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Six Rules For Adding Effects To A Mix

The biggest aspect of adding effects (or not) to a mix is experience, by following these guidelines can be a great place to start.

A great article by Bobby Owsinski and Pro Sound Web! This is always a challenge for musicians and producers. Too much or too little can make a huge difference in the quality of your track and mix. Want to hear an amateur mix? Almost always has too much or too many effects...reverb, compression, anyone? Check out this article from Bobby to get some perspective.


Having trouble figuring how to use your effects during mixing? Here’e a set of rules that can help you choose the best effects for each track more efficiently, courtesy of The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook.

Rule 1: As A General Rule Of Thumb, Try To Picture The Performer In An Acoustic Space And Then Realistically Recreate That Space Around Them. This method usually saves some time over simply experimenting with different effects presets until something excites you (although that method can work too). Also, the created acoustic space needn’t be a natural one. In fact, as long as it fits the music, the more creative the better.

Rule 2: Smaller Reverbs Or Short Delays Make Things Sound Bigger. Reverbs with decays under a second (and usually much shorter than that) and delays under 100 milliseconds (again usually a lot shorter than that) tend to make the track sound bigger rather than push it back in the mix, especially if the reverb or delay is stereo.

Rule 3: Long Delays, Reverb Predelays, Or Reverb Decay Push A Sound Farther Away If The Level Of The Effect Is Loud Enough. As stated before, delays and predelays (see below) longer than 100 ms (although 250 is where it really kicks in) are distinctly heard and begin to push the sound away from the listener.

The trick between something sounding big or just distant is the level of the effect. When the decay or delay is short and the level loud, the track sounds big. When the decay or delay is long and loud, the track just sounds far away.

Rule 4: If Delays Are Timed To The Tempo Of The Track, They Add Depth Without Being Noticeable. Most engineers set the delay time to the tempo of the track (see below on how to do this). This makes the delay pulse with the music and adds a reverb type of environment to the sound. It also makes the delay seem to disappear as a discrete repeat but still adds a smoothing quality to the element.

To read the rest of the article from Bobby, click here!


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