Re­verb and de­lay tips for su­per-stereo mixes

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Stereo Mixing Strategies -


Pro­duc­ers of­ten use re­verb as a cre­ative tool for sound de­sign. Vir­tual am­bi­ence can make a short sound length­ier and more char­ac­ter­ful – al­most like an ex­tra os­cil­la­tor! How­ever, as al­most all re­verb sig­nals are stereo, the tim­bre and char­ac­ter of your re­verb may change dra­mat­i­cally in the mono down­mix. A good ap­proach, there­fore, is to use mono re­verb for ‘per­son­al­ity’ – this way, the re­verb sig­nal will stay com­pletely con­sis­tent within the mix’s mid sig­nal, and you can then process this mono re­verb (per­haps with auto-pan­ning, stereoi­sa­tion or even ex­tra re­verb!) to add ex­tra stereo width to the am­bi­ence.


When mix­ing beats made up of dis­parate sound sources, you might send the en­tire drum bus to a sin­gle re­verb, in or­der to em­u­late the ef­fect of drum kit over­heads. Be aware that this will prob­a­bly sound cool in stereo, but then dis­ap­pear to some ex­tent when summed to mono (see our pre­vi­ous tip). Try mono­ing or nar­row­ing re­verbs when you need that to be tonally con­sis­tent in the mono mix – maybe pan or auto-pan it a bit to add a touch of width back in.


Try to avoid hav­ing your most im­por­tant tran­sients (kick, snare, main hi-hat, etc) in the stereo sig­nal – at least ex­clu­sively – oth­er­wise your mono mix will lack power when those im­por­tant at­tacks dis­ap­pear. If you’re re­verb­ing a snare, say, try au­tomat­ing the ’verb’s dry/wet mix to come up di­rectly af­ter that im­por­tant tran­sient. Flux’s Bit­ter­Sweet plugin (­ter­sweet) is a free tran­sient pro­ces­sor that al­lows you to sculpt the mid or side sig­nal’s at­tack and sus­tain in­de­pen­dently – highly use­ful when you want to, say, blunt a drum hit’s stereo tran­sient.


Stark, dry synths or drums sig­nify an am­a­teur mix­down. Ap­ply very short re­verb (or just the early re­flec­tions) to elec­tronic drum hits, then tuck this stereo info un­der the dry sig­nal to dial in nat­u­ral-sound­ing re­flec­tions, like they’d have in a phys­i­cal room. Keep the re­verb ex­tremely short for an al­most-im­per­cep­ti­ble widen­ing ef­fect.


When we talk of mix ‘glue’, we all think of com­pres­sion and sat­u­ra­tion. But stereo pro­cess­ing can also tie things to­gether – for bet­ter or worse! ‘Blan­ket’ stereo treat­ments on sub­mixes can ho­mogenise them in an un­pleas­ant way, and lose sepa­ra­tion… but that ef­fect may be ex­actly what you want! Al­ter­na­tively, go against com­mon pro­duc­tion rules and create sepa­ra­tion by us­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent re­verb tim­bre for each el­e­ment in your mix. Ul­ti­mately, this comes down to know­ing when you want to ‘glue’ sounds with re­verb or de­lay treat­ments, and when you want things sep­a­rated.


Un­like al­go­rith­mic re­verbs, a con­vo­lu­tion re­verb plugin uses im­pulse re­sponses ‘sam­pled’ from re­al­is­tic spa­ces to gen­er­ate vir­tual am­bi­ence. Many con­vo­lu­tion re­verb ef­fects al­low you to load up more un­usual im­pulse re­sponses, which can be used to give sounds a splash of weird, eso­teric width that you’d never nor­mally come up with.


In­stead of call­ing up a re­verb pro­ces­sor, hunt down a stereo sam­ple (say, a re­verbed clap) and use the sound’s baked-in am­bi­ence as a width-adding layer in the mix. This is es­pe­cially use­ful when lay­er­ing drum sam­ples, as you can shape and pitch the am­bi­ence like any other sam­ple.


Want to widen a nar­row mix el­e­ment? Try ap­ply­ing a coat of short stereo re­verb or tight ping-pong de­lay, then load up a stereois­ing plugin and use it to ex­ag­ger­ate the width of the first ef­fect. This way, you’ll be able to ‘blow up’ and mag­nify that ex­tra width in a con­trolled fash­ion.

Ex­plore a con­vo­lu­tion re­verb’s more eso­teric im­pulse re­sponses to give your sig­nals unique width

Want your re­verb’s char­ac­ter to stay solid? Sum the sig­nal to mono, then ap­ply a touch of width on top!

Flux’s Bit­ter­Sweet al­lows you to ma­nip­u­late the vol­ume en­ve­lope of ei­ther mono (M) or stereo (S) in­for­ma­tion

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