That's one of the cool things about working with a top mixer. A pro usually adds just enough that you notice if it's taken away, but not enough to stand out. But before you can develop a strategy for adding effects to a mix, it's a good idea to know exactly why you're adding them in the first place.
There are four reasons why a mixer would add effects to a track:
- To Create An Aural Space. One of the reasons why we record elements in stereo is to capture the natural ambience of an instrument, or the “aural space”. Since we can’t record everything this way due to track or storage limitations, a limited recording space, or because we’re close-miking, we usually just create this aural space artificially.
- To Add Excitement. Sometimes a delay or modulation effect added to an instrument or vocal will be just the thing to make it the hook or a major focal point of the song.
- To Make A Track Sound Bigger, Wider And/Or Deeper. This is the usual reason that a successful mixer will add effects to a track, but one of the hardest for a neophyte mixer to grasp because it can be so subtle. You can’t really tell the effects are there until they go away, but they never do, so how do you know?
- To Move A Track Back In The Mix (give the impression it’s farther away). One of the easiest ways to keep instruments from fighting each other for attention is to layer them by moving them back in the mix.
We'll look into the use of effects more in a future posting.