Just when I thought I was all proud of myself for making my demos sound less demo-y, I decide to hear what my tracks sound like on my iPod. That’s when I discovered — there’s no third dimension.
Yes, I was a good beginning mixer and made sure my instruments were panned in different parts of the stereo spectrum — vocals and bass in the middle, guitars on the edges, keyboards off to either side. The drum samples, thankfully, already had their own panning. But everything was just up in front. There was no sense of depth, of front to back.
Which, of course, needs to be faked.
The stereo spectrum only determines the sideways orientation of sound, it doesn’t do anything about depth. There is no close-far dial on the mixer.
And that’s where long tutorials on the nature of sound come in. In short, I had to add reverb on everything to approximate the sense of a room, and I had to adjust that reverb to make one instrument seem more forward and backward than another. It can get tedious.
I did, however, finally learn what convolution reverb was and immediately put to use a SONAR plug-in that did just what I needed.
Not so fast.
Something was missing. Something just didn’t want to orient itself correctly in the mix.
That’s when I had to buck up and stop being lazy. All my drums were placed on a single track because I had programmed them that way in MIDI — I didn’t separate kick from snare from hi-hat from cymbals. So now I had to decompose that drum track and record those parts individually. Yes, I make it sound like a handful, even though it’s a pretty easy process with software synthesizers. (Cut-paste-bounce-done. A hardware synth would have required me to sit while it played each part.)
I applied reverb to each portion, and then it happened. Eureka finally!
The track opened up, and the depth I had been chasing for so many days had been achieved.
Now, to do that on the remaining 89 or so tracks.