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TOPIC: Filling out a mix

Filling out a mix 3 years 4 months ago #18540

  • Mr Fork
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Not that you don't have a billion tutorial recommendations but it would be great to see some recommendations on how to fill out a mix with a minimal number of tracks. I've head some songs where they only have like 10 tracks going but it sounds amazingly full. I'm working on one right now that has 30 or so tracks and it still doesn't sound "full". Or maybe some other people would have some ideas.
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Filling out a mix 3 years 4 months ago #18543

  • Sober Steve
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I am no accomplished producer by any means, but based on the copious amounts of tutorial videos/masterclasses that I've watched, a lot of it seems to come down to the selection of sounds. In particular, being very precise and having absolute confidence that a sound is good enough for the mix/vibe.

A few other things which I've picked up is:

- Being constantly aware of where each sound or group of sounds sits in the frequency spectrum, and making sure that there aren't any significant dips. And on that note, giving each sound or group of sounds their own space to 'live in' in the spectrum
- Spreading things in the stereo field (ie. kicks and sub down the middle, delays and reverbs pushed wide etc)
- Making sure there are no phasing issues
- Careful use of EQ, and effects plugins (small amounts of effects rather than a lot of effects)

Tom may have some better suggestions though ^_^
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Filling out a mix 3 years 4 months ago #18544

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Thanks for the reply man. All my sounds seem to fit together and I have a good curve based on some of the tracks I use as comparison tracks. I'm thinking that my problem might be stereo width or pan positioning but I'm not certain. I'm going to post it in a couple days here. I'm hoping someone will hear something that I'm not. Still, those are some good tips. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
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Filling out a mix 3 years 4 months ago #18546

  • caris
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I always seem to have the opposite problem, I always need to carve space in my mix so that sounds can be heard and it doesn't sound "too full". May be how my ear works, I can always seem to hear what is missing in a song and add that. Not sure how to put that into a tutorial tho, Tom definitely has that gift :-)
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Filling out a mix 2 years 10 months ago #21205

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Hey guys, I am really interested to hear other peoples ideas and tricks on this subject too so hoping this post might spark some more replies.

What has been working for me:

Percussion
I often find using bongo's (sometimes even just 2 of them) doing a "ba-bom" sound once per bar works well. Add a subtle delay so this to fill in the rest of the bar with sound. And then a reverb (try fairly dry settings) but with a long decay time. This can give the track more groove and the tail from the reverb kinda fills in that empty space. Try with or without the delay and also try EQing the bongos to remove any conflicts with other sounds. Also adding a side chain to the reverb tail can give you a nice effect also.

Whitenoise
Also I know it is cheesy as hell but using the classic old white noise with filter sweeps throughout parts of your track works well too. I find pushing them into the back ground with reverb and EQ and even using volume automation to bring them closer and louder during buildups etc sounds pretty cool!

Reverse reverb tail effects
I use this technique quite a bit. It is a 'bit hit and miss' but you usually get something cool out of it...

> Copy a small section of an audio clip (pref end of a lead part or similar) from your project or a random sample that is in key with your project.
> Paste into a new audio track
> Reverse the copied audio clip. (Solo the track while you create your new sound)
> Add a reverb with about an 85% decay time and adjust the wet/dry mix to taste - try to avoid muddiness in the tail of the reverb!
> Record this new sound into new blank audio track.
> Cut out the original reversed sample sound from the recording leaving you with the reverb 'tail section' only.
> Add an EQ with a low pass filter and adjust to taste. (This is your new back ground /atmospheric sound)
> Duplicate the wave form and reverse one of the copies. They should now look like a 'skateboard ramp' shape together on your screen where the intensity of the reverb goes from strong to weak then builds up to strong again over the period of 1-2 bars. Obviously you can adjust the length to fit within this time frame.
> Now try mixing this in with the rest of your music. Add some gentle sidechain lovin' to the new sound to help it glue nicely in your mix.
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Filling out a mix 2 years 10 months ago #21211

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Hey man

I agree with you about white noise and reverb to fill out your track, i use these all the time but you have to not go overkill on the reverb,
I like a really good quality reverb, i use a lot of the Valhalla reverbs and i really love these, i also EQ the low end from my reverb tails unless you want the low end in it for a break etc but i love reverb to be nice and clean. and yeah side chain that tail for that added element, its old skool but still effective.

I also try and make best of every sound i use, don't settle for just one pad....layer it up, layer synths but do it well. mix them well and add reverb only when necessary.
Also don't go overkill on the compression, keep some dynamics in your track, be gentle with limiters too.
And also chain your FX, let them flow into one another using reverbs and delays etc and work on your transitions into and out of different sections of a track.

I often add saturation to claps, snares and hats etc also, you can use the preset 'Warm up Highs' on a return track if you don't have the fabfilter saturn which is what i use mainly. But also layer your percussive elements, keep them relatively dry when the main bulk of your track is playing, you can use reverb to give them space here also, but also in the break sections use reverbs and delays on claps and snares, adds so much depth to a track and also offers some variation with percussion lines.
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Filling out a mix 2 years 10 months ago #21222

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Karl37 wrote:
I agree with you about white noise and reverb to fill out your track, i use these all the time but you have to not go overkill on the reverb,
I like a really good quality reverb, i use a lot of the Valhalla reverbs and i really love these, i also EQ the low end from my reverb tails unless you want the low end in it for a break etc but i love reverb to be nice and clean. and yeah side chain that tail for that added element, its old skool but still effective.

Ah so you did pick up the valhalla reverbs. I remembered suggesting them to you on your search for a good reverb. If I hadn't ended up with the NI reverb classics I probably would have grabbed those. They sound really good.

Some good ideas in here. I'm much better at filling out the mix from the time that I started this post. One of the ways that I do things now is I've started keeping most of the elements on my track clean with a little reverb being sent to a return track but then I have several fx tracks to add depth. It was something recommended by Bill Burgess. Have a few tracks with more extreme effects and just pull short pieces of audio from other tracks in your mix. Then you can just mix and match what audio you want to have what effect at any time without affecting the original instrument. It's worked out really slick so far. So for example have a reverb with a long tail on one track, ping pong delay on another with a fair amount of feedback, maybe one with a bitcrusher and a delay or a flanger. Last time I had a reverb set to 100% wet as well just for ambient noises. I'm still not that great at creating things like glitchy effect noises but I'm getting there.

Makes mixing all the elements a ton easier as well.
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Filling out a mix 2 years 10 months ago #21223

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Lol yeah they really are lush reverbs and are now my 'go to' reverbs as i was just using the native ableton reverbs.

I too use return tracks for reverb and delay but only for standard reverb....i would much rather have more control over my reverb(s) i feel when using a return track it kind of limits how you can EQ the reverb itself and also edit the reverb tail, sometimes i like some real low end on my cinematic drums in the break but then individually give the cinematic snares and metallic percussion some high end reverb with out the low end and then use side chain for some drops and builds or even filter them. i could use two different send tracks but i would rather just edit each sounds reverb individually, if you have the CPU to handle it then why not eh, plus i think you get a much more clinical reverb at the end of it. I guess it just suits how i work, everyone is different.
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Filling out a mix 2 years 10 months ago #21224

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The ableton native reverb I still use for some things and I really like convolution pro but I'm really digging the NI reverbs. I seem to be able to get them to do more of what I want than the default ableton reverb. I'm glad to hear the valhalla ones worked well for you. I've been thinking about picking them up myself. They sound really good. The cpu I'm not so worried about. Even with just 4 cores I rarely hit above 70% now with maschine 2.0. That was the biggest hit to my cpu. The reason I've been going that route instead of the individual way is unified sense of space. Although there are times when I can't seem to get the return channel to get the proper mix of wet and dry for certain elements and then I'll just throw a reverb on the track. Like you say though to each their own. I don't think I've quite found "the right way" for me yet but using mostly sends seemed to work better for me.

The fx tracks I was talking about though aren't send tracks. They're just audio tracks with certain effects on them. Then I go to a track and pull a piece of audio from it (might have to duplicate/freeze/flatten first). Then if I want my crash cymbal to have a huge reverb on it all I have to do is drag the audio to my "Huge Reverb" track. I also have tracks for huge delay and bit crush and a bunch of other ones in my template. But it's not a return track...I'm just moving the audio files. Not sure if that makes any sense but it's been working great for me so far.
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