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Using reverb to layer the mix

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Using reverb to layer the 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.

Using reverb to layer the 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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Audio Mixing Bootcamp
Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 19100 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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