The Process of Audio Mixing (7)
The Process of Audio Mixing (7)
Here are the steps involved in audio mixing a project. However, note that these often interact to a large extent, and at times you may find yourself going back to previous steps or anticipating future ones.
11. Space: The Final Frontier
Now that the basics are covered, it's time to add the all-important third dimension of ambient space. Reverberation is a great effect, but be careful not to drown your tune in a sea of reverb. (If you've followed the tips above, your tune should already sound pretty good anyway and shouldn't need tons of reverb to cover up problems.) I pretty much find that two reverbs are a necessity: one to add general ambience to the overall mix (e.g. the sound of a hail or room), the other to add special effects on specific instruments (such as gated reverb with a drum set snare, chorused reverb for guitar, etc.).
Few budget reverbs have true stereo inputs but they generally do have stereo outputs. This point is important to consider if you have only a single stereo aux (or effects) bus and want to use two reverb units. In many cases, you will get good results if you feed the reverb send signal into a single input and bring the stereo outputs back into the console as stereo returns, which means you can pan a signal to the left bus output to feed one reverb, or to the right bus output to feed a second reverb. And of course, you may want to feed both reverbs with one signal by panning the reverb send in between the left and right extremes. Don't forget that additional signal processing can really perk up a reverb's sound. Running the reverb through a little bit of exciter or treble EQ can add sparkle; rolling off the treble a bit can simulate a more densely carpeted room with more absorptive surfaces. One time I even added chorusing to a reverb output as a special effect; while I wouldn't do this all the time, it worked very well in one specific case.
Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the conventional wisdom was that you would add enough reverb to be noticeable, but not a lot more. With today's sophisticated digital processors, reverb is more than just a creator of space; it's often an effect in its own right that's integral to a tune's sound. Generally, though, excessive reverb should be added sparingly; use it on a particular snare drum hit, for example, or a lead guitar solo that you want to have sound like it's drifting up from the basement of a smoky club. Vocals generally suffer with excessive reverb; and one of the most common mistakes heard on amateur tapes is drowning the lead vocal in reverb. It's better to add interest to the voice by doubling it, either by overdubbing a second part or via a short digital delay, and then adjust a taste or reverb to fill it out.
To many engineers, the acoustic reverb still sounds best of all. Good luck finding a studio with a real echo chamber. You'll usually have to settle for a good digital reverb, but the advantage ofdigital reverb is that you can make it do a lot more than just simulate a room.
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