Balancing & Panning FX returns

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by crystaldrone, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. crystaldrone

    crystaldrone Active Member

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    Hello All,

    I am starting to mix a new track i recorded and want some advice on how to mix and handle FX returns and routing.

    I was wondering how to pan FX returns like reverb & delay. I read somewhere that in case of reverb, the wet signal should be panned to the same position as the dry signal. Is this true?

    In that case, should I pan the dry channel and the fx channel separately or get the dry and wet signal on one group channel and then pan? But then what if I am using just one reverb unit? Should I keep the reverb in the center? Are there any other creative panning techniques for using reverb?

    Or when people talk about automating pans on delays between the two speakers, should the dry and wet signal be put together on one group channel and panned together? Or is it only the wet signal that is panned?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    You're over thinking it. I leave shared reverbs panned wide or narrow them to taste. If something is going to get its own mono reverb (like a guitar amp recorded with the reverb on) then maybe I'll pan it the same as the channel, or even insert it right on the channel.
     
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  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    There's a big difference between returns from a mono reverb and tbose from a stereo reverb.

    As Boulder said, mono returns are best placed with the same panning as the dry mono track.

    Stereo reverb returns are straightforward if the dry source is mono (such as a vocal), since you would normally simply pan them L and R.

    The tricky ones are reverb from a wide source that is miked in stereo. The usual technique here is to narrow the width of the reverb and pan the result to be centred on the source position. An example would be a xylophone sited 45 degrees off to one side and miked with a stereo pair in A-B configuration. The stereo reverb return should have the same position in the L-R field as the dry image with maybe 1.5 times the width. Experimentation is the best way to evaluate these techniques.
     
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  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes I'll cross-pan the reverb from the source. It all depends on what I think the mix needs.
     
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  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    I was dealing with adding reverb as an effect on a positioned source, but Boulder correctly raises the point that you can use it as its own sound source. In this case, the returned reverb is essentially another stereo input whose position in L-R space is independent of the position of the original source. When treating it like this, I find you have to be sparing, as too much of it can come over as gross and heavy.
     
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  6. crystaldrone

    crystaldrone Active Member

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    Thank you all for the replies. Seeing reverb itself as a sound source is an interesting approach. Will read up more on mono and stereo reverbs. Although I have been recording mono through my sound card, but the reverb plugins are stereo plugins. Does this mean my dry signal remains mono and the reverb stereo? How do i get the reverb or any other effect to output mono in this case? Sorry for being a noob here. :unsure:
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    If your dry signal is mono and recorded on a mono track it will remain mono until you apply a stereo effect (delay or reverb) then the end result will be stereo.
    Mono reverbs do exist as plugins, but you can also put a stereo buss in mono and put your reverb there.

    In a world of stereo music and wider mixes, I don't remember when I used a mono verb the last time. This doesn't meen I don't check my full mix in mono.
    But usually, the bass, bass drum, snare and lead vocal tracks stay in mono in the center. Then Stereo effects can be applied on them.
     
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  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Off topic a bit, but you might also want to look at the EQ of the reverb you are using. Often, too much low end in a reverb can cloud the bottom end, reducing definition and punch. And, if you have too much high end on the verb, you're risking the "sizzle" factor, which is an accentuation of the high end that is already there on the track you are adding verb to. It can cause excessive sibilance, or add a harshness to things like cymbals and hi hats.
    Very rarely do I allow anything above 4k or so to pass on the reverb return, and generally, I'll roll off some lows around 100Hz ( or so).

    This will vary of course, it's completely dependent on the song and the track you are effecting.

    Also, consider using pre-delay settings on your verb that allow the dry transients to come through first, with the verb attack coming in slightly after that.
    Sometimes you can keep the intimacy of a vocal, yet still tuck in a nice-sounding space behind it, by setting a reverb's pre-delay at around 50ms (or so, you'll have to play with it)... this works well with "bigger" verbs such as halls and plates, achieving a nice depth and space without "swamping" the track..

    And, you can also adjust your reverb delay to the tempo of the song, which actually applies a sync'd up rhythm to a verb, by calculating the pre-delay time in milliseconds with the BPM, and, with the different beats of the song ( 1/4's, 1/8's, 1/16's, etc.)
    Use a calculator - any calc will do - and take the figure 60,000 ( which is the number of milliseconds in a minute) and divide that by the BPM of the song... this will give you milliseconds per quarter note value...

    So, if your song is 120 BPM, you would take 60,000 / 120 = 500ms. This tells you that in order to delay your reverb attack by a 1/4 note, you would set the pre-delay on your reverb to 500ms.
    Accordingly, at that same BPM, if you wanted to set the pre-delay by 8th notes, your pre-delay setting would be 250ms. For 16th's, at that 120 BPM, you would set your pre-delay at 125ms.

    Most engineers will generally use much lower numbers than this when working with matching reverbs to tempos, such as 1/64 and 1/128th's.
    But you can get a pretty cool effect by delaying the reverb attack by 1/8th's. It's all song dependent of course.

    As opposed to me explaining this further, here is an exceptional video showing how to calculate pre-delay times to match the BPM of a song:

     
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  9. crystaldrone

    crystaldrone Active Member

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    @DonnyThompson Very interesting read. I have just been focusing on getting my reverb settings and its eq right for some time. For me, things starts to become a mess when re-balancing the tracks to get the right balance of dry and wet signal. Then I become unsure to reach for the send levels or the reverb eq or the reverb settings. Would love to know how do you guys start with reverb.

    I do a rough balance, eq and pan of all the tracks. Then use one reverb for most of my instruments and a different reverb for lets say the lead and the pads. Then adjust the fader levels, eq, send levels and reverb settings for one or two instruments to my taste (Also feel unsure which one to start with) and try to fit the rest of the instruments around their space by adjusting their sends and fader levels. Is this the right approach? Which song sections (rhythm, percussion, leads, vocals) are best to start with when it comes to reverb so that the mix doesn't go wrong along the way?

    Thanks!
     
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    There isn't a right or wrong way to do things. It's always the end result that mathers.
    Some like to put everything up at once and work EQs on tracks in relation to the other tracks but many like to solo things and start with the most important part of the song after deciding what it is. (on one song it could be the drum, on another one, could be the vocal..)

    For reverb, I put them in 2 category. Ambiance and effet.
    You can put a reverb up to give the instrument an ambiance and space or use it as an effect or even as if it was an instrument.
    For ambiance, I usually start with the volume down and push it up until I hear the reverb then lower it just a bit. That way I can feel it but it stays subtle
    As effec/instrument, sky is the limite. it can be put as loud as the lead vocal if you want.
    in both cases, I like to listen to the reverb alone and ajust it so it sounds good before adding it up to the mix.
    A lot of trials and errors...

    All in all, you should know that reverb can make a mix muddy and unclear. That's why we often remove the low end and a bit of high end. The goal is to avoid masking other instruments in the mix.
    The best thing to do is to listen to commercial music a lot and compare you music all the time. You'll get a better idea of what you like and what sounds you want to achieve.
     
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  11. crystaldrone

    crystaldrone Active Member

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    Thank you all. Will try out the tricks!
     
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