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Creative mixing....

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Creative mixing....

Postby Zukan » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:41 am

As a sound designer I treat all my mixing projects as if they were sound design projects. One of the areas I like to experiment with is that of reverb. I am finding more and more useful uses for spring reverbs and find that they make for good sound design beds for processing percussive sounds.

What funky processes do you use for your mix projects?
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Still Vibrations » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:06 am

When producing electronic textures I sometimes make at least three versions. For example, with Izotope's eq match, one is processed with the eq from a spoken female voice, one from radio static (which emphasises the low mids for some reason), one with the sound of water recorded along the Birmingham cut. There are other things I use such as overdriving an early Sony digital processor (not so hard that it distorts). These are then mixed to produce a more vibrant sound.
Because these recordings are played in recital halls, art galleries and churches I only use mono, which means I can't really take advantage of stereo placement as a quasi effect.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:36 am

Some of my work involves creating minimalist soundscapes using sparsely arranged acoustic instruments and textures.

For these projects reverbs and delay are key elements. Favourite reverbs are the UAD Lexicon 224 and EMT140 plate, but I’ve just ordered a TC Electronic TC8210-DT which looks very interesting.

For delays I use Logic’s Delay Designer or the TC2290-DT and I like to layer them up with unrelated time delays.

I also create textures using sampled instruments, experiment with pitch shifting and occasionally use subtle and long flanging effects.

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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:50 am

Because I really don't know what I'm doing with synths, and have the keyboard skills of a zebra, I frequently use a heavily modded reverb as a pad sound. SoundToys Little Plate gives you an infinite sustain option, which is too long but you can dial it down to an appropriate bar-length decay, I'll then stick various additional devices on it like an autopanner, modulations, and then I'll frequently set up some automation of various properties on an eq.
All of which probably means I should really get around to learning how to synth...
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby The Elf » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:02 pm

I cross-pollenate effects, especially delays. Throw that delay into a chorus, or another delay; then push a bit of those into a reverb. Wherever possible I use effects sends I already have available.

I share effects as much as possible. If there's one 'mistake' I'm seeing a lot these days it is adding a separate effect (especially reverb) per source - the result is often an in-cohesive mess.

I add distortions, filters and shifters into delay loops (thanks for taking the easy method for that away from me, Steinberg... :madas:).

I'm brave with panning. Unless you get *something* out wide your mixes will always sound narrow.

When I need headroom a little distortion/saturation goes a long way.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Still Vibrations » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:15 pm

The Elf wrote:I share effects as much as possible. If there's one 'mistake' I'm seeing a lot these days it is adding a separate effect (especially reverb) per source - the result is often an in-cohesive mess.

I have also heard it is common now for young engineers to mix different reverbs and print them to the track - as you pointed out. However, right or wrong, I think it is the contemporary sound, like autotune, which is now also printed to the track sometimes.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:34 pm

The Elf wrote:I share effects as much as possible. If there's one 'mistake' I'm seeing a lot these days it is adding a separate effect (especially reverb) per source - the result is often an in-cohesive mess.

I suspect a lot of us made this mistake years ago when seemingly every keyboard arrived with huge chains of effects (including reverb) on each sound. It was just so easy to get a complete (yet muddled) overall mix by leaving these in place, ending up with a different reverb on every track.

Nowadays I tend to start with just one, but invariably I end up with a second completely different one for the snare to push it into its own creative space - I do love delayed and reversed reverb for this, to force it to become part of the groove.

Here's an example on my 'Shifting Sands' - the name itself was inspired by the dragging sound of the reverb:

https://youtu.be/Xd-sZbx09mw?list=PLnn9 ... wnC65PrjyG


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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:57 pm

Possibly less about mixing and more about creating but I went through a phase of doing experiments using extreme reverb, such that the reverb tail effectively becomes a sustained pad in its own right (used a lot in the first half of https://soundcloud.com/eddy-deegan/enormity) and it's something I plan to do more of in future, possibly sampling that long tail and using it as a sound in its own right.

I've done similar things with pitch shifting. If you take a short section of pretty much any spoken vocal, shift it up 3 or 4 octaves and stick reverb on it then play it back a few times in quick succession together it sounds like a flock of seagulls (there's an example of this at 1:38 or so in https://soundcloud.com/eddy-deegan/dreamflight) and it can be used for a variety of high-frequency percussive sounds.

Also I've been using syncopated delay mixed into the original signal at equal volume as a fundamental part of tracks for a long time, it's my favourite effect and works extremely well in a live scenario too.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby The Elf » Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:47 pm

I'm not afraid of using multiple reverbs to suit my aim. I often end up with between 4 and 8 reverbs in a typical rock/pop mix and some sources may be sending to two or three of them simultaneously to get what I'm after.

But the trick is still to share them. I've actually made a bit of a study of this and I feel I get a more convincing mix by using fewer instances of a reverb type and sharing it - much as we did back when we had the limits of a couple of hardware reverbs in the studio. The largest reverb becomes the 'back wall' of my mix space, and everything lives within that space.

I will often 'print' reverbs to their own tracks towards the end of a mix, but printing them mixed with the source seems, to me, to have no advantages.

And yes, Martin - the first thing I do when tracking a synth is switch off the effects! I know some people like this idea of 'committing' to a sound, but that holds no water for me. If the performer wants to play with effects I can usually find a way to suit both of us.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Still Vibrations » Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:48 am

I seem to remember reading somewhere about an engineer who had a really old cheap, microphone he would sometimes use to mic up amps - he said it had a particular sound he liked.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:18 am

I'm half with the Elf on this. Like him I often use fairly radical processing in series with reverbs to shape them for a particular application. For example in some mixes I'm doing at the moment, the vocal reverb has a very lo-fi tape delay plug-in in front of it. That drastically limits the bandwidth, introduces pre-delay and adds a lot of modulation. It works well on that particular vocal.

However... it only works on the vocal, and I'm only using it on the vocal. Likewise, if I have four or five reverbs in a mix -- and I often will -- most of them will be dedicated to one source only. There will be at least one reverb that is just for the snare drum, again often heavily processed. There might even be another that is just for the toms. I *might* also have a general purpose short ambience or studio room type verb that is applied to lots of things, but by no means always.

So my usual approach is that reverb only gets 'shared' when it's the kind of generic sticking-things-together reverb that you don't really hear in the mix. If I'm using reverb as an effect, it usually gets applied only to one source.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:20 am

One other thing that people sometimes overlook is where you route the effects returns. One reason why I will always have a dedicated snare reverb is because I want to return it not to the main mix but to the bus where all the drum tracks are routed, so it gets processed by any compression or EQ I'm using on that bus.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:04 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:I seem to remember reading somewhere about an engineer who had a really old cheap, microphone he would sometimes use to mic up amps - he said it had a particular sound he liked.
I'm also doing this constantly. I have old reel-to-reel mic's, cheap piezos, old headset mic's and the like that I will often record along with the 'proper' mic. On occasions they provide the magic dust I need. It takes very little extra time and effort to put up an extra mic - and the less care taken over it, the better the results seem to be!

I also pass sounds through old tape recorders, childrens' toys, practice amps (I have an old ten quid Tandy bench amp - heavily used by one of Peter Gabriel's engineers for the [I think] PG3 album - that does incredible things!), stomp boxes and other bits to see what I can find. Running toys and pedals on too low a Voltage is always interesting. The sounds people ask me most about are often the ones that come from this kind of tomfoolery.

Contrast is good for a mix. If you want one sound to seem 'beautiful', then juxtaposing it with something 'ugly' will often help.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:11 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:However... it only works on the vocal, and I'm only using it on the vocal. Likewise, if I have four or five reverbs in a mix -- and I often will -- most of them will be dedicated to one source only...

So my usual approach is that reverb only gets 'shared' when it's the kind of generic sticking-things-together reverb that you don't really hear in the mix. If I'm using reverb as an effect, it usually gets applied only to one source.

Aha! Now I'm understanding you more Sam - I thought The Elf was creating a mega-reverb from three or four different reverb plug-ins to achieve the effect he was after (sort of like assembling a church reverb by adding together those of a nave, a couple of side aisles and so on ;) )

If you're saying you don't really hear this in the mix other than its glue-ing effect then presumably it's at an almost subliminal low level? Never tried this approach myself.

My go-to for 'glue' is usually some form of bus compression, as a layer to massage the overall mix over the top, whereas you seem to be saying that your approach with this type of reverb is to add a low-level 'glue' that ties together the mix from the ground up.

Or have I completely misinterpreted you?


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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:17 pm

Martin Walker wrote:I thought The Elf was creating a mega-reverb from three or four different reverb plug-ins to achieve the effect he was after (sort of like assembling a church reverb by adding together those of a nave, a couple of side aisles and so on
Sometimes I am!

Often I'll have a plate, a hall and a delay (also feeding the hall) on a vocal, for example. I don't generally feed one reverb into another, but I wouldn't rule it out. I rule nothing out! :lol:

One trick I do use is several delays feeding a single 'big' reverb. By feeding sources to each delay (and with careful EQ) I can trick the ear into thinking a sound is closer, or further away, but in the same overall space.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:23 pm

The Elf wrote:
Martin Walker wrote:I thought The Elf was creating a mega-reverb from three or four different reverb plug-ins to achieve the effect he was after (sort of like assembling a church reverb by adding together those of a nave, a couple of side aisles and so on
Sometimes I am!

Often I'll have a plate, a hall and a delay (also feeding the hall) on a vocal, for example. I don't generally feed one reverb into another, but I wouldn't rule it out. I rule nothing out! :lol:

Thanks for clarifying - so your parallel mega-reverbs are largely used en masse, or do you send different tracks to different 'parts' of the mega-reverb? I'm looking forward to trying this technique out :thumbup:

Oh, and I know Zukan DOES create some of his reverbs as a serial chain - I remember reading one of his excellent video tutorials about this process (I'll post a link if I can find it again)

Here it is: https://www.samplecraze.com/tutorials/wrapping-reverbs/


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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:27 pm

Martin Walker wrote:your parallel mega-reverbs are largely used en masse, or do you send different tracks to different 'parts' of the mega-reverb?
Both. Sometimes a wailing guitar might need to be pushed way off to the back of the mix, whilst a vocal needs to bounce off that back wall, but seem to be right in front of our faces. In both cases it's the same reverbs, but different balances (and pre-delays) of them.

In this example the guitar would have more hall, the vocal more plate.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:31 pm

In Neil Young's case, more barn.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:49 pm

Martin Walker wrote:If you're saying you don't really hear this in the mix other than its glue-ing effect then presumably it's at an almost subliminal low level? Never tried this approach myself.

It really depends on the reverb and the track. I don't default to using reverb as "glue" but sometimes things recorded in a dry studio environment just benefit from a bit of life and sparkle, and if you use a really short ambience patch, or even just switch on the early reflections and disable the rest of the reverb, you can add quite a lot of this without it sounding "wet" as such.

In fact, if you take this to extremes, a reverb of almost zero duration is in effect an EQ, which is why you can use an impulse response plug-in to do EQ or reverb.
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Re: Creative mixing....

Postby Dave B » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:19 pm

I was messing about the other day and did the old 80s trick of a close harmony 'drone' utterly downed in long, deep reverb. Lovely. Kate Bush would be proud of me.

Years ago, I used to do the same thing with a Cheetah MS6 and swamp a soft pad sound in a mass of reverb rather than try and widen it with chorus. Cheap reverb too iirc (Yamaha R100). Sounded great to me - must try it again and see if it's just a rose tinted memory or the truth...
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