The three previous blogs have looked at key audio tools and considerations that are needed to create a professional mix the first covered Volume Balance, the second Stereo Image, and third Frequency content.
The final consideration for producing a professional mix is knowing how to create a 3D image of a song or rather a sense of Audio Depth.
Creating this sense of audio depth can be achieved in a few different ways within the mixing stage. One common method is to use a reverb or combination of reverbs on individual tracks to create a sense of space, but what exactly is reverb I hear you ask?
“Reverb is the persistence of sound after a sound is produced. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound or signal is reflected causing a large number of reflections to build up and then decay as the sound is absorbed by the surfaces of objects in the space.”
Within the world of mixing a reverb is an audio effect that can be used on sounds to artificially create these reflections often with the intended purpose to recreate a type of space such as a hall, room or specific place. Reverb helps the listener identify whether sounds are in the foreground or background of this ‘audible place’ you have created, giving songs a 3D characteristic and helping individual tracks sit more comfortably in the mix.
Reverb effects often come as part of a DAW package so it’s worth experimenting with the native presets and combining reverbs to get the desired audio depth you want from your song. One way you might like to use reverb is to place it with greater intensity on instruments that aren’t so much in the foreground emulating how you might listen to live music within a real world context, for example, you could add more reverb (increase the wetness) on instruments such as backing vocals, an electric guitar or piano to help recreate where instruments might be placed on a stage. Having said this there are no hard and fast rules on how to use reverb, merely conventions, as it all really comes down to what kind of effect and audio space you are looking to achieve.
The Logic Pro X Reverb Space Designer
Another couple of methods to create audio depth are to increase or decrease the volume of certain tracks pushing them into the foreground or background. Using cuts to the lower or higher frequencies of individual sounds can also help replicate how they are heard over a distance or even a combination of all three: changing the volume, altering frequencies and adding reverb can create a greater sense of depth as humans locate sounds by loudness, arrival time and ambient reflections.
Think of mixing as creating a 3D image of a song, this is done by shaping the; Volume, Stereo Image, Frequency Content and Audio Depth
It’s important to bear in mind that mixing itself is an art form and there are no right or wrong ways to mix rather preferences based on what you are looking to audibly achieve. Music genres and creativity have often been born out of going against music conventions, for example the heavy use of delays and feedback in dub music but if you are interested in creating a mix that is comparable to commercial releases I believe it’s fundamental you understand the key concepts discussed in this collection of blogs and learn the audio tools used to affect them.
I hope this blog has helped demystify the mixing process, given you some ideas on what audio tools to focus on to improve your own mixes and how they can be applied to your own music projects.
Do get in touch if you have any questions about the topics discussed in this sequence of blogs and follow our social media pages to stay on top of content related to these concepts and other music technology.
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