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Mixing Master Class

Lesson 12 of 27

Delay, Echo and Reverb

Joey Sturgis

Mixing Master Class

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

12. Delay, Echo and Reverb

Lesson Info

Delay, Echo and Reverb

Let's move on to effects. Now I want to try and show you some interesting ways to use these effects that you might not have thought of before because I've done a lot of experimentation with effects to achieve a bunch of really interesting results and I think some of these things have become sort of staples of my mixing. It's like certain things that I'll do in pretty much every mix, doesn't matter what kind of music it is. And one of the things I want to teach you is that delay or echo can actually be used to create a sense of space. I like to call it a clean sense of space because what happens when you use reverb is that you kind of get this smeared, blurry tail of sound. Which is what reverb is, and that's kind of like what you want. That's the whole goal of, you know, reverb is to like create a false sense of space that wasn't there before. But you can do the same thing with delay, which I've actually done here. And you can do it cleanly so it sounds, I guess, more clear. So this is...

a screaming part, I'm gonna show you what it sounds like just with the main track. (screaming) So there's some reverb on there just so they don't sound like super dry. But to create even more space I took the double and I put a doubler on it which is another effect, it's like a modulation effect. And let me show you what that sounds like, well first the double sounds like this without any effects on it. (screaming) So we add the doubler to create some width on that double. (screaming) And then if we add the original vocal back in we can see. (screaming) If I take this off you'll see how it immediately goes narrow, I'll show you. (screaming) So it just creates a little more space. And then we use delay after the chorus to create even more space and what I have it set to is an eighth note with no feedback. So this is basically a single echo that's happening. So if I play like just a short segment of the vocal, you'll hear that echo. (screaming) So just one echo. And what's really cool about this that is kinda creates like a slap back effect and when you go outside for example and you're around buildings and you say hey, say it really loud, you'll actually hear that like bounce off the buildings and you hear these reflections. That is what tells your brain that there's a sense of space around you. Your brain measures the amount of time between the reflections to determine how far away sounds are coming so by doing this echo you're kind of creating something that tricks your brain into thinking there's this amount of space between you and the vocals so if I let it, I'm just gonna let it play, you can hear it. (screaming) So if i turn it off. (screaming) So it sounds like it goes like really close to you and then it sounds like it goes father away. And when you combine that with the original vocal it really creates a nice, excuse me, sense of space. (screaming) And then your mix now becomes basically the volume of that effect so if you want it more effect you turn it mix up. (screaming) And then if you want less you turn it down. (screaming) So that whole vocal sound right here. (metal music) Comes from a main vocal going through a little bit of reverb and then a double vocal going through a chorus which widens it and then that goes into a delay which creates space. So you create width and then you create space and then that creates depth and then that's why the vocal sounds you know, if I turn all these effects off and just play this vocal it sounds really boring. (metal music) Sounds like almost sterile or something. (metal music) Cool. So that's how you can use delay to create a sense of space. And then reverb is just an ambience modification. So you can create a sense of depth so I tried to show you how we could do that. And that becomes really useful on drums as well because drums are kind of like quick sounds, you know. Nice quick punchy noises that don't have much space or character to them. And reverb is a way of adding kind of a lot of things, it can kind of create, you know, not only width and space but also density. (drum beat) So one thing that's really sweet about using reverb on drums, I love to use reverb on drums in soft sections because those soft sections always become really awkward really quickly when sounds are dry. You know no ambience, no modulation. Starts to get weird. So reverb is a great tool for those sections and I know this part sounds really great with reverb. (uplifting music) And without it. (drum beat) It's also good to use reverb to help certain elements blend in with others because it adds almost an extra layer of sustain to the sound. And that allows you to kind of turn it down and you can combine different elements. You could blend different elements together a lot easier. I find that becomes very true on clean guitar especially. You know lots of reverb on clean guitar and I always have a little bit of reverb on my vocals because I just don't like the sound of dry vocals. You also find me using a lot of modulation stuff on vocals to create different, like we observed earlier with the chorus to make that vocal sound you need those chorus effects on the sides to create a wider amount of pitch. So right now how I have it set there is no modulation. I'm gonna play this. (pop acapella) So you could make that even wider just by adding chorus. (pop acapella) So it's the same thing where when you start to stack and layer vocals the more those layers deviate in pitch the bigger and wider your vocals actually start to sound. It's the same effect that happens when you have group vocals or gang vocals because there are so many different voices all the variations contribute to making a bigger size, a bigger piece, so you can do that with modulation. And then chorus, phasers and flangers a lot of that stuff doesn't really serve a purpose in mixing other than for effect. You know you can create stuff that sounds like interesting but doesn't really solve performance problems or tonal balance or spacial balancing or anything like that. It's like flangers and phasers typically just sound like wild effects. So knowing when to use those two is just kind of more of a creative thing. It's kind of like when should you use the color orange in a painting. Well I don't know whenever you want to. So there's also interesting things that you can do with phasers and flangers that I wanted to demonstrate. So you can create kind of like a building effect using, let me find it here, using a flanger. If you put it in manual mode and then you use the manual variable it allows you to kind of create a building effect like it sounds like this. (electronic music) So a lot of dance music for example will use that type of mixing effect to create like suspense or energy. You can hear it really well on guitars. I'll show you what it sounds like on there. (guitar music) So you can actually automate that. Let me find it. And this can be like a build up effect if you need it. (guitar music) Sounds like it's getting higher even though it's not you know. That's one cool way to use like a modulation effect in a creative way. And I've used, you can use like a chorus, I'll show you how to use a chorus like in a really drastic extreme way to create a cool effect. So you can, you know, change the rate so that it's really fast. (guitar music) It sounds pretty bizarre on this part but like there's definitely music where that is like a cool thing to do. Just drastic chorus settings. (guitar music) And then you can also use, like if we go back to EQ and distortion, you can use those for effects as well. Like the classic low fi effect. That you hear on pretty much every record. (guitar music) And then you can use, there's ways to use EQ in an effected way as well. Like this is a really popular effect right here. (guitar music) Actually I'm gonna do this differently. If you have a low pass where you can adjust the resonance you can create this really cool effect. (guitar music) And this is actually the same thing as a wah. A wah is basically like a wah wah pedal you know, it's just an EQ band that moves up and down like this. (guitar music) So you can achieve, you could actually achieve a wah wah effect with not even having a wah wah pedal just by taking the EQ and moving it up and down and stuff it's just easier to use the pedal. So yeah there's a couple of interesting effects that you can you like that. And I also like sometimes I'll take double vocals and I'll distort the double. I'll show you what that sounds like too. (screaming) So I have that main that still stays clear. (screaming) And then the doubles just really dirty. (screaming) So you combine those together. (screaming) You can create like a nice really aggressive vocal sound. (metal music) And one of the objectives I always have when I'm doing a production is to have as many unique vocal takes as possible, whatever's required for the part, but as many as I can get away with because I like to layer my effects so I'll always have a vocal that's pretty much on touch and then I'll have a delayed vocal and maybe a distorted vocal and then maybe I might even go as far as adding a fourth layer where there's like reverb. I just like to have the effects that I use, like the chords the flangers the phaser, distortion that kind of stuff I like to put those on their own tracks but still have an original performance that's untouched. So almost every effect that I'm doing is almost in parallel, it's just I'm using unique takes to drive each layer. Because I found that that sounds better. When you try to use like the same vocal and then you copy and paste it and then you put like a chorus on it it gets really weird cause you get comb filtering and all this like weird phasey modulation so it's better to have unique takes and put these effects on each unique take. So we have any other questions so far. Definitely, how do you determine the pre-delay time on vocal reverbs and snare reverbs. Simply by ear. You could do it mathematically if you want. There's a timetable on the internet where you can look up the amount of milliseconds and how much each one equals for a beat. So if your tempo is like 120 beats per minute and you're trying to do like a quarter note pre delay you can look up how many milliseconds that is and then type it in. Or you can just hit play and turn the knob until it sounds good and that's the school of thought that I come from which is like just use, like let's say these drums we want to find the pre delay on the drums, (drum beat) on the soft section. (drum beat) So when I get to a certain point it starts to be crazy like 120 sounds weird. (drum beat) But if I-- (drum beat) So as I approach zero it gets smaller and then as I approach like 120 or whatever it starts to get way to far. (drum beat) To get really bizarre so it's just a matter of like what do you like you know. I don't think there's an exact setting but at the same time I know that there's songs like Boulevard of Broken Dreams for example where the pre delay on the reverb was set to an exact eighth note because Chris Lord Alge thought that that sounded perfect for that song you know and maybe that was the right, that's the right choice for that song but then you can't apply that to everything. So the pre delay choices that you make are just based on what you want to here, you know. And I think with drums especially it's super important to choose a number that's in between you know zero and approaching echo status. Like you want to stay within that range because it's timing information so if you go to far with it it's gonna get, you're gonna start hearing echos and the beat sounds all mangled and stuff. It's definitely within a limited range. Okay we got another question here. What kind of post echo slash delay effects or effects chains are your newest ventures that you've actually employed into your mixes. Aside from the examples that you've already provided. I mean the ones I've shown are really popular in my pallette that's the kind of stuff I use a lot. There are a couple of things that I do very rarely that I think are pretty interesting. I'll show you one. For example you could take let's see, this vocal part here. (rock music) So there's kind of like some gaps in there right. So one thing you could do to make this more interesting is you could duplicate your vocal track and then you can take this whole vocal track and basically delay it by a whole bar or so. And then I'm going to basically take off all of the stuff that I don't need, I'm just gonna keep it kind of basic like just a compressed vocal sounds like this. (rock acapella) Right and then I can put a tube screamer on here. To create like a low fi effect. (rock acapella) And then take out some low end to make it even more filtered. (rock acapella) And then I'm gonna add a ton of, I'm gonna put some stereo delay on here. (rock acapella) And if you ever mess around with stereo delay the best I think the best settings are to have a dotted note version of your first choice, so if you choose like half notes then your other side could be half note dotted always sounds very interesting to me that's what I like to use. And then also to keep the S's from going (hissing) as it delays you can change these filter settings here. So these reduce the amount of S's that get kind of echoed out there. (rock acapella) Right and then I'm gonna put a reverb on top of that. (rock acapella) So that just like crazy sounding like spacey vocal right. And then you just hit play and every time it gets boring you just turn that track up. I'm not joking. (rock music) So like in those little gaps I just filled the time, the space with just that interesting sounding vocal. And you can play around with how far off time it is so if I push it like another bar let's see what that sounds like. (rock music) There you go. Great do you want to take one more quick question before we keep going. Absolutely. Alright so Serge wants to know do you ever use reverb on the master channel to create more space. I do not but I know of that method and I know people who do it successfully. I will say that I have done it in the past I would say maybe five years ago or something like that. And what I found, cause I did a bunch of experimentation on the various reverbs out there, and the reverb that's built into the ozone is really great like for mastering especially. You have all these different modes and you can really dial in the settings to make a master sound wide. I prefer to have my actual mix define the width of the sound but you do occasionally get a song where it's mixed great and it sounds awesome, but it just needs a little bit more space and that's where that comes in play. Especially with the ozone one because it doesn't really go overboard to the point where it sounds like you're just adding reverb to the song so the process of actually utilizing it would be like you know opening the song, turn the reverb on and then turn your dry mix all the way down and turn your wet mix up and you can hear what the reverb sounds like. So this is just the reverb sound. (rock music) Sounds like a, outside of a concert venue or something. Once you've got it set to like you know how you like the sound of it then you turn that wet mix all the way down, turn your dry mix back up and then just sneak it in there just a little bit. (rock music) And that can create like a little more width in your master. At the end of the day there are no wrong ways to do this kinda stuff so I think if you want to have, if it makes sense to you to have reverb on your master bus then do that.

Class Description

Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His sound is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in this class, he’ll show you the unique mixing techniques that are key to getting it.

This class picks up where Joey’s Studio Pass class left off: you’ve got your session tracked and edited, now how do you turn it into a polished, world-class mix? 

He’ll show you how to get his signature sound, including: 

  • EQ and compression strategies for drums, guitar, bass, vocals, and synths/effects 
  • How to use automation to fix problem areas and bring out the song’s dynamics 
  • Tons of little tips and tricks to take your mix from good to great 

If you want to elevate the quality of your mix, don’t miss Mixing Master Class with Joey Sturgis.

Ratings and Reviews

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I don't work exclusively in the same genre as Joey but I always make sure to clear my schedule when he's on CreativeLive. This class definitely didn't disappoint and it was awesome getting to see Joey work on a track from start to finish and what his approaches and thought processes are. And not only that, but I appreciate that he briefly touches on client communication in regards to production, mixing, etc, and the business side to the mixing process as this is an area I'm just now dipping my toes in. Even though I often find myself on the rock, indie or post-rock side of things, a lot of these ideas can apply to anything you're working on and I definitely picked up some ideas to try and work on myself. Joey gives you enough to inspire you and make that light bulb click and does it with an admirable humility that I respect. He gives you more than enough on how and why he does what he does, but I never feel like he reveals all his secrets or magic; I honestly prefer it that way as it leaves a fun challenge of taking the ideas you've learned and figuring out how, when and where you're going to use them in your own mixes. Especially if you're not doing predominantly metal, like I am. The ideas are inspiring. This class isn't about those perfect settings to that phenomenal mix or tone; it's about why you do this and how you do that. It's cool to be able to watch his process and pick his brain, start to finish and all in the box. Joey definitely doesn't need to do these classes for us, but the more I see him getting active on social media the more I get this vibe that he genuinely wants to help make the creative and mixing processes easier and help us expand our knowledge and skills. I get that it's smart business, but I respect and appreciate the hell out of him for taking time to do these classes and answer our questions... Even if there are shameless plugs here and there. I love when these great engineers take time to show us you don't need school, you don't need thousands of dollars of outboard gear, etc. It's your ear, not your gear. We live in an amazing day and age with the Internet and awesome resources like CreativeLive. I love it and these are great classes to watch and get in their heads. It set gets the hamster wheel in my head spinning and I always keep CreativeLive classes on my calendar. They're motivating and inspiring. Looking forward to the next one!


I’ll start off by saying this a amazing class not just for those looking for or interested in “The Sturg” production, but for anyone interested in mixing or mastering. You get everything from the must have fundamentals and basics of mixing and production, to the more advance technical aspects, and of course Joey’s personal approach and method to mixing. Everything from EQ, to compressors, multiband compressors, automation and chain signals. If you ever wondered whether you should place delay in front of your reverb, or reverb in front of delay, or other common chain effects, chances are they get answered in this class. The class is organized in several lessons following a logical order, each covering different topics. All the techniques are shown with examples and Joey does a great job of making it easy to understand and follow as well as explain the reasoning behind the techniques. And it’s not just mixing or production that is covered, but the importance of good songwriting, good communication with artists and good workflow. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to take their mixing or production to the next level. Regardless of skillset, if you’re a noob, intermediate or advanced mixer or producer, you’ll find very helpful and informative lessons, regardless of what style or genre you do.

a Creativelive Student

I own both of Joey`s courses. While both are full of useful information to get you started in the audio production world with lots of good technical explanation and awesome concepts for a fast and individual workflow, Joey actually comes up with average or "mediocre" mixes and tones. If you want some really detailed information about how Joey works, this class is for you. If you want to know what plugins Joey likes to use and wanna see him promote his own plugins, this class is for you! If you expect to learn how to create or come up with outstanding guitar and bass tones (which Joey is famous for) you won`t learn much and won`t hear anything in this particular regard, unfortunately. However, I`d still recomment them, especially the first course he did but again, if you expect to hear a typical Joey Sturgis mix quality, you won`t find what you`re looking for.