocal subgroup.
An easy way to do this is just add a Send on the Background Vocal subgroup and that will cover both Background Vocal 1 and 2 channels. This is on 19 and 20. Let's solo this up, have a listen. (Music playing) Let's listen in the track now. (Music playing) Now you can hear what happens is it's in a difference space, different environment, there is a lot more reverb so it pushes it back on the track from the lead vocal.
The local vocal is in front. We can imagine the background vocals are standing behind them and that's what we're trying to do. The next thing we'll do is we'll add some reverb to the other instruments and let's start with the guitars. First guitar that we have here, let's listen to it by itself. (Music playing) Once again we have Electric Guitar 1, Electric Guitar r which stands for room, and they're both sub-grouped. So all we need is one Send on the subgroup and what we're going to do is go to the very shortest reverb, which is reverb short on Bus 11-12.
Have a listen to that. (Music playing) Let's listen in the track. (Music playing) Let's listen to Guitar 2. Now here is it soloed. (Music playing) Once again Guitar 2 is sub-grouped and all we need is one send on the subgroup.
And let's put this into a longer reverb and we'll put this into reverb Bus 13-14. Let's listen. (Music playing) Let's listen to both guitars and listen to how the reverbs are different. (Music playing) Because guitar number 1, because the reverb is shorter, it seems like it's closer to us, while the guitar in the right sounds like it's farther away and that's because the reverb is longer.
So let's listen in the track now. (Music playing) Last thing we'll do is we'll put some reverb on the organ. It's a Hammond B3. Once again, there's a high- and a low- frequency speaker called the Leslie speaker. They are both miked, so it's stereo and they're both subgrouped into one subgroup channel.
So all we need is one reverb send to make this work. So here is what we're going to do. We're going to send it to the longest reverb which is on Bus 19 and 20. Let's Solo that up, have a quick listen. (Music playing) Let's listen with the reverb now. (Music playing) Because we're adding a long reverb, you can feel the layers coming together in the song.
Now what happens is the organ is pushed further back in the mix. You can imagine it as the farthest away because it has the most reverb and the longest reverb. Let's listen in the track. (Music playing) So we're going to do one last thing and that's listen to the mix and then we're going to mute the reverbs just to hear the difference.
(Music playing) You can hear there is a lot more personality to the mix and none of the instruments or the effects clash because they're different, we're putting everything in a different environment. That's how we layer a mix. What we do is we place different mix elements in different environments.
Try to visualize if an instrument is in the front or behind or in the back of another instrument, and that determines the layer that the instrument should be in.
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