Mixing Vocals: Create Depth with a Digital Reverb

by Dan Gonzalez

Depth is a factor of every mix, just like Height and Width. This is a harder concept to grasp because there really is no “Depth” adjust on a mixer. In this article we’ll talk about how to create depth using the Sonitus Reverb.

Creating Depth using the Sonitus Reverb

Digital reverbs are the proverbial swiss-army-knives of the mixing world. They are programmed in a way that emulates every part of a reverb. This includes the pre-delay, decay time, width, diffusion, early reflections etc. Since these emulate spaces like halls, plates, rooms, and other reverberant places – we can use them to create a room sound around our audio tracks for the purpose of creating depth. That’s a fancy way of saying that we can use reverb for depth. Here’s a vocal track that has no effects on it at all. It’s mixed into this track completely dry.

I want this track to be set back in the mix a bit, but I don’t want it to have the typical “reverb” applied to it. The goal is not to add a time-based effect to this vocal. The goal is to add the sound of a room to the vocal track to give it depth and distance. To do this, we need to setup SONAR correctly.

First send your vocal track to a bus in SONAR. You can do this by adding a new send to your vocal track. This will create a bus that runs your vocal in parallel. On that bus, add the Sonitus Reverb.

Here are the settings for the Sonitus Reverb. Notice how I have the “Reverb” muted. This is to ensure that there is no time-based decay.

To create an ambient space using only the Sonitus Reverb, I muted the entire Reverb section. Sonitus is setup so that you can individually adjust the body of the reverb and the early reflections separately. Since we’re not trying to add a huge reverb effect, I muted that section. Predelay is set to 32ms and Room size is set to 59. This gives it just the right amount of ambience to make it sound like the vocal is inside of a room. After that, I muted out the Dry signal so that only reverb was passing through the reverb bus in SONAR. The result is a very natural sounding room.

Here are the vocals completely isolated, this is where it is very noticeable.

You can hear how the reverb allows the vocal sit back in a space. The effect is subtle, but very useful when trying to get your initial balance.