Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video The big pad reverb trick, part of Audio Mixing Master Class.
- [Instructor] It's really easy to bay the big pad in too much much reverb and have it wash out. Here's a trick that keeps the pad nice and big, while keeping the reverb under control. This example has some real strings, which is kind of cool, and strings almost always play a pad part. Now you can hear what happens when we add what's natural, which is usually a really big reverb. First of all, listen to it by itself. (string music) Now, just by itself, with the room ambiance, you can tell it's not enough.
Now, if it was recorded in a big room in a hall, then maybe that actually would've sounded really good, and we could've left it as is. But, usually, we have to even a little bit of ambiance, even to something like that, to make it sound interesting. In this case, we're going to send it to this lexicon hall here, and I want you to take notice about two things. First of all, there's a whole lot of predelay on this. What you'll find is sometimes predelay will make it sound a whole lot bigger without it washing out, especially on pads. This usually sounds good. Now, in this case, it's 184 milliseconds as timed to the track, and maybe way too much.
But you get the idea that you can go pretty far with this and still make it sound good. Now let's add, let's see, this is number 15 and 16. So let's send a little of 15 and 16 and listen to it. (string music) Now, in fact, let's bring our predelay down. We'll just bring it to 20 milliseconds or so.
Listen now. (string music) That works okay. Listen to the track. (soft rock music) That sounds a little too large. And the way around that is to go back and filter our send going to the reverb.
And what we're going to do, similar to the Abbey Road reverb, we're going to cut the lows off and this could be anything fairly low. Again, if you're going for 500 cycles, 300 cycles, it works okay. You just want to get the low end out of the way, because low end tends to just muddy things up. But here's the real trick. It's the high end. And what we want to do is bring it way, way down, maybe three or four K, and just have our reverb in the mid range. Now listen to it. (string music) We can actually even push the reverb a lot louder.
(soft rock music) See how nice that fit in? It's very unobtrusive. It sits in the track very nicely, because we don't have a lot of frequencies that we don't need that are muddying things up. Now, let's do a comparison. Have a listen. (soft rock music) Wow, it's a whole lot of reverb here.
It's way too much reverb, in fact, because what we've done is we've added back those low frequencies and the high frequencies, and these are frequencies that aren't needed in the reverb signal. Listen again. (soft rock music) Just clean things up. In order to create a nice big pad reverb sound that does the job is filter. Finally, set the filters and the amount of reverbs that it pushes the pad back in the mix without actually hearing much of the reverb.
See how the pros handle the critical balance between the bass and drums. Learn where, when, why, and how EQ should be used on virtually any instrument. Become proficient in tailoring just the right effect for each particular mixing situation. And master the key to fat and punchy sounding mixes: compression. Tune in every Thursday for a new tip!
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- Adding excitement to boring pad tracks
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