Mixing depth in your music

Mixing depth into the music you work with is one of the key steps in the creative process. It’s also one of the fun elements, especially if you know what you’re doing. Creating a sense of distance on the front-to-back space can be tackled multiple ways. Let’s check out a couple of different approaches!

Mixing depth in your music

EQ – simple and natural: Mixing depth cannot be more simple and less obtrusive than this. Have you noticed how in nature when you hear a distant sound, it lacks the extra lows but especially those treble frequencies? They get absorbed. You can simulate the exact same thing during mixing. Just roll off some of the bass (below about 100Hz) and some of treble (anywhere from 1000 to 10000Hz, depending on the rest of the music). The resulting sound will feel duller and more distant sounding.

Reverb – lush and precise: Of course the most obvious way to create a front-to-back depth is to use reverb. Make sure that you use longer pre-delay on the sounds you want to be more up front. No pre-delay works well on sounds that need to be far away. Rolling off bottom and high end on the reverb itself helps as well. Make sure that you pick a rather dull sounding reverb with high diffusion for distant sounds. You can also dial in more reverb on the AUX send when you want something to sound more distant.

mixing depthDelay – clean and rhythmic: Sometimes reverb is just too much. On faster paced pieces or tunes with busier arrangements, you need something simpler. Something that doesn’t clog up your music as much as reverb would. That’s when you reach for delays. When you are mixing depth into such songs, use naturally dull, analog like delays for the distant sounds. Tape echos, analog and oil can Tel Ray emulations are your friends. You can use the EQ trick again, even if you only have bright, digital delays to work with. Rolling of the lows and excessive top end works great for the echos as well.

Mixing depth in your music

Effects – the special way: It might not be the simplest way when it comes to mixing depth in music. But some modulation effects do a surprisingly great job, as well as distortion. Chorus, flanger and phaser are the best choices when you want to do this. They can all smear the pristine clear sounding tracks and add some dullness and dimension to them. Distortion can add just the right amount of dirt so a sound feels a bit rounder and more distant. In combination with EQ, they can do wonders without creating too much unwanted mud.

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