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Tips & Techniques:Mixing - Width and Depth from James Meeker

Ways to get width and depth in a mix:

1.) Chorus stuff. Try chorusing only one side of a signal. Can be cool with clean electric guitars.

2.) Flip a side on a stereo track out of phase, mix in 3-6 db underneath the other side.

3.) Haas effect--delay one stereo side on an element or two by 10 milliseconds or so.

4.) Make an aux buss with a pitch shifter on it: detune one side by 6-16 percent, and tune up the other side by 6-16 percent. I.e. left is pitchshifted -6 and right +6 percent. Classic trick.

5.) Buss a few things to an aux with a delay on it. Go sparingly. Ping pong delay can be fun on high hat.

6.) Create an aux buss with a stereo widener on it like Waves S1. Run various stuff to it.

7.) Put a flanger or phaser on an aux buss with a panner. Run a few things to it ever so slightly. You shouldn't really hear it, but you should notice when its gone.

8.) Create a drum buss, route stuff to it. Put a bit of a room verb on it... now smash it with a limiter. Throw into your mix a little bit.

9.) If you are doing primarily sampled drums ala electronic/industrial music try running a mix of the drums to a set of speakers in the live room. Now mic the room in stereo. Add to mix. Fun, fun, fun.

10.) Create a buss and run some snare to it. Pitch shift it down an octave. Mix it in a little bit.

11.) Put 20 milliseconds of delay on your room mics to make the room feel bigger.

Add some of the above ideas along with proper and judicious use of reverb and your tracks will take on new life and size.

If you need the sounds to have 'verb but still stay present in the mix you need to pay attention to the following:

1.) You're running the 'verb as an aux buss or send, right? Not inserting it in the track and playing with the wet/dry ratio, right? Also, make sure the verb is 100% wet on the aux buss. That way you get 100% of the dry sound, plus however much 'verbed sound depending on how much you buss to the aux.

2.) Pre-delay is your friend. That gives the dry sound a chance to be heard before the 'verb cloud starts building up. 20 milliseconds is a good starting point. Anywhere from 10 to 60 milliseconds is common. That will keep things up front, but with ambiance.

3.) Brighter 'verbs feel closer to the listener. Use a shelf or lowpass filter to knock off some top end off the verb. Try a roll off around 3-6 khz for starters. Will move the 'verb in the background, but let you get some mileage out of it.

4.) Time the verb (RT60) to work with the tempo of the song. Works wonders in reducing the sonic clutter.

5.) Dampening absorbs high freqs over time, so the front of the 'verb will be brighter than the tail, making the verb feel more distant. Try that too.

6.) Try increasing the low end decay time or shortening the high end. That's how you get huge without being too spitty on top.

7.) For percussion the main thing that determines the "size" of the space is what's happening on the snare. Maybe less overhead 'verb and a bit more snare. Heck, multiple 'verbs on snares work... I've ran a nonlin, plate and room simultaneously in the past and would do it again. Tweak it right and the snare stays front and center, but is big with a nice decay to it.

8.) Setting a balance between early reflections (ER) and the reverb tail is a key to the psychoacoustic distance the listener will perceive. Don't go nuts with the ER's, it can sound a bit weird on many sources and feels closer. Less ER's seem to put things in the distance. However, sometimes it is fun to put a lot of ER on percussion and keep the tail muted a bit. Sounds like **** is bouncin' off the walls.

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From thread:
Contributors: mw, peeder
Created by peeder, 13th February 2008 at 10:53 PM
Last edited by mw, 27th March 2012 at 03:05 PM
Last comment by kasprouch on 31st March 2009 at 11:08 AM
2 Comments, 47,952 Views

(2) Comments for: Mixing - Width and Depth from James Meeker Page Tools Search this Page
Old 4th March 2008
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John Suitcase's Avatar

One other little trick is to set up a reverb with the stereo inputs flipped. Not sure how you'd do this in most DAWs (I made a plug-in just for this myself), but in hardware, just insert it with the cables flip-flopped. That way, when you send a guitar that's panned left, it's reverb is primarily on the right side, and vise versa. Adds some nice space around the mix.
Old 31st March 2009
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kasprouch's Avatar

great stuff, thanks!


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