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6 Ways to Create Depth Using Only Two Effects Processors

Got this question from Joel, a subscriber, about creating space in a mix:

Hello, thanks for helping out in audio issues it’s really encouraging. Just have a question, after sweeping & removing unwanted frequencies how do I create sonic space in my live concert mix or studio mix between instruments, vocals/lead vocals, vocals & instrument using eq, reverb & delay. Do you have videos or newsletters on this topic?

First of all, yes. I do have videos on this topic included in the Mixing Strategies tutorial but I wanted to tackle this from a different perspective.

Combining Live Sound and Recording

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve started engineering live music broadcasts at a local community radio station here in town.

It’s interesting to me because it combines everything I love about music recording:

  • It’s live – So the musicians are usually able to perform their parts without fucking them up (which is refreshing).
  • It’s all about the microphone placement – It’s really fun to have multiple different instrument in the room and figuring out how to mike everything up without getting too much bleed and/or phase issues.
  • You mix it in the moment – You only get one shot at mixing it and everybody is listening on the radio so it combines the challenge of making it sound good right away with the blind terror of not screwing everything up. So if you get the mic placement right and the musicians can play it usually takes care of itself.
  • Limitations – It’s community radio so the gear isn’t….state of the art. But that’s part of the beauty of it. You have limitations that you need to work with.

And that’s where adding depth comes into play.

Multiple Ways of Using Reverb and Delay

At this radio station we have two effect processors:

  • A reverb
  • A delay

Pretty basic but there’s plenty of ways you can use them if you get creative.

  1. Send stuff to the reverb – Basic stuff here. Send things to a reverb. Get reverb’y things.
  2. Send stuff to the delay – Same here. Less wet but enough space for certain musical styles.
  3. Send the delay to the reverb – Now you have a third sound to play with. You can send a source to the delay that then gets diffused through the reverb.
  4. Send stuff to the reverb’d delay and the reverb – In addition you can also send the source to the reverb and the reverb’d delay, blending the two spaces to create a different sound.
  5. Send the room microphones into the effects only – If you want a dry sound from the close mics but an overall depth to the performance to give the perception that the musicians are playing in a larger room, send the room microphones into the reverb.
  6. Don’t use any effects but create depth with mic placement – This is tricky especially with multiple instruments in the room due to bleed. But if you have the time and the know-how you can place the microphones a bit further away from the amplifiers and instruments to create a bigger sound with more depth.

I’m not sure if that exactly answers the question but it sure gives you some ideas to experiment with the next time you’re adding depth to your recordings, whether they’re live or in the studio.

If you are a live sound engineer and want some tips on making the most of your small live sound system I’ve got the guide for you:

It’s called Live Sound Survival and it teaches you how to get big sounds out of small systems:


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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