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Creating Depth in a Mix: Pro Tips for a 3D Sound

Creating depth in a mix is crucial for a three dimensional and atmospheric sound experience. Creating depth is one of the first steps in mixing as soon as the rough / static mix is done. The easiest ways to bring an instrument further back in a mix are:

  • lowering the higher frequency registers with a high shelf EQ or cutting the high end at all with a low pass / high cut filter.
  • adding reverb with shorter or no predelay
  • compression with longer release time

Learn exactly how to dial in the equalizer, compression and reverbs to bring an instrument further back in a mix in this blog article.

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Depth in audio mix refers to the spatial positioning of sound elements within a mix. When done correctly, it can make your audio content sound immersive and dynamic, drawing your audience deeper into the experience. To achieve this, you’ll need to employ various techniques and utilize specific tools. Let’s dive in.


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Understanding Depth in Audio Mix:

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to create depth, it’s essential to understand what depth means in the context of audio mixing. Depth is often divided into three main dimensions:

  1. Foreground: This is where the primary sound elements or instruments reside. It’s what the listener focuses on and is typically the loudest and clearest part of the mix.
  2. Midground: The midground contains supporting elements that provide context and texture to the mix. These elements are slightly quieter than the foreground but play a crucial role in creating depth.
  3. Background: These are the elements that sit furthest back in the mix, often providing ambience, space, and atmosphere. They add a sense of depth by placing the listener in a specific sonic environment.

When it’s about visual elements there is an obvious difference between objects that are closer and objects that are far away. Compared to the closer object the further back element is smaller and has blurry outlines. At some point it’s just kind of an spot left with a specific color.

When it comes to audio it’s almost the same. First of all you need some kind of reference. One instrument can only sound like further away, when another instrument is really close. Compared to the closer instrument the further back instrument seems blurred until there is only a small area of frequencies left to barely identify a specific instrument. The following techniques and tools are a good help to acheive more depth:

Ask Audio Engineer Toby Schuetgens from Simple Life Studio to mix & master our song!

If you need your own tracks to be mixed or mastered, hit the button above and feel free to reach out.

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Techniques for Creating Depth in your mix:

1. Panning and Stereo Imaging:

  • Experiment with panning to place instruments and sounds in the stereo field.
  • Use stereo imaging plugins to widen or narrow the perceived space of an audio element. But be careful with widening plugins, they might cause phase issues at some point.

2. Reverb and Delay:

  • Apply reverb to create the illusion of space, placing sounds in different acoustic environments.
  • Play with the predelay time. Imagine you are in a room with two guitarists. One is really close to you and the other one is at the other end of the room. The direct sonic from the close
  • Use delay to add depth by introducing echoes or reflections.

3. EQ and Frequency Separation:

  • Use EQ to carve out space for each instrument, preventing frequency clashes. At his point it might help to switch to mono on your monitoring chain. This helps to find points where frequency ranges of different elements cover each other.
  • Consider low-pass and high-pass filters to push certain elements into the background.

4. Automation:

  • Automate volume levels to make certain elements more prominent at specific points in the mix.
  • When it’s about the specific reference elements in your mix automation can help to change the distance between instrument throughout the mix to make it more dynamic and increase the feeling of depth in your mix.

5. Layering and Doubling:

  • Layer instruments to add richness and depth.
  • Double-track vocals or instruments to create a sense of space and width.

6. Depth through Arrangement:

  • Arrange your tracks thoughtfully, placing elements with similar frequencies apart from each other to prevent masking.
  • Even in the recording stage before the mixing you can create depth by placing microphones differently.

Tools for Creating Depth:

Most DAW’s come with really powerful stock plugin. You can try these first but just in case you’d like to try something more the following plugins a worth a try.

1. Reverb Plugins:

  • Explore reverb plugins like Valhalla Room or FabFilter Pro-R for realistic spatial effects.

2. Delay Plugins:

  • Consider delay plugins such as Soundtoys Echoboy or Waves H-Delay for creative depth.

3. Equalization Plugins:

  • Use EQ plugins like iZotope Ozone EQ or Waves Q10 for precise frequency control.

4. Stereo Imaging Tools:

  • Experiment with stereo imaging plugins like iZotope Imager or Waves S1 Stereo Imager.

Links:

Waves

FabFilter

Soundtoys

Conclusion:

Creating depth in your audio mix is a crucial step in delivering a captivating and immersive listening experience. By understanding the dimensions of depth, employing the right techniques, and using the appropriate tools, you can take your audio content to the next level, leaving your audience in awe of your three-dimensional soundscapes. So, don’t hesitate to experiment and refine your skills to achieve the perfect audio mix with depth. With your unique way of creating depth you can develop your own signature sound as well. Your listeners will thank you for it.

THIS is how you REALLY create depth in your mix
Ask Audio Engineer Toby Schuetgens from Simple Life Studio to mix & master our song!

If you need your own tracks to be mixed or mastered, hit the button above and feel free to reach out.

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