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More Mixing Tips: How to Use Reverb to Create Depth April 30, 2014

Posted by mark allan wolfe in markallanwolfe.com, personal, Uncategorized.
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While reading around the web to educate myself and learning more tricks of the trade I came upon this and a few other blogs that to me showed a person how to make better mixes and how to correctly tweak a jam to sound awesome.

There are a lot of engineers and producers out and about who have great ideas and there is no excuse for anyone who is in this feild , to try to become better at it. So I felt I would share a bit of an excerpt from this great lesson over at Cakewalk BLOG   I hope it helps you or at least sparks an interest into learning more on how to make better recordings.


Mix engineers that have had their time behind a board can pick out the misuse of Reverb when they hear it. Just like with anything, applying the proper Reverb requires more time than just scrolling through the presets of the basic Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms.

Music tends to have a significant three-dimensional experience to it. This concept requires the understanding of width, height, and depth. The best way to understand this is to find a pair of large studio headphones and listen to some billboard topping hits that have dense and complex instrumentation. Grab a sheet of paper and draw two lines intersecting as well as one diagonally through the middle. Label them “Width”, “Height”, and “Depth”. Make a few copies of this sheet and as you listen to the music observe where the instruments sit in the mix. Mark the Toms, Snare, Kick, Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Backing Vocals, Bass, Strings etc. in their respective places on this XYZ plane. Once finished compare and contrast the different songs you listened to and you may notice how different each song turns out. Take one of your own mixes and do the same. You may learn something about your own techniques.

What does this little art project have to do with Reverb? Well, creating space is where the struggle begins.

In Use

The company Overloud has released a wonderful new version of their product “BREVERB SONAR”. The company asks customers to think of their ideal studio. In short they suggest that BREVERB SONAR could replace the “classic white 80′s unit” found in most major recording studios. That device is the Lexicon 480L which was and still is an iconic unit in many studios. BREVERB SONAR picks up right where that Lexicon unit left off as far as sound and use is concerned. Without realizing it I began to operate BREVERB SONAR with ease from my former understanding of how it’s predecessor worked. The whole fader-soft key interface is much friendlier than an attempt to understand how and why some other companies include a real time diagram of how reverb interacts with incoming sound. This unit is the perfect candidate for understanding how to apply reverb to enhance your mix.

General Mixing

Before applying any time based effects to a mix I typically will gather the stems in a simple levels and panning mix. This helps set some relatively even levels before applying and EQ, Compression, or Reverb.

I started the mix by raising the Kick Drum signal to an optimum decibel level. The rest of the Drumset was easy to place because of the minimal microphone usage. Afterwards, I bumped up the High Hat in the drum mix a tad because without it the song felt sluggish and choppy. After this I added the Bass signals to the track. Stylistically this song is of the Dub/Reggae/Pop genre so the Bass’ tone is quite heavy in the low end with less clarity in the high end.

After setting the rhythm section to my liking I added the Vocal track. The voice is the most important aspect of this style so getting it even with the rhythm section was my priority. Afterwards I gently brought in the acoustic guitar under the vocal and panned it to my liking. There are three signals for the Acoustic Guitar: The direct signal from the Acoustic Guitar’s pickup and a tightly placed 57 and 421 configuration directly over the sound hole. This allowed for narrow panning scheme between the three different signals without feeling too unnatural.


Understanding how Reverb can be used to enhance the spatial tone of a mix first requires some setup within your respective DAW. I started by adding as many Buses as I felt necessary for the instruments that needed work. In this particular mix I set up five buses and labelled them: Snare Bus, Drum Bus, Vocal Bus, Guitar Bus, and Distance Effect. Each one had an instance of BREVERB SONAR loaded with all of the faders pulled downward. (By habit I never start with my faders up before I listen to them) The instrumentation of this track is somewhat simple by design so setting up these five buses was more than plenty for my purposes.

Acoustic Guitars

BREVERB SONAR’s power is reflected in the parameters it displays for the different algorithms of Hall, Plate, Room, and Inverse. Given the nature of the song I decided that using the Plate and Room algorithms were best suited for this style.

ll three Acoustic Guitar tracks were sent to the Guitar Bus and panned accordingly to match the way they sat in the mix.

SONAR adds a Stereo Bus by default. This automatically gives you the option for panning any sends that are added to the “Sends” section of your tracks in the Console View.The concept is the same in every DAW but the setup and routing may vary.

On first listen everything seemed too up close. The Drums, Bass, Vocals, and Acoustic Guitars are competing for the same space. BREVERB SONAR can be used multiple ways to alleviate this problem.

To rectify the clashing of all these instruments within this space I added some ambience to the Acoustic Guitars to set it below the Vocals. This provides a small level of separation from the Vocal track so that it sits under it and not directly in the way of it.

Using BREVERB SONAR’s Parameters

I was relying on the Size, Predelay, and Decay parameters within BREVERB SONAR to create this sensation of depth. The outcome is subtle but effective. By nature, the Room reverb is somewhat shorter than say a Hall or Cathedral reverb algorithm. According to Overloud the Size parameter at 100% emulates the sound of a large studio room. In setting the Size to 14% the “Room” that I created sounded like a smaller isolation booth. I don’t want to this instrument to be drowning in Reverb so picking the Room is the ideal setting.

I will be including examples of the Reverb parameters at their final levels and then a comparison of what that parameter would sound like if applied overzealously.

If you are interested in hearing more about this and other recorded examples why note CLICK HERE

If you follow the link over to CAKEWALK’s BLOG you will hear samples of the acoustic guitar, snar drum, whole drum kit and vocals. I found this article to be very helpful and insightful. It has pleanty of examples and a few ideas where with you can bring to your own mixing experience.

I am going to be placing MORE info on mixing and recording , social media marketing, how to license your music and all that stuff you need to start making more money and better recordings. I feel there is NO end to education but you need to focus on what you will use, in my humble opinion.


Welcome to April FOOLS DAY SUCKER!! April 1, 2014

Posted by mark allan wolfe in markallanwolfe.com, personal, silly things, Uncategorized.
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So I thought I would share a little more than I do normally here than on facebook. Seems like everyone is writing about something and I like to share my thoughts with folks and my little adventures. So here I am writing a few things about my wonderful experience on APRIL FOOLS DAY!!

For starters I awoke this morning and got my glasses as usual and CLUNK a lens falls to the floor. Seems that the worlds smallest screw known to all mankind has been placed into my glasses and has fallen out. Either by the glasses gnomes that terrorize us whom have to wear them, or it was just their time to fall out. I think maybe my cat got mad at me for throwing her across the room for biting my ankle and she loosened the screw.

So there I am butt tired, cannot see, hands that do not work, trying to find the worlds smallest screw. MY angel reminds me of an emergency kit that has screws and another pair of OLDER glasses, maybe this will be helpful. So we started out our day performing micro surgery on my glasses.

As we placed the worlds smallest screw into the worlds second smallest hole I had almost completed the task when my fingers decide to do some weird hand signal and I drop the screw onto my floor which is a wood floor colored like THE SCREW!!. It is now forever lost in the waste land where things go when you lose them you never find them for they get dissolved into the floor or fall into another dimension of space and time were lost things go.

Now this is time to go to the store to get them fixed and of course this place is like an hour away. My wife and I had a great time chatting and sharing in each others company.

I get my glasses fixed and read online while waiting that Ben Afleck the actor seems he really hates Republicans and thinks that they should die or be sent to hell! Of course it is ok for him to think and say such things but if someone like myself says something I am a hate monger. Well looks like the dude who I thought was an ok actor is now on my poop list. Why hate folks for what they believe when your part of a party that touts tolerance ? That is a whole other story back to reality for in reality I can give a flying blue jays butt what Ben Afleck thinks about life,. I posted this to show you how silly our society has become that we really care about what ACTORS think? Just shut up and make cool movies.

I am out changing my spark plugs and oil this afternoon with my angel and she is so awesome she holds the umbrella over me so I do not get too hot…WOW man she is like the best. Anyways We are out there, I walk to my shed to grab something and BAM!! ouch that hurt! BAM!! BAM OUCH LEAVE, RUN AWAY looking down I see a few yellow jackets or hornets those spawns of satan fly away!!. I had just been stung by 3-4 hornets or 1 really fired up Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee bug To quote bugs bunny, ” Of course you know this means WAR!” I run into my home trying hard not to let the world know that I have discovered that SPRING is here in Georgia. To end my fiasco I was able to kill a few of those little bastards, or spawns of HELL! My angel was right there helping me fight the fight, and I must say my dogs were having a part in it to.

For it seems that Jake my BOXER and Marley a.k.a THE BIG WHITE ONE has found a new favorite past time chasing down those flying needles they have not discovered the joy yet of being stung. We think that when they do the big white one will definitely need some xanex or something for she is already pretty sketchy about things.

This was part of my day I hope it gets better but to be honest it was good for I am listening to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony while typing this silly blog hoping to make sense out of my day but all the while trying to make you smile and remember that it is all good no matter what happens. As long as your living, and loving life trying to do the right thing it shall be cool. Things do get better.

I had a wonderful time with the woman I love, hanging with my dogs and enjoying the freedom that our forefathers gave to me. Peace out until next time.

Check out some new music if you got some time over at markallanwolfe.com



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