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How to archive depth in a mix without sounding muddy?

How to archive depth in a mix without sounding muddy?


Try to think of your mix like if you have a "stage" where a band is playing. Imagine this stage is huge, the singer is direct in front of you, followed by the drums, the guitars, and some strings which are far in the back. Imagine you have about three different distances (or Layers) where the music is happening. Lets call them "front", "mid-field", and "wide-field".

Three depth layers - Creating reverb

Instead of adding just one big reverb to each instrument to move it in the back, try to think of the depth in a mix like if you have a stage with three different places for musicans, your "three depth layers", this will bring you much better results. You could add one reverb and some delays to your "wide-field" layer, while using a different, smaller room for your "mid-field" to create these depth layers. But if you just add these reverbs and delays to your Mix, feeding them via aux sends, they will have the same frequencys that your dry signal has. This is not profitable for a "clear" mix. Try to eq your reverb and delays, give them a different frequency range. If you clean up the lower mid frequencys and dont let the reverb or delays be there to much, you will have a less muddy sound in the lower midrange.

Setting frequencies

The important frequency range in mixing is the midrange, lets say 600 Hz up to 3 KHz. You dont actually need much reverb below this range to create depth in a mix. Just try to thin out your reverb and delays to create space in the mix, and dont let the reverb make your track sound muddy!

But the frequency range is not the only thing that let your mix sound muddy when adding reverb. What many people dont attend to, is how the stereoimage is beeing affected if you just pan this stereo-reverb to hard left and right. Actually if you clear up the center of your stereoimage, having the reverb just on the sides of your mix, you will improve clearity in the center of your mix. How this could be done is very simple: Either delay one side of your reverb, or use two different reverbs for left and right. Also try to work more with delays instead of reverbs for more clarity in your mix.

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