Dancing Astronaut Studios: Episode 2: EQ Chains, Level, Panning and ReverbStudios

Dancing Astronaut Studios: Episode 2: EQ Chains, Level, Panning and Reverb

Welcome back to Dancing Astronaut Studios with Dubspot! The last two weeks of Dubspot Online courses have found us exploring the most effective uses of the equalization and compression concepts we learned last time, as well as introducing some new basic concepts as well.

When I first started producing as Sicarii, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have to the order in which I applied effects to my elements. For example, did you realize that equalizing audio before compressing it can result in a significantly different sounding end result than doing the vice versa? The same goes for compressing before or after applying reverb, delay, and so on.

Our Dubspot instructor Daniel Wyatt likes to use reductive EQing in conjunction with compression and additive EQing in order to shape sounds. Reductive EQing involves using an equalizer to remove unwanted frequencies, while additive EQing involves boosting frequencies that sound good. The following screenshot provides an example of using these three effects in conjunction.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 1.13.28 PM

Three other important concepts to keep in mind when mixing elements of a track are the level of each track, the panning position of each track and the use of reverb to create depth and space in the mix.

In a feature film, there are both stars and background actors included in many shots. The stars are most often in focus, while the background actors are blurred. A mix is no different. Just like good directors, good producers choose which elements to highlight at various times in their tracks. This can be achieved through various methods, the most common of which is to raise the volume of that element while lowering the volumes of supporting elements.

Sometimes I come across productions by aspiring producers that have a number of great elements… but they’re all stuck in the center of the mix! Such producers are shooting themselves in the foot. By strategically panning elements to the left and right, producers can create space in the mix that allows each element to breathe and express itself more easily than it could competing with all the other elements for center space.

Finally, the strategic use of various kinds of reverbs can make a world of difference in enabling electronic music producers, who are often largely working within the confines of their computers, to add a sense of depth and space to their mixes. Reverb can also help tie the mix together by allowing disparate elements to sound as though they exist within the same psychoacoustic space. Such effects can be subtle yet far-reaching. Check out Wyatt’s Reverb and EQ tutorial below for an example.

That’s all for this week! Tune in next time as we tackle buss compression and mix balancing concepts in further detail.

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