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Old 16th September 2004
Lives for gear
Ted Nightshade's Avatar

Well delays and 'verbs are OK and have their place but there's nothing like actual microphones in actual rooms at an actual distance. Distance=delay, but with the softness that comes from air and room reflections.

A major factor is "incoherence", which in this context does not describe the intelligibility of my writing, but the degree to which two signals are different and not similar. An electronic delay is virtually identical to the original, whereas a distant mic in a room may be picking up the same source but sounds completely different. This incoherence is a tremendous help with stereo imaging. You can hear the signal from each speaker from anywhere in the room, because of the incoherence.

As for how much delay, be it electronic or in the air, the Haas effect is what to read up on. Short enough, it seems like part of the initial sound, only bigger, long enough, it's a discrete echo. In between, all kinds of magic can happen with skill, practice, and above all listening.

Bob Katz's Mastering Digital Audio book has some good stuff on the topic, as regards tracking and mixing too. It's important to be monitoring in a place at such a distance as to be able to hear front to back dimension! Then you can finesse everything just so into the sweet spots where things jump out at you from the speakers!