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Using time-based effects to add depth and width

From: Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Video: Using time-based effects to add depth and width

By mastering the use of EQ in dynamics processors, you're going to be able to achieve a solid clean mix. But if you want to take your mix aesthetics to the next level and really extend the emotional context of the song and the vocal, time-based processors like Reverb and Delay are going to be your key ingredients. For example, think of your mix as a cast of characters standing in a line across the middle of the stage. If no character is allowed to come forward or step backward, no sense of depth or perspective is expressed.

Using time-based effects to add depth and width

By mastering the use of EQ in dynamics processors, you're going to be able to achieve a solid clean mix. But if you want to take your mix aesthetics to the next level and really extend the emotional context of the song and the vocal, time-based processors like Reverb and Delay are going to be your key ingredients. For example, think of your mix as a cast of characters standing in a line across the middle of the stage. If no character is allowed to come forward or step backward, no sense of depth or perspective is expressed.

And it might be hard for the audience to know who are the main characters and who is just background. Now imagine as a director is able to place any character at any point within the stage, how the audience now gains a perspective on the cast, who is important, who is just sort of background fill, etcetera. So, time-based effects like Reverb and Delay give the mixer the ability to creatively place elements in the mix, much like a director chooses a treatment for a film.

By placing elements in a virtual 3- dimensional space, the listener is able to visualize the song in a whole new way. When thinking about these effects, it's a good idea to review your mix plan. Do you want to mix to seem close and intimate like the singer is whispering into the listener's ear, or maybe you want to appear as if the listener is viewing the band from a distance, behind the glass panel, possibly. The decisions you make about Reverb and Delay will ultimately have the biggest effect on the perceived aesthetic of the song in its presentation to the listener.

So again, I said that the two main processors we're going to be working with are Reverb and Delay. They're both closely related. Reverb is going to simulate an acoustic space, either by using some sort of algorithm or impulse response from an actual room. What it really is, is lots of little delays packed closely together as the sound bounces around the room and returns to the listener with the dry signal. So as we kind of combine this wet and dry, we're simulating how it sounds for someone to be in an actual space and hear the direct sound as well as the reflections of the walls later in time.

So historically this was done with really big echo chambers or mechanical plates that would actually vibrate and we would use pickups to pick that up. Now we have plug-ins that do that. Delay on the other hand is just going to hold the signal back in time. When you combine it with the original, sounds like discrete repetitions of that signal, so sort of an echo, echo, echo, echo. Historically, this was done with sort of tape loops. Engineers would take and record something and put it in some sort of tape-based delay loop, where they would get played back by other playback heads as it played through the loop.

Now, unfortunately, well, I cannot teach you what is aesthetically correct for your individual style. That would be kind of like telling you what the best genre of music is or what the best flavor of ice cream. What I can teach you how to do is use this processors in your workflow and give you some tips for using them in your mixes.

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This video is part of

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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

77 video lessons · 9134 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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